ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.12 - MARCH 2001
Illustration by Andreas Hykade.
Courtesy of Chris Robinson.
by Chris Robinson
Monthly provocative, drunken, idiotic ramblings from the North...
Blame the U.S.A.
"...[A]nimators wanted to keep cartoons in Hollywood."
One look at this quote from Rick DeMott's article, "Picketing In Front Of PBS! Just Blame It On Canada?" (DeMott, 5.02) in January 2000's Animation World Magazine and one would figure that citizens of the United States of America invented the process and development of animation (a.k.a. cartoons). Sorry, but I think it was a Frenchman, and given that Canada is French and English, we have more right to claim 'cartoons' than Hollywood. And heck, given the amount of Canadians working down there including Kricfalusi, Steve Williams, Nik whatever his name is who creates those nasty Disney villains, Canadians be the ones keeping this machine a float. Now Hollywood does deserve some credit. Ya all certainly kidified animation. No denying that. Thank you. Bravo.
Read recently that Americans were pissed off that Canadians were taking jobs away. Seems last January PBS said they were gonna go with Toronto-based Nelvana as creators of their animation schedule. Rightly, American animators were freaked to the point of protest. However, the source of these targets is all wrong. If you wanna find a source of blame take a look at free trade. This has been the bane of the existence for both our countries. Nelvana can compete because they receive tax credits from the provincial government. These tax credits allow them to lower their costs and provide a better offer. You wanna talk about wasted tax dollars, just take a look at Canada where tax credits are being provided with the supposed intent of encouraging Canadian productions. Unfortunately, none of this stuff is really benefiting Canadian 'culture' (and I ain't talking Margaret Atwood books. She stinks. It could be SCTV or Kids in The Hall...just something with definable Canadian roots) as such. Sure it's creating a few jobs, but it's just service work for American shows...and in the end that means one less Canadian show on the air thanks to PBS and our provincial government. I also wonder why Canada suddenly bears the brunt of the blame when Mexico, Vietnam, Korea and other countries have been taking jobs away for years. Course I guess it's easier to blame a fellow cracker for your troubles. Then again, ain't many crackers left to blame.
From a Canadian perspective, what I find funny, is this belief that Canadians have a special animated gift. Shit, ya think studios are coming up here for our unique talent? Disney came to Canada because of tax breaks. Studios hire Canadians because we are essentially cheap labour. No, it's not near being a sweatshop but it's really the same idea.
But what's the anger for? The jobs you're all losing are cog in the wheel jobs. Christ...you can use as much brainpower driving a cab (a dream of mine while we're on the topic). Additionally, for decades Canada has watched many of its finest (ummm...let's take Mario Lemieux or Ted Lindsay) and shittiest people (Kricfalusi?, Celine Dion, Shania Twain) lured to the U.S. by that damn dollar.
I've always felt that a minority of Americans are akin to the special ed. class of the world. Always a little behind...never quite getting it. Well, folks, as much as I sympathise with some of ya, you're getting it now. Welcome to a world that's been eaten up by your 'owners' for decades. Sure you're worried about feeding your kids, keeping your house etc., but what you gotta realize is that your material abundance (couple o' cars, all sorts of crap) has come at the expense of other people 'round this here world. Shit, they can't feed their kids...can't find homes...can't even imagine cars, computers and swimming pools. Some of these very people live in America! Yeah, sure we've all heard the soaps before and sheeeet I'm as material as the rest of you, but please, please, please keep your whining to yourselves. Do you have ANY idea how fortunate you are?
Every damn corner of the world I visit bears an icon of America at its worst, notably McDonalds and Disney. See you've got your damn jobs at the cost of someone else, somewhere else. When I was in Vietnam and other countries I saw less and less inclination toward encouraging original material that speaks for the cultural voices and an increasing reliance on, for example, Disney films. Ya know what that means...that means governments et al don't want to encourage original productions (see Nelvana/PBS deal). Instead they fork out for distribution rights to Hollywood junk. It's cheaper to buy American product than to sweat trying to make something a little different.
This cultural colonisation is of course especially bad in Canada. Everywhere I turn, I see a Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Denny's, Starbucks and Disney store. Even the fabled Montreal Canadiens, once a symbol of cultural and linguistic diversity, are now owned by an American! Big deal you say? Well, considering they've put many Canadian businesses and families out of work, it is a BIG DEAL.
Now I'm sure many of you are fine people who maybe even voted for Nader (gee, that turned out well), but it's time you opened up your perpetually narrow geographic eyes to see that the rest of the world has long suffered at the hands of corporate America. Welcome to the club.
Is there a bright side? Shit ya...you now got a brain dead duffus as your leader and he's damn eager to start a killin' folks. If there's a good thing about killing folks, it means job openings.
And while we're talking about jobs, give us back our hockey teams!
Your kindly neighbour of the North
Hottie Animator o' da Month
Sonia Bridge. The most determined animator I ever met...and she's hot...and she's Canadian.
The Animation Pimp is sponsored by Canadian squirrels. Thanks to Richard Meltzer for loathing the fuggin' States before I was born.
Chris Robinson is a writer, festival director, programmer, junky and has been called the John Woo of diplomacy. His hobbies include horseback riding, pudpulling, canoeing and goat thumping.