Sunday, April 15, 2007

In Which Everything Is Revealed to Be Nothing But Laziness On the Author's Part... Mostly...

Oi! What's that moving about in the corner? Could it be...? It is!

It's been months since the Cinema 4: Cel Bloc has betrayed any signs of life, and now, apparently the time is ripe for a return, albeit in a greatly reduced fashion. Though I am not picking up the cartoon-reviewing trail yet (though I would like to sooner than later), I wanted to pop in here briefly and perform a pair of rather important tasks.

I first want to state that while most of my actual friends -- none of them real cartoon buffs, mind you -- tend to not post on here (they save that for my other main blog, The Cinema 4 Pylon), I have received a good number of comments over the past year or so, and all from people that I have never met or even heard of before (except for a notable pair of rather well-known animation archivists -- well-known in animation circles, that is). Even a couple weeks ago, I found recent comments for posts that I wrote 7 months ago, which is part of what I love about the blog experience. And, except for a couple of dicey exchanges, the response to my essays -- not reviews, for the most part -- have been overwhelmingly positive. I have met some very nice people through these comments, and I thank them for taking part in this journey. The main trend that I have noticed whilst doing this, however, is that most of these people (not counting the animation nuts) are just people looking up a particular favorite cartoon and running smack into my blogpost regarding said cartoon. While this was not the purpose of writing these posts, it is a welcome side effect. I am first pleased that people found and read what I wrote; I am then pleased greatly that these people saw fit to respond to me, either positively or negatively.

I am not here to set the world on fire. Some days, I wouldn't mind if the entire planet, at least the human portions of it, did burst into flames, but on my personal end of things, that is not the objective blog-wise. I am merely doing this as an outlet to write. That some of you are able to obtain needed information from my random scribblings makes me most happy indeed; that some of you feel I am doing it well is merely a bonus. I am not a historian, nor do I wish to be (nothing against historians -- Jen's mother is one). I just love cartoons, and like the movies I write about on the Pylon, I am not reviewing movies because I want you to know my opinion about them. My opinion, like anybody's after all, doesn't really matter. My opinion may be voiced in whatever I am writing, but what I really want you to garner from my writing is my passion for the simple act of watching cartoons and movies. And also my anger when they are done incompetently, especially by those who have the potential and resources to do them well. Or my joy when they are done in an purposefully incompetent manner but are still excellent. Or when they are done... (Oh, you know... it's a slippery slope, this criticism thing... so many angles to consider...)

Right now, I am pissing off people who are animation nuts just because I am referring to animation as a whole as "cartoons", just as it has become politically correct to say "graphic novels" instead of "comics". Ultimately, to me, the battle between "cartoon" and "animated film" is the same as the battle between "film" and "movie". I understand that you can divide them into different categories, one more arty than the other to please the aesthetes, but in the end, it is all semantics, and I just don't give a fuck.

And this is why I stopped writing on the Cel Bloc for a while: the animation nuts. I must state, they did not do anything to me -- in fact, except for Stephen at the Animation Archive, those few who have run across this blog have been very kind and polite overall -- this is merely an observation from a sideline observer of their antics. I frequent many of their sites, and by and large these places, even when they purport to be as such, are not for the casual consumer of animation. The enthusiasts who run them tend to be, and I say this with tough love, "exclusivists". They might give you a glimpse into the world that breeds their passion -- but don't get too close, mister! You are not one of them. You might think you like Bugs Bunny cartoons, but if you are not an animator, then you couldn't possibly truly understand them. Even if you have seen What's Opera, Doc?, let's say, a thousand times since childhood, if you are not a member of their animation fraternity, within whatever invisible permutations that surround their exclusive little clique, then what you have to say really doesn't matter. At least, that's the impression I get from their comment lists and boards. Because I don't play these silly games, I have never engaged them in this; it is only what I have gathered from spying on numerous sites.

One site that I visit several times a week is Cartoon Brew, run by animation historians Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi. It is probably more immediately accessible than most of these places of which I am speaking, but even though I love it as a source of news and information, it is also part of the problem: running roughshod over films that haven't been released yet, praising to the heavens other films that are miles from coming into view, and then often paying a strange obeisance to certain artifacts of the past of dubious distinction or merit. (Nostalgia causes us to do strange, strange things...) So, it was with pleasure that I ran across an item on the Brew earlier this week where they were kind enough to tell their loyal readers of a Cartoon Brew spoof on the often amazing parody site (home of the nauseatingly great Horrors of Porn series). Because Mr. Beck is a good sport, he is big enough to admit just how dead-on the skewering actually is -- and it smokes -- oh, does it ever! (Please make sure to get all the way to the second page and check out the "John K." commentary. I'm sure Mr. K won't like it... it was written by a writer, after all; it couldn't actually be funny...)

So, by all means, check it out...


David Gerstein said...

Holy Moley, you're blogging again! I was checking back now and again, but I'd forgotten to do so for a little while. Now I'm pleased to see that you're at least considering doing some more.
Want a few more unusual cartoons to review? Drop me an e-mail at ramapith at (carefully parsed to avoid blogbots), and maybe I can upload a few really weird titles to DailyMotion for you.

Best, David

David Gerstein said...

Oh, and I forgot. With the sheer wealth of writing and dedication you've done so far, how could you be anything BUT a member of that "animation fraternity" many of us sorta frequent?
One of us, one of us... gooble gobble, gooble gobble!

Terry said...

Well, the problem with the "animation fraternity" is that many of its members seem to allow a person only two options: either you love every cartoon made through Hollywood's golden era and up to much of what Hanna-Barbera cranked out prior to "Scooby Doo," or you obviously HATE cartoons, so what business do you have writing about them?