Wednesday, April 25, 2007

MIKE BARRIER'S "THE ANIMATED MAN"



It's silly to review a book that I've only skimmed but I'm going to do it anyway while the first impressions are still vivid in my mind. I'll go back and read it cover to cover next week when I finish the book I'm currently reading. My tentative opinion? It's great! Buy it! You'll regret it if you don't!


The book is full of suprisingly drastic opinions. I've never heard some of these ideas before so I'm at a loss to know what to think of them. For Mike the most important thing Disney ever did was to make Snow White and Pinnochio. Everything else was downhill from there. Disney never had the money or the time to make comparable films again.

Mike also believes Disney's impact on the American consciousness is over-rated. Changing demographics would have skewered things toward his kind of family entertainment even if Disney had never existed. He goes on to say that Disneyland was a creative disaster for Disney because it locked him into doing media for kids exclusively, something he hadn't done in the early films. The book is full of thoughts like this.



Mike is no stranger to drastic ideas. In his online review of John Canemaker's book on Mary Blair he says that Blair's flat style didn't fit with the kind of stories Disney was trying to tell. He then goes on to speculate that Disney knew it didn't fit and deliberately introduced the new style to subvert the animation department which he was no longer interested in. That seems doubtful to me but then I'm not an historian. Well, whatever the truth of the assertion you can't deny that it's interesting.
This is a suprisingly drastic book and admirers of Disney will find much to disagree with. It doesn't provide a lot of insight into how the films were made, maybe because Mike believed he'd covered that in his last book. On the other hand Mike also genuinely loves his subject. I'll have more to say about it after I've read some more.

139 comments:

Joel Bryan said...

I was surprised at how close to the bone Disney was during the late 30s and into the 40s. I read some book or other that pointed out all the government contracts they'd enter to stay afloat after doing things like "Fantasia."

This book sounds provocative- I mean I have no opinion one way or the other about the importance or non-importance of Disney. It sounds a little like theories that can be argued for but never definitively proven, though. What IF Disney had never existed?

But obviously they did. And who really knows what Disney wanted to be locked into or not, Disneyland aside.

Disney himself seems like he was always determinedly middle-brow, even when he was trying things like "Fantasia." Things had to be smoothed over and dumbed down for the common man. I think that shows some level of audience awareness... but then it turned out the audience for that particular artsy/dumb flick didn't exist until stoners and acid-heads discovered it in the 60s and 70s and film critics got a hold of it.

Pssshhh... I have no idea. I should read this book so I can get one.

Forbes said...

Apart from the official filtered Disney publications the only other biography I've read about him was 'Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince' by Marc Eliot, which was fascinating. It would be interesting to see what conflicts and consistencies appear between these two books. But my interest in the fella seems to be dwindling. I guess I've had my dose of Uncle Walt and there's too many other people I'd prefer to read about.

Anonymous said...

Neal Gabler's recent snoozer also alluded to Disney's relative disinterest in animation for some surprisingly long stretches in his career. Unfortunate timing plunked Barrier's excellent book in stores just after two others (Gabler's and Tom Sito's) that dealt with the same era and subject.

Jenny said...

forbes, I'm sure you'd find lots of INconsistencies between the "Dark Prince" book and this new biography by Barrier; for one thing, the Eliot book, fascinating though it may have been, was full of complete nonsense(I mean, made-up, poorly-or-not-at-all-substantiated stuff). It's got outrageous errors, bizarre details that don't check out...it's really a sensationalist pulp paperback a la the old "Confidential" magazine articles of the late 40s and 50s. Garbage.

Barrier OTOH always makes a huge effort to vet every minute detail he puts in his books. If he makes a mistake(ones he cathes and ones pointed out to him--there aren't many) he posts the correction on his blog. And this is a good book besides.
Really-if you want to read a biography with truth in it as far as Disney's life goes, read this latest book.
P.S. I don't get a cut of the profits, I swear! ; )
P.P.S.: Eddie--so glad you're digging it--finish it! Then we'll yakk about it! : )

Lester Hunt said...

Jenny, Thanks! That's just the sort of advice I was looking for. I'll read the book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Eddie!

Forbes said...

Thanks Jenny! I guess I've just been looking for a decent biography about the man and his animation but ended up sifting through vacuous ass-kissing or entertaining gossip. I'll take your recommendation and read this new book with a clean slate.

JohnK said...

That's a beautiful symmetrical cover.

Sean Worsham said...

Wow, I never knew this book existed! What was the last book the author of "The Animated Man" wrote?

Anonymous said...

I think the UC Press picks the covers. ; )

Kali Fontecchio said...

A GIFT FOR YOU John said you'd like it.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jenny: It's a surprisingly dark book which seems to undervalue a lot of what Disney did. That's surprising comming from a fan like Mike B.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Kali: Ha! Thanks! You can never have enough pictures of Mike!

Jenny said...

Undervalue "a lot" of what Walt did? How so? I didn't get that impression at all. Have you finished it?
Anyway, you know what I think of it already. : )

I.D.R.C. said...

All I know about Barrier is this interview,
which made a terrible first impression. I can't imagine wanting to read a whole book, or even another page, by a person with the thought proceess exhibited here. Can he really say something insightful?

And look at his picture. Don't you just wanna punch him out, without even knowing why?

Let's bash 'im! :)

Stephen Worth said...

I would rather read a book about Paul Terry or Max & Dave Fleischer. Quite frankly, everything that needs to be said on Walt Disney has been said. From here on out, it's just going to be different opinions for the sake of different opinions.

See ya
Steve

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

IDRC: Mike and I have had some pretty serious disagreements lately. He drastically under-estimates John K., has a puzzling hostility to the ASIFA Hollywood Archive, and in his previous book "Hollywood Animation" seemed to have two minds about Clampett, praising him to the skies in one section and recklessly diminishing him in another. No doubt the man comes off as a curmudgeon sometimes.

Even so I still like the guy for all the reasons Jenny outlined on her blog. He fought the good fight way back when, when no one else was doing it and that counts for a lot.

Thad K said...

Mike's book actually made me very interested in Walt Disney's life, something no author has ever achieved.

We could definitely use heavier studies of the Lantz, Famous, and Terry studios, but quite frankly, I don't think those who can actually get a book published are interested at all in doing so. Pity.

IIRC, Mike didn't have control over the ugly cover, which Milt Gray vented to me about.

TK

I.D.R.C. said...

Thad, I assume your last comment was for me. I was talking about Barrier's picture, not the book jacket.

Thad K said...

IIRC = If I remember correctly.

Shawn said...

I love the Wally Wood cartoons!

J. J. Hunsecker said...

I get tired of some of the Barrier bashing that goes on over at some animation blogs. "Hollywood Cartoons" is a great book. It's very critical, but also insightful.

So some people don't agree with his opinions. Big deal. His books are well researched and he knows and loves his subject.

Eddie, Barrier doesn't hate Clampett. At least, that's not what I get from his book. He obviously thinks highly of Clampett; he just also takes into consideration some of Clampett's weaknesses and weighs them against his strengths. It's what any critic should do.

Thad K said...

The main problem I have with "Hollywood Cartoons" is his dismissal of the Fleischers. He didn't get what they were about.

TK

I.D.R.C. said...

IIRC = If I remember correctly.
People abbreviate that?

J.J., "Recklessly diminishing" doesn't sound synonymous with hatred to me. It sounds more like "Recklessly diminishing." If it's an accurate characterization, then he is neither a responsible historian nor an insightful critic.

I'm curious what Clampett's "weaknesses" could possibly be, considering anything his work could reasonably be compared to, but not curious enough to pick up Barrier's book.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what Clampett's "weaknesses" could possibly be, considering anything his work could reasonably be compared to, but not curious enough to pick up Barrier's book.

So you aren't curious enough to pick up the book & find out for yourself? Oh, BURN! That'll show 'em!

Jesus.

I.D.R.C. said...

*Sigh*

Let me explain the subtext to you, little one:

Clampett has no real weaknesses, in my opinion, And since I value my own judgement more than his, it would be difficult for Barrier to shed any light on said weaknesses, but it would be possible for him to blabber about things he does not really comprehend, such as you just did.

Jesus.

PCUnfunny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PCUnfunny said...

