Thoughts After the Show-runner Panel

After reflecting on the animation show-runner panel, I really appreciated the candidness and humbleness of each of the speakers. Mike Mayfield from Mr. Pickles! , Chris Savino from The Loud House, and Brandon Vietti from Young Justice all painted an earnest picture of what being a show-runner truly entails.  Often it means long boring meetings about budgets and schedules. But it also means  “putting on different hats” and having a say in each part of the production pipeline. Because of this, every day is different for this job. Show-runners experience gut busting laughter in the writer’s room as well as reviewing storyboards made by amazing artists. According to Chris Savino, it takes a certain personality to become a show-runner, you have to be obsessed with making the show as close to its original idea as possible.

Along with gaining a better understanding of what being showrunner is like, each of the speakers gave invaluable advice about the industry.

All the speakers expressed there are three essential characteristics in order for someone to be hireable- they are good at art, are kind and a team player, and are punctual with deadlines. They all expressed that they would rather help a not as good kind artist become better than work with a rude good artist. Furthermore, reputation is important because animation is a tight knit community and finding work relies on personal connections made with other professionals. Also bad reputations like being rude or turning work in late can stick for years. Chris Savino expressed he had to overcome his reputation of being someone who complains years after he worked on Ren and Stimpy.

All the speakers voiced that they did not think that they would have their current job. They all took career changing opportunities instead of being fixated on what they thought they wanted. They advised to immersed in current jobs and create the best work and relationships possible. The journey is unpredictable and as long as you do your job well and are genuine you will be fine. The panelists also suggested to specialize in what you want to do and not appear desperate. Desperation often comes from fear and hinders achieving ones goals. Also Chris Savino stated to stop comparing oneself to others. There’s a difference between what we think  we need to achieve and what our actual calling.

Lastly, it’s important to remember why we make animation. As Chris Savino said “entertainment isn’t frivolous”. The art we create can mean so much to people. It can bond families and help people through tough times.

I’m glad that I went to this. I feel more confident about my future in the animation industry and it helped me learn to enjoy and soak up the journey instead of only focusing on the end goal.  I’m excited to integrate their advice into my life and who knows maybe I’ll be in their same position one day.

Ageism: It Starts Early

When deciding what to discuss about ageism, I found myself drawing a bit of a blank. I hadn’t really had any direct experience with ageism in the workplace, asides from some minor things now and then. I wasn’t old enough to be denied a job by someone looking for younger employees. I’m only 20.

But of course, there are many types of ageism, especially on certain websites online. Many websites restrict membership to people at least 13 or 18 years of age. Of course, there are usually legal reasons for this, and of course people lie about their age all the time, but these age barriers imprint certain subconscious assumptions on the abilities of those barred by them.

We start to feel that these kids aren’t worthy of accessing some of the same things we can. We start to think that they’re too foolish, naive, or immature to handle the same things we can as adults. Yet children are still people who still have thoughts and opinions, some of which can even be more eloquent than the ideas of some adults.

A twelve year old on Quora put it simply:

“I am 12. I am not a sheep. I have opinions. I do not live in a cave. I have knowledge. I didn’t live in a basement my whole life. I have stories. What makes these any less valuable than someone else’s just because they’re older?”    -Omer Frank, on Should Quora ban people under 18 from answering questions on Quora?

 

So ageism is really not just a question of how one age group looks at another (regardless of context) but how all age groups appear to each other and how these sorts of relationships shape society and whether or not these interactions are beneficial or harmful to certain groups.

 

 

Another explanation for ageism

Ageism can spawn from the same inherent biases we all have as humans, which is to desire to be around people who look and think like us. It’s something we can’t stop. But perhaps there is another, more innocent cause for this phenomenon.

In the age discrimination article on LinkedIn, I notice the author stated that one excuse for discrimination is that employers would say they wanted “new blood.” This could be a simple cover for bias, but what if it actually meant something better?

I have the feeling many employers like being the kind of person who brings people into the industry. You want to be known as the person who brought up a rising star, or gave a new student their future, right? When you see someone younger and less experienced, you know that they’ll never be able to get a real job if they’re only up against people with years of experience. If hired solely on experience, newcomers would never be able to get a job.

