Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The picture above isn't me. It's Czeslaw Milosz, the writer. More about him in a minute. What I need to talk about now is cartoon acting.

Years ago I decided to specialize in funny cartoon acting. I did it because I loved it, and was a fan of the great cartoon actors like Rod Scribner, and because I thought it might give me an edge in the job market. Now years later I have to admit that the edge wasn't much of an edge. I think I lost as many jobs as I gained because of the acting thing. A lot of new animation was about design and and didn't seem to require acting; as a matter of fact, acting seemed downright out of place.

How did this design emphasis come about? Why does it seem to exclude acting? Why would artists want to exclude acting? I have a bizarre and probably wrong explanation for it. It's pretty silly, but then again this is a theory site and if you can't do silly theories here then where can you do them? the theory is all about...


According to the Wikipedia, ketman is an arabic word which means "paying lip service to authority while holding personal opposition." I prefer a broader definition that I got from Czelaw Milosz's Cold War-era book, "The Captive Mind." Milosz lived under communism where an unguarded word at a party could lead to a prison sentence. He said that the only sure way to be safe was not even to think of opposition to the government. If you allow yourself to think about it, even if you're good at holding it in, sooner or later you'll blurt it out in public and get in trouble. So you practice ketman... you avoid certain topics, you learn to think of controversial issues in terms of broad generalities and homilies, even if you're at home alone.

Of course in a state like the one Milosz lived in lots and lots of things were politicized so the number of subjects to avoid was pretty large. Milosz believed that this kind of restraint led to mass neurosis and a crippling of the elan and zest for life of a whole people. Only liquor seemed to help. Believe it or not all this has to do with animation.

My crackpot theory is that the reason modern animators have rejected comedic acting and work in such a cold style is because they've become uncomfortable with social interaction, and the reason they're uncomfortable with this is because they've practiced ketman all their lives. I blame political correctness.

Modern white guys are bundles of restraint. Talking to them you get the feeling that every sentence is a tortured navigation through dangerous waters. You can't say for example, "She's an idiot" because idiot is an offensive term... a hate crime... and men are not supposed to criticize women without a lengthy philosophical disclaimer stating their good intentions and history of fairness. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a student in art school where half of the students regard themselves as political police whose job it is to inhibit the speech of the other half of the students. My guess is that students resort to ketman to get through the day.

Remember what Milosz said about ketman? If it can cripple the elan and zest for life of whole nations, I don't think it would spare art students.

My guess is that design rules animation right now because design is appealing all by itself and doesn't require characters to have acted relationships with each other. Relationships are minefields to the young, at least to young men. Relationships have an unpleasant association requiring ketman to soothe things over.

Well, that's the argument. Do I believe it? I'm not sure. I can think of almost as many arguments against it as for it, and it is pretty self-serving. You could argue that design emphasis comes about because it's congenial to Flash animation, or that cold but beautiful graphic styles have been popping up ever since Picasso. I don't know...



kellie said...

Very interesting. But as the emphasis on design in animation always harks back to early 20th Century modernism, I wonder can the theory also apply in some way to the origins of modernism?

There was, and remains, a claim to moral virtue in much modernism which goes beyond a pleasure in particular ├Žsthetic effects. Actually this claim to moral virtue can also be found in some 19th Century art movements too. In the Pre-Raphaelites and the Arts and Crafts movement for example, which led on in part to modernism through the Bauhaus &c.

The Afterlife of George Carlin said...

My dear Mr. Fitzgerald. Please allow me to illustrate my defense against demeaning practitioners of political correctness, here. I hope you and the other commenters on your blog find this helpful and perhaps, enlightening. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Some Guy said...


Roo said...

it would be impressive if any free thinking people survived art school. the art students i know seem to have the same narrow minded politically correct attitude and act self righteous about it. you would think an artists job to punch a hole in bullshit like that. show the world for how it is not for how they where taught to see it.

The Horns and the Hawk said...

i would agree. at least to some extent. that's why i quit going to art school. the hypocritical politically correct mindedness was pretty depressing. there were a few "ray of sunshine" kids there who wouldn't jump on you for calling a spade a spade.

actually, i'm not sure if it was "ketman" or "pc," but there's definitely something depressing as all hell at art school, and (like milosz said) only the kids who got drunk and smoked pot (or worse) seemed to think that everything was cool. and i think the thing that was depressing for me is that artists are (by reputation) the ones that are supposed to be "enlightened" and "tolerant," when really, every person in that building was just goose stepping to someone else's drum (the angry liberal feminist bush hating drummer, who only speaks in slogans), and as soon as they find out you don't like that particular song, they ostracize you in this really weird passive aggressive sort of way. but yes, ketman. it gets depressing, especially if you don't want to medicate yourself with narcotics.

the other reason i left is because my drawing is too inconsistent. sometimes i'm like da vinci, other times i'm like a nickelodeon cartoon.