Since we're on th subject of Barrier, I must say I really didn't care for that article on Ralph Bakshi. Mike basically said that Ralph bacame a hack after only two films. How could he possibly ignore Mighty Mosue ? That was a revolution in TV animation during the 1980s. What about Spicy City ? The first epiosde, "Mano's Hands", was his best work since "Heavy Traffic".

Shawn said...

Whenever anyone mentions Clampett, people brawl. It's funny.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"J.J., "Recklessly diminishing" doesn't sound synonymous with hatred to me. It sounds more like "Recklessly diminishing." If it's an accurate characterization, then he is neither a responsible historian nor an insightful critic.

I'm curious what Clampett's "weaknesses" could possibly be, considering anything his work could reasonably be compared to, but not curious enough to pick up Barrier's book."


I won't argue semantics with you. Have it your way. Whether or not Barrier irresponsibly-carelessly-impudently-thoughtlessly discounted-underrated-reduced-demeaned-belittled-devalued-dispraised-tore down or wrote off Clampett you have no idea one way or the other SINCE YOU DIDN'T READ THE BOOK. So you're arguing in a vacuum. Until you do read it, you have no idea what kind of historian Barrier is.

If you're curious what Clampett's weaknesses could be then try reading the book. Unless you think Clampett was perfect and never made a mistake, in which case don't bother -- your mind is already closed tight.

Some of us enjoy reading criticisms and essays that sometimes go against the grain.

I.D.R.C. said...

--Or you could tell me probably in 25 words or less. Less words than it took to have a snit.

It's not semantics, it's accuracy. I thought you mis-stated a point and I told you why. I don't see what the big deal is.

I guess I'm just not really that curious.

AMID said...

Just got Barrier's book and finished reading the intro. It seriously looks like a great book and I can't wait to read the rest of it. I'm sure I won't agree with many of the things he says, but it's going to make me think in new ways about the art form. What more could one ask for.

The Barrier-bashing on some other blogs is unfortunate, especially considering that it's coming from people who have contributed far less to the study of animation history. Barrier is one of those guys who has contributed so much to this art form and his accomplishments are indisputable throughout the animation community. Petty attempts to minimalize him only makes the people complaining look silly and small.

cartooncrank said...

To quote the master, i.e. Michael Barrier, this is just more of that moronic drivel that piles up on so many blogs."

Gosh, which BLOG do you suppose he means?

If the library gets a copy of his book I'll take it out, same as I did for the incessantly-sniped Gabler Disney book.

Thad K said...

I thought Clampett mostly was presented in a positive light by Barrier, at least when it came to believing his versions of events.

Mentioning Clampett having any faults causes a lot of people to have coronaries. Sort of like how millions of people on the other side of the world can't even begin to contemplate the idea that Islam could be wrong.

TK

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"It's not semantics, it's accuracy. I thought you mis-stated a point and I told you why. I don't see what the big deal is."

I didn't misstate a point, since all I was saying is that Barrier mostly praises Clampett's work in "Hollywood Cartoons", so I don't think he "diminished" or hated Clampett's output. Irregardless of which definitiion one choose my original point still stands. (Thad K said it better in his post, though.)

"I guess I'm just not really that curious.

Then why are you arguing with the people who have read the book? The only thing you're basing your opinion on is the fact that Barrier dared to criticise your Lord God JOHN K. Therefore he must be a heathen. But you're free to remain ignorant if you want.

As for being incurious, I think Amid put it best: "I'm sure I won't agree with many of the things (Barrier) says, but it's going to make me think in new ways about the art form. What more could one ask for." (Emphasis added.)

I.D.R.C. said...

What you mis-stated was Eddie's point, which was something specific. You made it something general. Then you responded to your generality.

Everyone,

I posted a clear example of why I find Barrier's views suspect.

I'll try to live with my shame.

Then why are you arguing with the people who have read the book?

Not all experiences in life can be deemed worthy of having.

None of you informed erudites will say suucinctly what his objections are to Clampetts's work. You wil commit reams instead to telling me I don't know beans.

Lord God JOHN K? Are you insane? Or a child?

I.D.R.C. said...

This is the last tyhing I'm gonna say on this.

If I seem more willing to go along with Eddie's characterization of a part of a book I haven't and may not read than I am with yours, it's because:

1) He is smarter than you

2) I posted corroborating evidence.

Look how many people posted here to say Barrier got something wrong.

He may be a fine man and a humanitarian. Kind to animals. Even valuable to the art. But, c'mon.

Anonymous said...

"Look how many people posted here to say Barrier got something wrong."

I've just read the comments here and I didn't find anyone saying he got anything "wrong" in his Disney biography.

Opinions and perspectives aren't "wrong" or right, only facts can be. And he's gotten no big facts wrong.

If you aren't interested in the book, fine. But really, before you complain that someone accuses you of being childish you might want to rethink your suggestion that an author's photograph makes you 'wanna punch' him.

And finally: if you value his opinion as you say you do it's odd that you seem to totally miss that Eddie is recommending the new Barrier book.

I.D.R.C. said...

I value Eddie's opinions, and draw my own conclusions. I could be missing out on a great thing. I'll take my chances.

Opinions can be worthless. I think Barrier can take a ribbing. Unlike others.

OK, so it wasn't the last thing I said.

Anonymous said...

Barrier is sometimes his own worst enemy, as are we all.

But I have read Gabler, Eliot, Disney's Daughter, several other Bios, and memoirs of many that worked for him, negative and positive, so I will probably pick this up as well.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>I posted a clear example of why I find Barrier's views suspect.

No you didn't. You just posted a debate he had with John K over his critical panning of Adult Party Cartoon. Are you suggesting that because Barrier disagreed with Kricfalusi that automatically means his views are suspect?

>>None of you informed erudites will say suucinctly what his objections are to Clampetts's work. You wil commit reams instead to telling me I don't know beans.

Why should we tell you what he writes about Clampett? If you're so CURIOUS about it go to the public library and read the passages for yourself.

If your going to put down people for being erudite you might want to correct your spelling of "succinctly" and "will" first.

Charles said...

Wow this book sounds fascinating. I am definitely going to check it out. Thanks, Eddie!

I.D.R.C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I.D.R.C. said...

Are you suggesting that because Barrier disagreed with Kricfalusi that automatically means his views are suspect?

If that is all you got out of it, no wonder we are arguing. I'll read it for you:

I would have a lot less trouble with the gross gags if I thought at least some of them were tongue-in-cheek. Instead, you always seem to be pounding the table and yelling at the top of your voice. I hear you shouting, this is what animation is all about!

I can only go by what I hear, and it doesn't match that.

My translation: "I'm too big a pussy for those images, and so selfish I can't even concede that others could be highly entertained."

intentionally or not, you're saying that the only valid use of Clampett-style expressive distortion is in the service of aggressively offensive material. I think that's a weird idea.

Sure it's a wierd idea, and it came from him.

"Stop staring at the poo?" Well, I'd like to; but you put the poo there to be stared at, didn't you? If not, why is it there? If it's there because defecation and urination are part of life, why do you give defecation and urination (and snot, and so on) so much more prominence in your shows than they have in most people's lives?

My poor, delicate little rosebud. Get thee over thyself. You're supposed to be talking about cartoons, not your own limitations.

Why is an animated Ralph Bakshi's time on the pot the centerpiece of one of your recent episodes?

Why not, Doofus?

Which reminds me—you still haven't responded to my question about whether Clampett's cartoons would have been improved if he had snuck some piss and snot gags into them.

Of course he didn't respond. It's INANE.

On the other hand I now believe Barrier must write some great frigging books, as much as you want to vouch for them.

The spelling errors thing is just lame.

mike f. said...

Lost in the shuffle of this sudden rush to defend Mr. Barrier’s dubious honor is any mention of Barrier’s own spitefulness, arrogance and overall rudeness.

His pathetic attempt at “comedy” on his vanity plate of a website recently resulted in ugly personal attacks directed at Martha Sigall and Bill Melendez, (although Barrier was too cowardly to mention them by name.) As if anyone would prefer the bloated opinions of a self-important blowhard over those of actual working artists who were THERE at the Golden Age - working on some of the greatest cartoons ever made.

Furthermore, his petty, childish hatchet-job editorial directed at the valuable conservation work being done at the ASIFA Animation Archives – which Barrier, with jaw-dropping ignorance, termed a “rats’ nest” - was nothing short of disgusting.

