Final Blog Submissions

April 27, 2010

Blog #13 and Blog #11

The only editing I did was purely grammatical.


I don’t think this is an argument at all, rather a fact: Anything Pixar touches will turn to gold. The soon to be Toy Story Trilogy has been pulling in an immense amount of revenue since 1995…so 15 years! At this point Toy Story has brought  $361,958,736 in profit and the numbers are bound to climb with Toy Story 3. By satisfying adults and children by showing toys through a unique perspective Pixar has created an amazing business model.

That being said, what happens when you are a video game designer (Avalanche) that is expected to make a successful video game without Disney Interactive playing a key role? May’s Game Informer has an amazing 6 page spread discussing this dilemma and the bold decision they came upon that may be extremely innovative.

The Pitch: “Until the release of Toy Story 3, we’ve only seen the toys as the world sees them. they move around when nobody is watching, and when Andy maneuvers them around in his bedroom, viewers only see the static playthings being jerked around in his hand. Toy Story 3 marks the first time we’ve been able to see what those play sessions are like from the perspective toys.”

For example, “Where Buzz’s little LED light is not a little LED light, it’s a laser, and he actually flies.”

So the film is not the source for the video game, rather the video game is focused on how the toys perceive themselves not through Andy’s eyes.

I’m on the fence with how I think the video game will turn out. I like Toy Story because the toy’s personalities are molded from the perspective of Andy. Maybe Disney shouldn’t mess with a good thing, and gave the go ahead for a video game to skew the character development of the beloved Toy Story cast. However by making them more fantastical, the game itself could be loads of fun! I could not resist controlling the toys myself and actually shooting cowboy pistols and spaceman laser beams.

Here is the trailer for Toy Story 3.

ETA: I commented on Sarah and Corey

Blog Post#12:Pixar

April 20, 2010

What makes Pixar successful is its creators and writers way of finding alternative view points in their characters. This rang true especially in class when we discussed how the plot line of Toy Story 2 was based around the fears and concerns from the view point of a child’s toy such as being forgotten, lost or replaced by an upgraded toy. Your Friend the Rat is a Pixar short that does such the like. It is world history told through the viewpoint of the rat in hope of helping “oppressed rats everywhere!”

The rats make the argument that 1. Dogs look up to humans, 2. Cats look down on humans but 3. Rats are at the same level. This shifts to the rat’s take on their version of world history.

The rat’s global perspective is that humans and rats need each other and it is a biological symbiotic relationship. Rats eat human’s trash. They are made like humans anatomically, so they are partners in science with humans in battling diseases. They are also misunderstood since it was the flea that caused the Black Death and not the rat itself. Another fantastic, adorable example of how Pixar looks through the eyes of characters such as toys and rats to highlight different perspectives.

*If you want to see this video follow this link, its on veo and not conventional utube or google

ETA: I commented on Emily’s and Alyssa’s blog

I feel like in class hyper-criticizing Disney films is really easy to do (I am totally guilty too). The screening of Pocahontas and the discussions finding the “good” aspects in the movie made me wonder if the subsequent Disney movie did anything to justify negative factors such as the portrayal of the main protagonist Pocahontas being dull, passive and essentially a disgraceful standard for heroic feminism.

Therefore, I think that Mulan, which follows Pocahontas in 1998, makes up in female character development that Pocahontas lacks. Mulan is in my opinion is  Disney’s most successful film that advocates for feminism. I disagree with feminist critics such as Kathleen Karlyn that “In order to even imagine female heroism, we’re placing it in the realm of fantasy”.

Karlyn should look at the Disney work as a whole and realize that until this point every female character is distinctively female, beautiful and passively kind and naive. Also before Mulan, every female protagonist’s plot line is intertwined with the objectives of that of the male/lover character. Mulan breaks with Disney plot-line traditions by crossing over to the realm of the “man’s world” to save her people, not a love interest. She is not passive; she takes immense physical action and proves to be stronger than other men around her. For Disney to take this leap in changing the structure of its heroin demonstrates that Disney is potentially aware of how it stereotypes women as the “angel of the household” in the past!

I commented on Corey’s and Ian’s blog

I have never been so moved such as film as The Waltz with Bashir. It is an Israeli made animation that focuses on Israel’s involvement during the 1982 war in Lebanon. The film maker, Ari Folman, is the main character who has lost his memories about the massacres that took place in Beruit. The entire film is animated conversations Ari had with figures from his past that ultimately serves as a documentary for a person who has post-traumatic disorder that affects memory.*** Spoiler alert! The most jarring part about the film is how disconnected you feel from the carnage and depiction of brutal civil/guerrilla warfare until the end where Ari finally remember the massacre in Beruit where the animation suddenly turns into actual stock footage of the event itself!

I think by using animation to depict war, we as observers are far removed from it in a good way. If the film was 86 minutes of pure stock footage and documentaries, I feel like I would immediately feel too traumatized to internalize the various motifs the film delves into such as: being behind enemy lines, remorse for killing, etc…Instead the incredible use of color, sound and almost comic-book like dark outlines of Ari and others makes the film visually stimulating in a way that allows me to internalize the harsh content. I highly recommend this film, it is at times emotionally draining, but I feel like I gained amazing insight into the hearts and minds of the Israeli soldiers.