This bias on age could partially be good intentions on behalf of employers who want to give this generation’s “young blood” their first taste of real work. Not just because they’re cheaper and willing to work longer hours, but because you need experience to be hired in the first place. The real issue is, too many employers assume other employers employ solely based on experience, so newcomers get slight priority over those with years of experience more often than necessary.

Inexperience or young age should still have some decision factor when it comes to getting a job. If experience is the only aspect of a resume considered, students would never be able to move beyond internships. Time is against them. This just can’t be the case for every job on the market.

Trollhunters: A Refreshing Hero Story

With their growing popularity, many online streaming services have started creating original content. DreamWorks has taken advantage of the this expanding platform and made a multi-year distribution deal making original content for Netflix. For the most part these shows have been met with gleaming reviews from critics and viewers. One DreamWorks show that stood out is Trollhunters created by Guillermo del Toro.

Trollhunters follows 15 year old Jim Lake Jr. who has been chosen as the next Trollhunter, a magical warrior tasked with fighting the evil trolls (Gumm-Gumms) and protecting the underground civilization of Heartstone Trollmarket . A Trollhunter is chosen by a mystical amulet that gives the user armor and a giant sword. Jim is the first human to ever be given the mantle of Trollhunter, much to the dismay of the whole troll community. With his friends Toby and Claire and his troll mentors Blinky and AAARRRGGHH!!!, Jim must stop the Gumm-Gumm leader Gunmar from returning and destroying the world.

The reason I love this show so much is because it’s the same hero story we’ve seen, but at the same time it’s not. The main difference between Trollhunters and other hero stories is the mood. Heroes nowadays are made to be anti-heroes, heroes that are morally grey and are usually characterized by being very violent. Anti-heroes are awesome, but it’s nice to see a hero who is a genuinely good guy. Jim is hardworking and caring person especially when it comes to family. His personality reminds me of Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, a good guy who values education, friendship, and family. I feel like in television, for dramas and superhero shows specifically, there seems to be this inclination towards dark storylines with death and violence and other bad stuff. With so many shows with this dark mood it’s refreshing to watch something like Trollhunters that has some sad moments, but ultimately keeps an atmosphere of fun.

Trollhunters is also very strong with characters and relationships. Jim’s growth as a hero and his relationship with his mother are two examples of this. Throughout the series Jim is trying to step up to his new role as Trollhunter, but struggles because of a lack of support from the other trolls. He also tries to keep his troll hunting exploits a secret from his mother and as a result their close relationship is broken. It is uncommon to see such attention to character in an animated kids show. Usually characters change a little, but are ultimately the same throughout. Like the Teen Titans, they had moments where they grew and became more mature heroes however, at the end of the day their characterization and personalities were pretty unwavering. Trollhunters takes that extra step to make compelling characters that feel real even though they are animated.

I think Trollhunters is a great example of how an animated series can be enjoyed by people of all ages and have a great story and characters. Its fun mood makes it a delight to watch and doesn’t make me feel depressed or make me question my existence. I feel it’s important for people to watch a show that is uplifting especially in these troubling times. If you haven’t seen Trollhunters I highly recommend you watch it.

The Importance of Independent Creators for Diversity In Animation

Like Sapphire told us, industry professionals look to online creators via social media to see what and resonating with people. Because of social media, consumers and independent creators are helping create a market for animations with more diverse characters.

From fan art and fan fiction to independently made comics there is an online push for characters with identities other than “white heterosexual male”.

Image result for give elsa a girlfriend tweetFor example the hashtag #GiveElsaGirlfriend trended on twittered since her “conceal don’t feel” song is analogous to feelings of closeted queer people.

The animation industry has a lot of room to improve with the representation of women, LGBT people, and people of color. Fortunately recent shows like Steven Universe, Bob’s Burgers, and Avatar: The Last Airbender showcase diversity, feminism and fully developed nuanced characters. But there is still issues with getting characters with different identities on screen. For instance, when we had our discussion about LGBT representation in class, Sabrina Contugno described the great difficulty and ultimately failure to put a lesbian couple in Gravity Falls. Sabrina even described how she intentionally desexualized these characters by making them older and only having them hold each other instead of kissing.