His recent targets – John K., Steve Worth, Sigall, Melendez, etc. – have all made valuable contributions to the art of animation; contributions that an industry barnacle like Barrier can only pretend to.

If he wants to be treated better, let him learn some manners first.

Anonymous said...

"...If your [sic] going to put down people for being erudite you might want to correct your spelling of "succinctly" and "will" first."

"...Irregardless [sic] of which definitiion one choose [sic] my original point still stands...."

As long as you're offering free advice on semantics, you may want to check out your first usage of "your" in the above sentence - and while you're at it, look up "irregardless" in a dictionary.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... On second look, I see you also misspelled "definition".
You've certainly put us all in our respective places, Einstein!

Does the phrase "Physician, heal thyself" ring a bell?

Jorge Garrido said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I.D.R.C. said...

There were enough insults to go around, Mike.

Which are most damaging? My purposeful insults of Barrier or his backhanded slights of industry giants?

Instead of appreciating and admiring some of the funniest drawings to come along in a very long time, and inquiring as to the methods and the people involved, he spent the bulk of the interview obsessing about some gags he didn't care for, and trying to get some form of acknowlegement that his own personal boundaries are the correct ones.

This is how he treats history in the making. In the face of this, what could possibly qualify him to opine with authority about history already passed? I already know the names and dates pretty well.

Even YOU could've asked better questions.

Thad K said...

Mike Barrier and Milt Gray were the two who interviewed everybody they could from the Golden Age of Animation. If it weren't for their efforts, most of these blogs wouldn't even exist.

TK

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"Hmmm... On second look, I see you also misspelled "definition".
You've certainly put us all in our respective places, Einstein!

Does the phrase "Physician, heal thyself" ring a bell?"


yeah, you caught me there. But then again I'm not insulting the posters here for being "erudite".

J. J. Hunsecker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. J. Hunsecker said...

"Hmmm... On second look, I see you also misspelled 'definition'."

Actually that was a typo (the extra 'i' was unintentional). An 'A' for effort on your (notice the correct spelling of your) part, though.

"...Irregardless [sic]"

Irregardless is used in nonstandard or casual speech. The double negative is usually used as an emphatic. (Source: American Heritage Dictionary) Outstanding grammatical faculties on your part for even noticing, my incognito friend.

Anonymous said...

Robert McKimson was ill cast as an animator in Clampett's unit.

Bob Clampett never understood Bugs Bunny as a character.

Those two "hare brained" opinions of Mike Barrier are typical.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

i.d.r.c. said:

"If that is all you got out of it, no wonder we are arguing. I'll read it for you:

blah blah blah blah...

(More insults to Barrier follow)"


Man, give it up already. You disagree with Barrier's opinions, but that doesn't mean the man was wrong. So he didn't like Adult Cartoon Party. Not too many people did. The show did get carried away with too many gross gags. John K even admitted in some interview that he overdid the poop jokes that year.

"This is how he treats history in the making."

I did a Danny Thomas spit take when I read that. Adult Cartoon Party "history in the making"!?!?

You're (dear anonymous, notice the correct grammar) certainly a loyal John K sycophant, I'll give you that. You should sit on his shoulders and he could feed you crackers all day.

"The spelling errors thing is just lame."

No, it's apt. If you're (hey, anonymous...oh, never mind) going to make sarcastic remarks about the other posters' intelligence, then you've got to make sure you're actually smarter than them.

I.D.R.C. said...

Uh huh.

I am in awe, for all the wrong reasons.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Anonymous said:

"As long as you're offering free advice on semantics, you may want to check out your first usage of "your" in the above sentence..."

Hey anonymous,

Semantics is the study of the meaning of words, phrases and sentences. I made a spelling error -- typing 'your' when I clearly meant the contraction 'you're'. Nice try, though.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

i.d.r.c. spouted:
"I am in awe, for all the wrong reasons."

I suspected you would be. The would must look strange to you, once you pull your nose out from John K's butt and get a clear view of it.

I.D.R.C. said...

There are more good cartoons in John K's butt than in Barrier's.

He has a little handle you turn on the right cheek. It's pretty cool.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Hey anonymous,

Don't get on my case. I just noticed I misspelled 'world' as 'would' in my last post. Alas.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"There are more good cartoons in John K's butt than in Barrier's."

I never checked up Barrier's hindquarters, so I'll just have to take your word for that.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"Robert McKimson was ill cast as an animator in Clampett's unit.

Bob Clampett never understood Bugs Bunny as a character.

Those two "hare brained" opinions of Mike Barrier are typical."


That's not exactly what Barrier said. He praised McKimson's animation and suggested that it was the reason Bugs Bunny caught on with the public in A Wild Hare. He seemed to give McKimson more credit than Avery for Bugs's success. He stated that if the cartoon had been made a few years before or after this phase of Avery's career the character might have been funnier, but shallower and not caught on with the public as much. (He theory was that McKimson influenced Avery to make slower paced cartoons with subtler animation.)

It's also Barrier's theory that McKimson's animation , though "fine grained", was sometimes at odds with the Scribner influenced animation in Clampett's cartoons. Now you can disagree with his opinion, but he lays out his case pretty well in his book, using Book Revue, The Great Piggy Bank Robbery, Baby Bottleneck and Kitty Kornered as examples of cartoons that worked better due to McKimson's lack of influence (they were all released in 1946 when McKimson was leaving to head up the Tashlin unit). He also uses Coal Black as an example since Scribner had more of a hand in that cartoon.

He never said Clampett didn't understand Bugs Bunny, but that he made the character more aggressive than the other directors did. He also said that Clampett would pit Bugs against antagonists who were clearly no threat to him and easy to defeat, so that aggressive seemed misplaced. Jones, on the other hand, usually had Bugs go up against enemies who were lummoxes, obviously presenting more of a threat to the rabbit. Barrier wrote that it made the revenge all the more sweeter. One caveat he gave to Clampett though, was in his handling of Bugs in The Big Snooze, which he thought had a lighter touch.

PCUnfunny said...

"He also said that Clampett would pit Bugs against antagonists who were clearly no threat to him and easy to defeat, so that aggressive seemed misplaced"

The reason being because Clampett's Bugs was a joker. He would pick on Elmer, Beaky Buzzard, etc. because he though it was funny to pick them, not because he felt threatend or hated them like Jones' Bugs. However, Clampett wouldn't always let Bugs get away with murder. Bugs whould be a victim like in "Falling Hare" or "Tortise Wins by a Hare".

Anonymous said...

Who wants to see Bugs handled the same way by every director?

I do!

Who should pick the best way?

Barrier!

J. J. Hunsecker said...

pcunfunny,

I agree. I was just stating what Barrier meant since anonymous seemed to have gotten it all wrong, but that doesn't mean I agree with everything Barrier wrote in "Hollywood Cartoons".

PCUnfunny said...

Oh,okay JJ.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"Who wants to see Bugs handled the same way by every director?"

Anonymous,

Did you even read the book? Barrier never claims that Bugs should be handled the same way by every director. He just thought Clampett made Bugs a little too mean-spirited and aggressive at times. Plus, he did like the way Clampett directed Bugs in The Big Snooze. (Barrier also takes Jones to task on some of his later Bugs Bunny cartoons for making Bugs a little too effeminate and pleased with himself.)

Anonymous said...

Even restated with terms like "fine grained" and "antagonist", Barrier's opinions on Clampett and Bugs and McKimson still sound stupid. Would you like to restate some of Barrier's opinions about Fleischer?

I.D.R.C. said...

Satisfies my curiosity. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

"Semantics is the study of the meaning of words, phrases and sentences..."

No kidding? Please point out exactly where I said otherwise.
Your original point was about erudition, genius.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

anonymous blathered:
"'Semantics is the study of the meaning of words, phrases and sentences...'

No kidding? Please point out exactly where I said otherwise.
Your original point was about erudition, genius."


You're the one who confused a spelling error with semantics, brainiac, that's why I gave you the dictionary definition of the word. (See, no typo in definition this time. Happy?)

I never made a post about erudition. You're confusing me with i.r.d.c., who was the one who mentioned "informed erudites". (Oh, and for the record, erudite is an adjective, not a noun.)

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>Even restated with terms like "fine grained" and "antagonist", Barrier's opinions on Clampett and Bugs and McKimson still sound stupid. Would you like to restate some of Barrier's opinions about Fleischer?

