Cartoons, The Body, & Humor

As an amateur animator, I can attest to a lot of what this week’s readings discuss. There are countless elements that go into the structure of an American cartoon that could really take up and entire day talking about.

Bukatman writes “What is being challenged by cartoon physics, as Millhauser demonstrates in both of the writings cited here, is the logic of the cosmos itself” (311). This is a bold statement and one that carries many layers to it. But I wholeheartedly agree to it. Bukatman further writes “Everything in the cartoon potentially possesses a life force: inanimate objects possess life, while flowers and trees and cats and mice take on anthropomorphic qualities” (311). Here, we get a little further insight as to just how much more suspention of disbelief occurs in the realm of animation. In cartoons, as many academics love to point out, they are practically indestructible. Violence, racism, sexism, is all fair game in the realm of cartoons (in the 30s and 40s anyways). Of course as time moved forward and companies/writers were held more accountable for their problematic content, we see a shift in themes of cartoons.

An element that I want to touch on is how cartoons are not strictly for children. Nor are the only cartoons available for adults labeled “adult cartoons.” Many adult-themed animated shows tend to air on the side of the carinvalesque–lacking depth, passion, compelling story, for sex, violence, and poop humor. Many academic articles focus on how the violence-driven humor aimed at catering to the young audiences–to offer a world where violence can happen without any serious repercussions. And adult cartoons took the other end of the spectrum, anything that happens in adult cartoons happens to the UTMOST EXTREME (sex, violence, drugs, bodily humor, etc).

We’ve seen a shift lately in this trope, however. With the help on youtube and other streaming sites, we can now see an emergence of animated shows catered toward adult audiences without sacrificing the script because they have to try every-which-way to be deemed “adult.” Humor can now be witty, silly, adult-themed, AND the characters can be well-developed and not trope-y.

And for your viewing pleasure, here is a darkly humored animated short that I love.


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