Independent creators do not experience the same obstacles previously described. Luckily with the internet these artists are able to work full time through different avenues, like selling prints, doing comic book covers, and making books etc. Some independent artist who do amazing work and display diverse identities are:

Image result for markus prime BRUH

Markus Prime  (instagram @markus.effin.prime) who is known for publishing B.R.U.H.: Black Renditions of Universal Heros. Markus draws black female renditions of famous characters from Naurto to Buzz Lightyear to Wonderwoman.

Sophie Campbell (tumblr mooncalfe) is a comic artist known for her works Wet Moon and Shadoweyes.  Afropunk.com describes that her illustrations “tend towards adolescent females or young women, a departure from many mainstream comics which usually center around male characters or a single female character often portrayed as a sex icon. In contrast, Campbell’s characters are diverse including various races, body types, sexual orientations as well as differently-abled characters” Image result for tj and amalEk. Weaver created the online comic The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, which is about Amal who recently comes out as gay to his parents. After, he gets drunk and promises a stranger- T.J. -to let him travel with him to Providence from Berkeley where Amal is going for sister’s graduation. This is a beautiful comic that represents queer people in a realistic way.  This comic has won multiple awards such as the 2016 Harvey award and the 2015 Lambda Literary Award.

On both an individual level and in the grand scheme of the industry, independent creators have a profound effect. Independent creators make well-rounded diverse characters that consumers crave. Also these artists show that stories that include different identities can be successful. Consumers should keep being vocal and independent should keep fearlessly creating.

E3 2015 Diversity Report – Ubisoft and Representation of Women

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/15/black-female-video-game-heroes-e3-diversity-report-microsoft-bethesda-sony-ubisoft-ea

(BTW I’m so sorry, I meant to write this right after class and forgot til now)

So for our podcast Jessica, Kay and I talked about the representation of women in our favorite games, specifically diving into each of the games companies, and how diverse they really were. We did our best to find out how many people, and how many women specifically contributed to these games and to what capacity.

I talked about the problems within the Assassin’s Creed series but how I thought that the whole got turned around with the release of Syndicate. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate feature 2 main characters, 3 playable characters, 2 of which are women. Particularly, I was always a huge fan of Evie, and I feel like a lot of the women playing the game also felt a connection to her.

In my research I was looking for what Ubisoft as a company might have looked like in 2015. I came across this article published after E3 that year that talked about who was there to represent each company in their press conferences. In fact the title alludes to the fact the traditionally games have been an all-white boys club. Until now.

Many of the companies were seen as “trying too hard” by putting their women and people of color foward, and the article breaks each one of those down. I don’t think any of it is a bad thing but there is a line to be upheld. Just having a popular woman of color talk about the games, like Ubisoft did, doesn’t mean the company is actually diverse.

I did mention however in our podcast that Ubisoft is an incredibly international company, which leads me to believe that there is a lot of diversity, just in the span of having people all over the world.

It wasn’t until the end of the article that I realized Syndicate wasn’t the major release that year, still, leading up to it’s release was relevant.

Listen to our podcast here:

Body Image in Animation (Round 3)

My podcast team consisted of Amanda, Ashley and I. Our over all topic concerned body diversity amongst female characters in animated tv shows from the late 90s to early 2000’s. We discussed the lack of variety in terms of body shapes, as the proportions of most characters were either entirely unrealistic or fell into the “average” category, leaving out thinner or heavier characters.

Keeping our discussion in mind, I came across an article called, “Frozen in time: when will Disney’s heroines reflect real body shapes?” from the online news source, The Guardian. The article is a few years old, mainly commenting on the characters in Frozen. It’s basic claim is that Disney has perpetuated the same unrealistic standard of beauty with it’s princesses and has done no different with Anna and Elsa.

I’m sure Disney doesn’t set out with the sole goal of pushing idealized standards of beauty, but, film after film featuring female characters with the same type of “look” certainly sends a message as to what the preferred female looks like. Young girls then consume this message, and conclude that if they’re outside of the Disney “mold”, they’re not pretty.  Meanwhile mainstream media tells them their value lies in their attractiveness, thus creating insecurities within the person.

