Barack Obama Finally Honors America’s Greatest Animation Artist

barackobama-katzenberg-medal

On Monday, Jeffrey Katzenberg became just the second animation figure, after Disney animator Ollie Johnston, to receive the National Medal of Arts, the highest award bestowed upon artists and arts patrons by the United States government.

It’s hard to think of an individual who has contributed more to Barack Obama the development of the animation art form than our man Jeffrey. Here’s the moment of coronation:

Obama and Katzenberg’s body language in the following clip is particularly fascinating to watch:

If you want to watch the whole video, go here (Jeffrey’s part starts around the 9-minute mark).


  • Axolotl

    Don’t blame me, I voted for Hayao Miyazaki.

  • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

    A more accurate description would be, “Obama gives an honorary award to one of his biggest campaign backers.”

  • momo

    that body language is amazing to watch! Katzi is not listening to the guy speaking. Maybe Obama had an ounce of regrets, but as he listen to the speach he bob in approval on “opening our hearts”….ah…I guess you can open an obama heart for 3 millions dollars.

    This is great!

  • littleblueridinghood

    ‘Greatest
    Animation Artist’? The guy never lifted a pencil on paper, EVER. What
    scene did he animate, what character did he supervise that was so iconic
    that made him such ‘America’s Greatest’ ?Good sense of what stories the
    public goes for or business man more like. Save these titles for the
    more deserving. Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl and the other
    Nine Old Men, Chuck Jones, etc- THOSE are the best of the best. Jeffrey
    is more a man who knows what the public wants. ‘Animator’ is a joke of a
    label. ‘America’s Greatest Animation Artist’ is plain undeserving. If
    you want to give a label for someone with story caliber, Walt Disney was
    a master of story. A genius at it that outshines his draftsmanship.
    Jeffrey has not produced stories of warmth, joy and sweetness that can
    even compare. I’d say that one of the greatest was already honored-
    Ollie Johnston

    • Copper

      I’m 99% sure Amid was being sarcastic with that title.

    • HerpDerp

      Lol…it sounded more, to me, like sarcasm. hence the strike through “contributed more to Barack Obama the development of the animation art”

    • bob

      didn’t quite pick up on the sarcasm? Pretty sure Amid is on your side here…

  • Copper

    Gross.

    You’re right though, that body language is pretty interesting. Honestly though, Katzenberg should have saved the trouble of traveling to DC and sent a stack of his money to be awarded instead, since that’s all Obama sees when he looks at him anyway.

  • DarlieB

    The medal is not for animating. Here is the full list.
    Julia Alvarez, Novelist, Poet, and Essayist
    Brooklyn Academy of Music, Presenter
    Joan Harris, Arts Patron
    Bill T. Jones, Dancer and Choreographer
    John Kander, Musical Theater Composer
    Jeffrey Katzenberg, Director and CEO of DreamWorks
    Maxine Hong Kingston, Writer
    Albert Maysles, Documentary Filmmaker
    Linda Ronstadt, Musician
    Billie Tsien and Tod Williams (receiving individual medals), Architects
    James Turrell, Visual Artist

  • Duane

    Who’s your daddy ?

    Capitalism at its best, you don’t elect people to govern, let your CEOs and bankers do the job for you, governments are just insurances set to bail them out when screwing up.

    And there are still people in this Country seeing a difference between conservatives and liberals…

  • Matt

    You must be so proud of yourself Jeffrey giving away all that money and all those future jobs so that this man can take America down. Hell will have a special place for you and Barack Hussein Obama as well.

  • Joseph Patrick

    Throughout his career, most of the success Katzenberg garnered from movies he’s produced come from 1) Animators doing the opposite of what he wants and 2) projects he doesn’t manage personally. And yet he still gets a medal for being an artist. Yuck!

  • PeterTx52

    No. 3: Jeffrey Katzenberg, 61, Hollywood film producer and chief executive of DreamWorks Animation.