I get it now, everyone whose opinion differs from your own is stupid. I guess if something doesn't validate your own views it's worthless.

Plus you've misread what Barrier wrote about Clampett. He mostly praises the man, but I guess that's not enough for you. You prefer hagiography.

And for the record, I like the Fleischer cartoons too, but Barrier makes some good points about their weaknesses. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

"I never made a post about erudition."

Yes, you did, stupid. Here it is:

"...If your [sic] going to put down people for being erudite you might want to correct your spelling..."

Moving on to your next astounding feat of idiocy:

"You're the one who confused a spelling error with semantics, brainiac..."

No I didn't, moron. Read the sentence again, without moving your lips this time. "Your" and "you're" are two completely different words with completely different meanings - NOT a spelling error.

Nice try, monkey.

What's more, semantics relates to your ignorant use of the non-word "irregardless", a virtual acid-test for stupidity.

"Oh, and for the record, erudite is an adjective, not a noun."

Gee, no kidding? And I suppose I said otherwise. And when was that, exactly?

Keep building those straw men and knocking 'em down. Those are the only kind of arguments you can ever pretend to "win", retard.

cartooncrank said...

mike f. said: "Lost in the shuffle of this sudden rush to defend Mr. Barrier’s dubious honor is any mention of Barrier’s own spitefulness, arrogance and overall rudeness."

Well, I tried, but perhaps I was too subtle? Is that even possible on the internet?

Anonymous said...

What, no reply from j. j. cuntsucker?

Tsk, tsk... Where are you, monkey boy? I'm not finished bitch-slapping your smug, ignorant ass. Quit hiding under Barrier's bed. Get his cock out of your mouth and respond!

No wonder you defend Barrier - he's the same breed as you: smug and uninformed.

Except you added illiterate to the mix.

Anonymous said...

And for the record, I like the Fleischer cartoons too, but Barrier makes some good points about their weaknesses.

No he doesn't. You're reading things that aren't there. Barrier uses a quote from a lousy Fleischer animator from the end of the studio's run to prove that the great cartoons from the early sound days were lousy. That's not a "good point". That's using tricks of omission to make a spurious point. The book is full of conflicting and obviously wrong opinions patched together with out of context "proofs".

Barrier wouldn't know style if it bit him on the ass. He should stick to documenting names and dates and publishing transcripts of interviews with filmmakers, and leave commentary about filmmaking to people qualified to comment on that. We want to know what Ward Kimball thought. We couldn't give a rats ass what a lawyer in Arkansas thinks.

Don't even get me started on his dinosaur of a website! Did you see that absurd article on animals "acting" in Disney cartoons? That's the sort of "commentary" I see on message boards posted by fans focused on meaningless trivia who have too much time on their hands.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Here we go again...

>>"I never made a post about erudition."

Yes, you did, stupid. Here it is:

"...If your [sic] going to put down people for being erudite you might want to correct your spelling..."


Read it again, anonymous jackass. I made a comment in reply to i.d.r.c.'s insult about "informed erudites", not a "post on erudition." Next thing you know you'll be claiming I wrote an essay on the subject.

>>You're the one who confused a spelling error with semantics, brainiac..."

No I didn't, moron. Read the sentence again, without moving your lips this time. "Your" and "you're" are two completely different words with completely different meanings - NOT a spelling error.


You're (see?) right. It wasn't a spelling error, per se. I meant to write the contraction of 'you are' but wrote the possessive 'your' instead. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll be more on my toes the next time.

But it's not an error in semantics either, dope, and I think you know that. Semantics is the historical and psychological study and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms...including such phenomena as specialization and expansion of meaning, meliorative and pejorative tendencies, metaphor, and adaptation. The management or exploitation of connotation and ambiguity. (Webster's Third New International Dictionary) I certainly didn't mean an expansion or improvement on the word 'your'; I wasn't trying to exploit any ambiguity with it, either.

My use of the word semantics in my argument with i.d.r.c. over the meaning of Eddie's use of "recklessly diminsihing" was the correct usage. Ironically, we're having an argument about semantics over the word semantic.

Say, wasn't this thread suppose to be about Barrier's book?

>>What's more, semantics relates to your ignorant use of the non-word "irregardless", a virtual acid-test for stupidity.

I already covered this in a previous post. Please try and keep up.

>>"Oh, and for the record, erudite is an adjective, not a noun."

Gee, no kidding? And I suppose I said otherwise. And when was that, exactly?


That was for i.d.r.c.'s benefit, since he was the one who used that word as a noun. Sorry for the confusion.

>>Keep building those straw men and knocking 'em down. Those are the only kind of arguments you can ever pretend to "win", retard.

You must have been looking in a mirror when you typed those words. You're the one who intentionally misinterpreted what Barrier wrote in "Hollywood Cartoons" so you could "knock 'em down." Also, the fact that you so readily resort to name-calling shows how much you want to "win".

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>What, no reply from j. j. cuntsucker?

Tsk, tsk... Where are you, monkey boy? I'm not finished bitch-slapping your smug, ignorant ass. Quit hiding under Barrier's bed. Get his cock out of your mouth and respond!


What? I suck cunt and cock? Can't you make up your (see? correct usage) mind? What Swiftian satire, though! You should write for Adult Cartoon Party.

There's lots of homoerotic wish fulfillment in your post -- "slapping...ass" and references to fellatio. You must be John K. Listen, I know you feel left out, but that's only because Barrier's dick is much bigger than yours.

>>No wonder you defend Barrier - he's the same breed as you: smug and uninformed.

Psychologists have a word for what you just wrote. It's called "projection". "Smug and uninformed"? Hmmm, sounds a lot like the folks here who've been putting down Barrier's book without reading it first.

>>Except you added illiterate to the mix.

Yes, I am illiterate. That's why I have your mama read these posts to me.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>And for the record, I like the Fleischer cartoons too, but Barrier makes some good points about their weaknesses.

No he doesn't. You're reading things that aren't there. Barrier uses a quote from a lousy Fleischer animator from the end of the studio's run to prove that the great cartoons from the early sound days were lousy. That's not a "good point". That's using tricks of omission to make a spurious point. The book is full of conflicting and obviously wrong opinions patched together with out of context "proofs".

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum


Hmmmm....I've read these exact same statements from John K and Steve Worth in the past. You're either a plagiarist or you're one of them hiding under anonymity. For shame!

Let me guess, would that "lousy Fleischer" animator happen to be the "sloppy" Shamus Culhane?

For the record, you're (see? correct usage.) misinterpreting Barrier's book again. Besides Culhane, Gordon Sheehan and John Gentilella also made some disparaging remarks about the Fleischer studio and it's mode of operation. Barrier's main complaint was agaiinst Nelly Sanborn, as head of the timing dept., and Dave Fleischer's hands off approach to directing.

Listen, I love the Fleischer cartoons as much as anyone here, going back to the silent era. But Barrier has a point about some of the crude drawing and mechanical timing present in some of those cartoons. (He does praise Natwick's animation and timing, though.)

I.D.R.C. said...

This thread is at least 60 comments too long.

I often used words in a brand new sense. I have imagination.

Erudite

-noun

One who clings to book knowlege he can do little to nothing of any real use with.

What do Barrier's opinions count for in these matters? Don't you have your own?

It sounds like a guy playing with his animator dolls or Monday morning quarterbacking while you watch. Maybe there are facts too. Great. I love facts. They are better from somebody who can put them in a real context. How do I benefit from his guesses? He doesn't even care what the funniest artists TODAY are doing, RIGHT UNDER HIS NOSE. To me that disqualifies him as an authority whose opinions matter, although he could still be useful as something else.

I would suggest, Hunsecker, that if you cannot think of any valid sense in which APC qualifes as "history in the making" --even if you didn't like it --then your opinions are possibly even more subconsciously skewed than Barrier's appear to me to be.

Please don't disparage me with your rapier wit for drawing conclusions I have supported with facts. I'm sensitive.

Stephen Worth said...

I post under my own name. If you want to take pot shots at me, do it to me directly. Anonymous may be referring to a post I made at Animation Nation when Barrier's book first came out. That's fine with me. Anyone who wants to use my points in their own arguments should feel free to do that. I share my info.

I've already said what I need to say about Barrier's book in that AN post. Hollywood Cartoons says an awful lot about Barrier and his personal tastes and not enough about the people who made the cartoons. With the wealth of interviews with first hand participants that Barrier is sitting on, there's no excuse for that.

