James Parris -post visit thoughts

I feel that the segregation of toys into categorizations of “girl and “boy” is really an important phenomena to address because it affects children when they’re at the most impressionable age. Even subconsciously, children start to associate certain colors and objects and even attitudes to boys and girls and men and women, encouraging stereotypes and stereotypical behaviors. Girls and boys seen playing with things marketed towards the opposite gender then end up being labeled as “odd” or “weird” by peers. This can cause children to question their identities or their preferences, which can make them try to change themselves to whatever is considered the norm instead of risk being labeled as a “weirdo” for staying the way they are.

Even as a kid I thought the gendering of toys was pointless. I didn’t really like dolls, and I was relatively neutral to most “boy” toys, though I did like legos and dinosaurs (but really, who doesn’t?). Everytime I went to a fast-food restaurant as a kid, I had to specifically ask for one of the “boy” toys. This was probably what affected me most about gendering items as a kid, primarily because I really didn’t care what anyone thought about what I liked and enjoyed terrorizing the group of boys who thought they were the cool kids and pretty much tuned out anyone else who questioned why I wasn’t more girly.

Tower (extra credit)

“Tower” tells the story of the events that took place on August 1, 1966, when a gunman opened fire from the University of Texas clock tower, killing 16 people. This was the first event of its kind, and sadly, was the first of many to come. “Tower” is one of the most fascinating documentaries I’ve ever seen. And it’s not because of the story itself, and I do think it’s a story worth telling, but because of how it was made. This is an animated documentary. Yes, an animated documentary that talks about true events. When I first heard about this movie, I really didn’t know how it would even work. Was it going to be half animated and half live action? Was it going to be a biopic, just animated, and they were calling it a documentary? Or what was it all about? I really couldn’t wrap my head around this idea. So I finally saw it, everything made sense, it was truly great, and yes, it is a completely animated documentary.

Most documentaries interview people and show b-roll of pictures and videos pertinent to whatever conversation they are having. In most cases, the events that documentaries talk about happened many, many years ago. So, obviously, the people that they are talking about are older. This is where “Tower” gets especially interesting.  It does have interviews, with real people, who were all animated. However, they were animated as how old they were when the events happened. Most of them were college students, so we are seeing animated college students on the screen, getting interviewed. There are many things I can say about this. Most good, but what I think is the greatest part of this, is that it feels like the college students are talking about this, right after it happened, and it is especially emotional because of that. In addition to this, instead of using b-roll, “Tower” shows an animated recreation of the events. It feels like we are actually living the events, while the people who lived them talk to us. To me, this idea is just great. I’ve heard many people say that animation should not be used for projects such as this one. That it should be used literally for the kind of projects that would not make sense if they were presented in any other format. But I honestly disagree with that. “Tower” is a ver powerful documentary, and unlike most, it actually makes the audience feel what the people actually felt. And that is very hard to accomplish.

How Homelessness is Portrayed in Tokyo Godfathers and Why It Matters

Tokyo Godfathers was a movie I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did. It felt incredibly honest and sweet, with gorgeous animation and amazing storytelling.
The thing that really stuck out to me was how homelessness was handled as a plot point- in that it really wasn’t. It was a setting for them that created tensions perfect for the plot, but it never felt like a one dimensional tool.
The characters all had their reasons for being homeless; and it was not something talked about often between them, not something ruminated on more than it needed to be. We saw them have joyous moments between the difficulties, we saw them live their lives as they have to, and we eventually learned why.
For a film with three homeless protagonists, it felt positive. But not in a way that ignored the troubles of homelessness, but celebrated every aspect of that situation, good and bad. The tight family dynamics between the three of them felt very genuine because of the hardships we’ve seen. Everything felt organic in a way that can only be achieved by a lot of work and careful, mindful writing.
I’d love to know how the writer prepared to create this story, because it feels as though he had done ample research to do this story justice. I really appreciate that.

Response to Life Animated

I was deeply moved by this story. I’d always thought about, how exactly do we communicate with kids who just don’t talk? My boyfriend actually works with special needs kids and though that have protocols, not everyone can be helped using the traditional methods. And really even though he works with them, how can he actually know him if there’s emotional and language barriers, I thought. I think this was a beautiful insight into the world of Owen’s and really an important story to tell. It efficiently conveyed all the personal issues his parents went with after finding out he had a problem, especially with existing stigma around mental disabilities. As well as growing up as a kid with these problems, it’s always deeply upsetting to figure out that they just don’t get the same rights as other people, that they can’t live up to the pursuit of happiness like everyone else. Also, even though Owen had a very specific language barrier, I think it made a really good connection with the audience in the way that we all use movies as escapism, and some of us even use them to convey ideas. It brought us all closer to understanding and conveying these kids as real people, through their experiences.

East Asian Popculture Project – Why are Koreans so Good at Games?


So this is a project I began to share in class. I kind of tackled the stereotype and of course I was passionate about short form online video being a really effective mode for this kind of information.

Watch it, read it if you want, and tell me what you think!


Tyrus and Pam Tom

I’m very glad I got the chance to watch the Tyrus Wong movie, as well as have the opportunity to meet the director of the film, Pamela Tom.

Through her film, she was able to introduce me to a little of who Tyrus was. He was dedicated and knew the value of hard work due to his poverty and immigrant struggles. He never let his hardships get the better of him and he produced beautiful art where ever he went. When asked if he thought he had talent, he would humbly say, “No talent! Just hard work!” Tyrus’ words are so true. Although we might have interest in a subject, unless we put in the work, our efforts will be fruitless. The film gave me pieces of wisdom from Tyrus Wong’s life that I can apply to my own.