    Total: $3.07 million

    A reliable Democratic Party mega-donor in past years, Katzenberg has
    given $3 million to Priorities USA Action this election cycle.
    Katzenberg has helped bundle more than $500,000 for the president’s
    second term, making him among the campaign’s top volunteer fundraisers.
    He’s also given more than $66,000 to Obama’s campaign and the Democratic
    Party. The Hollywood icon has been invited to White House events,
    including a state dinner. Such high-profile soirees put him in proximity
    earlier this year to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who signed off
    on an overseas deal benefiting Katzenberg’s studio.
    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/donors-dollars-top-5-fundraisers-obama

  • Dirty Laundry Day

    Katzenberg for 2016 WOOOOOW!!

  • MG

    I couldn’t even get to the third one it was so laughable. “with citations.” Come on, seriously?

  • grainy

    He that lives upon HOPE will die fasting.
    -Ben Franklin

  • Mike Milo

    Honestly should this guy be recognized for ANYTHING related to animation after wage fixing artists salaries? He should be hanging his head in shame, not cozying up to the president who is supposed to have our backs. Oh wait, that’s right the president DOESN’T have our backs either.

  • gotmeens

    u forgot a few key ones on there…. gitmo, indefinte detintion of american citizens, double tap drone strikes, a kill list… i mean do i really need to go on? fuck a president, either side of the isle…. name me one law in the past 10 years that actually gave american citizens more freedom…. the patriot act? ndaa? sopa? pipa? what great accomplishments this man has made to the country and the world as a whole

    • May1979

      Back to Katzenberg. Yes, he deserves this honor. He has advanced animation. He didn’t do as much as Walt but like Walt he created an environment for the artists to create great things he himself could never do alone. So leave aside his politics. Last I check, this is America and people are entitled to support whomever they want.

      • Ronnie

        Unlike Walt, Katzenberg is not a creative individual- in fact, the opposite. His first move at his own studio was to plagiarize early drafts of A Bug’s Life to try and stick it to his former employers. And Dreamworks, creator of great things? Comparable to Walt’s Disney? You sir are delusional to the Nth degree.

        • DangerMaus

          Is there any actual evidence to support a claim of plagiarism? ANTZ has nothing in common with BUG’S LIFE other than they are both about ants.

          • Ronnie

            If you know about the early drafts of Bug’s Life, you know it was at one point a rather different film. It changed a lot in development. But yeah, there’s a good bit out there if you dig into preproduction stuff, though of course Katzenberg has a scapegoat alibi.

  • Duane

    Thanks Otterhead for confirming all that’s been said above ;)

  • Duane

    In the assembly line or during an eight-hour shift I’m wondering what control of their body these women have…

    All that sounds terrible, but I’m optimistic ;)

  • mick

    Course not. Some disgruntled pencil wiggler would want Glen Keane given a massive golden trumpet award (honestly, why is it always Glen bloody Keane???), Miyazaki declared king of twee. All these awards are meaningless, who really cares? Tell Joe public ‘Jeffrey Katzenberg was awarded the National medal of arts’ and I guarantee the response will be overwhelmingly ‘Who got a what now?’
    Mention Katzenberg on an animation blog and watch the mob gather.

    This isn’t even a storm in a tea cup, it’s vapour in a bucket… the situation doesn’t even warrant a proper idiom

    • Fried

      I wish this were featured comment.

  • truteal

    Unfortunately, money continues to be the main driving force of animation

    • insert name here

      And everything else apparently.

  • insert name here

    Giving a medal to a guy whose company just fired a bunch of people and been implicated in a wage fixing cartel is all too typical of an administration that has yet to jail a single banker for all of the nonsense that caused the 2008 crisis. This is disgusting.

  • Doz Hewson

    I’m glad I missed this. I’m just…well, you know, too damn worried about THESE WANKEROUS TIMES IN WHICH WE LIVE….

  • Harrison

    Amid Amidi: Barack Obama Finally Honors America’s Greatest Animation Artist

    Me: Milt Kahl?

    Amid Amidi: Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Me: Oh…okay…

  • Steven Bowser

    He isn’t an “animation artist”, he’s an entrepreneur.

  • Funkybat

    I seriously doubt the Dragon franchise is “dead.” Just because the second movie was darker and less lighthearted than the first one doesn’t mean it isn’t beloved by audiences. It just passed the $500 million mark in worldwide BO. #3 is a given.

  • http://www.doodlesinanimation.blogspot.com Annie T.

    Actually, if you look at the second gif I’m pretty sure that he did raise the eyebrow. Pretty appropriate, given the award.