Instead of writing books on subjects that have been done to death, he should post the transcripts of every interview on his site or publish them so we can all benefit from the info. Once he's done that, he's free to come up with whatever theory he wants. We can judge his opinions against what the people who were there actually said. Selectively choosing the info that bolsters his own opinions and keeping the rest in his pocket isn't serving the cause of animation history.

In any case, you guys have turned this thread ugly. You should take the spite back to the Termite Terrace board where they appreciate that sort of thing. This is Eddie's blog. We're all friends here. If you don't want to play nice with us, go away.

See ya
Steve

P.S. Myron Waldman is the animator quoted downtalking Dave Fleischer in Barrier's book.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>One who clings to book knowlege he can do little to nothing of any real use with.

Yeah, that's the trouble with books in general. They contain no knowledge that one can really use. They never enlighten or edify. In fact, it's better not to read at all.

You've shown me the light, i.d.r.c., and I'm taking the pledge! I'm going to throw out all of my books, including my animation book by Preston Blair -- after all what could that hack teach me?

Of course that won't stop me from judging books I'll refuse to read in the future. I'll just take a look at the author's photo on the dust jacket, and if I don't like his looks then I'll feel free to bash away!

I.D.R.C. said...

You took a specific and made it general in order to hide behind a mis-statement.

We are talking about Barrier's opinions and how I can use them. How do you make use of them, other than saying that he said them?
In what sense are you enlightened?

Why would you throw out Preston Blair? He is an authority about something.

I'm not bashing what I haven't read. I'm taking him to task for what I HAVE. What is the GOOD reason why I should want to read more? I need a better reason than because I haven't.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>> I post under my own name. If you want to take pot shots at me, do it to me directly.

I didn't take a potshot at you. The anonymous troll was using an argument that sounded like it was lifted word for word from either you or John K. I'm glad to know it's not you.

Personally I would be upset if someone else were anonymously using my reasoning for an argument but also resorting to name calling. People might get the wrong impression it was from me.

>>Hollywood Cartoons says an awful lot about Barrier and his personal tastes...

As does any book by any author. If you were to publish a book yourself it would reflect your own biases and opinions. How could it not? All one can ask is that the author try to be objective and fair. Film criticism is another matter, though, and Barrier's book is part film criticism.

I'm sure if you did write a book there'd be plenty of folks who would take umbrage to certain passages within. Some of them might even suggest that you couldn't possibly have anything relevant to say on the topic since you're not an artist yourself. Do you think that would be fair?

>>Instead of writing books on subjects that have been done to death, he should post the transcripts of every interview on his site or publish them so we can all benefit from the info.

Barrier has a section on his website dedicated to his old interviews from Funnyworld. So he's already doing what you've suggested.

>>You should take the spite back to the Termite Terrace board where they appreciate that sort of thing.

I recall that you used to post there, too. In fact you once wrote that I "had the patience of a saint" in regards to a certain poster I was debating over the merits of Clampett (he didn't think too highly of his contributions to WB, if you can recall it).

Personally, I like being able to post my opinions freely, even if it means a free-for-all breaks out over a controversial subject. Plus, TTTP forums do have moderators.

Also, wouldn't you consider your comment about that website to be a potshot, too?

>>This is Eddie's blog. We're all friends here. If you don't want to play nice with us, go away.
If this was the Animation Archives blog you would have a right to say that, but it isn't and you've taken upon yourself to speak for Eddie. If Eddie doesn't like my behavior he can me tell so himself. I didn't know blogs were only open to the blogger's friends.

You know, I recall a nasty argument on this blog between mike f and i.d.r.c. awhile back over rap music. I don't recall anyone being chastised for it back then.

>>P.S. Myron Waldman is the animator quoted downtalking Dave Fleischer in Barrier's book.

Dave Tendlar also is quoted mentioning Dave Fleischer's odd directing style. It's not disparaging, but I think Barrier formed his opinion of Dave based on a consensus from many interviews, not just one.

Stephen Worth said...

Just to correct one minor mistake in your reply. I am an artist. I have a BA in Design from the UCLA School of Media Arts and I have been active in graphic design and art restoration for my entire career.

See ya
Steve

Stephen Worth said...

I pushed reply to fast...

I also have a 20 plus year career in animation, having worked on animated television series, a feature, shorts, rock videos, commercials, web cartoons and prime time specials. I've won three Annie Awards, two for films I produced and one for my educational work on behalf of animation.

I think my experience would satisfy just about anyone for my qualifications to speak and write on the subject of animation.

See ya
Steve

Anonymous said...

Yeah Steve, but kin ya DRAW?

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Steve,

I'm not knocking your qualifications. Publish a book and you'll see for some people those qualifications wouldn't be enough. You're a producer of animation, not an animator. I've read those types of arguments before on animation blogs and forums and I find them to be rather specious. That's why I don't knock Barrier, Leonard Maltin or Jerry Beck for their lack of artistic ability or credentials in the business.

Besides which, Barrier has used Milt Gray, who is an animator, to help with research and conducting interviews.

Stephen Worth said...

It's all relative. I wouldn't presume to know more about the creative process or artistic style than a master of the medium. Do I know better than John K or Eddie? Heck no! Do I have a better perspective than someone who has never worked on an animated film and only know what they read or have been told? I have to (not too) humbly answer, "you betcha".

One of the things that has served me well in my job as an animation producer is a first hand understanding of the creative process. I'm not the kind of producer that animators tell "stupid producer" jokes about. Ralph Bakshi said I was unique because I'm a " great cartoonist who doesn't draw".

The wisest person knows the limits of his own knowledge. I know mine. Some people who write books don't. If you want to know what I know, read what I write. (I try not to talk about things I don't know.) You could also ask people I've worked with like Vincent, Jim, Eddie, Mike, John or Ralph. They'll tell you.

There are two types of animation historians. One type (like Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck), truly love the medium and go out of their way to share what they know. The other type wraps their ego around their "expertise". They feel a proprietary ownership of what they know and they jealously guard their superiority. (You can make a much longer list of this type.)

I much prefer hanging out with the former. I'm that kind myself. That's why I don't get mad when people pick up info from me and use it. That's my job. I can't think of anyone better qualified for what I'm doing now.

See ya
Steve

Stephen Worth said...

P.S. I think Milton Gray knows a lot more about artistic style and the creative process than Michael Barrier does.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I think Milton Gray knows a lot more about artistic style and the creative process than Michael Barrier does.

Only because he's the original founder of the Clampett Clan.

I.D.R.C. said...

...I've read those types of
arguments before on animation blogs and forums and I find them to be rather specious.


My argument isn't a type of argument, it is a specific one. I haven't counted, but I'm sure I've raised at least three points apparently too tough for you to respond to, but you insist on trying to talk around them. Bad form, old chap.

All you should be concerned about is whether the writer has credibility to say whatever he says, and whether what he says makes any difference. If you have other concerns you are entirely beyond my scope.

Stephen Worth said...

Only because he's the original founder of the Clampett Clan.

You're defining the qualifications of Milton Gray to speak on the subject by whether you personally agree with his opinions or not. That raises the obvious question... What are YOUR qualifications, anonymous?

See ya
Steve

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>It's all relative.

It certainly is. I don't get from Barrier's writing that he presumes to know more about the creative process than the masters of animation he interviewed. What people are really upset about are his opinions on certain cartoons and their creators.

That surprises me since many of the opinions he expressed in "Hollywood Cartoons" are very similar to ones I've heard from many animators on their blogs, including John Kricfalusi. For example, Clampett, Jones, and Avery were depicted as great cartoon directors while Friz Freleng was "too cautious"; Scribner's animation was praised as some of the best acting in cartoons; and the use of "realism" and live action reference in the later Disney output were derided. Barrier is also the first animation historian to state, in print, that the UPA cartoons could be pretentious and overrated.

It seems what really gets to animation fans is Barrier's critique of the Fleischers' cartoons as crude, his praise of the early Disney studio, Bob McKimson's style as a director, and his views and short shrift of the Lantz and Terrytoons studio. (Not too many people seem upset at his dismissal of the Columbia and Famous studios output, though. I wonder why?)

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>There are two types of animation historians. One type (like Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck), truly love the medium and go out of their way to share what they know. The other type wraps their ego around their "expertise". They feel a proprietary ownership of what they know and they jealously guard their superiority. (You can make a much longer list of this type.)

