Most of today’s mainstream animations are, for me, disappointing. It’s very common to see animated shows fully blown with lightening speech and outrages jokes, yet something feels wrong with the movements of the characters. Their gestures seem stiff and clumsy. Their bodies are floating through space, limbs hanging like a rag doll. The stories are kept to a minimal for fear that kids might get bored. Just jokes. Back-to-back jokes for the attention deficient generation. Fast and funny is what the audience want, so they give it to them. I don’t over exaggerate.
Animation is a world. A world not belonging to the one we currently dwell in. It’s another world. As a kid growing up watching animation in the 1990s, it provided magic to an otherwise mundane, dreary universe. As science dominated the ideological field of the social space (ideology in the Marxist sense of the word), the protection of miraculous magic seemed to have vanished. There was not even room for superstition. However, animation (good animation) lit up the world for me. It enveloped me in hope.
Good animation for me is never just jokes or how fast can one say the jokes. It’s the story that opens me up to believe in the world that the animation has created. And when I think of a good story in American animation, Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant always comes to mind. Is not the movie ultimately about an innocent boy trying to protect himself from the fraudulent passage of growing up? Was not the giant robot a sort of guardian angel we all long for, indestructible and childlike? It is a film that offers a well-wished promise in regard to the world. The film gave me a sense of wonder without the horrific abyss that’s so well recorded in science. It completed a world for me.
What we need today is not merely frantic distractions. What we need is a new narrative that offers us protection once again. We need a new Iron Giant.