Animation: Genre or Medium?

Animation has a global appeal, yet lacks respect as a medium



Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio was a stop motion animated film released in 2022.

Timothy Zaluski, Staff Writer

Animation is an art form where carefully drawn images are placed in a sequence to create the illusion of motion. It is a method of storytelling that has encouraged creative freedom and rewarded those willing to take risks. But animation tends to be undervalued when it is considered a genre.

One who would agree is filmmaker, author, and actor Guillermo del Toro. He recently received the award for Best Animated Motion Picture at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards. In his acceptance speech, he stated that “animation is cinema”, also that “animation is not a genre for kids, it’s a medium.” From this statement, it is clear how much Guillermo values animation.

Guillermo del Toro gives his acceptance speech at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards (RICH POLK/NBC/GETTY IMAGES)

The aforementioned film, titled Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, was released in 2022 to great praise from critics and viewers alike. The movie was obviously based on the classic tale of Pinocchio. But Guillermo reinvented the story with a more dark and intriguing approach. When the dark was paired with stop-motion animation, it made the film an artistic triumph.

Hopefully films like this will challenge the public’s opinion on animation as a whole because the treatment of animation at award shows has been less than stellar. Animated films have been excluded from nominations, due to them not being perceived as worthy enough for such acknowledgements, unlike their live action counterparts. Rather than placing animated features in the same categories as other films, they are moved into a separate category.

This division only reinforces the idea that animation is a genre, not a medium as well as the notion that animation is just for kids to enjoy and adults to endure.

The Academy may argue that animation is a genre. The reasoning for this would be that animated movies are often made for and targeted towards children. Also that within the movies, there tends to be a simplistic story with slapstick or immature humor. But those statements provide a generalization of all animated films, most of which the members have not seen.

The Golden Globes may have returned, but they still do not view animation through a modern lens (FRAZER HARRISON/GETTY IMAGES)

The expectation for members of the Academy is to have watched the movies that are nominated. But that is not the case when it comes to animated feature films. There is no requirement for anyone to have seen the nominated films for Best Animated Feature. The complete lack of a requirement ruins the incentive for voters to give new animated films a chance to shine.

Instead the members of the Academy vote for whatever film is made by a major studio, or whichever film their kids were watching.

The narrative that animation is a genre reserved only for children is disrespectful to the many artists, voice actors, and crew who work so hard to bring an imaginative story to life as well as the viewers who watch and appreciate these films. This is because they realize that animation is an art form where creativity is expressed in a variety of ways. This allows it to appeal to audiences of all ages and cultures.

Take Pixar movies for example. Pixar is definitely one of the most popular animation studios and for good reason. Their films resonate with people on a deeper level due to their meaningful themes and complex characters while also experimenting with diverse styles and settings.

Pixar always makes an effort to tell imaginative stories with creative characters, while still keeping the overall themes grounded and realistic within those stories. Therefore it does not matter if the protagonist is a bug, car, toy, or even a monster because the themes relate to real life.

Pixar presents animation with a story that appeals to all ages (Pixar)

Animation is a medium because it tells stories where the only limit is the artist’s imagination. There is no specific genre that can fit all of animation. But there is a large umbrella of styles and filmmaking techniques that make up the medium. From Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, to the massive catalog of Pixar films. Animation is an art form with universal appeal. So it is about time animation receives the respect it deserves.