Animation allows the impossible to feel real. Anything can happen in animation, which makes animated films and TV series something truly marvelous. That being said, the world of animation has seen a lot of disrespect, especially recently.
It seems as though many people, including the executives of major movie studios, think that animation is something less than live action storytelling. They belittle it, act as though it isn’t as entertaining as live action work, and treat it as unimportant. There have been some rather shocking things said about animation from folks in Hollywood as of late.
During the 2022 Academy Awards, actresses Lily James, Halle Bailey, and Naomi Scott said that animation is “something to be enjoyed by kids and endured by adults.” During that same event, host Amy Schumer said the only movie she’s seen out of the nominees is Encanto because of watching it over and over with her kid. More recently, Disney CEO Bob Chapek stated that adults don’t want to tune into animated content and that he doesn’t think it’s for them. This last one is especially surprising since his massive paycheck largely comes from people of all ages enjoying watching Disney’s animated films and series.
Each and every one of these individuals couldn’t be more wrong. Animation is not just for kids; it’s for everyone. During the red carpet event for his take on Pinocchio, filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro said that “animation is not a genre for kids. It’s a medium. Animation is film. Animation is art, and it can tell stories that are gorgeous and complex, and that feel handmade by humans for humans.” He couldn’t have been more right.
People of any age can be entertained by and feel a connection to animation. There are obviously animated works aimed toward children, like Paw Patrol, and that’s okay. However, there’s also animation aimed at adults, like Persepolis. There’s even animation aimed at everyone, like The Mitchells vs. the Machines or Steven Universe. It’s safe to say that anyone, regardless of their age, can get enjoyment from watching a masterpiece like Spirited Away. Unlike what the actresses said at the Oscars, it’s absolutely okay to enjoy any of these animations. They don’t need to be “endured.”
Del Toro’s point about it being a medium and not a genre is also incredibly accurate. Any genre can be made as an animation. Flee is an animated documentary. Grave of the Fireflies is an animated war drama. Wendell and Wild is an animated dark fantasy. Aladdin is an animated comedy musical. These movies, while all animated, belong to incredibly different genres.
It’s extremely harmful that big names in Hollywood, like Chapek, subscribe to this way of thinking and use their platforms to spread it to others. There are hundreds of thousands of adults who work tirelessly in the animation industry to bring their artwork to life. There’s no need for these big names to belittle their work that people enjoy at any stage of their lives.
Many people who think this way have likely had their views skewed by only ever watching Disney’s animated musicals, but they need to see that there’s more out there. Animation is a powerful medium that can bring the most creative ideas to life. There’s no reason to gatekeep which age group gets to enjoy that. Animation should always be for everyone.