Personally, I think too much emphasis is placed on attractiveness in our culture. A human being’s worth is inherent and does not hinge on sexual appeal. Sexuality is simply one facet to a whole person. The article mentioned above quotes Disney animator, Lino DiSalvo, saying, “Historically speaking, animating female characters is really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions, but … you have to keep them pretty.” The quote clearly reveals an unrealistic expectation. Her attractiveness plays more importance than her ability to express emotion. Why must we always be concerned about the female character being pretty? Why must we strive for an unattainable perfection? Life itself is filled with it’s disappointments and struggles. It isn’t always pretty, and yet our representations of humans on screen must be perfect.

There have been positive steps forward with Disney. With the release of Moana, a princess with a significantly sturdier build has been added to the Disney line up.

Creators, including Disney, have a responsibility to put forth variety in their character designs and a diversity which reflects life. As creators we should be encouraged to look beyond the attractiveness of a character and create a multi dimensional person whose appearance mirrors the people we see in the world today.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2013/nov/28/frozen-disney-female-body-image

Smith, Anna. “Frozen in time: when will Disney’s heroines reflect real body shapes?” The Guardian 28 Nov. 2013. web. 22 Feb. 2017

Lazy Town: Robbie Rotten was superhero number 1

For my podcast section, I’ll be talking about Lazy Town, and a theory I came up with after seeing the first episode.

The first thing I noticed was the sequence of heroes in the Lazy Town universe. The protagonist appears in the town, and is shocked with how much of a dump it is, with all the people dumb and fat and lazy. When she asks the mayor what he can do, he tells her to contact hero number 9. Right away, this means there are at least 8 other heroes like him. But what about when he shows up? It turns out number 9 isn’t the one who got the message, but his successor, number 10, named Sportacus.

We can never be sure what happened to hero number 9 without further research, but it does confirm that there is a line of heroes from the North Sea. But how does Robbie Rotten fit in? What makes him an ex-hero? His physical form. Robbie is strong, smart, and fast, much different than the puppets who make up most of the town. In fact, he’s significantly more similar to the active Sportacus than he is to the lazy puppets. This means they are highly likely to be cut from the same mold.

Finally, what makes Robbie Rotten hero number 1? First, he has clearly battled hero number 9 somehow, seeing as though he says “another one” upon seeing Sportacus’ blimp. Given the prior evidence, he’s likely an earlier hero, but number 1? Just listen to his obsession to that number in the aptly-titled song “We are Number One.” Not to mention when he says “another one,” it means he’s met multiple before, and has yet to be beaten.

Reaction to FlavorWire’s cartoon conspiracy article

10 Bizarre Kiddie Cartoon Conspiracy Theories

This article really spurred my imagination on this subject. A number of these are shows I watched when I was younger, and already recognized some of them. When I read about the Courage the Cowardly Dog conspiracy, I had already been thinking about that as I watched it as a child. I remember how my dog would bark at random people outside, even though they weren’t actually monsters, and tied that in to Courage’s constant fear of the unknown. This really got me excited for this project, and I had a lot of fun researching and coming up with conspiracy theories for other shows.

Giving a seemingly straight-forward show an additional level of plot to think of makes it even more interesting than it is at face value. This is why I enjoy cartoon conspiracies so much: even just thinking about them watching the show makes everything much more interesting than it at first appears.

Amazing World Of Gumball: The Simulation and The Reset theories

For my section of our conspiracy podcast I’ll be talking about a theory about The Amazing World of Gumball that involves how the reality of Elmore works.

Looking up similar theories came up with this Reddit post, which suggests that Elmore is a simulated reality (which, in animation terms, it pretty much is):

https://www.reddit.com/r/FanTheories/comments/35cldi/spoilers_the_amazing_world_of_gumball_elmore/

The theory that I would like to propose, which we’ll talk about more in detail during the podcast, is that, in order to prevent Elmore from devolving into total chaos on a regular basis, the creators of the world (in a real-world sense), reset the show’s reality often and erase characters and their memories from existence to preserve whatever sanity the town of Elmore might have left.