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It’s a pleasure to join Luna Station Quarterly’s new content lineup. I’ll be your friendly neighborhood animation commentator and theorist. Why? I’m so glad you asked. Of all popular media, animation is the truest mirror of our culture. Hold on to your caboose, because I brought the proof.
1. Cartoons gain amplification through simplification
As described by cartoonist and theorist Scott McCloud, this principle applies to every element of moving art, from character design to backgrounds to lighting to animation to the beats of the story being told. There is room for Miyazaki’s lack of baddies and Richard Williams’s compulsive detail, but generally speaking, the broader the strokes, the broader the appeal. Speaking of…
Let’s be clear. The original How to Train Your Dragon (2010) is excellent, structurally and emotionally. Both it and its sequel are gorgeous, imaginative, and animated by some of the greatest hands in the business. Each individual frame of How to Train Your Dragon 2 deserves nothing but high-fives down every cubicle row in Glendale.
But the story is a head-scratching mess.
Since 2010, the franchise has kept in fighting form with holiday specials and Riders of Berk on Cartoon Network. Though I’m not familiar with this series, I wonder if some of the best sequel ideas got spent there (a local studies dragon-training for his own nefarious purposes!), or whether an episodic story approach infected this script, because this story doesn’t have just a woman problem. This story has all kinds of problems.
I dug Frozen. I laughed. I cried. I gasped at the third act reveal. In the wake of Dani Colman’s essay for Medium asserting the film has a problem with false feminism, I feel the need to tell you why. I hope you can stand another defense of Frozen.
Seems there are a lot of blue-eyed blonde actresses and models and model-actresses afoot. Even the most dedicated action film/bikini enthusiast might get confused. Let’s clear things up. In no particular order:
Born : 1986
Height : 5’8″
From : Austin, Texas
You know her from : Pineapple Express, Drive Angry, Zombieland
Distinguishing feature(s) : Green eyes; excellent haughtiness; involvement with Amnesty International; coming out as gay in 2010
Secret weapon : Really, really good hair.
Born : 1982
Height : 5’5″
From : Los Angeles and London sort of equally
You know her from : Star Trek Into Darkness, She’s Out of My League, Entourage
Distinguishing feature(s) : One green eye and one blue eye; many convincing accents; chiseled jawline
Secret weapon : Ability to do exploitative scenes with a straight face
Born : 1986
Height : 5’4″
From : Adelaide, Australia
You know her from : Warm Bodies, I Am Number Four, Take Me Home Tonight
Distinguishing feature(s) : Pet kangaroos; resembling Kristen Stewart; ability to run convincingly
Secret weapon : Making you feel feels
Born : 1987
Height : 5’9″
From : Charlotte, North Carolina
You know her from : Battleship, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, New Girl, Sports Illustrated
Distinguishing feature(s) : SI swimsuit model five years in a row; sticking out bad roles
Secret weapon : Transforming into a brunette
Born : 1982
Height : 5’2″
From : Calgary, Alberta, Canada
You know her from : 24, The Girl Next Door, Happy Endings
Distinguishing feature(s) : Chin cleft; dramatic range out the yin yang; very endearing front teeth situation
Secret weapon : Cute feet
Born : 1992 dear God she was born in 1992 she is younger than Nevermind
Height : 5’10”
From : St. Joseph, Michigan
You know her from : Tower Heist, Sports Illustrated, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s commercials
Distinguishing feature(s) : Height; mole above her lip; bikini readiness
Secret weapon : Championship horse riding; making you feel old