Blog Traffic

So, I love WordPress as a blogging platform. I like having my own space and being able to post whatever I feel like. So WP is great for CREATING stuff.

But I find it incredibly hard to actually SEARCH for stuff on this site. Maybe it’s because I’m used to Tumblr’s format of searching for stuff (which is way more expansive and you can get a general idea of what to expect/how to find things), but I find finding stuff relevant to your interests on WP difficult or even impossible to find. If you ‘follow’ a tag, you get extremely random results. I want to find more people that talk about animation, but it’s so hard. When I type in ‘Disney’ or ‘animation’, anything goes.

I think that might explain why it’s so hard for my blog to get views, even when I use the tags and categories liberally (though I am a little concerned about pissing people off so I don’t ALWAYS tag things properly; again, I’m used to Tumblr). Finding relevant content can be hard.

If you find my blog and share my content, don’t hesitate to send me a message or a comment on how you came across it. I find that some of my posts get more traffic than others, and I would like to know why that is. So if you find, like, and share a post (which I encourage and would be grateful for), let me know! And don’t hesitate to share stuff that you might find relevant to my blog as well!


Rant: Why DreamWorks ISN’T More Progressive than Disney

I was about to do a “Best and Worst of DreamWorks Animation” post, but I realized THAT was boring too. I think it’s just another review format for me. I guess I hate LISTING the positives and negatives of things.

While they have produced some great works of art, I hate, hate, HATE the mentality of a lot of their fans. A lot of DWA fans like to put down Disney, claiming the latter is regressive and boring and sexist and racist blah blah blah while acting like DWA is more progressive than it actually is.

Here’s a (very negative) post (I originally had drafted a long time ago on another site, now with a few edits) on why I don’t like DreamWorks Animation as much anymore, and why I refuse to put it on a pedestal as being more progressive than Disney. Here we go.

Continue reading “Rant: Why DreamWorks ISN’T More Progressive than Disney”

Under New Management for DreamWorks

As many of you have probably heard, the independent animation studio DreamWorks Animation has been bought by Comcast (specifically NBCUniversal).

A lot of people are pretty nervous about this. Comcast isn’t a very popular company, and a lot of fans are worried on how this will effect future films. While I don’t think DWA is AS progressive as a lot of fans say it is, and they have released some pretty ridiculous movies, they do take some pretty bold risks a lot (my personal faves are Megamind being obviously q*eer coded without being demonized, Po being fat, and Hiccup being disabled) and can release great works of art (I want another Prince of Egypt style movie), and I would hate to see all that go away.

Right now, we’re not sure what’s going to happen. When I read THIS post (not a CB fan but this has good info) saying that DreamWorks was going to end up making only films for the small fry, I was pissed, and a lot a lot of respect for DreamWorks Animation because of that (and while I did enjoy Kung Fu Panda 3, I sometimes think it may have suffered from that; I noticed it was comparatively tame to the second movie). So my main concern right now is whether the new deal will reinforce this or encourage DreamWorks to continue to make more progressive films for all ages (not just toddlers).

But you know one thing that I’m absolutely, positively happy about with the new change?

That Chris Meledandri is taking over Jeffrey Katzenberg’s place.

Whether or not you’re a fan of anything Chris Meledandri produces, you have to admit, he’s always managed to make a hit. He gives his films modest budgets but lots of marketing and sets a clear target demographic, making sure people see the films his company (Illumination) makes. When I read THIS post (I know, another CB post, but hey, good info is good!) I was blown away utterly. This man is a genius. I get the impression that he genuinely loves and encourages creativity and doesn’t JUST care about making money. With him in charge of DWA, I can definitely see new life being breathed into the studio. I can definitely see their financial troubles diminishing for sure.

I’m not going to go on about Jeffrey Katzenberg (there’s a lot of info online that explains why he’s unpopular among the animation community), but I get the impression that he’s not very good at marketing/budgeting (at one point, he donated $10 million to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures along with Steven Spielberg, even though that money could’ve been used for his studio), and is more interested in franchises rather than original content. He’ll milk any film that is a good hit to death, even when the content created for it isn’t very good. In the span of 21 years, DWA has released 32 (!!) films, which gives me the impression that he’s more interested in rushing out films to make a quick buck than taking their time to create something that’s good and market it properly.

