There aren’t all that many animated films in the immaculately curated Criterion Collection. In fact, of the 556 DVDs that have been released under the Criterion banner, approximately 556 of them have been not been animated.
That’s Cinematical writer David Ehrlich asking why the discerning cinema buffs at Criterion have never released an animated film. He suggests that they begin looking in the direction of animation and offers a list of ten animated films they should consider releasing. What’s your wishlist of animated films that Criterion should release? Perhaps someone at the company will take notice of the possibilities.
FOR THE RECORD: A few commenters have pointed out that Criterion has released animation in the past–they put out Akira on laserdisc in 1995, and have released a few DVD anthologies of work by experimental animator Stan Brakhage.
The “Walt Disney hated Jews and blacks” accusation is one of the most vile mistruths tossed around about the old man, yet a quick browse on-line suggests that more young people believe it today than ever before. How did this happen? Why is the single fact that kids know about this 20th century entertainment giant a shopworn charge, long ago disproven, that he was anti-Semitic and/or racist?
I began to understand the situation more clearly after spending some time exploring Yahoo! Answers, which contains dozens of questions about Walt’s beliefs. The questions don’t stem from Marc Eliot’s notorious hack job Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince–remember, nobody reads anymore–but rather from pop culture references, particularly animated shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken.
Writers of these shows, who can rarely be relied upon to come up with clever or original humor, recycle a playbook of dated pop culture references, among them that Walt hated Jews and that he’s frozen. Family Guy writers are so enamored of the anti-Semitic charges, that they’ve made the accusation multiple times, including this instance:
Combine the endemic laziness of animation writers with an every-child-left-behind educational system that has created a legion of TV viewers who can’t recognize that they’re being duped by old hearsay instead of being revealed new truths, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
I dropped by the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco last year and it was one of the most well curated and delightful museums I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. The museum achieves its aims of documenting Disney’s vast achievements and then some. The reality though is that most teenagers will never visit the museum. To address the rampant distortions about Walt, the Disney family and company must expand their on-line presence and make an effort to combat the inaccuracies with relevant information about Walt Disney’s life, history and legacy.
I’m sure the Walt Disney Company has plenty of employees already who manage their brand on-line and actively communicate with fans on the Internet. But seeing as how their company’s success is so indelibly tied to a single name, it would behoove them to also have a full-time employee or two dedicated to managing their founder’s reputation lest these lies are repeated often enough to be accepted as truth.
The problem of TV writers spreading disinformation about Walt is so widespread that even former Disney stars are perpetuating the stories. For example, take this appearance by Zac Efron on Saturday Night Live. Walt Disney appears in the skit, and along with him, the two stock Walt gags: he’s anti-Semitic and he’s frozen.
I’ve collected some of the most representative questions and answers from Yahoo! Answers that show the scope of the perception problem for Disney.
After analyzing all of the related Walt Disney questions on Yahoo, the most common sources of Walt’s contemporary character assassination can be traced to jokes on Family Guy and Robot Chicken, resulting in questions like this one:
Or this one:
Walt has defenders but the reasons are often as misinformed as the questions.
Here’s a defense from a “Disney historian, sort of!”
This Jewish girl is disappointed to learn that Walt, in fact, hated her.
Of course, he wasn’t just an anti-Semite, he was also “pro-white and hated people who weren’t.”
Thankfully, watching Disney cartoons is ok since “It’s not like you’re funding some Jew-killing operation.”
Oh, Family Guy writers, what clever comedy material will you come up with next? Perhaps a timely Hitler joke.
Saturday Night Live writers aren’t much better.
According to this person, supporting Walt Disney’s work is equivalent to supporting a media empire run by Osama bin Laden.
Walt won’t even leave Jews alone when they’re in the bathroom. This Yahoo commenter has a bright future ahead of him as a TV animation writer.
Frankly, Google’s Autofill isn’t much help in the matter either.
And yes, finally, some sanity.
UPDATE: A shameful example of misinformation can be found in this recent piece about Roald Dahl. In it, the misinformed author Alex Carnevale repeats the old canard about Walt’s feelings towards Jews:
[Dahl's] interest in writing, combined with his ludicrous tales of his wartime experience, quickly led him to Hollywood, where he immediately had much in common (appetite for clandestine inappropriate sex, hatred of Jews) with the Disney brothers. Walt Disney gave him the use of a car and put him up at the Beverly Hills Hotel!
Ryan Mauskopf (aka “Professor Soap”) is an illustrator, animator and musician living and working in New York City, currently the lead Graphic Designer for The Onion News Network‘s online videos. Not much happens in his film, Spirit Quest Journey, but I think that’s the point. Just a bunch of aliens walking on the moon. It makes me smile without doing a thing.