Snurp said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say that animators can't or don't think in such personal terms anymore (and I don't think you would either, Eddie). But I might say that it is certainly easier to go with good looking images than it is to focus on emotive design. Focusing on plain imagery is much more straightforward and gets across easier. Since there is a national (if not sometimes international) market, an artist, to be competitive, has to send out something that has an impact in the broadest sense and does so quickly. In order to both send out something easily recognizable and to avoid the pitfalls that come with political correctness, it is easier to send something 'simple and pretty', even if one disagrees with it. Those who run things generally want a good investment, not necessarily creativity. So I agree with you quite a bit, though I would put it more along the lines of the market and getting oneself out there than anything deeper in the consciousness. They might not be less interested, but it's more difficult to go in that direction.

It also seems that such a way of looking at it leads to self-perpetuation, i.e. artist (and politician, and writer, and whoever else) restricts self, there is less variety out there, people are exposed to less, their view is more restricted/controlled by what others think, and so on. But this may be counteracted to a degree by the mere fact of greater openness today, and with it more exposure to new ideas.

(Lastly, as a short addition that I felt should be mentioned, when people are so busy these days, they often don't have the time to take a more personal look at things. This seems to be a general problem with relationships, and so would have an effect here as well, most likely.)

Tanonymous said...

I don't think it has anything to do with political correctness. Cheats are easier than dimensional drawing And everyone thinks the style is 'cool'. Thus, the animation today.

Veteran Dave Brain coined the phrase, "cash register animation" to describe the timing style of all the TV studios. This is a useful term we should be using, Eddie.

pappy d said...

What a great topic!

Anonymous said...

Politics in every animation studio, past and present, is and was defined by Ketman. To survive ya gotta aim at the spaces in between, to paraphrase Robert Mitchum in "Five Card Stud."

Lester Hunt said...

I know nothing about the animation business, but Eddie's point is at least plausible. A. M. Coetzee pointed out a few years ago that when artists start getting in trouble for the content of what they say, they have an abundance of strategies to stay out of trouble, including (his examples) allegorical modes, Aesopian language and implicit references. Eddie is pointing out an even better strategy: avoid content altogether. Create contentless art! Give them nothing to pounce on!

ratskywatsky said...

I think you have to be more specific for your theory to make sense.

In the first place, you're talking about television, which has obvious limitations-it always has, Spumco notwitstanding. The acting you loved in cartoons that you wanted to model yourself after, that of Rod Scribner,etc., was theatrical full animation.

So the artists you're really discussing here are TV board artists like yourself, right?

Those guys have a responsibility to put in acting where they can but it's not going to be as extensive as Bob Clampett's key layout poses were for his animators. And anyway the storyboards for feature cartoons back then-the equivalent of what your job is now-didn't contain all the acting then either-far from it.
In other words, you started out looking for an opportunity to do something that the very procedure of TV precludes.
It seems to me that the design hasn't taken over in a detrimental way in TV-if anything, considering how difficult it is to get things through the pipeline when they're animated overseas, TV design is hugely better now than what was done in the 80s and 90s. Shows like Spongebob have more accurate(i.e. reflecting the director's intent), funny poses/acting in them than anything has for decades, and there are definitely other shows that do as well. Hasn't Katie Rice worked on some of those? Ren and Stimpy opened the floodgates and that style is still in force to this day, along with a heck of a lot of other styles influenced by Tim Biskup and that whole bunch.

From your own description of what you personally wanted to do in animation I'm surprised you never became an animator who worked in full animation. Even if you diliked the so-called Disney style there's always been mavericks who work outside that studio in commercials and on short projects, etc.-that's where you could have done Scribner and not had it watered down.
You couldn't pick a worse venue to experiment with acting in the Clampett mode than to work at Filmation or for other staid TV places, though.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Rats: Thanks for the nice and insightful letter. True, I'd have had a good time animating on commercials, etc., but eventually I'd have had to break out into animation that told a funny story. I just like stuff like that.

I don't think TV as a medium is inherently antagonistic to funny acting. Ren & Stimpy contained funny acting and it was a hit. TV is the way it is because of conscious choices by the decision makers.

Of course that doesn't let me off the hook. If I had a better way I should have made a reel and shopped it around. Thanks again for the thoughtful letter, which triggered some healthy self-reflection.

NateBear said...

Designy things sell more merchandise. Try to translate good acting into keychains mugs and baby carrot packages.

Brian said...

Interesting theory, Eddie!

Why is it no one seems to care about PC when it comes to certain things? I call it "Selective PC". For instance, ultra-liberal comedians can go on and on about conservative politicians with no backlash, but Barack Obama is a sacred cow. Even caricatures of Obama are really bland with no interesting underlying commentary. The recent New Yorker cartoon is the only really provocative caricature of BHO I've seen this year and even Bill O'Reilly jumped on New Yorker for it. People can post pictures of Bush and chimps side-by-side as a humorous comparison and nobody cares, but nobody can make an Obama monkey plush animal without a huge backlash. It's hypocritical.

