Meet Bruno – “Encanto” © 2021 Disney. All rights reserved.
There was one more understated joke at the Oscars Sunday night. While the spotlight remained on Will Smith and Chris Rock on Monday after their altercation on stage, the creators and fans of the cartoon expressed their displeasure at another tasteless joke that went unnoticed.
The award for Best Animated Feature was presented by Halle Bailey, Lily James and Naomi Scott – each star in a direct adaptation of Disney Princess classics – who gave the nominees a compliment. James began: “A lot of kids watch these movies over and over again.” “Over and over again,” Bailey continued. “I see some parents know exactly what we’re talking about,” Scott added.
The comment offended many professionals working in the animation industry, if for no other reason than their ongoing negotiations to improve union contracts with Hollywood, in a campaign dubbed #NewDeal4Animation. The response was phenomenal, though it was overshadowed by reactions to the “slap”.
Academy Award-winning animation director Philip Anderson Lord tweeted (Spider-Man inside the spider world).
Andrew Guastaferro, a screenwriter who worked on animation productions, sent a rhetorical question to the academy: “If animations really are just annoying and disturbing content for children, why should an entire floor of your museum be devoted to art and shine in Miyazaki’s accomplishments?”
The move was particularly felt after the animation gained renewed prominence in 2020, amid registration restrictions linked to the pandemic. Animation filmmaker Elizabeth Ito noted the change in Hollywood’s tone this year, tweeting: “Strange how animation has gone from being a powerful force that can last when you can’t live action, and now it’s back to kids.”
Adam Deets, Assistant Director at Netflix Castlevania, even opening up about how this mindset affects the production of films and shows geared specifically to adults. “Castlevania has struggled to be green-lit due to the industry’s arrogant view of what animation is for them, and that it only exists for kids,” he said on Twitter.
The punch also came after the animators pointed out the dearth of awards for their medium at the Oscars. Animator Charles Moss pointed out some of the categories that could be included. The International Animation Film Society is hosting the Annie Awards, an award show in Los Angeles that recognizes some of these categories, and celebrated several Academy Awards animation nominees earlier this month.
Obviously in all accounts, painters of all kinds are tired of being a punching bag. They talk loudly, and what they have to say is gaining traction – both are gaining respect, perhaps even securing higher wages. So it’s poetically fitting that what may have been an inflection point for their relationship with Hollywood has been almost completely overshadowed.