Barrier doesn't hate the medium. I don't think one who hates animation would spend so much of their time writing about it, such as with Barrier's Funnyworld, his books and his blog.

I also don't know what you mean when you write that Barrier doesn't share his knowledge. He's published his interviews in Funnyworld, written several books based on that information, and also listed his interviews and reviews for free on his website.

As for your statement about egoist and their "expertise", that same claim could be made for many, many people in the animation industry -- past and present.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>My argument isn't a type of argument, it is a specific one.

Huh? What? Do you mean it's a specific type of argument?

>>I haven't counted, but I'm sure I've raised at least three points apparently too tough for you to respond to, but you insist on trying to talk around them. Bad form, old chap.

I haven't checked either, but I'm sure you just raised the same argument again and again, redundantly, repetitively -- in other words, over and over. I recall it was something along the lines of that you didn't like the way Barrier debated John K, therefore anything the man wrote must be suspect. Thus, you felt this gave you free will to trash anything the man wrote, whether or not you actually read it. I disagreed. That's the end of the argument, ol' boy. Pip, pip and tallyho.

>>All you should be concerned about is whether the writer has credibility to say whatever he says, and whether what he says makes any difference. If you have other concerns you are entirely beyond my scope.

How would you know about the writer's credibility? You haven't read any of the books under discussion here.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Steve is indeed dedicated and knowledgable and is a heck of a lot of fun to work with. Look what he's accomplished with the ASIFA Archive!

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>P.S. I think Milton Gray knows a lot more about artistic style and the creative process than Michael Barrier does.

Yeah, but Barrier wasn't writing about the creative process, or even about artistic styles (although there is some of that in the book). It's a history book, and one of the first about animation that actually reveals the personalities of the people involved in it. It also contains film criticism, and I think it's here that Barrier's opinions upset animation fans.

There are several memoirs by animators, yet I find Barrier's book to be more interesting and balanced. Do you really think that "Chuck Amuck" is better than "Hollywood Cartoons"? And I get a feeling, Steve, that you probably didn't like Shamus Culhane's view of the Fleischer cartoons in "Talking Animals and Other People".

I.D.R.C. said...

I know, little one, I know.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Hi Eddie,

I wasn't saying that Steve wasn't. I was just presenting a scenario that under certain circumstances some people would hurl the same accusations at him as he's done with Barrier. That doesn't mean I don't think Steve is knowledgable. (In fact, in full disclosure here, I've asked Steve for information regarding McKimson and his post-1953 animators on TTTP many moons ago.)

I also think that Barrier is knowledgable and dedicated, too. Though, I have no idea if he is fun to work with.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Hunsecker, IDRC: I met Mike B at the LA Times festival of Books this Saturday. He was friendly and gave a good account of himself on the panel.

I also met Amid Amidi and Jerry Beck who are both heroes in my opinion for their work on Cartoon Brew..

If you live in LA go to this bookfair next year! There are a million booths manned by small publishers with one-of-a-kind, weird books that you probably wouldn't know existed if you weren't there to see them.

I.D.R.C. said...

100 posts, and most because I said I didn't think I want to read a book. With reasons!

I tried to keep it on the down-low. I wasn't trying to destroy Barrier. You people dragged it out of me like my own entrails. You turned this into something...ugly.

I hope you are all satisfied.

J.J. and I will probably never be as close as we were before.

And all because of Barrier.

Monroe said...

I somehow knew the replies to this one wouldn't be pretty as soon as I saw the title of the post!

Anyways...what seems to be lost in all the arguing over whether Barrier is right or wrong, or has the right to criticize who he does is the fact that the guy is simply a talented entertaining writer.

I don't read his stuff looking for it to reinforce all my personal beliefs and preferences...I do because there are few animation historians out there who are better writers.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
Milt doesn't think too highly of you the last time I talked with him, so don't rush to his aid.

Stephen Worth said...

"As for your statement about egoist and their "expertise", that same claim could be made for many, many people in the animation industry -- past and present."

That's because people in the animation industry actually can make a cartoon. When you're an historian talking to the master of a medium about that medium, you better give him that respect. He has proved he can do what you can't.

See ya
Steve

Stephen Worth said...

"Yeah, but Barrier wasn't writing about the creative process, or even about artistic styles (although there is some of that in the book). It's a history book"

If that statement was actually true, I would love the book.

See ya
Steve

Stephen Worth said...

When it comes to animators who write on animation, I have great respect for John K, John Canemaker, Frank & Ollie and Jack Kinney. I found both Jones's book and Culhane's book invaluable to understanding their point of view.

The best non-animators who write on animation are the ones who stick to history and have enthusiasm for the subject. The worst are the ones who arre disorganized (switching back and forth between studios and time periods), have personal agendas to put across, don't know what they're talking about, and insist on inflating the subject with overly-scholarly prose.

See ya
Steve

Stephen Worth said...

"Milt doesn't think too highly of you the last time I talked with him, so don't rush to his aid."

Whether or not he likes me doesn't make any difference to my opinion of his qualities as an animation historian. I think he should have been the one writing the book and Barrier acting as the research assistant. It would have been a much better book that way.

See ya
Steve

I.D.R.C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Gray shares pretty much exactly the same views as Barrier outside of Clampett and a few individual shorts/features (which means the same low opinion of the Fleischer cartoons). So, no, it wouldn't be much different.

Jorge Garrido said...

>Hunsecker, IDRC: I met Mike B at the LA Times festival of Books this Saturday. He was friendly and gave a good account of himself on the panel.

I also met Amid Amidi and Jerry Beck who are both heroes in my opinion for their work on Cartoon Brew.

Wow! You never met them? I thought you guys were old lodge brothers!

>Gray shares pretty much exactly the same views as Barrier outside of Clampett and a few individual shorts/features (which means the same low opinion of the Fleischer cartoons). So, no, it wouldn't be much different.

But this style of writing, as you can see from his terrific essays on Barrier`s site, is much easier to read and less scholary.

To paraphrase Steve Dubby Dubb:

When film criticism started it was looked down upon, so the historians had to use academic language to make it (seem) more legitimate. But we don`t need the big words anymore.

And I like Barrier. I just wish he didn`t write like a lawyer.

Jenny said...

Jorge, just for the record: Eddie's know both Jerry Beck and Amid for years(Amid was a production exec of sorts at Spumco, in fact-I'm not sure what his exact title was there), so I think he must have meant he "met up" with them at the Festival panel, not that he "met" them as in was introduced. I rather suspect he's never met Barrier before, however. I still haven't myself(he lives 3,000 miles away from L.A.).

Am I right, Eddie? : )

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>I wasn't trying to destroy Barrier.

From i.d.r.c.'s first post: "Let's bash 'im! :)"

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>That's because people in the animation industry actually can make a cartoon. When you're an historian talking to the master of a medium about that medium, you better give him that respect. He has proved he can do what you can't.

Isn't it respect to interview those masters and publish their comments at a time when other film critics dismissed their work or completely ignored them? Barrier was one of the first to show respect to these individuals.

Criticism is not tantamount to disrespect. If it was, then we are all guilty of it on these blogs.

One last point. Most of the artist in the animation biz today can't "actually make a cartoon." That's because they've never animated before. Most of them work in preproduction. The real production is done overseas.

I've also met cab drivers with better taste than some of the people in animation today, many of whom love stilted anime.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>When it comes to animators who write on animation, I have great respect for John K, John Canemaker, Frank & Ollie and Jack Kinney. I found both Jones's book and Culhane's book invaluable to understanding their point of view.

Frank & Ollie's version of events were clearly biased in favor of themselves and the later Disney features. They shortchange the individuals who created the style of animation they built upon. Anyway, "Illusiion of Life" isn't a history book.

Jones's version of the history of Looney Tunes somehow excludes Clampett, which some historians would view as a major oversight.

Shamus Culhane mentions nothing of the fact that he also animated for his old friend Frank Tashlin while at Warners, in addition to Jones. Yet there is a drawing of the cat from "Puss and Booty" in his book (misidentified as Slyvester).

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>The best non-animators who write on animation are the ones who stick to history and have enthusiasm for the subject. The worst are the ones who arre disorganized (switching back and forth between studios and time periods), have personal agendas to put across, don't know what they're talking about, and insist on inflating the subject with overly-scholarly prose.

