Animation today, April 2008

ציור השער: Nancy Beiman

Animation has become in the recent years as one of the major, if not the pivotal medium of our visual culture. In contrast to painting, sculpturing, graphics, and even photography and the cinema, the amount of films exhibited in the framework of animation has been accumulated far beyond traditional and well established media we are familiar with. With the penetration of digital graphic software into each and every computer, animation has proliferated and turned into a means one can not without in films, presentations based on power point as well as computer games and informative data installed in our cellular phones desktops. Trivial as it may seen, the fact that well known cinema actors have lent their voices to animation films, such as Toy Story, Shrek, Madagascar, and Ratatouille, can serve as an evidence to the fact that animation is a popular medium which attracts even voice over participation. Would it be correct to say that the prestige of animation is no less than 'ordinary' films? Does it mean that the stories depicted by animation are much more intricate? Can we say that the effects of animation are no less convincing in the rendering of reality? Questions as such have always been debated in connection to the status of animation as a means of presenting social and political problems we are exposed to in our daily life. And indeed, animation brings to the open concealed and even suppressed issues one would not dare to represent in ordinary films. Take for instance The Simpsons or South Park two animated sitcoms which have bluntly referred to the American way of life – to its middle class families, to American stereotypes, to current events, and to television itself. Could such satirical scatological and unprecedented black humor (as in South Park) be considered as legitimate in ordinary means of representations such as the cinema, photography, painting and even caricature? It seems to me correct to say that media other than animation would have difficulties in bridging the gap between the real and the actual on the one hand, and facts of life on the other hand as successfully depicted by animation. In other words, animation may correctly be considered as a medium flexible enough to encompass various and sometimes contradictory themes and visuals in the same strip of film. Being a cartoon which represent real (and sometimes – harsh) life, allows it to touch on delicate and sensitive subjects with a smile as if what is seen is entertaining and not threatening or harmful.

Tsvika Oren is the guest editor of this issue.