Kris said...

I agree with you somewhat, Eddie, but I think it's more money than fear or inhibition.

Executives with large, successful businesses don't usually want to take serious risks. They are more likely to make a safe product very similar to past successful products, something guaranteed to be a moderate success. A risky venture could turn out to be a runaway success--but it also has more potential to be a massive failure.

It's the small companies and projects that make the big changes--which in turn compel the large companies to imitate superficially what made the small project a huge hit. I think it was the Cartoon Cartoon Show that brought us into this cold design phase (that and anime seem to be the major influences on modern cartoons), and there just hasn't been anything massively popular enough to come along and replace it yet.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: Your letter is the longest I've ever received, and is probably the longest I or anyone else on Blogger will ever receive. It's the Mount Everst of letters. I salute you!

Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars which have been transfered FROM US TO THEM. All over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They just keep getting richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductible crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any 'humanitarian' progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. So don’t fall for any of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductible contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGenerous, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. No offense fellow citizens. But we have been mislead by nearly every public figure. We still are. Even now, they claim to be 'hurting' right along with the rest of us. As if gas prices actually effect the lifestyle of a millionaire. ITS A LIE. IN 2007, THE RICHEST 1% INCREASED THEIR AVERAGE BOTTOM LINE WEALTH AGAIN. On average, they are now worth over $4,000,000 each. Thats an all time high. As a group, they are now worth well over $17,000,000,000,000. THATS WELL OVER SEVENTEEN TRILLION DOLLARS. Another all time high. Which by the way, is much more than the entire middle and lower classes combined. Also more than enough to pay off the national deficit, fund the Iraq war for twenty years, and bail out the US housing market. Still think that our biggest problem is China? Think again. Its the 1% club. That means every big name celebrity, athlete, executive, entrepreneur, developer, banker, and lottery winner. Along with many attorneys, doctors, politicians, and bankers. If they are rich, then they are part of the problem. Their incredible wealth was not 'created', 'generated', grown in their back yard, or printed up on their command. It was transfered FROM US TO THEM. Directly and indirectly. Its become near impossible to spend a dollar without making some greedy pig even richer. Don't be fooled by the occasional loss of a millionaire's fortune. Overall, they just keep getting richer. They absolutely will not stop. Still, they have the nerve to pretend as if they care about ordinary people. ITS A LIE. NOTHING BUT CALCULATED PR CRAP. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THEIR GOAL IS TO WIN THE GAME. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Reaganomics. Their idea. Loans from China. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. High energy prices. Their idea. Oil 'futures'. Their idea. Obscene health care charges. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. The multi-million dollar endorsement deal. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. Brainwash plots on TV. Their idea. Vioxx, and Celebrex. Their idea. Excessive medical testing. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed, credit card, pharmaceutical, medical testing, love-sick, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of the above shrink the middle class, concentrate the world’s wealth and resources, create a dominoe effect of socio-economic problems, and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for any of their ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR CRAP. In many cases, the 'charitable' contribution is almost entirely offset. Not to mention the opportunity to plug their name, image, product, and 'good will' all at once. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These filthy pigs even have the nerve to throw a fit and spin up a misleading defense with regard to 'federal tax revenue'. ITS A SHAM. THEY SCREWED UP THE EQUATION TO BEGIN WITH. If the middle and lower classes had a greater share of the pie, they could easily cover a greater share of the federal tax revenue. They are held down in many ways because of greed. Wages remain stagnant for millions because the executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, are paid millions. They over-sell, over-charge, under-pay, outsource, cut jobs, and benefits to increase their bottom line. As their profits rise, so do the stock values. Which are owned primarily by the richest 5%. As more United States wealth rises to the top, the middle and lower classes inevitably suffer. This reduces the potential tax reveue drawn from those brackets. At the same time, it wreaks havok on middle and lower class communities and increases the need for financial aid. Not to mention the spike in crime because of it. There is a dominoe effect to consider. IT CAN'T WORK THIS WAY. But our leaders refuse to acknowledge this. Instead they come up with one trick after another to milk the system and screw the majority. These decisions are heavily influensed by the 1% club. Every year, billions of federal tax dollars are diverted behind the scenes back to the rich and their respective industries. Loans from China have been necessary to compensate in part, for the red ink and multi-trillion dollar transfer of wealth to the rich. At the same time, the feds have been pushing more financial burden onto the states who push them lower onto the cities. Again, the hardship is felt more by the majority and less by the 1% club. The rich prefer to live in exclusive areas or upper class communities. They get the best of everything. Reliable city services, new schools, freshly paved roads, upscale parks, ect. The middle and lower class communities get little or nothing without a local tax increase. Which, they usually can't afford. So the red ink flows followed by service cuts and lay-offs. All because of the OBSCENE distribution of bottom line wealth in this country. So when people forgive the rich for their incredible greed and then praise them for paying a greater share of the FEDERAL income taxes, its like nails on a chalk board. I can not accept any theory that our economy would suffer in any way with a more reasonable distribution of wealth. Afterall, it was more reasonable 30 years ago. Before Reaganomics came along. Before GREED became such an epidemic. Before we had an army of over-paid executives, bankers, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, doctors, investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and sold-out politicians to kiss their asses. As a nation, we were in much better shape. Strong middle class, free and clear assets, lower crime rate, more widespread prosperity, stable job market, lower deficit, ect. Our economy as a whole was much more stable and prosperous for the majority. WITHOUT LOANS FROM CHINA. Now, we have a more obscene distribution of bottom line wealth than ever before. We have a sold-out government, crumbling infrastructure, energy crisis, home forclosure epidemic, credit crunch, weak US dollar, 13 figure national deficit, and 12 figure annual shortfall. The cost of living is higher than ever before. Most people can't even afford basic health care. ALL BECAUSE OF GREED. I really don't blame the 2nd -5th percentiles in general. No economy could ever function without some reasonable scale of personal wealth and income. But it can't be allowed to run wild like a mad dog. ALBERT EINSTEIN TRIED TO MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. UNBRIDLED CAPITALISM ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK. TOP HEAVY ECONOMIES ALWAYS COLLAPSE. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The American dream will be shattered. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE HUMANITARIAN. EXTREME WEALTH MAKES WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman.. Of course, they will jump to small minded conclusions about 'jealousy', 'envy', or 'socialism'. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