Barrier does have enthusiasm for cartoons. He wouldn't have started Funnyworld if he didn't. His book is well researched and when he does get a fact wrong he admits it and puts the correction on his website.

"...switching back and forth between studios and time periods..." Like in "Of Mice and Magic"? For instance, read the chapter on Warner Bros. and you start out in the 30's and end in the 60's. In the next chapter, on MGM, you're back in the 30's and end in the 60's, next chapter....you get the idea.

I don't know what Barrier's personal agenda could be. Would you care to elaborate?

I.D.R.C. said...

From i.d.r.c.'s first post: "Let's bash 'im! :)"

Fie. My own words have come back to haunt me. I have been exposed as a rogue.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>I rather suspect he's never met Barrier before, however.

Actually Jenny, both Eddie and I met Barrier and had our copies of "Hollywood Cartoons" signed by him at an event hosted by ASIFA years ago.

There was also a Q & A with Barrier, too. Eddie asked a question about Sibley and thought he was underrepresented in the book, if my memory is correct. I asked Barrier if he knew why Chuck Jones hated Clampett so much. Everyone laughed at my naivete.

Jenny said...

Ah, thanks, J.J.
"Match me, Sidney!"...sorry, I just had to say that.

God, how I revere that film. When old Sandy MacKendrick walked hacking down the halls at Calarts, I practically genuflected. Gee, maybe I actually did. I have a latent penchant for curtseying in th presence of greatness (un-ironically).

Anyway--thanks for setting me straight; boy, that Eddie gets around! I didn't recall Barrier had even been at an L.A. panel discussing "Hollywood Cartoons" or I would have tried to be there, too...wonder where the hell I was?

J. J. Hunsecker said...

I remember seeing MacKendric, too. He was wheelchair bound by that time. I hadn't seen "Sweet Smell of Success" or "The Ladykillers" yet so I had no Idea who he was!! If only I had known then...

The ASIFA event wasn't really a panel per se since Barrier was the only author present. He also showed some 16mm cartoons from Terry and Fleischer, illustrating the early work of Tytla and Natwick, respectively.

Stephen Worth said...

"Frank & Ollie's version of events were clearly biased in favor of themselves and the later Disney features."

And that is perfectly fine because we know who is doing the talking. I can learn a lot that way. When Barrier takes biased opinions from several people and doesn't quote the source, we have no idea where he's coming from.

That's why if he just published his interviews, he would be doing a great service to animation history. I want to hear the words of the (biased) people that were actually there, instead of the (biased) opinion of someone who wasn't and has never made an animated film himself.

See ya
Steve

Stephen Worth said...

"...switching back and forth between studios and time periods..." Like in "Of Mice and Magic"?

No. Mice and Magic told it chronologically by studio one at a time. That kind of organization makes sense. Barrier's book and Soloman's are the ones that jump back and forth by both time and place. It's like a history smoothie.

See ya
Steve

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>And that is perfectly fine because we know who is doing the talking. I can learn a lot that way. When Barrier takes biased opinions from several people and doesn't quote the source, we have no idea where he's coming from.

Certain animators have muddied the history of animation by their promotion of myths and tall tales -- like Walter Lantz's fable of how he thought of the idea for Woody Woodpecker on his honeymoon, when the character had been created by Ben Hardaway years before. It was certain animation historians who debunk those fabrications.

Most people don't know when they first read "Illusion of Life" that the authors are biased. They would have to know the real history of Disney to come to that conclusion.

Barrier quotes his sources. There's also end notes for every chapter at the back of the book.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>No. Mice and Magic told it chronologically by studio one at a time. That kind of organization makes sense. Barrier's book and Soloman's are the ones that jump back and forth by both time and place. It's like a history smoothie.

How is it in chronological order in Of Mice and Magic if the book is divided by animation studios? By the time you finish reading about one studio you mentally have to jump back in time at the start of the next chapter that covers a different studio.

No matter which way you slice it, writing about all the Hollywood cartoons studios in the sound age requires a little bit of time slippage. Audiences are sophisticated enough to understand the whole picture. Most history books have to do this to a certian extent.

I think you're exaggerating the time displacement in Hollywood Cartoons. It's not like Reading Barrier's book is akin to viewing Memento or a Tarantino flick.

I.D.R.C. said...

That's why if he just published his interviews, he would be doing a great service to animation history. I want to hear the words of the (biased) people that were actually there, instead of the (biased) opinion of someone who wasn't and has never made an animated film himself.

As I read, that's the most important part of the post. It's also the part that got no response.

I'm not into cartoons for the minutiae. I'm into cartoons for the fun. I'm into people who appreciate them for the fun, people who are curious or motivated about how to keep the fun going, who want to celebrate and spread understanding of the people who knew and know how to make the most fun. The rest is somebody's bullshit.

If he is sitting on tapes just so that he can be the official interpreter of the past, then he is doing no favors for the industry he feeds on.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Actually, i.d.r.c., all of Steve's points were addressed in previous posts. But I'll state them again.

Barreir isn't sitting on tapes of his past interviews. He first published them in Funnyworld in the 70's, so if you like you can find back issues and read them. Some of the interviews are already available on his website for free, and I'm sure more will appear in the future. I get the feeling Barrier is an army of one, so I wouldn't expect all those interviews to appear too soon. Patience is a virtue, though.

Barrier has also lent his recordings of those earlier interviews to certain home video companies; the full Clampett interview appears on the Beany and Cecil DVD, for example. Barrier has also played clips of some of his interviews for his commentaries on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVDs.

Also, "fun" is in the eye of the beholder. I enjoyed Barrier's book, for instance. I also enjoy some of the cartoons he dislikes. Unlike certain famous bloggers, I don't find Terrytoons, Roger Ramjet or The Flintstones to be much fun. Different strokes, I guess.

One last thing, why make pejorative judgements and darkly insinuate ulterior motives of a person you don't know and who has not shown any reason for the suspicion you show towards them?

I.D.R.C. said...

I have made no misrepresentation that I can identify.

Barrier's face does in fact make me want to punch it. I don't know why. Can I be the only one? Can I get a show of hands?

I linked to an interview, which, in my honest estimation makes him look like a idiot. I am not exaggerating this point for effect. It indicates that at least on one occasion, the occasion where I first met him, he had entirely the wrong motivations. That's my assessment, and I really should not argue with anyone who can neither concede nor refute it.

At least twice Barrier was an idiot; once when he wasted an interview on his dookie aversion, and again when he thought he looked smart for publishing it. It has value only because of John K's responses.

Good replies to this would've been maybe, "well he was having a bad day", or "he's usually not that intellectually retarded", but nobody even hinted at such possibilities. You have not even acknowleged that you comprehend what he did, so why are you reliable to me when you assess Barrier? You think I have a vendetta. If you really think I am just out to get him, that means I baited you, and you fell for it.

I made 2 hypothetical statements.

1)If what Eddie says is true, then X.

2)If what Steve says is true (and he said it twice), then Y.

That means I don't know. But I have at least one good reason to be willing to accept their versions over yours. They have made sense to me before.

I've acknowleged there could be reasons to care about Barrier, but I tell you plainly his aestethic judgments (and quite possibly his judgements in any other areas for which he may offer his generous filtration services) are not as good as my own, and any statements he bases on them do not matter to me. I have no use for them. I'm in the advanced class.

Also, "fun" is in the eye of the beholder. I enjoyed Barrier's book, for instance. I also enjoy some of the cartoons he dislikes. Unlike certain famous bloggers, I don't find Terrytoons, Roger Ramjet or The Flintstones to be much fun. Different strokes, I guess.

That's the point. What you like doesn't matter. Who the fuck are you?

Who the fuck is Barrier? Who the fuck am I? Do you care what I like?
Don't I first have to persuade you that my views matter, that I at least have the authority/veracity/credibility to say whatever I say?

It matters that I like Eddie so I can show him a little support. It matters what he likes because I like to learn from how he thinks. Same with John K. I don't care how Barrier thinks. Why should I? He made me believe that he can't.

Anyone I consider a real cartoon fan would instinctively agree that funny cartoons --as a living, breathing reality --is a far more important concept than what ANYBODY likes. But not when Barrier interviewd John K.

Everything is in the eye of the beholder, ain't it?
That's why we say stuff. May the best idea win.

Anonymous said...

