A method, not a genre

In the chapter The World is a Cartoon, author Steve Reinke examined several stray notes, depicted and discussed a serial of topics such as the relationship of cinema to the photographic image; the complicated controversy on cinema, digital film and animation; and especially, the relationship between cinema and different types of animation.

As far as I know, there is a longtime debate about how to define “animation.” Or, to be more specific, how to distinguish live-action film and animation film. After a film like Waking Life came out, it only made the question even harder to answer. During the reading, one thing I couldn’t stop to think of: it seems in many people’s eyes, animation is still a genre. But this is obviously not true. As animation director Brad Bird tried to emphasize in an interview:

“animation is not a genre. It is a method of storytelling. People are constantly analyzing it and misanalysing 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.”[1]

Personally, I couldn’t agree more with Brad Bird. I see animation as a medium or simply a method among many others. If you agree that black and white photography is a method, long-take is a method, montage is a method, then why animation could not be a method? As a unique way of visual expression, “animation is now and will continue in becoming the driving force behind discovering the discursive possibilities of new media and the moving image.”

[1] Harvey Deneroff, “Brad Bird: Animation is Not a Genre,” Deneroffcom, June 12, 2012, accessed July 16, 2017, http://deneroff.com/blog/2012/06/12/brad-bird-animation-is-not-a-genre/

2 thoughts on “A method, not a genre

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  1. I also like Brad Bird’s approach. Animation has a number of genres within it that are arguably more diverse than those possible in cinema, since animation is limited almost exclusively by the imagination of the creators.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. you have some really good quotes and thoughts about animation as a genre to the public versus animation as we know it to be a medium of its own.

    It’s very interesting to see how far the line between live action and animation can blur before they become inseparable.

    Liked by 1 person

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