So what can we do about it? Well, not much. Unfortunately, we are stuck on a runaway train. The problem has gone unchecked for too many years. The US/global depression is comming thanks to the 1% club. It would take a massive effort by the vast majority to prevent it. Along with a voluntary sacrifice by the rich. THATS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. But if you believe in miracles, then spend your money as wisely as possible. Especially in middle and lower class communities. Check the Fortune 500 list and limit your support of high profit/low labor industries (Hollywood, pro sports, energy, credit, pharmaceutical, cable, satelite, internet advertising, cell phone, high fashion, jewelry, ect.). Cancel all but one credit card for emergencies only. If you need a cell phone, then do your homework and find the best deal on a local pre-pay. If you want home internet access, then use the least expensive provider, and share accounts whenever possible. If you need to search, then use the less popular search engines. They usually produce the same results anyway. Don't click on any internet ad. If you need the product or service, then look up the phone number or address and contact that business directly. Don't pay to see any blockbuster movie. Instead, wait a few months and rent the DVD from a local store or buy it USED. If you want to see a big name game or event, then watch it in a local bar, club, or at home on network TV. Don't buy any high end official merchendise and don't support the high end sponsors. If its endorsed by a big name celebrity, then don't buy it. If you can afford a new car, then make an exception for GM, Ford, and Dodge. If they don't increase their market share soon, then a lot more people are going to get screwed out of their pensions and/or benefits. Of course, you must know by now to avoid those big trucks and SUVs unless you truly need one for its intended purpose. Don't be ashamed to buy a foreign car if you prefer it. Afterall, those with the most fuel efficient vehicles consume a lot less foreign oil. Which accounts for a pretty big chunk of our trade deficit. Anyway, the global economy is worth supporting to some extent. Its the obscene profit margins, trade deficits, and BS from OPEC that get us into trouble. Otherwise, the global economy would be a good thing for everyone. Just keep in mind that the big 3 are struggling and they do produce a few smaller reliable cars. Don't frequent any high end department store or any business in a newly developed upper class community. By doing so, you make developers richer and draw support away from industrial areas and away from the middle class communities. Instead, support the local retailer and the less popular shopping centers. Especially in lower or middle class communities. If you can afford to buy a home, then do so. But go smaller and less expensive. Don't get yourself in too deep and don't buy into the newly developed condos or gated communities. Instead, find a modest home in a building or neighborhood at least 20 years old. If you live in one of the poorer states, then try to support its economy first and foremost. Big business is fine on occasion depending on the profit margins and profit sharing. Do your homework. If you want to support any legitimate charity, then do so directly. Never support any celebrity foundation. They spend most of their funding on PR campaigns, travel, and high end accomodations for themselves. Instead, go to Charitywatch.org and look up a top rated charity to support your favorite cause. In general support the little guy as much as possible and the big guy as little as possible. Do your part to reverse the transfer of wealth away from the rich and back to the middle and lower classes. Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer. Jobs will be lost either way. Innocent children will starve and die either way. But we need to support the largest group of workers with the most reasonable profit margins. We also need to support LEGITIMATE charities (Check that list at Charitywatch.org). This is our only chance to limit the severity and/or duration of the comming US/global depression. In the meantime, don't listen to Bernenke, Paulson, Bartiromo, Orman, Dobbs, Kramer, OReiley, or any other public figure with regard to the economy. They are all plenty smart but I swear to you that they will lie right through their rotten teeth. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Like I said, you are welcome to run this by any professor of economics or socio-economics. If thats not good enough, then look up what Einstein had to say about greed, extreme wealth, and its horrible concequences. I speak the truth. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL.