Hans Perk recently posted scans from a 1983 edition of the Disney Newsreel, an in-house newsletter about happenings around the studio. The issue had an article about an animation test created by John Lasseter and Glen Keane using Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are as subject matter. The project will be well known to anyone familiar with the careers of Lasseter and Keane, but I found the article’s contemporaneous account of the production to be interesting, especially Lasseter’s quote that, “In five years these tests will seem so primitive, they’ll look like Steamboat Willie does today.” Since it seems that people rarely bother to read scans of text, I went ahead and reformatted the piece for on-line. Here is the article:
Henry Selick’s new animation studio, which we reported on a couple months ago, has set up shop in San Francisco’s hip Mission District. According to MissionLocal.org, the Disney-backed studio, now called ShadeMaker Productions, is located in a former chocolate factory at 16th and Folsom, and will ultimately house 150 employees.
You never know where you’ll find animation history. The Coca-Cola website has just posted this obscure model sheet of their Sprite Boy mascot of the 1950s, for a proposed animated theatrical commercial. Click on image above for larger picture. The Coca-Cola Company used this character in its advertising in the 40’s and 50’s (see left). He was conceived by the soft-drink staff artist, Haddon Sundblom, famed pulp cover painter and pin-up artist who created the Coke’s version of a Santa Claus. The model sheet is labeled “Minitoons” which I believe may have been Walter Lantz’ title for a series of Coca-Cola theatrical spots. No cartoon featuring this character has ever surfaced – but interesting, huh?
Someone just posted on You Tube several of the rarely seen 1963 King Features Snuffy Smith cartoons that were animated by Jim Tyer. Tyer is a real cult figure around here for his absolutely outrageous cartoony animation, way-off model, celebrated by the best in the business and rightly so. Not even limited animation could suppress his looney drawing style – and Tyer-philes will feast upon these links:
P.S. While we’re at it, check out the eight-minute Snuffy Smith pilot from Format Films: Snuffy’s Turf Luck. Not a very good film, but it was the first of the series, and directed by Jack Kinney and animated by Harvey Toombs (both long-time Disney veterans). Note Doodles Weaver doing his horse race routine in the cartoon. Mike Kazaleh theorizes: “I’m guessing that Joe Siracusa brought him in. They would’ve worked together when Joe (and Doodles) were in the City Slickers (Spike Jones). Or maybe Jack Kinney brought him in. He’d used Doodles earlier in Hockey Homicide. Note too that they added the Wm. Pattengill animated opening from the Paramount cartoons. I wonder if this cartoon had other titles when it was shot.”
It still sends a tingle down my spine when I discover a piece of amazing animation that I didn’t know existed. That’s the feeling I experienced this afternoon when I randomly stumbled onto About Face, an animated short made by Chris James in 1978. With tension and surprise in every transformation, the film is a reminder that pen and colored pencil can still create effects impossible to achieve with any other tool.
Here is a description of the film found on-line:
About Face is set to the music of Claude Jouvin and features caricatures of Henry the VIII, Mick Jagger, Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, The Marx Brothers, David Bowie and a worm.
The film was runner-up in the Grierson Award for Best Short Film of 1978 and was screened on the inaugural day of Channel Four television in November 1982. Other showings include The Arts Council Film Tour and the film festivals of Annecy, Zagreb, Los Angeles, Tampere, Varna, Lucca, Wellington and more.
Written and drawn by Chris James
Music Claude Jouvin
Camera Julian Holdaway
Legendary visual effects artist Stan Winston has been dead for a few years now, but an on-line school bearing his name is getting ready to start up. Stan Winston School of Character Arts will be launched in association with the Los Angeles-based institution Gnomon. The three-minute trailer on the school’s website offers a preview of the numerous disciplines that will be taught by the Stan Winston School of Character Arts. My only question: If you’re starting a serious school, why hire a cheesy and obnoxious announcer who cheapens the entire message?
I don’t think we’ve ever done this before – post an entire episode from a current TV series – but this episode of The Simpsons must be seen by all loyal Cartoon Brew readers. So stop what you are doing for 22 minutes and watch Episode 14 of Season 22: Angry Dad: The Movie:
A new episode of Adventure Time airs tonight on Cartoon Network, and the show will feature a 5-1/2 minute long computer animated segment. The segment was modeled, rigged and animated by one person–Ke Jiang–who graduated in 2009 from the CalArts Experimental Animation program.
Animator and character designer William Bradford in North Vancouver, BC created this test piece for a pitch package “for the show I’ve been passing to local studios without much success”. For more about Bradford and his Bubble Hub pitch, check out his Elephant March Sketchblog.