In short, while I do think Katzenberg cares, I don’t think he entirely knows HOW to care. Under his reign, his studio went from biggest animation company in the world next to Pixar to something that a lot of people don’t really care about. A lot of their franchises are better known for making money than being household names that people genuinely love (beyond the How To Train Your Dragon films) and as a whole the company has garnered a bad reputation of being crass and self-indulgent. That’s my theory, at least, as to why a lot of their films have been so unsuccessful and unpopular recently.

So I think with Chris Meledandri in charge, DWA can get a fresh start. My hope is that DWA will be allowed to make films with beautiful animation, clever stories, and progressive elements (not just for little babies) with better marketing, budgeting, and management, which in turn should lead to DWA becoming truly successful.

Only time will tell if the new deal and management will truly help DreamWorks Animation. But considering the looming threat of bankruptcy in the near future for the studio, this is probably going to better than their current state at any rate.

Avatar: The Assault of Korra


We need to talk about The Legend of Korra.

When Korra herself is introduced, she’s a strong, brash, confident, wide-eyed, ambitious, free-spirited young woman. She’s also one of the few prominent woman of colour leads in animation, and she can be muscular but still beautiful. Great! Brilliant! What a refreshing lead! I could do without the love triangle, and I wish she has a little more autonomy and wasn’t constantly chastised, but hey, still a great lead.

Now, how can add some more depth to her and help her grow? Can we see her become compassionate and caring to non-benders and find a way to solve the conflict in Republic City peacefully, putting aside her bias for fighting and bending? Can we have her learn airbending by finding her way to spiritual freedom in a more unique way? Can we show her dealing with her fear of the Equalists by talking about it with others and working on coping strategies?

Oh wait, no, we’re not going to do that. Not only are we going to solve the conflict in the most violent way possible, we’re also going to give Korra some depth by having her be violated and threatened by a man. First when she’s alone, restrained, surrounded by masked men, and have the leader uncomfortably grab her by her face and warn her about what he plans to do with her before knocking her out; and later, by the end of the series, have that man take away her bending, leaving her broken inside (despite finally finding a way to airbend). But don’t worry! We’ll have another man come and restore her bending out of nowhere!

Huh. Okay.

Well, maybe now she’s learned to be more careful and less reckless. Maybe we’ll see her really grow from there! At least she now she finally has a support system with her previous incarnations and…

Oh wait, she looses that connection? In the most violent and intrusive way by literally having her source of power ripped out of her through her nose and mouth (by her own uncle no less)? And she needs a man’s help to get back in touch with her spiritual side? And even when she gets her powers back she looses that support system forever?

Okay then.

Alright, so the stakes have been raised a bit. Now Korra has to deal with a bunch of anarchists who want to destroy her to restore chaos to the world. But she’s grown up a bit, now she’s finally making a mature choice. She’s going to surrender herself, but her friends will make sure she gets out safely. How does that end for her?

Image result for venom of the red lotusWhat.


Okay, this is where the show goes from questionable to absolutely disgusting. In this scene, the villains decide that the best way to take down Korra is to poison her, thus forcing her into the Avatar State, and hope to kill her and bring down the Avatar cycle then.

The whole scene is akin to a scene of sexual assault; you have Korra stripped down, restrained, penetrated, writhing in pain and trying to keep her, ahem, reaction under control. Luckily she is able to stay alive and bring her captor to justice, but not without lasting consequences.

After being poisoned and assaulted, she FINALLY really gets to grow and develop as a character. She becomes humbled, more spiritual, and finds a way to defeat the new villain peacefully and even sympathize with them. Yet not without people constantly telling her she’s weak, she’s not needed anymore, and that they don’t believe in her. And while she manages to get most of the poison out, she’s still reeling, having PTSD flashbacks and hallucinations, even having to resort to visiting her assailant in order to try to move past what happened to her.

And what does she make of all this in the end?

“I know I was in a pretty dark place after I was poisoned. But I finally understand why I had to go through all that. I needed to understand what true suffering was. So I could become more compassionate to others. Even to people like Kuvira.”