The Horns and the Hawk said...

wow, eddie. that was like walking in on the tale end of a really bad argument between mom and dad, and both of them trying to pretend like everything is ok.

at any rate, have you ever read ishmael, or any of its psuedo sequels (my ishmael, story of b (the worst book by far), providence)? i feel like i should be spending my time learning to live directly off the land instead of doing anything else.

at any rate, i think you're right (or very damned near to it), and i feel fearful for the next not too many years.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

If animation artists practice "ketman" it's because they fear losing their jobs, not because of political correctness. If they don't agree with the people running the studio they can kiss their job goodbye. (Or at least, they won't be rehired after the seasonal layoff.)

The acting in most animated TV cartoons is dull because, for most shows, it's out of the hands of the artists anyway. Most animated shows today have producers and writers with backgrounds in live action, (The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy) and they don't like "cartoony" acting. They prefer "subtly" which equals bland acting in limited animated shows. The artists who work on these shows better do as they're told, or they won't have a job for long.

Modern white guys are bundles of restraint. Talking to them you get the feeling that every sentence is a tortured navigation through dangerous waters. You can't say for example, "She's an idiot" because idiot is an offensive term... a hate crime... and men are not supposed to criticize women without a lengthy philosophical disclaimer stating their good intentions and history of fairness.

The white men I know at the animation studios around town call women words worse than "idiot". Most white men I know aren't "bundles of restraint" either. Most of them have positions of power, too.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Why is it no one seems to care about PC when it comes to certain things? I call it "Selective PC". For instance, ultra-liberal comedians can go on and on about conservative politicians with no backlash, but Barack Obama is a sacred cow. Even caricatures of Obama are really bland with no interesting underlying commentary. The recent New Yorker cartoon is the only really provocative caricature of BHO I've seen this year and even Bill O'Reilly jumped on New Yorker for it. People can post pictures of Bush and chimps side-by-side as a humorous comparison and nobody cares, but nobody can make an Obama monkey plush animal without a huge backlash. It's hypocritical.

First of all, you've misinterpreted what the New Yorker is satirizing. It's not ridiculing Obama, but rather the ridiculous, fearful lies that those on the right have spread about him and his wife.

You think Obama gets off easy? The press gives McCain donuts, while Obama is called a radical Muslim. (He's Christian.) The press harped on Obama's association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but not McCain's association with Pastor John Hagee, who said that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment against New Orleans for hosting a homosexual parade, that the Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves by "turning away from the true God," and referred to Catholicism as a "false cult."

The reason people can post pictures of Bush and chimps side by side without much backlash (except for delusional righties) is because Bush is an idiot that looks like a chimp, his policies have been disastrous for the country, and more than 70% of the U.S. population dislikes the corrupt clown.

Why do you conservative right wingers constantly act as if you're victims? Your policies have hurt so much of the country and now you whine that people pick on you when they voice their outrage.

Bitter Animator said...

Unlike Ratskywatsky, I don't believe you need to be more specific here. In fact, I think this is a far more widespread issue and is about all of current Western society. I don't think it's even just political correctness, though that is certainly an issue. I think it's largely about distraction and misdirection.

We live in a world where people are bombarded by choices, propaganda, taxes, careers, news stories, advertising and much, much more. And I think people are shutting down. It's just too much to take in. And this serves the interests of many groups – governments for one. A little bit of misdirection and the current issue blows over in no time because people simply have too much to think about. They can't focus. It of course serves most corporations as it nurtures the consumer society that feeds them. Ads everywhere, totally unavoidable, tell people each and every day that their lives are incomplete, or they are broken, and yet personally deserve to have everything and their own whims desires mean everything while they push their shit on you. Makes for a society more driven by a closed-off sense of individuality, coupled with greed, and yet also a crippling feeling of inadequacy.

Companies have also become very good at giving things to people, lifestyles, that initially seem positive and actually are but they are also traps. People get locked into careers, work becomes everything.

Then what goes on in the world, daily atrocities, some of which are carried out in our name, are just too much for people to think deeply about. We couldn't function if we spent our day really considering the latest child to have walked over a landmine or the British troops who forced an underage Iraqi boy to have sex with his friend or even the American troops who threw a puppy off a cliff. It's too much.

People simply can't think about everything that the world throws at us.

And, when it comes down to it, people are just trying to get by. And, in my view, to do that, we are withdrawing. Text messaging, emailing, the internet is a far more comfortable way to communicate because we are shielded. We are safe as each of us withdraws from the world, and other people. Sure, we can communicate with thousands of people now, and it's hard to think of that as unsocial, but it's a different sort of communication.