"It matters that I like Eddie so I can show him a little support. It matters what he likes because I like to learn from how he thinks. Same with John K. I don't care how Barrier thinks. Why should I? He made me believe that he can't."


"Support" for Eddie? Eddie LIKED the Barrier book. LIKED it. Liked it. Liked it. Liked it. Enjoyed it. Liked it! He liked it!
Can we trust Eddie's recommendation in this post? Is that okay with you? Is this how you "support" a man you think so highly of(apparently)? Let it go.

Anonymous said...

"That's the point. What you like doesn't matter. Who the fuck are you?"

I know one thing:
whoever he is, he's someone who expresses himself a lot more elegantly and coherently than you do.

I.D.R.C. said...

Can we trust Eddie's recommendation in this post? Is that okay with you?

Absolutely.

Is this how you "support" a man you think so highly of(apparently)? Let it go.

We are going to keep going over this until everyone gets it right.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>Barrier's face does in fact make me want to punch it. I don't know why. Can I be the only one? Can I get a show of hands?

So now the qualifications get more restrictive. Not only should just artists write about animation, but now they should be physically attractive as well. Are you still in high school?

>>I linked to an interview, which, in my honest estimation makes him look like a idiot.

Since Barrier is such an idiot you must disagree with these statements he made to John K in the debate you linked to:

"I was impressed by your fearlessness..."

"Like Clampett, you're not afraid to take distortion way past conventional limits, for expressive purposes, and as a result your characters always have much more presence on the screen than most cartoon characters."

"The acting in R&S is what I have liked so much..."

"All of this is not to say that your best cartoons, some entries in the original R&S series especially, aren’t important, and often tremendously enjoyable. I still think that they open up all kinds of exciting possibilities."

You should also remember that John K invited Barrier to view "Naked Beach Frenzy" and "Stimpy's Pregnant", and let him know what he thought of them. Then he got upset when Barrier told him his honest opinion.

Kricfalusi once stated that artists don't grow if all people do is tell them that everything they create is great. Barrier said some harsh words to Kricfalusi, but he made some good points, too. Maybe an accomplished artist like Kricfalusi could learn to take it in stride.

>>I tell you plainly [Barrier's] aestethic judgments...are not as good as my own...I'm in the advanced class.

Wow. Too bad for us all you didn't write "Hollywood Cartoons", eh?

I.D.R.C. said...

So now the qualifications get more restrictive. Not only should just artists write about animation, but now they should be physically attractive as well. Are you still in high school?

People have the face they have. If you saw mine you might want to punch it. In Barrier's case I have no illusions that I am unbaised about it. I really do not want him hurt. C'mon.

Anyone can write about anything. You should just have a good reason why you care that they did. As anonymous pointed out, Eddie's overall recommendation counts for a lot, but I am also factoring in his response to my original question.

Since Barrier is such an idiot you must disagree with these statements he made to John K in the debate you linked to:

I think what I pulled from it is more instructive than what you pulled.

Maybe an accomplished artist like Kricfalusi could learn to take it in stride.

I'm gonna guess that like me, he took it for what it was worth. The only thing it means to me is that it could not possibly have helped the show or funny cartoons to prosper, which is what I want. His ability to debate what belongs in a cartoon means little to me. It's a sidetrack that goes nowhere, just like this thread.

Whether it actually hurt the show or funny cartoons I don't know.

Wow. Too bad for us all you didn't write "Hollywood Cartoons", eh?

I don't know, I haven't read it. It's possible.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>The only thing it means to me is that it could not possibly have helped the show or funny cartoons to prosper...Whether it actually hurt the show or funny cartoons I don't know.

That's ridiculous. "Naked Beach Frenzy" didn't air because of controversy with advertisers over content, not because Barrier didn't like the episode. I doubt SpikeTV cancelled APC because of one critic's comments on his obscure website.

I.D.R.C. said...

I'm not implying that Barrier got the show cancelled. I'm stating that as far as I know he didn't do it any favors. If he can't use whatever weight he has to give a much needed boost to the industry he'd have no purpose without, what good is he to me? It would hardly have been inappropriate, and need not have compromised his integrity, whatever that could be. His taste is meaningless. There are lots of funny drawings to look at, and also on display was a genuine effort to restore the HOLLYWOOD CARTOON system. I don't think he took a lot of interest in these sorts of things, and I find it lacking. Since I FOUND A LOT TO GET EXCITED ABOUT, besides matters of taste, I have to wonder why he didn't. Actually, I don't have to wonder.

My platform is simple. MORE FUNNY CARTOONS. I don't care what is in them. I'm not that selfish, nor am I stupid enough to take potshots at the only guy pushing in the right direction, when there is something better I could do.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

It's not Barrier's job to give a "boost to the industry". A critic's job is to write honestly and analytically about the subject he or she is reviewing, not to give a helping hand to that subject.

You exaggerate Barrier's influence with the animation industry. He has none. Even if he did love APC and gave it glowing reviews the show still would have met the same fate that it did.

If you disagree with Barrier's tastes, fine. Obviously he didn't think funny drawings and good intentions were enough to give APC a good review.

I.D.R.C. said...

It was an interview. A dull, uninquisitive one, no doubt cut short by those two traits.

A critic's job is meaningless without something to critique. It's not the only way a critic's job is meaningless.

I did not find it analytical. I found it hopelessly opinionated, and plainly shortsighted, shallow and insipid. I got more words like those.

You're still coming up short on the good reason to value what he thinks.

If the best thing you can say is nobody reads him anyway, what's your issue? Why you still chewing this bone? You with the Silly Anti-JK blog?

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>It was an interview.

It was a debate between Barrier and John K via email, that started because of Barrier's intitial review of APC.

>>A critic's job is meaningless without something to critique.

If it weren't for some of these same critics like Barrier and Maltin in the late 60's and early 70's, the Warner Bros. cartoons would never have gotten the praise that they deserved. They were disparaged or ignored by the more mainstream critics of the day, who preferred UPA cartoon instead.

These same critics took it upon themselves to research, interview the animators and write the history of the golden age of Hollywood cartoons. They deserve some thanks for that.

>>I found it hopelessly opinionated...

Not OPINIONATED!! Heavens forbid, since no one else around here who writes about cartoons is opinionated. Especially not certain cartoon directors with their own blogs.

>>If the best thing you can say is nobody reads him anyway, what's your issue?

That's not what I said. I stated that he had no influence in the business, not that no one read him. It's a big difference. Very few outsiders have sway over the entertainment industry.

>>Why you still chewing this bone?

Why are you still serving it up?

>>You with the Silly Anti-JK blog?

Anti-JK!?! BLASPHEMER!! That blog is a shrine to my false idol that I worhsip in place of our Lord. You are too prideful and envious, and wish all of John's love for yourself. Be careful, such vainglory will eventually get you cast out of paradise.

I.D.R.C. said...

opinionated:

–adjective

obstinate or conceited with regard to the merit of one's own opinions; conceitedly dogmatic.

This was all about you contesting my choices in words. I think I have more than justified them.

Don't you find the concept of a cartoon critic just a tad superfluous?

Maybe he should become a cartoon paramedic.

If he cannot function as a useful fan of the medium I don't think he can be very good at what he says he does.

Let's part company. Gotta run, son.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>obstinate or conceited with regard to the merit of one's own opinions; conceitedly dogmatic.

Are you saying this only applies to Barrier? I can think of several people who fit that description.

>>Don't you find the concept of a cartoon critic just a tad superfluous?

We've been over this before. Who else wrote about the history of American animation in the past? Even people like Steve Worth, John K, et. al. got some of their information from the likes of Barrier, Maltin, Beck, etc.

>>If he cannot function as a useful fan of the medium I don't think he can be very good at what he says he does.

Barrier is a fan of classic animated cartoons. If you actually read his books, or read the original Funnyworld, you'd know that.

What is a "useful fan"? Should Barrier help boost the industry by actively promoting cartoons like Family Guy, Shrek, The Simpsons (now a major motion picture!), Father Of The Pride, or Samurai Jack? Even if his same opinions of those cartoons are pretty low? (It wouldn't be fair, or "useful", to the current animation industry to just promote John K, now would it?)

>>Let's part company. Gotta run, son.

It's about time.

Anonymous said...

What is a "useful fan"?

Somebody who fundamentally understands what is important about the medium he claims he loves.