And you know what’s worse?

The writers literally couldn’t find a way for Korra to grow and develop as a character organically. They literally HAD to put Korra through a traumatic incident with long lasting effects in order to make her compassionate and understand ‘true suffering’.

You know, when Aang was the Avatar, he understood true suffering when he was told about the genocide of his people. A horrible thing that didn’t personally violate him, and he was able to find a way to make things better by slowly rebuilding the air nation. Avatar Roku understood true suffering when he couldn’t save his oldest and dearest friend from himself. Avatar Kuruk understood true suffering when his wife was spirited away forever. Yet why does Korra need to understand true suffering by being poisoned?

Why not have something bad happen to her loved ones? What about having to lose a close friend to the dark side? Why not have her NOT be poisoned, break out, and have her kill her would-be assailants in a rage, and have to deal with that?

Considering all the abuse Korra had to deal with from men before, the third season could’ve made a bolder statement by have Korra look at the poison, go “I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”, enter the Avatar State on her own accord, and break free and punish the villains. The fourth season can have her trying to prevent herself from ever becoming that violent ever again, and deciding to deal with villains peacefully. That would be actual character development.

Instead, the writers need to violate and traumatize Korra. What’s worse, her mental health problems aren’t fully dealt with. The most we get of her recovering is having to confront her assailant (and actually show him sympathetically despite what he did to her). After that, we’re just supposed to assume she’s mostly all better.

All in all, the show took a bright young girl and had to physically, mentally, and emotionally break her down in order for her to become a better person and raise the stakes of the final season.

As you can see, this is all absolutely disgusting. I’m honestly shocked very few people seem to be upset over this. But it’s important that we talk about it. Why?

Because the show is still popular. Because many people are getting into this show. Because it’s being sold on Blu-Ray. Because it’s available for all to watch online. But most of all, because this is a show aimed at CHILDREN, and it’s telling them that going through a traumatic assault is necessary.

After all Korra had to go through, I’m very glad that she goes to the Spirit World with Asami. After all the abuse she had to go through (especially from men), she deserves to spend some time alone with someone who genuinely loves and cares for her. It’s just upsetting that more people tear apart the show for the ending and its supposed underdeveloped final couple than for the unnecessary violence it put the main character through.

The Shrek Effect

You all remember DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek, right?

Of course you do. It was HUGE hit back in 2001, raking in $484 million at the box office (which may seem like a more modest hit nowadays but was a big deal back in the early 2000s), winning the the very first Oscar for Best Animated Feature (this was before Pixar took over the world for awhile), and spawning an abundance of merchandise and (to date) three sequels.

So why is that today, nobody seems to talk about it besides making fun of it?

Seriously, this movie has sparked a lot of Internet memes, some of them rather disturbing (don’t Google “Shrek is Love Shrek is Life”, and I might avoid looking up Shrek on Google Images as well), jokes about how it has an infinite number of sequels, cheap shots at all the merch it spawned, and questions as to whether or not any love for this film is genuine or ironic. A lot of posts in general on Shrek are sarcastic or, well, weird.

While most people can agree that the second film is actually good (thanks in large part to the “I Need a Hero” cover) and the last two films are bad, nobody can really seem to agree on whether the first film is a true classic or a parody onto itself.

I think I can call what happened to Shrek (and DreamWorks in General) the Shrek Effect.

When Shrek first came out, it was rather unique. You had a main hero who was ugly and crude and pretty much the opposite of Prince Charming and proud of it. You had a Princess who knew martial arts and could also be pretty crude and turned out to be happy with her ogre form. You had the two of them getting married and remaining ugly and living happily ever after in the swamp. You also had a lot of pop culture references, scathing parodies of Disney, a snarky overtone and lots and lots and LOTS of crude/rude/sexual humour that wouldn’t let up. In short, it was different, and people, at the time, loved it. So much so, that DreamwWorks decided to copy the formula for almost all their other films (mainly their CGI films, as their more original 2D films weren’t very successful), and other companies followed suit.