And the political correctness, fear of our own thoughts and words, is part of that. We censor ourselves more and more.

It's not really human interaction. As people, we are withdrawing into ourselves just to get by day to day.

And how can we represent acting or draw acting when we can't do it ourselves in real life? And, if we could really represent true acting, would people be comfortable watching it?

Vincent Waller said...

OK. I officially nominate Uncle Eddie for president of the United States.

On the first topic, I'm not sure if it's from cartoonists hiding their feeling as much it is that real emotions scare the average executive.
I've seen the reaction to specific emotions in storyboards time and time again. Where the people looking over boards focus on one drawing and are scared by it. Even though in actual screen time these would be micro-emotions to the human eye.

David Germain said...

I guess one could say that my Censor Monkeys are my attack against Kitman. It's alot of fun simultaniously demonizing AND dehumanizing those who practice political correctness and such. I portrayed the monkey mostly in charge of silencing the dissention as a Nazi. But, if I had read about Milosz' experience in communist Russia, I might have made him a Bolshivic soldier instead. Oh well, live and learn.

pappy d said...


I hope you don't really regret going into story. You might have wound up in perpetual ketman, honing your skills for a project that never comes. Animators need you to give meaning to our lives spent in dimly lit rooms.

"Relationships are minefields to the young, at least to young men. Relationships have an unpleasant association requiring ketman to soothe things over."

Young men should ask themselves: "What would Captain Brandon Birmingham do?"

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Pappy: Gee, I almost regret this post. It sounds like I was whining about lost opportunities in my career, which was not my intention at all. I wanted to talk about ketman.

Cold but beautiful graphics have been gaining momentum ever since Picasso and are not a creation of the political correctness movement...not the modern version of it anyway. I don't think my ketman idea is sufficient to explain why artists prefer abstracted graphics, but it may be a contributing factor.

I offer this theory in the belief that some ideas are so stimulating and provacative that they're useful even if they're wrong or incomplete.

Adam T said...

It's aggravating when people try to take a moral high ground and perpetuate this junk, ketman and politcal correctness or whatever you want to call it.

These uppity power hungry types are trying to rewrite human behavior from the top down and it simply won't work. How could it? They're battling millions of years of evolution. Self denial just isn't effective. It causes more problems than it solves.

I think people should just find a way to workout the less desirable impulses safely but they'll have to acknowledge that they're there first. Otherwise they'll come out in some violent burst ( think Michael Richards ).

And another problem ketman and political correctness causes is seeing specific isolated situations as part of some larger problem.

I've been called a racist because I've done impersonations of specific people I know who happen to be black and japanese. I've had to argue with strangers that I wasn't 'perpetuating ethnic stereotypes' I was simply goofing on my friends.

Adam T said...

So to bring things back to why character animation isn't as common today goes to these innocent specific instances are being seen as a general message.

So a cartoon rabbit can't pinch anyone's ass and say 'Hiya toots!', anymore, because that is no longer seen as a specific character in a specific situation that's an endorsement of sexism by the animation studio.

Who wants to deal with the inevitable lawsuits that'll come pouring in by organizations with acronyms for names. It's safer to get your artistic jollies in design.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

"Cold but beautiful graphics have been gaining momentum ever since Picasso and are not a creation of the political correctness movement...not the modern version of it anyway. I don't think my ketman idea is sufficient to explain why artists prefer abstracted graphics, but it may be a contributing factor. "

I think part of the problem is that most artists feel that the flat graphic style suits limited animation better than dimensional drawing. Sometimes they're right. "The Powerpuff Girls" looks better on TV than the attempts at the classic Disney style in shows like "Tale Spin" or "Rescue Rangers." It's all the imitators of Craig McKracken's flat style that are really bad, like "Fairly Odd Parents."

Maybe since most artists in the animation business don't, and usually can't, animate (and there really aren't many opportunities to be an animator in the U.S.), they pour their energies in the one area where they can make an impact -- on design. Too many modern animation artists idolize, and are influenced by, Mary Blair, UPA and other 50's stylized cartoons like Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. (Which I also enjoy.) Maybe if they did animate they would prefer to make cartoons like Clampett's?

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by elan and zest?

Brian said...

No, I'm not misrepresenting anything, Hunsecker. I said the New Yorker caricature was the only provocative one of BHO I've seen this year and it is. I'm very well aware of what NYer said about the art. I'm also aware of the reactions to it.

From politico.com (you can find similar articles all across the internet if you just use your favorite search engine):

Barack Obama's campaign is condemning as 'tasteless and offensive' a New Yorker magazine cover that depicts Obama in a turban, fist-bumping his gun-slinging wife.

An American flag burns in their fireplace.

The New Yorker says it's satire. It certainly will be candy for cable news.

The Obama campaign quickly condemned the rendering. Spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement: 'The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.'

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds quickly e-mailed: 'We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it’s tasteless and offensive.'"

And the Obama monkey was made by a Obama supporter as a promotion.

