Project 2 – The occurrence with two heads

Design a character with two heads and then write a 500 word discussion/argument between the two heads on the importance of the notion that animation is either a genre of filmmaking or a collection of techniques or an art form in its own right or just something for kids, etc..

Substantiate the discussion with examples and references to demonstrate your understanding of the discourse and to increase the impact of each position.

Maybe the character could be organising its dvd collection and arguing about where animated movies should go, if they should have their own category or be sorted into genres. in the end they could decide to alphabetise the collection anyway which ends the discussion.

I like the idea of the characters being two geeky/nerdy characters (maybe just one nerdy and one not so much) who are arguing the ‘finer points’ of animation – they won’t quite be citing sources – but we are being asked to develop our understanding of these topics in greater depth and these characters can facilitate that whilst keeping the language in the script natural.

It might be better to look at this character with two heads as really two very different characters who share a body. They are going to be arguing opposing sides of the argument; is animation a genre? is it just for kids?

When we are arguing about genre its probably important to define the word. Genre means kind, or sort. Its a category of literature, music or art and entertainment. Often, works can fit into multiple genres. According to wikipedia genre began as an absolute classification system in ancient Greece. Genre became a tool for people to make sense of the art. So genres are just ways to define things into groups for classification.

Are genres really ‘out there’ in the world, or are they merely the constructions of analysts?

In the film industry animated films are often all clumped together into one genre – even though animations can vary wildly by genre and subgenre.

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.

In an interview on October 27, 1997 Brad Bird (Director/Animator: The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille) talks about how people in the industry only see the disney audience. Disney puts out one kind of movie, and they have good acting, direction and animation. Then someone comes along and does something different, but with poor acting, or directing, or animating; and so they flop and the industry sees this as a different kind of animation being made and the audience not being there for it.

Whenever anybody’s attempted something different, like Cool World, if it doesn’t succeed, they blame the type of film, rather than the quality of the work. And if anybody bothers to look at it, there’s a lot of really bad animation in Cool World, and it’s pretty obvious.                                                                                                               -Brad Bird

He’s goes on to say that he thinks the audience is there – and this interview was a few years ago – i think the evidence is even greater now. But there’s an argument that the other side of the animated Disney coin is the fart jokes and animated obscenities. South Park, Beavis and Butthead, Sausage Party – their audience is teenagers and crude humour.

I think that Brads opinions on whether animation is a genre are summed up perfectly here:

Yeah. But the point [is], animation is not a genre. It is a method of storytelling. People are constantly analyzing it and mis-analysing it as if it is a genre. It isn’t a genre. It can do horror films, it can do adult comedies if it wanted to, it could do fairy tales, it could do science fiction, it could do musicals, it could mystery, it can do anything.

I’m really hard pushed to argue against what hes said here. he makes a good point that we don’t see more than the Disney stuff in the mainstream is because the industry hasn’t taken those risks and made musical animations a success (yet) for example, and thats why it’s so easy to stick animation into a corner and say its ‘just a genre.’

How many truly adult or other breakaway animated films are there that go mainstream?

As much as we may adore the best of Pixar or the best of Dreamworks, they are not truly adult films, but, and this is a statement of content as opposed to a criticism, kids’ films that happen to contain adult themes under the surface.

I believe this is something that may be true – but doesn’t inherently affect the argument of whether animations a genre just if it is treated as one by the industry.Which isn’t just being pedantic, it’s important to note the distinction imo.

You could say that animation is a genre of art perhaps – with music and literature for example. It’s interesting to note that photography and film-making and animation are all brothers born from the same place in a way. Animation is certainly the eldest if you include zoetropes and flipbooks and then even cave paintings with fire used to create motion with the images on the wall. I think if Animation is being called a genre, then this is the only way that term really fits.

Until animation truly diversifies itself, until films like Watership Down, Cool WorldWaking LifeBeowulf, and arguably Rango become at least a little more commonplace, we must unfortunately discuss the financial aspects, if not artistic aspects as well, of animated films as a genre, rather than merely a medium to tell all different kinds of stories in all different kinds of genres.

It may affect how we discuss animations, sort of, but it doesnt change the fact that animation is not merely a genre – objectively. Just because it is told it is all the time doesnt make it so.