What happened was an oversaturation of crude, snarky, and almost bitter films that tried to be edgy and in-your-face. Whereas Pixar stuck with making heartfelt, down-to-earth movies, DreamWorks would create cynical counterparts (or rather, ripoffs) that would try to convey a positive message while being weird and sometimes gross. Walt Disney Animation Studios, which had been struggling to keep up in the 2000s after having ruled the animation roost during the 1990s, tried to ride DreamWorks’s coattails with films like Home on the Range and Chicken Little, which ended up hurting the company even more until they bought Pixar.

While DreamWorks did enjoy some success during this time, now they’re in serious financial trouble and their reputation has been forever tarnished. While Disney has managed to recover from their Shrek-inspired days (thank you, John Lasseter), and other companies have gained a new life, DreamWorks is still widely seen as a crude company that cribs inspiration from Pixar and makes too many sequels and merchandise to films that weren’t that great. The only franchise DreamWorks has that seems to be universally loved is How To Train Your Dragon, and even that series isn’t making enough. And, of course, the film that started it all is now ridiculed.

I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that, where other films failed, Shrek actually WORKED.

Shrek wasn’t just an asshole misanthrope for no reason; you understood how he felt he had to shut himself off because no one liked him. Fiona wasn’t just a princess who knew kung fu; she also had some hidden depth (mainly she thought she had to be beautiful, but realized it was better to be ugly and loved). Donkey wasn’t just a comic relief sidekick, he was Shrek’s truest friend and companion. And the movie has an important message of how looks don’t matter as much as what you are inside. But because of the neck-deep crassness, dated pop cultural references, constant middle finger to Disney, the excess of sequels and merchandise and other weird moments (mainly the fact that the Donkey had an intimate relationship with a dragon much bigger and less sentient than him), and how a lot of other DreamWorks films did almost the same thing, nobody really remembers Shrek that fondly anymore. It does have some loyal fans, but generally speaking, Shrek has become nothing more than a collective joke for a lot of people.

It’s kind of sad that while Shrek only hurt other companies for a brief period of time, it’s still hurting its parent company. While I do have some problems with DreamWorks Animation (I’ll probably get to that in another post), I don’t think it’s fair for them to be suffering just because they’re not allowed to move on for their early days. What’s really upsetting is that they feel like they have to make all their films squarely for young children now just to make a profit (though there is no excuse for them to do this because they feel only children are watching their films; Disney has proven people of all ages are flocking to see their animated works).

I refuse to see Shrek as nothing  more than meme fodder, but I will unfortunately remember it as the film that helped and harmed the animation industry, especially DreamWorks. As it stands, Shrek will likely not be remembered the way DreamWorks would like it to be in animation history.

The True Beauty of Beauty and the Beast

Or, In Defense of A Widely Misunderstood Movie

I freaking love Beauty and the Beast. In addition to the wonderful music, beautiful animation, and good story, what I really love about the movie is the relationship of the titular characters.It’s a heartwarming tale of two misfits who find each other, discover they have a lot of common, and eventually overcome their difference and find true love in one another.

So why is it that it’s often disparaged as a story of ‘abuse’ and/or ‘Stockholm Syndrome’?

I can definitely see how the first act or so would come across this way. At this point, Belle is sad and alone, the Beast is aggressive, and neither of them are happy together. And if you stop watching at that point and live with the knowledge that they get together, yeah, it sounds like a bad relationship. But after the Beast saves Belle from the wolves, their relationship takes a turn for the better.

When the Belle tends to the Beast’s wounds, she does not flinch or cower or look remotely scared or sad when the Beast yells at her. She stands up for herself and calls him out. She also thanks the Beast for saving her life.

See this screenshot? This is the Beast realizing “hey, this is someone who actually doesn’t hate me or think I’m nothing but a hideous beast. this is the first time someone has given me a genuine thank you. Maybe I should change” and then he replies with “You’re welcome”.

Soon after that, he decides he wants to do something for her because he’s “never felt this way about anyone”. NOT because “how do I get this woman to fall in love with me and never leave me?” Because he is smitten by how kind and caring Belle is, and he’s going to become the same for her. And then he encourages her love of books by giving her a library.

Now look at this screenshot:

Look at that face. Look at how genuinely HAPPY he is. This is the first time he’s been so happy in such a long time. Again, not because ‘I’m going to have this girl be mine forever’, but ‘I’m going to do something that will make someone ELSE happy’. And sure enough, Belle is overjoyed.

