History of Animation

MarzGurl’s History of Animation review

Posted on: January 24, 2010

On the website thatguywiththeglasses.com (mostly famous for Internet Personality The Nostalgia Critic), I found a very interesting two-part video analysis on not just how cartoons evolved into what they are today, but the whole concept of animation in general as written/ narrated by MarzGurl, a member of Inked Reality, an affiliate of thatguywiththeglasses.com. In the first part of her review, MarzGurl briefly summarizes the Silent Film era up to the 1960’s, where animation began to clearly show a much cheaper budget, while attempting to give the viewer concrete backup of her statement that while “cartoon” and “animation” are not the same thing (she explains that a cartoon usually involves elements of comedy, whereas animation is more or less just another medium of entertainment like a movie, TV program, or book), the current stereotype for animation in general is that it’s primarily “cartoons for kids”.

I do have to say one of the strongest points about this part of the review is that, despite not really going into too much detail about every single aspect, studio, and cartoon icon of the time, somebody without any knowledge or study of the complete animation history can get a nicely abridged version of it in this review. There was something morbidly funny, yet weird as MarzGurl pointed out that the cartoon shorts that were shown at films during the “Silent Film/ Sound” eras were mostly targeted toward adults rather than kids. For example, a clip of a Felix the Cat cartoon where the titular cat discovers that he accidentally is the father of a litter of kittens which subsequently leads to him committing suicide by gas was personally one of the more eerily disturbing clips shown in the video. I understand that this has not been the first time that a cartoon character has used suicide, but the seemingly utter sincerity of the cartoon, as well as Felix’s desperate preparation of the gas pump to escape his now-wife and kids combined with the bouncy vaudeville music makes for an uncomfortable laugh.

Another aspect that I liked during the first part was her point that the Wartime Cartoons (though this could now probably apply to almost any cartoon made in the 1940’s- 1960’s) are pretty much banned from public viewing due to, in MarzGurl’s opinion, people are more offended at cartoons that parodied Hitler or the Nazis in general, especially in today’s PC society (although, to be fair, a lot of the Wartime Cartoons produced by Warner Bros. and Disney are now in DVD collections). On a more personal note, I feel that it’s this extreme view of political correctness is one of the main causes why animation is mostly viewed as a form of entertainment for children is because any sort of satire making fun of a catastrophic event would involve stereotypes which young children possibly wouldn’t understand; not to mention rampant cries of soccer moms complaining that the animation would be making their kids racist or “culturally insensitive” for a lighter term.

One weak point, however, is that she only mentions Walt Disney making his movies as well as his Silly Symphonies/ Steamboat Willie, but doesn’t really dwell too much on it, and just assumes that we know the rest since Disney movies are the quintessential form of animated movies that every person watches as a child. I personally would’ve like to hear her talk about Disney just a little more, as well as mention their period in which their movies weren’t becoming the blockbusters like they were during the 1930’s, as well as the company resorting to recycling their animation in certain movies.

During Part 2 of her “History of Animation”, MarzGurl picks up where she left off in the first part, namely the period during the 1960’s where the cost of animation productions increased, so companies such as Hanna Barbera had cartoons with fewer animation frames, jerky animation, and sub-part art (as well as one too many cartoons involving a similar plot-line to one their most popular cartoons, Scooby Doo, but I digress).

The strongest aspect in this part of her “History of Animation” video is her view on cartoons from the 1980’s, who, while are still remembered fondly through pure nostalgia, mainly served as marketing vehicles so children could buy all of the toy product tie-ins, making animation (in these examples anyway), purely a commercial business. Another point that she remarks on is the fact that since animation at this stage is now aimed primarily for kids rather than adults, any sort of  violence was now kiddified or removed altogether; the best example of this is G. I. Joe, which has guns firing laser beams and people parachuting to safety, along with a Public Service Announcement at the end of each episode.

However, Part 2 is probably where MarzGurl derails from her analysis of animation in general, and starts to go into a full blown rant not unlike basically saying in a nutshell “I miss ‘The Good Ol’ Days’, animation today is garbage!” Although she briefly acknowledges that Don Bluth movies such as An American Tale and The Secret of NIMH, as well as Pixar movies and certain animated programs produced by Steven Spielberg such as Animainiacs and Freakazoid! attempted to be just as much for adults as kids, she dismisses anything else as, in her words, “pure retardation”. More specifically, she targets shows such as Ren and Stimpy and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, cartoon shows that purposefully have a morbid, “out there” sense of humor, and just insults them without giving any sort of indication as to why they are “crap”, other than the fact that she just plain doesn’t like cartoons that have Gross Out Humor.

Another aspect that makes this part of the review extremely weak and personally leaves her whole Animation analysis on a very sour note is that while she also judges a single show based on a gag song (as she does with The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack) without seemingly bothering to look at the content, her view of the “Japanese Animation Surge” that appeared on Toonami and Adult Swim basically comes across as another anime fan saying Japanese Animation is the only good animation out there. What really drives the proverbial nail in the coffin though, is that MarzGurl then proceeds to waste two minutes of the review basically directly insulting Adult Swim/ Williams Street and mocking the long-running Adult Swim show Aqua Teen Hunger Force rather than using the time to explain her reasons why; only just give the explanation “just because”.

Although MarzGurl has some very good points on animation and its history in the first part of the video, the second part is what nearly kills any sort of credibility; basically devolving into a rant complaining about shows she doesn’t like, rather than try and get facts about them, and how this has impacted animation. Not to mention that she doesn’t remark about the fact that more and more animators are using computers/ digital animation (either in 2D or 3D)/ CGI to create most cartoons/ animation nowadays. In conclusion, it’s probably best just to see the first part if one wants to see an unbiased look at the history of animation, but if you must see the second part, I honestly wouldn’t expect much information out of it.

History of Animation Part One

History of Animation Part Two


2 Responses to "MarzGurl’s History of Animation review"

Humorous images of suicide are more common than one might think, however: for example, here’s Mickey Mouse trying to off himself in a comic strip from 1930.

Pardon me. Let me edit that: Humorous images of suicide aimed at children are more common than one might think, however: for example, here’s Mickey Mouse trying to off himself in a comic strip from 1930.

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