This will probably go down as one of the least popular posts I’ve ever written but I don’t give a fuck. It needs to be addressed (actually, it really doesn’t but that makes it sound important). I’m fully prepared for the backlash. *deep breath*
When I was a kid, I used to watch cartoons. Good ones. Bad ones. Really, any cartoon that was available. While I watched your typical Bugs bunny and Road runner fair, I also watched that bullshit Gummi bears Cartoon and the USA Cartoon express which featured such third rate characters as Jabba jaw and Hair bear. I watched them all and loved them equally. Why? Cause I was a kid and I didn’t know shit about anything.
Nowadays, I still watch a few cartoons. Mostly just South Park and some things on adult swim but I’m not opposed to watching a cartoon that’s aimed at my interests. There are plenty of off beat and hilarious cartoons that speak to the man in his mid 30’s. What I do not watch, however, is Pixar movies. Why? Cause I’m not a child.
There are two main types of adults when it comes to Pixar movies. Those who ride or die for them and those who can’t fathom why anyone would give a that much of a shit about a movie that specifically for children. I don’t think anyone hates Pixar movies. I certainly don’t sit around cursing their existence while wishing more Muppet movies would get made (though, that would be kinda great). I simply don’t find wonderment in these films. They are no doubt impressive. I mean, coming from an era when some of the cartoons I watched had the same background scenery for 15 years, the things animators are capable of now is pretty amazing. Kids today, as they say, don’t know how good they have it. But, still, I’m not a child. I require adult stimulation. That doesn’t mean I can only watch porn and gore to quench my entertainment needs. I mean , I need something that speaks to my interests. I want to laugh. I want to be scared. I want to think. I require layers. Even some low brow shit that’s made for adults can still have a certain depth to it. I most certainly do not wanna half chuckle at some joke made by a dorky penguin and then go “Aww……”.
The thing is, if i had a kid, I’d be all about these movies. Not in that I actually enjoy them greatly but that they’d be a great meeting point between me and the kid. I’m sure, compared to having to sit through Thomas the tank engine cartoons and whatever else bullshit kids are obsessed with, I’d say Pixar movies are like welcome upgrade. I’ll be the first to admit these movies are totally watchable. There’s nothing offensive about them (I mean that in artistic sense) and kids lose their shit over them. It’s perfect for that. There’s a reason they all make a billion dollars. It’s cause families go see them. Over and over again. Kids love repetition. And seeing any Pixar movie will always >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>seeing some new disney bullshit or a movie about Justin Beiber.
My issue with these films is when grown ups start holding them up in high esteem and acting like these movies are as good as actual movies made for people over the age of 12 (this is the part where Pixar fans get very defensive. I accept your anger…). Every year, critic made year end lists of top movies come out and, inevitably, a few pixar movies will pop up. Keep in mind, these are adult critics. People whose job it is to evaluate cinema. Most likely, they went to school for this shit. And, somehow, out of the hundreds of movies they saw over the course of that year, they decide to give a nod to the movie about some random animal or robot who gets lost or floats away or who gives a shit. It’s a kids movie! It’s made to be enjoyed by kids! Keep in mind, I’m aware I’m in the minority here. I know that if I were to ask like my ten favorite comedians what they thought the best movies of 2012 were, undoubtedly over half of them would throw “wreck it ralph” in there. I get that. And that’s kinda why I’m writing this cause, while I get it, I don’t really “get it”.
A common angle people who love these movies will take is that the humor of these movies speaks to both adults and children. Sure, there are tons of lame ass (or “cute” if you’re being nice about it) kids jokes but every now and then you get a subtle tip of the hat for all the adults out there. A not-so-dirty almost dirty joke that might make two adults watching it together give each other a “Oh no they didn’t!” look cause they’re so shocked that an animated movie would even hint at something not pure as the undriven snow.
It’s one of those jokes that’s extra crazy in context of what you’re watching but, in reality, it’s just a harmless joke that would go unnoticed in the most trivial of PG-13 rated comedies. This “tip of the hat” style is something the Muppet show mastered and did better than any Pixar movie ever could. They did it without being coy but more by being referential to things only an adult could know. It wasn’t dirty or trying hard. And, most importantly, it was legitimately funny. Yet another reason that The muppet show will always be a billion times better than any Pixar movie. But that’s a whole different subject.
Another issue I take with these movies is that they work within very strict character stereotypes. Now, let me clarify, I’m not against stereotypes. In fact, I often find over the top generalizations to be hilarious (That’s basically the backbone of this entire blog). My issue is that , most of the time, they just seem lazy. Any Pixar movie that involves animals will usually have some sort of jamaican speaking animal (this usually come with subtle nods to weed…HILARIOUS!), some sort of latino animal, often a jewy animal and, without question, a wise old , typically large animal that has the voice of a black man/woman. And that’s just the basics. What i’m saying is that a lot of these movies have interchangeable characters. I will say that the recent boom of more human based pixar movies has done a better job at finding unique characters but still…that doesn’t make these movies any less for children.
So, I try to rationalize the adult love for these movies…
I dunno. Maybe I just don’t embrace my childhood like others. I don’t feel a resurgence of youthful bliss when I watch this kind of thing. I gotta think that is some of the allure for adults when enjoying these types of films. I get that there can be a comforting effect but so much so that , when the movie is over, you’re willing to say it’s one of the best films you’ve ever seen? That shit is strange to me.
Sometimes I think adults are enamored by the animation itself. The spectacle of it. I mean, shit…we live in an era where special effects have been raised to a level so high, it’s hard to tell what is and isn’t real (with the exception of old man make up in movies which, for some reason, will always be terrible). As impressive as the animation is, by the same logic, some shit like Avatar would be the greatest movie ever to these people…well, maybe it is (it is not). Who knows. But, really, who cares?
When I really think about it, what it comes down to is these movies are like an imagination running wild. Because they’re animated, you can do literally anything. There are no boundaries and that is admittedly cool. Except there are boundaries. Those boundaries being that , once again, these movies have to appeal to the lowest common denominator. No, not teenaged girls (they’re a close second though), but your typical child. And that’s simply very limiting. No matter how I rationalize it, it always comes back to that. Trust be told though, if they were to make an R Rated Pixar movie, I kinda think it would suck regardless.
Listen, I’m not writing this to shit on the grown folks who love these movies. I have many close friends who I love and respect who get full on erections every time a new Pixar movie drops. And, like i said, I don’t hate these movies. They’re perfectly fine for what they are. In fact, I’d even say they’re great for what they are. But that doesn’t change the fact that what they are is a fancy cartoon made to appeal to the sensibilities of a people who haven’t figured out long division yet. They’re certainly not a slap in the face of intelligence like most of the Tv shows on the Disney channel. When you boil it all down, Pixar movies are high end children’s programming and not much more. Listen, I think YO gabba Gabba is awesome but only cause of what it is. Love them or hate them, that’s what they are. But , hey , love what you love. I’m gonna go chill out and watch Mcgruber for the 200th time.