Seymour: An Introduction : a speculative Golden Globe nominee?
How old am I: 23
Color of my iris: Huge gray-green
I like to drink: White wine
My tattoo: None
A smart move considering every Saturday and Sunday, the area swarms with Lululemonites loitering after the SoulCycle classes next door. Which means getting a green juice or smoothie just got a lot easier!! Thank the lord….
And I wish Mr. Kanfer or somebody would explain the greatest cartoon conundrum of all: why Mickey Mouse, who has not made a picture in 50 years, whose voice maybe one in a thousand Disneyland visitors could even recognize, and whose persona remains so nebulous that even fewer could describe it, basks in mass-cult sainthood. So much jollity up on the screen, so much avarice and meanness behind it. A happy ending after all to a long and often tortured journey.
Hardly an original idea -- name an art form or a Cadillac or a breed of dog that does not refract its times and their values -- but in this case an interesting one, because cartoons after all are a kind of dreamscape. But life somehow survived in that old Disney stardust still lingering in the atmosphere; it invaded the synapses of a new generation, and by the 80's the full-length animated feature was back.
Winged or four-footed sociopaths with the power of speech, unlimited supplies of explosives and heavy conkables were pitted against each other in seven-minute rounds violent enough to nauseate the back rows at the Colosseum.
Both instinctive geniuses, these beloved folk heroes; both also paranoid, reactionary, tyrannical, vindictive, cheapskate, union-busting, anti-intellectual anti-Semites. Unlimited fantasy worlds to roam -- and over and over, cartoon makers settled for the cretinous ridicule of black Americans. New York: Scribner. Shortly afterward, a New York animator named Otto Messmer posed the question that would fully uncork the cartoon genie from the bottle: ''Why animate something you can see in real life?
Inspired by the recent spate of well-conceived and brilliantly executed features like ''The Lion King'' and ''Toy Story,'' with grosses beyond even Hollywood's dreams of avarice, the current tsunami of enthusiasm for film animation among studios and artists and audiences alike is spawning what Mr. Kanfer sees as a second cartoon golden age. How Disney and old Henry Ford would have hit it off!
By anybody but the Americans? Not a chance.
Remember Andy Panda? Kanfer reminds us that an early American animated short ended with the words ''coon'' and ''Cohen'' twisted into caricatures of a black and a Jew, and that as recently as in Looney Tunes shorts of the 's, ''blacks are cannibals or shoeshine men or watermelon-consuming, jazz-loving simpletons; Italian immigrants go about the city streets as organ grinders with monkeys; Chinese laundrymen chatter inanely; Mexican saloons are filled with borrachos or overrun with roaches.
Walt Disney no more invented the cartoon than Henry Ford invented the automobile, but, like Ford, he so bestrode his industry that he might as well have. Finally, you have no idea how difficult it is to close a review like this without resorting to ''Th-th-th-that's all, folks.
Return to the Books Home. His title, ''Serious Business,'' is apt.
His would-be rivals -- the Walter Lantzes, Leon Schlesingers and Paul Terrys -- are all but forgotten, along with their work. Was it all to end, not with a bang but with the Jetsons?
I do wish there were more illustrations to help tell what is so much, after all, a visual story. Nasty old Walt. It was the Hanna-Barbera era of cheap assembly-line cartoons as flimsy containers for the commercials on Saturday morning television.
Things looked bleak for animated film by the 's. Winsor McCay, the self-taught, almost creepily gifted fantasist and creator of the immortal ''Little Nemo in Slumberland'' strip, created 10 animated features of surpassing skill and weirdness between andbefore turning his back on film as suddenly as he had embraced it. Alas, what cartoons suggest most haunted this country's dreams for at least the first 30 years was racism. Jacques Barzun famously wrote that whoever would understand America had better first understand baseball; now comes Stefan Kanfer, in ''Serious Business,'' suggesting that it wouldn't hurt to take a gander at American cartoons either.
In tracing that journey, Mr. Kanfer avoids footnotes and scholar-speak as adroitly as he does nostalgic vaporings and fan-babble.
The advent of sound and color made it seem as if the cartoon had only been marking time up to then, and the 's and 40's saw it flowering. The French? Mighty Mouse?
As illuminating as these and other social insights is the briskly told history of the cartoon industry that Mr. Kanfer provides as context. This amounted principally to Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and their teams wreaking their little masterpieces of animated mayhem, and Disney soaring to glory with ''Snow White'' and ''Pinocchio. But lest we forget: his genius for story and characterization has never been equaled, and his ferocious drive for quality created moments of magic that enriched the popular culture forever.
By Stefan Kanfer. Actually, cartoons practiced an equal-opportunity bigotry. Creative energy had so ebbed that the one-joke antics of myopic Mister Magoo seemed brilliant.
The first true genius of the animated film was none other than the first true genius of the Sunday comic strip. The technology of the moving picture and the possibilities of animation were familiar to most of the civilized world by the turn of the century, but from the day in when the first commercially successful example flickered across the screen of a New York vaudeville house, the movie cartoon has been all ours.
Kanfer, a former writer and editor at Time, wants us to look at cartoons as a mirror of American social history.
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