Tanonymous said...

I don't think anyone over nine years old should be watching the Powerpuff Girls...

Anonymous said...

"I don't think anyone over nine years old should be watching the Powerpuff Girls..."

That's because you're a fucking idiot.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Eddie, that "Mount Everest" of letters was great. I agreed with most of it, but I suspect it to be copypasta.

david gemmill said...

cartoon acting is nonexistent because most people don't know how to ANIMATE anymore. and when you ANIMATE you breath life into characters. illustrations tell stories. designs are graphics, but neither do what animating does. when you animate you are forced to have a reason or purpose behind actions etc.

so now we are in an industry where a bunch of people don't know how to animate. will pull and blatantly steal from what already exist. use stock poses and expressions and pretend like they are making the characters "act" but they don't push it far enough. They don't explore it. So its just boring boring boring.

plus the way cartoons are made today there is not enough space or any time to let characters acting take place. everything is super snappy and fast and annoying voice actors screaming in your face.

oh well. I will try to bring back acting in my own personal cartoons

but you are right. most people don't care. and they don't have any personality or are too afraid to bring it to the table.

Adam T said...

And the Obama monkey was made by a Obama supporter as a promotion.

This is the perfect example of whistle blowers revealing THEIR own inherent racism. Obama has big ears that stick out and a round face that's why he resembles Curious George not because he's black everyone knows this, but it was an opportunity for career advancement.

Ambulance chasing self promoters like Jesse Jackson and every television pundit needs to justify their existence somehow, so completely frivolous situations like that somehow become national news. It's pathetic.

And what 7 year old kid wants to be a political pundit or an 'activist' when they grow up? All of those people in the media who ranted about that are personal failures. They probably couldn't finish their math requirement in college so they could actually do something useful with their lives.

pappy d said...

I love the PowerPuff girls! I remember one episode featuring one of their regular villains, Satan. He had defeated the girls & then in a surprise switch, he showered all the kids with candy. His henchman was puzzled, but Satan explained, "Why simply destroy them when I can torture them with tooth decay?" Isn't that just like him?

The English language has needed a word like "ketman" for a thousand years.

I don't think ketman has to do with any specific political philosophy. It's dominance & submission. The catastrophic consequences of speaking truth to power could be the gulag, a right wing death squad, losing your job or just hurting the feelings of a "PC thug".

Ketman is why (in Orwell's phrase) Ignorance is Strength. Most people today would prefer to live in willful ignorance & avoid the moral & psychic pain of ketman. It's more adaptive biologically for me, as an individual, to draw strength from my beliefs & I suspect that's that's the value & wisdom of revealed truth as opposed to reasoned truth. The benefits of reason tend to serve civilisation collectively, (e.g. science or philosophy). Reason is like an escalator. Once you make a commitment to ride, it's difficult to get off, even if it takes you where you didn't want to go. At times like that, you have to remind yourself that you're on an adventure.

There's something to lester hunt's idea about non-content.

Content is nothing but trouble for cartoon executives. Not only politically but (assuming they're not in business to amuse your children) financially. Creating content is the biggest money-losing part of the animation business, in much the same way that denial of your claim is considered a "profit center" by insurance companies.

Milosz has a subcategory of ketman called "aesthetic ketman". it's based on the observation that it's important to tyrants to be seen to foster culture.

"How can one still the thought that aesthetic experiences arise out
of something organic, and that the union of color and harmony with
fear is as difficult to imagine as brilliant plumage on birds living
in the northern tundras?"

trevor said...

We don't hear honest emotions on television, ever, unless they're watered-down cliches of thoughts that have been stated and re-stated time and again.

These are your "Men never ask for directions" and "Isn't airline food the worst" emotions.

I don't need a lengthy letter to make this point, because I believe this to be true: you will never EVER hear an honest emotion from someone on television unless it's documentary footage of someone in another country suffering a tragedy that happened years ago.

And since television shapes our culture ( and it DOES, whether we like it or not ), and the media companies are slowly being bought out by larger media companies until it'll only be two or one, I think we can expect to have our thoughts controlled by the end of the next decade.

People have in them an inner voice that reacts realistically to things, and if that voice, or that honest emotion isn't confirmed or they don't hear it shared with someone else they begin to think they're insane. And if you want people to think a certain way, the best way to do it is to silence or alienate anyone who thinks otherwise.

This is the sole reason political correctness exists and why it is pure evil.

By the way, Eddie... don't feel bad about posting this. This stuff needs to be talked about, and thank you for giving us the opportunity to do so.

- trevor.

PS: I don't vote, but if you ran for president, I would. Good call, Vincent. Good call. Uncle Eddie in '09!

J. J. Hunsecker said...

No, I'm not misrepresenting anything, Hunsecker. I said the New Yorker caricature was the only provocative one of BHO I've seen this year and it is. I'm very well aware of what NYer said about the art. I'm also aware of the reactions to it.

