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Animation reworked: what a new generation of cartoons tells us about ourselves

Telstra News

Posted on September 23, 2016

4 min read

How many hours as a child did you spend glued to your television set, watching brightly coloured nonsensical cartoons? I bet you never thought you would still be watching animation in your adult years.

Cartoons are not just for kids: they never really have been – but the success of shows like Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers and American Dad have proven that there is a market for Adult cartoons.

Animators often say their medium allows them more creative freedom to play with characters and plots; the absence of onscreen actors means they are not limited by human potential. This lack of limitation means they can let their imaginations run free, and create ridiculous plotlines they would be unable to produce with actors and props.

What does this new generation of animation reveal about us? Let’s explore.


That’s just offensive 

Sausage Party is the first major adult themed movie to hit our screens since ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut’. Created by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this film has been described as the raunchiest and most politically incorrect comedy film to ever be released.

Featuring a lesbian taco and a Jewish bagel, the film follows everyday food items living in the supermarket. Their only goal in life is to be taken off the shelves and home by humans. Once they get home, life gets pretty hectic – it turns out potatoes do not like being peeled! Sausage Movie is littered with double entendre, jam-packed with swearing, and audiences are loving it. The film only opened in August and has already grossed $103.6 million.

What does this reveal about us, the audience? I think it is safe to say that anyone who left the cinema with tears of laughter instead of tears of terror, is not among the easily offended.


Are we getting lazy?

The joy of cartoon shows is that the episodes are generally short and sweet. Series like Family Guy, American Dad and The Simpsons don’t require major concentration from the viewer. With new storylines every episode, the lack of a continuous plot means we can dip in and out when we want and not too much concentration is required to follow the plot.

So are audiences getting lazier? With so many thrillers and mysteries on our screens at the moment, sometimes it is refreshing to watch a show that makes us laugh and requires no concentration. I don’t think the issue is a slothful audience; sometimes we just need to switch off from our hectic lives and take in some easy viewing.

But if you do feel guilty of being lazy and cartoon-obsessesed, then Download Pokemon Go. Get off the couch and get your animation fix outside and on the go.


Are we just big kids?  

Animations like Shrek, UP, Frozen, Toy Story and Minions were just as popular with adult audiences as they were with kids. We are all guilty of blasting out the Frozen theme tune or attempting a Shrek impression, right?

Animators realise that parents have to sit through their creations and must create content that speaks to grown-ups just as well as their kids. Hollywood knows parents control the purse strings, and if they want them to spend money on movie merchandise and bring their kids to the sequel, then they need to create a film that adults and kids can both enjoy.

Animators have developed a technique of creating a text for children and a subtext for adults. So don’t panic: if you are guilty of enjoying kids film, that doesn’t make you an over-sized child. Modern kids films are designed to ensure adults enjoy them too, phew!


Find out how to make where you are the most entertaining place on earth.