UPDATE: D'OH! Alright, that was the Britain's BAFTA nominations. I read the post over at Cartoon Brew, and after finishing this post, I remembered that the Oscar picks are tomorrow. My bad. I should be more patient before running off my big mouth. Still, let's see what happens tomorrow - I don't expect anything different, but we'll see.
Another year, another batch of lousy Oscar picks for animated films. Once again, the Academy just doesn't get it.
The Oscar pics for Best Animated Film include Ratatouille, Shrek the Third, and The Simpson's Movie.
Oh, by the way, Persepolis has finally arrived here in Minneapolis this weekend. It's absolutely fantastic. I'm pouring through the book right now, and I want to go back to the Uptown Theatre at least a couple more times. I just may go there tonight.
But, oh, never mind, let's give it to Shrek and Simpson's. Gimmie a freakin' break. This is the laziest and most ignorant category in the entire Oscar realm. There's always a slot for Pixar, which I really don't mind, because their movies are so consistently good, and Ratatouille really sets a new standard for 3D computer animation. But what's the deal with the rest?
The standard-issue mindset persists. "Animation" means "baby-sitter." These aren't real movies. Oh, no. These are just easy distractions for the five-year-olds, so Mommy and Daddy can go crash on the couch after working another wasted day in their useless worker-bee jobs. This reminds me so much of the way videogames were treated by mass media fifteen years ago; a magazine reviewer with no clue about Nintendo or Sega would pawn some game onto his eight-year-old, and then repeat what Junior said.
Isn't it weird that gaming has become an accepted part of our popular culture, while animation, which has lasted as long as the moving pictures themselves, remains in the ghetto. This is a matter of ignorance and crass laziness.
Persepolis is the poster child for everything you want Western animation to achieve. For a Ghibli freak like me, it is convincing proof that Isao Takahata was right all along - that animation can succeed in portraying the human condition better than live-action. The iconic nature of the medium, its balance of subjective and objective storytelling, draws the viewer in to a degree that live cinema cannot. Animation, like modern painting, is a medium of ideas. Youth, rebellion, the spirit of freedom, and the way our memories shape and refashion the past - Persepolis is a celebration of all these things. And I'm firmly convinced that the same story could not be told with live actors. Animation is closer to the realm of imagination and dreams, which is, to paraphrase Paul Tillich, the ground of our being.
So, yeah, I'm a bit miffed Persepolis didn't get an Oscar nod. I see nobody bothered to remember Satoshi Kon's Paprika, either. Yeah, right. Watching a cartoon Eddie Murphy jump the shark is sooo much better.
It's bad enough that these movies will never be seen outside of the indie circuit in major cities. Audiences don't choose better movies, to a great extent, because they aren't given the freedom to choose. If they were exposed to the thousands upon thousands of movies made throughout the world, we'd see some real changes. We'd have revolution on our hands. But the dumb proles are never shown what happening on Planet Reality...and they remain the dumb proles.
The least the Motion Picture Academy could do is pay attention and do their damned jobs. On Martin Luther King Day, no less. The struggle for the dream continues, kids.