What you originally wrote certainly left one with the impression that you did indeed misinterpret the New Yorker cover. If you knew that the New Yorker was satirizing the right's attempt to smear Obama why would you mention that Bill O'Reilly objected to it? Why would it be a surprise that a conservative right winger like O'Reilly was upset over something that ridiculed the right's distorted beliefs about Obama? You would only mention O'Reilly if you thought that the New Yorker caricature of Obama was somehow mocking Obama himself. Therefore your example that even conservative O'Reilly condemned the only provocative joke aimed at Obama would prove what a "sacred cow" Obama supposedly was to the press.

Brian said...

Hunsecker, I used O'Reilly as a point of reference to show that EVEN RIGHT WING media was too "PC whipped" to say there was nothing wrong with that provocative caricature.

It's really funny actually. Left wingers make caricatures and stuffed animals and then fellow left wingers get upset over them. And the right wing media is too PC whipped to say it's ridiculous.

Brian said...

Why would it be a surprise that a conservative right winger like O'Reilly was upset over something that ridiculed the right's distorted beliefs about Obama?

That's NOT what he was "upset" by at all. Not by a long shot. He read all the talking points ahead of time to find out what the majority of people were saying, then made his display on Fox. He said basically the same thing Obama and McCain's camp did...right along with everyone else in media (everyone I've seen or heard anyway).

Anonymous said...

As much as I would like to support the rotting from within Art Philosophy bias for design heavy animation. I think I'd rather use Ockhams Razor on this one.

Its because of Flash. Just like you said.

Also, The Kids love a repeatable design. They can repeat it. It is easy for a buddingpreschool age artist to get a handle on the Power Puff Girls or Dexter.

Less Drawings mean more profits, on the production side. Give the designs a mouth chart and ship them to Korea.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: Yes Flash, up to a point, but retro design was already the next new thing, even when Flash was just getting started. And remember, UPA preceded Flash.

Most of the art done in the world til recent times was stylized and didn't attempt to portray too many real emotions. The Greeks and Romans influenced Europe to like it but even there the cold, flat folk art style persisted. I like flat, I just don't want to see it drive out everything else.

Anonymous said...

I was a-talkin' to a girl last night.

I went up to her and said hi. Her and her friends started laughing. When I asked what she was laughing at she said she didn't feel like being social. I said, "Good. I don't want you to be social. I want you to be real." To which she retorted: "I'm too tired to be nice."

Me being me, I said, "If it takes effort to be social and nice, what does that say about who you really are?"

I'm not interested in people being social. I'm interested in people being real.

And I think abstraction is a way of socializing - of doing what everyone else is doing - a way of "belonging".

I'd say its easier to do what everyone else is doing, but seeing how exhausted it leaves most people to put on that social mask, I think the only thing easier about it is the lack of the burden of possible isolation.

They are scared of being hated and alone.

But if someone isn't willing to put their true selves out there, they will not find true love.

And this is why I think animation today lacks that spark and uniqueness that stirs people. Because to be hated by some means to be loved by some. Blandness means being not loved, but it also means being not hated.

And I think most people would rather be not hated than loved. Most people play it safe. Even animators.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: "I'm too tired to be nice?" What a thing to say!

Anonymous said...

Last Anonymous: sometimes if a total stranger comes up to you and butts into your conversation with your friends asking a pointed question like "what are you laughing about?" it's perceived as intrusive. I'm sorry if she hurt your feelings but I think her responses were not out of line.
She obviously didn't want to encourage your attention and rebuffed you-she could have simply turned her back but at least she bothered to answer your questions. I really think to pronounce that her behaviour shows "who she really is" in any prfound way is ridiculous. Maybe it shows what you're really like-to others. You didn't take her hint, and imho you rather than her came off sounding like a bit of a dick. Well, you win some/you lose some.

It's a huge stretch to extrapolate all that philosophising from such a trivial encounter.

Anonymous said...

To the last anon: He said they started laughing after he said hi.

It reminds me of when I was in high school. I remember saying hi to this cheerleader and she busts out laughing. There was nobody else around so I assumed she was laughing at me. Did I ask her why? No, I was mortified and walked away. It's not like I had a strong self image or was in any way secure at the time. I was a typical insecure teengager and it hurt me to the core. Did she care? Nope. Did I get over it? I forgive but I can't forget it.

Why are people rude to others for no reason?

Anonymous said...

why did everyone ignore my question? is it really that retarded? i dont know what does he mean by elan and zest and how do you cripple such a thing, i dont know what elan and zest are...can someone answer?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: The elan and zest of a society...just another way of describing the level of energy, vigor and spiritual uplift that a society posesses.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Eddie!

The Aardvark said...

Thank you, Uncle Eddie. Well played.

The endless liturgy of self-qualifying and assurances of utter faith and egalitarianism wearies a soul.

Say what you say politely and well, and let the teeth and pink slips fall where they may!