Search form

U.S. Animation Still a Genre, Not a Medium

Forbes writer Scott Mendelson redefines his argument surrounding the glut of mid-summer animated features, noting that the majority of animated features made in the U.S. are specifically targeted at younger children and fashioned in a manner to appeal to that specific demographic.

Forbes writer Scott Mendelson generated a lot of talk last month, in September, for discussing the glut of mid-summer animated features under the sub-headline “too much animation.” Social media sites like Twitter erupted in protest, with animation heavyweights such as Disney’s Bruce Wright (@heybrucewright) weighing in with opinions and demanding that Mendelson get his terminology right.

Now Mendelson has returned with a clarification:

It can be argued, and has been argued by the likes of Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille) among others that one shouldn’t discuss animated films as if they are all to be lumped together, since technically the only thing they should have in common is the fact that they are not produced via live-action. I wish that were wholly true. But when it comes to discussing mainstream animated films in America, it is unfortunately a question of genre. Artistically and especially financially speaking, films like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 and Turbo are indeed cut from similar cloth in that they are basically targeting the same audience. We might decry this fact, but American animated films are still considered child’s play, a notion that heavily influences who they are aimed at and how they are made.

Mendelson is quick to point out that this discussion has nothing to do with quality, but still insists that American animated films are strikingly similar:

They are mostly G or PG-rated comedic capers with stories and characters intended to appeal to younger moviegoers. No matter how many potent the “old man comes to terms with death” themes of Up come across or how deftly Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda 2 gets across the occurrence of genocide as a plot thread, American animated films are still specifically targeted at younger children and fashioned in a manner to appeal to that specific demographic.

Head over to Forbes to read the rest of Mendelson’s story, and let us know what you think of the U.S. market for animated features, and what it would take to get that turned around, below in the comments.

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.