That’s when the gap between them closes and realizes that they both have a shared love of storytelling, dancing, the arts, and nature. They play with each other, read together, and have dinner and dance together. All the while, the Beast never once raises his voice or antagonizes her. They become kindred spirits with one another, culminating in love. It’s important to note that, during the famous dance scene, Mrs. Potts sings: “Bittersweet and Strange / Finding You Can Change / Learning You Were Wrong” (emphasis mine). The Beast realizes he can change; he doesn’t have to be the monster he looks like. Belle also learns that she can be wrong about others and can look past people’s appearance and initial behaviour to find something good underneath.

But what really dispels the whole Stockholm Syndrome/Abusive relationship theory is that, when Belle finds out that her father is sick, instead of saying “no, stay here” or “go get him, bring him back here”, HE LETS HER GO. And doesn’t even try to guilt trip her into coming back or make Belle think she’s abandoning him. He sets her free, and she LEAVES. That doesn’t sound like an abuser or a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. Belle only comes  back when the Beast is in danger and that’s when she realizes she loves him back. And then they can be together.

It’s actually baffling to ignore all the character and relationship development (and genuine displays of affection; I get intense feels whenever the Beast strokes Belle’s face and hair, and she isn’t remotely creeped out by it) and label it as something it is not. I understand not liking the BEGINNING of the relationship, but people act like that’s the ONLY extent of their relationship. It’s kind of gross.

But you know the REAL reason why you shouldn’t dismiss the Belle/Beast relationship (and the movie in general) as a textbook example of Stockholm Syndrome?

Because it’s disrespectful to Howard Ashman.

Howard Ashman was heavily involved with this movie. When he and Alan Menken were brought in to reinvigorate the film (which was going through production problems), Ashman’s health was failing. He was a gay man dying of AIDS (and in the 9os, homosexuality and gay rights were still a bit of a taboo, and the AIDS epidemic was rampant and not properly dealt with) and had been unlucky in love, and he worked on the songs and had some input on the story, heavily basing it on his own life. It’s easy to see what Beauty and the Beast is actually about.

You have the Prince, who is not a nice person, but was only an 11 year old boy (apparently Ashman did intend for the Prince to be child when he was cursed; the reason why the paintings depict him as a lot older is because the animators and other story artists didn’t like the idea), and is punished for behaving badly by being cursed with a ‘disease’ that would wear away at his body and mind. He has to live like this for years on end, and can’t go out without being rejected. The only company he has are his servants, who are no longer human and who can’t interact with him beyond obeying his orders and giving him advice. He languishes for years, hating himself, until he meets someone who is also an outcast (note how, in the song Belle, there are the lyrics “it’s a pity and a sin / she doesn’t quite fit in”)  but doesn’t find him repulsive. They bond together, but she has to leave. Then the Beast accepts he is going to succumb to his ailment forever, doesn’t fight back when an angry mob goes after him simply for who he is and what he looks like, and accepts his death, knowing at least that he saw his beloved one last time. But because their love for one another was so powerful, the Beast is free from his spell and they live happily ever after.

There are a lot of analyses of Howard Ashman’s influence on the film that you can read for yourself (I’ll link you to some at the bottom), but it’s pretty obvious that the Beast’s life is an indirect parallel to Ashman’s. The Beast can be seen as a metaphor for someone living with AIDS and is a social recluse because of it, but, unlike Ashman, is cured of his AIDS, finds true love, and is happy, successful, and loved. The entire point of the Beast’s character is not that he’s an angry and bitter creature; he’s someone who’s sick and alone and only gets better when someone puts aside their prejudice and helps him. Even if you don’t think the film is exactly a metaphor for homosexuality since Belle isn’t persecuted and it ends with a (presumably cis) man and woman together, it’s pretty clear that the social outcast and illness parts of Howard’s life are reflected in this movie.

As you can see, reducing Beauty and the Beast to simply a narrative about abusive is really disrespectful, not to mention baseless. You don’t have to like this movie or the relationship, but keep Howard Ashman’s impact on the film in mind before you analyse it or try to rip it apart.