I think that’s what Pam wanted us to take away from this film, to use the experiences of others to inspire us to create, to value and enjoy our lives, to find dignity in work, to always be kind and serviceable to others. At least, these were the lessons I took away. Pam then discussed her creative process, noting that it took her about 15 years, a lot of  fundraising and plenty of help from friends to complete the film. With all of those obstacles, it was her drive and passion that helped her complete the work. Pam Tom also exemplifies the values found in Tyrus.

Animation and Music!

Coming into this class, I really had no experience whatsoever with animation or drawing. Most of my creative background is based in music, so I thought it would be interesting to explore the relationship between animation and music and how/why they compliment each other so well. Specifically, I want to explore how music plays a role within animated productions and how animation plays roles in musical productions.

From “Hakuna Matata”

Possibly the most obvious example of this relationship is the power of music to aid in animated storytelling, and nowhere is this more clear to me than in animated Disney films. These are films that a lot of us grew up watching, and, for many people, the music is one of the most “stand-out” features of these animated spectacles. Interestingly, music seems to serve as a powerful storytelling device within these animated films. In The Lion King, for example, “Hakuna Matata” is used to show the passage of time and Simba’s transition into adulthood under the care of Timon and Pumbaa. Songs such as Frozen‘s “Let it Go,” The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World” and Mulan‘s “Reflection” all help to explain the inner conflict felt by the protagonists of these stories as well as their plans to confront/fix this conflict. Songs like “A Whole New World,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” and “Beauty and the Beast” help to express the protagonists’ emotions as they begin to fall in love with other characters.

A still from “Shelter”

While Disney movies provide good examples for how music can help to add meaning and emotion to animation, I’d also like to briefly touch on animation’s power to bring songs to life through the form of animated music videos. Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch” and Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.” are a couple famous examples of how animation can help to convey the artist’s musical intentions and vision in ways that a live action video couldn’t. My favorite example of this is in the video for Porter Robinson & Madeon’s “Shelter” (if you haven’t seen this, please watch it! I promise you won’t regret it!). “Shelter” is an example of a beautifully drawn video which helps to endow the original song with so much more meaning than just the audio can carry. In this music video, Porter Robinson devised a short narrative to accompany the lyrics to his song. The result is a surprisingly powerful music video which really helps to contextualize the meaning behind the song.

These are just a few of the many, many examples of the symbiotic relationship between animation and music. In some cases, it seems that these two mediums work best when they are mixed with each other.

James Parris Reaction

Oh how I wish I could be an extrovert.

I greatly enjoyed James’ talk and showcase of his independent film Pink and Blue. As someone who aspires to work on indie projects in the future, hearing how he was able to manage everything alongside his job was inspiring. Not only was he able to finish it, but the production quality was astounding. The animation and way the models blend with the live action shots were more seamless than some movies. I also found it to be refreshing that Pink and Blue was meant for kids, whereas most independent shorts seem to favor dark, serious, mature themes.

As heavily discussed in class, the issue of society’s preconceived gender roles can be extremely damaging to children. James’ story of the boy who was humiliated by his father for wanting a “girly” PlayStation controller was an example of this. Yet despite how dark his film could have been, James used his experience from working on kids’ shows to create something that was friendly for all ages.

It was also interesting to hear how the girl acting in his film insisted that the boy should pretend to be the doctor instead of her. So even before its completion, his project already influenced the thoughts of a child.

Reaction to Presentation by James Parris

I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation by James Parris. His humor and passion for animation, as well as its potential impact on the world, made him a great speaker.

His claim that he wanted his film Pink and Blue to be “a drop in the Ocean” was very inspiring. It reminded me that efforts that may seem small can contribute to change greater than one could imagine. I like that his film showed the toys’ role in this segregation between “masculine” and “feminine activities”. They refused to cross the so-called line between the two, until one day this occurred by accident and they discovered there was no harm in this.

James brought up a real life occurrence that showed the importance of talking about issues in gender. A boy’s father was going to buy him a playstation controller, and the boy just happened to pick out a sparkly purple controller. His father wouldn’t have it, and made a scene in the checkout line. James said that that moment was going to remain with that child forever, and I couldn’t agree more. Parents have a huge impact on their child’s self image, even before the child is old enough to realize this. In order to help the next generation of children have more confidence, we must take a look at the generation who will raise them. If we can combat ignorance surrounding issues like gender roles, and give less authority to conventions, we can anticipate a generation of children who are more comfortable with themselves. The slightest bit of encouragement for children to express themselves can be a drop in the ocean that will bring upon a wave of change.

Reaction to James Parris’ presentation

I really learned a lot from James Parris’ presentation. I was really impressed with his studio’s animation, especially given the scale and budget he had. It was very well rendered and animated and gave a neat story that challenged a common preconception about how kids play.

He makes for a fantastic guest speaker, and I not only learned a lot, but was pretty inspired by what he talked about. I realized that making a change in the world isn’t something you have to dedicate your life to, but just slowly work towards however you can. As he put it, he “puts a drop in the ocean of change.” If everyone did that, our world would be a far better place.

I also liked his explanation of the need to desegregate what constitutes a “boy toy” and a “girl toy.” I never thought about it from the angle of destigmatization, and his explanation that it wasn’t to be enforced, but rather just not interfering if you see your kid doing something that doesn’t fit their gender’s preexisting notion of what they should enjoy. He explained it in a way that wasn’t condescending, despite it being something a lot of people in California would almost be offended if you didn’t agree. James is an excellent guest speaker, and I hope to encounter him again someday.