ETA: I commented on Sarah Askri’s and  Amanda Cole’s

Blog Post #9: Ethnocide

March 29, 2010

I felt inspired in class when we were talking about how American ideals were expressed in animations such as Rocky and Bullwinkle in regards to the Cold War with anti-Russian sentiments to look at other countries use of animation to make a point about the state of their society and culture. With increased culture blending as a product of globalization, I found that Japan has Westernized in a big way. Understandably with each generation more Western than the next,  Japanese traditional culture is being threatened.

I found a term via wiki that I like: “Ethnocide is used to describe the destruction of a culture of a people, as opposed to the people themselves.” I think that the theme of ethnocide and concern for the depletion of Japanese traditions is expressed in Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. You see Chihiro’s parents transform into glutenous pigs from not respecting the Japanese god’s food. Also, I think they look like fat Americans, but that could be in my head.

Blog Post #8: South Park

March 22, 2010

While brainstorming about what cartoon I should blog about this week, I was thinking about the longevity of animated shows and what makes a cartoon successful over a long period of time. In class we talked about animators branching off from Disney and showcasing cartoons that negate the bubble-drawn, talking animals that frequented Disney animation. Like these productions I would argue that South Park is extremely successful as a long-standing social commentary that pokes fun at cutesy, “Disney-like” animation in the form of paper-cut outs. Now on its 15th season, one could trace almost every major cultural (whether is be pop-culture, celebrity scandal, political mayhem, social changes and international issues) that has taken place over the past decade!

Each episode starts the disclaimer: “All characters and events in this show—even those based on real people—are entirely fictional. All celebrity voices are impersonated…..poorly. The following program contains coarse language and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone.”

Is true, the main characters are depraved monsters in the bodies of angelic looking children. Lewd as can be;probably. But funny, oh so funny. South Park is like a good tabloid in cartoon form. But maybe, we as a society where insane amounts of cultural insanity runs rampant, we need a show like South Park as an outlet to poke fun and perhaps make sense out of this nation’s obsession with consumerism and celebrity.

So many episodes to choose from! So I will just give you the links to the latest one. Be warned, extremely foul language and content.

ETA: I commented on

Blog Submissions

March 20, 2010

I am submitting Blog Post#1 and

I was wondering why we prefer cartoons that depict talking animals rather than animations that are human based and more life-like? A potential answer came to me via NPR’s “On the Media” (go figure) about a theory called the “Uncanny Valley.”

One quick wiki away says, “The uncanny valley is a hypothesis regarding the field of robotics. The theory holds that when robots and other facsimiles of human look and act almost liek humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The ‘valley’ in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of robot’s lifelikeness.”

This blew my mind! So the more human-like things that are not human (such as animations, video games, robots), the human viewer will feel anxiety in a physical response!
Then threat of a lifeless entity being threatening is be questioned? Is it a case of Darwinism: where we as the human is scared that something could be created better than us? It is the fear of looking into something soul-less and at the same time so close to life-like?? Whatever the trigger for the repulsion may be, it is the very reason why it is easier to sell and show animations that stray away from reality; rather then trying to recreate it.

I thought that I should provide some examples. The first is from Polar Express, where many critics have agreed that the humans in this animation are way to “creepy.”
The second example I found this weekend at the Hirshorn. Artist John Gerrard takes frame by frame pictures of things such as an oil rig and then makes them into a frame by frame animation. I couldn’t find the video for the actual animation, but here’s the Smithsonian link.

It was a Friday evening and I wanted to catch a flick with my boy. Being a fan of the original Alice in Wonderland (and the book itself) I was interested in the new Tim Burton version that was released that day. Instead, I was excited to see Shutter Island that was playing at 6:00. Upon arrival at the ticket office they sadly told me that that specific showing time was canceled and that, get this, I could go into any movie I wanted for FREE due to the inconvenience. Interestingly, Alice in wonderland was playing at that precise time, so I decided to take up the nice movie clerk’s offer. Besides, I had a blog to write on a full length animation which I had specifically intended NOT to write on this movie.

What I want to discuss in this post is the question of ownership. I’m going to argue (and am expecting many of you to disagree) that Tim Burton had no right in spinning this classic into a royal mess. Firstly, Alice (in the original) never had nightmares of Wonderland, but rather created the characters as quirky and amusing alternatives to the world she resided in that consisted of banal lessons and lectures. I think to show Wonderland as a literal nightmare to the children in the audience is twisted and will taint their further perception of the book narrative and original animation.

To go further, I thought that this self-indulgent showcasing of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, and thus giving the Mad Hatter a substantial character that serves as a hero/martyr archetype that may not actually be mad was bothersome. The door mouse was articulate and surprisingly sober, the Chester Cat benevolent, and most dishearteningly the Caterpillar was intuitive and masculine rather than being frantic and flamboyant.

I feel like that if Burton really wanted to create his own world where these character developments and plot lines exist that is fine. But don’t take down a classic while doing it. I know he’s made Disney a lot of money with Pirates of the Caribbean, but I feel like he’s bringing down a classic cell animation just to do one of his typical warped films. I know in class that the original film was “too scary” for children; but this remake was done in frighteningly poor taste.

Commented on Corey (number 15) and Alissa (number 38)