In this video about how everything is a remix the guy talks a little bit about genre movies – and expands on how there are subgenres. Like in Horror films there are sub genres of slasher films, zombie, etc. He’s not really talking about genre much, he’s trying to make a point about how movies seem to copy each other, and definitely borrow scenes that makes taking inspiration a bit far. But it’s interesting to note that there are new genre’s appearing even now – especially subgenres – and i would argue that crossovers are getting more mainstream and popular.

So what i’ve learned is Animation can be a genre, but perhaps it’s worth deciding what classification of genre you are on about. Animation belongs in a genre with literature and music. When it comes to trying to wedge it into the film genres – like westerns and sci-fi’s – its becomes somewhat disingenuous as you wouldnt put live-action films in the same place.

The Argument

This Monty Python clip is a great example of two characters having a very silly argument for the sake of it and at the same time boiling an argument down to simple contradiction – simply countering your opposition. For my script it’s important to make some good points, so only one of my characters could be dumb and/or simply opposing the other in spite – but one must make good points and be informed to get information across. Although a ‘difficult’ character being difficult for the sake of it could be really funny.

An argument is a collective series of statements to establish a definite proposition. An argument is an intellectual process.

*There’s a Futurama episode where fry gets injured and has to have his head attached to Amy’s body. I just thought it could be interesting, perhaps the character who’s got two heads only has the other had temporarily while their body is repaired – so it’s an inconvenience already for them both which is why they’re so tetchy and argumentative.

Tzvetan Todorov argued that ‘a new genre is always the transformation of one or several old genres’ (cited in Swales 1990, 36). Each new work within a genre has the potential to influence changes within the genre or perhaps the emergence of new sub-genres (which may later blossom into fully-fledged genres)

Today we have genres mashing together into new forms of genres.

Boris Tomashevsky insists that ‘no firm logical classification of genres is possible. Their demarcation is always historical, that is to say, it is correct only for a specific moment of history’ (cited in Bordwell 1989, 147). Some genres are defined only retrospectively, being unrecognized as such by the original producers and audiences.

So people enjoyed media without the need for specific classification, huh. But seriously genre’s are not easily defined – even when you agree movies can be defined by genres – which ones?

Certainly, genres are far from being ideologically neutral. Sonia Livingstone argues, indeed, that ‘different genres are concerned to establish different world views’


Tony Thwaites and his colleagues note that in many television crime dramas in the tradition of The Saint, Hart to Hart, and Murder, She Wrote, Genteel or well-to-do private investigators work for the wealthy, solving crimes committed by characters whose social traits and behaviour patterns often type them as members of a ‘criminal class’… The villains receive their just rewards not so much because they break the law, but because they are entirely distinct from the law-abiding bourgeoisie. This TV genre thus reproduces a hegemonic ideology about the individual in a class society

This is great because they break down the private investigators genre – where different villains are defeated. It also states the ideology it promotes!

So basically this is why genres are useful – helping analysts to better understand things and compare them – helping us to do the same so that we might produce better art. Genre analysts give context to genres, they can give a historical perspective.

Breaking down genres a little bit again (from An Introduction to Genre Theory, Thomas and Vivian Sobchack on Genres:

  • Fiction and non-Fiction
  • Melodramas – adventure, survival, war, safari, disaster, western, fantasy, horror, science fiction, crime, gangster, detective/private eye, film noir, caper.
  • Comedy – slapstick, romantic, musical, fairy tale, screwball.

Things that should be taken into consideration when thinking about genre:

  • Narrative (plots, predictable situations, sequences, episodes, conflicts and resolution)
  • Stereotypes (characters, roles, personal qualities, goals, behaviours, motivations.)
  • Themes (social, cultural, psychological, professional, political, sexual, morla)
  • Setting (geographical and historical)
  • Iconography
  • Filming style/technique

Also worth thinking about are mood and tone – which feature heavily in some (film noir) and less in others.

So genre can be a pretty complex system by which we classify and compare movies – and animation is very clearly able to be classified just as well as live-action movies.

A- “Yeah except animations just for little kids!”

B- “Are you serious? I mean a lot of animation is made for kids, but its not exclusive for them, and there’s plenty of adult stuff if you know where to look..”

A- “Oh yeah?!”

B- “Gah! Are you seriously trying to say Family guy or Adult Swim arent aimed primarily at a more mature audience?”

A- “Nah its all just fairy tales and magic isnt it?”

B- “You are so INFURIATING!”

A- “Haha, yeah..”


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