Links for reference:

I also highly recommend watching the “Beyond Beauty” Untold Stories documentary on the Blu-Ray.

The Tragedy of the Fox and the Hound

Out of all the Disney animated films out there, I think The Fox and the Hound is the darkest. I say this because not only is the overall tone, look, and feel of the movie very somber, depressing, serious, and dark, but because it doesn’t really have a happy ending. Films like The Black Cauldron and The Hunchback of Notre Dame can get serious, dark, and scary, but at least they have happy and triumphant ending. That’s not the case for this movie; it has a very bittersweet ending with Tod and Copper having to part ways for good, but at least it ends on a relatively good note. Still, we watched the movie rooting for their friendship, and to see it dissolve was very upsetting.

I watched this a few times as a kid. I don’t remember loving it, but it was more entertaining than other talking animal films (yeah, I prefer films about humans or humanoid creatures than animals; I’ll explain why in another post). When I go online and see people talk about it, a lot of people express brokenhearted love for it.

But then you have people who hate it. That’s fine, but what I find odd is that they think it’s a racism allegory with a horrible ‘don’t challenge the status quo’ message.

And umm…I have a bit of a problem with that.

First off, I can’t seem to find any PROOF that either the movie or the original book was explicitly meant to be an allegory for anything. (If someone could give me solid proof from a legit resource rather than someone’s opinion piece, I would love you forever.) Besides which, I really hate how everything HAS to be an allegory for serious issues like racism and the like. Why can’t we just…show the real thing? Kids know what racism is; they don’t need it filtered through a cutesy lens. Secondly, it’s a film about ANIMALS. Do you really want to equate people of color to ANIMALS? Furthermore, why can’t a movie about animals just…be about animals? They’re made anthropomorphic so that the audience can relate to them, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically supposed to discreetly represent us.

The way I see it, the film is about struggling with NATURE, not racism. Tod’s nature is to be a wild predator. Copper’s nature is to be a hunting dog. Tod gets into trouble with Amos Slade not just because he exists, but because he disrupted Slade’s farm. He’s a wild animal trying to live with civilized people; that’s not going to work.

Three things that shut down the whole ‘the movie is a racism allegory’ theory is that 1) When Copper explains why he can’t be friends with Tod anymore, it’s because he’s “a hunting dog now”, not “because you’re a fox, and I’m a dog”. 2) When Tod causes further trouble, Amos and Slade directly go after Tod, not all foxes in general, and 3) there is not one non-white person in the movie (and only one person of color, Pearl Bailey, in the cast, who does the owl; she also points out that Tod can’t be friends with Copper because he will  become dangerous, not because he’s a dog). If, say, Amos Slade was white and Widow Tweed was black or another minority group, then maybe the racism allegory would make more sense and add more meaning as to why Amos Slade hates Tod. But that’s not the case.

The movie is about two members of different species who are natural enemies, not because they’re different in color or class or culture. When they are young and innocent, they try to fight their nature, but realize when they grow up and become more predatory that they can’t. It’s a movie about the rawness and tragedy of nature and how animals can’t defy it. To try to insert human sociopolitical theories into it would be disingenuous.

I know some people think this film might be a metaphor for homosexuality/homophobia, and that might make a bit more sense, especially when Amos Slade takes Copper on a hunting trip and makes him more ‘manly’ (ie not gay) in order to straighten (pun intended) him out. This movie was made back when LGBT people and their rights was still a taboo, so that might add some depth to the story, but even then, that might be reaching it.

I just don’t like how people base their love or hatred on a film on an allegory that might not even exist. There are things about this movie to like and dislike, but racism is probably not one of them.

EDIT/ADDENDUM: So I talked it over with my sister and we decided that the film might be an allegory for racism, but the final message is NOT ‘never change the status quo’ or ‘segregation is good’. Copper does challenge the status quo by not letting Tod be killed, but he can’t really do anything else about it (after all, Slade doesn’t know the language of animals or that Tod is more than just a predator). The movie might be about how it’s important for children to realize that friendships don’t always work, and that you may not be able to change the whole world, but you can change someone else’s world. That, I think, is important, and viewing it solely as a ‘segregation is good!’ narrative is taking the movie at face value.