The Importance of Animation Today
Ask someone under the age of fifteen today about film animation and they will sing, or scream, three words: LET IT GO!
In case you’ve been living under a rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, those are lyrics from the box-office smash hit Frozen. This is the latest Disney film to become part of the zeitgeist. But what importance does animation have, other than being a cultural annoyance to parents and old people around the globe? And how exactly did these cartoons become so prolific?
Animation has crossed cultural boundaries once thought impossible by critics. Even as recent as twenty years ago, animation was considered the stuff for ‘kids’.
Nowadays, shows regularly broadcast on Cartoon Network attract droves of adult fans with a recent example being Adventure Time. We now have dedicated channels like Adult Swim, which release entire shows such as the stop-motion animation Robot Chicken or Rick & Morty, that solely targeted at the adult market.
Why is this? Well, it’s because those same kids the critics once mocked eventually grew up. Now these grown-up kids are the ones deciding what films to make and produce. Look around – comic books were once frowned upon in popular culture, now they are popular culture.
Animation has also become sophisticated, and worked out the ‘magic formula’ for repeat success. Films created by Pixar and DreamWorks are huge hits, but why? Because they are some of the only films released today which appeal to the entire spectrum of viewers, and are known as ‘four-quadrant movies’. Arguably, the reason for the success Despicable Me is because of the parents’ love Groot just as much as their children do. As a result, CGI films in the US are consistently amongst the highest gross margin films released.
Beyond Hollywood, animation can even represent an entire nation. Anime has in many senses transcended from animation, in a way that Western animation could only wish to emulate. Japanese animation has become a global cultural phenomenon. Thousands of anime fans worldwide, congregate in convention centres and take part in cosplay. They demonstrate their appreciation to the art by dressing up as their favourite characters. Studio Ghibli is the messiah to many, and they are merely devoted followers.
Today animation has expanded beyond the film screen, and is now heavily developed for video-games. Series such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto have become as big as the franchises of the silver-screen. They have become productions in their own right, enlisting the A-List actors which could only be dreamed about ten years ago. Today teams of coders work on the animation for these titles and make sure that every movement within the game is fluid, and represents the real world as much as possible.
Animation will continue to hold significance in an ever increasing digital world. At the recent Facebook F8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his plans for the future of VR. As we become more immersed in our parallel digital universe, it seems only natural that animation will continue to hold an incredible amount of importance in our daily lives.