Following my post of yesterday on animating the animators, I want to take a look at the writing aspect of things. Not the skill of script writing so much as the content.
Judging by my grandchildren's response to and use of cartoons and animated series, children are not merely passive consumers of the content. They learn a lot from these sometimes seemingly mindless stories and activities and interactions of the characters. I have seen them pick up their ears at a classical piece because they recognise it from some cartoon. Many of the cartoons do not speak down to them in the way that books sometimes do, so their vocabulary expands very quickly. . I keep repeating the story of how surprised I was when my eight/ nine year old grandson knew what I meant when I used the phrase 'Déjà vu' in conversation with him. When I asked where he had heard it, his answer was - in a cartoon.(I learned this phrase much later in life)
The interactive nature of some of the more educationally skewed animated programmes introduces them to historical figures and events in an entertaining way - all of this foreign based at present. But in Jamaica so many things are 'sacred' that if you made a cartoon out of it, if you animated it in an entertaining way to catch the children's interest, some people might very well be offended: Animated figures can look distorted. Many believe that animations and cartoons are for light entertainment only. Are we ready to see Marcus Garvey's story told in cartoon format? Or any of our heroes, for that matter? Are we willing to touch slavery ? Present politics? Iconic figures past and present? Controversial subjects? For example - could you animate a story with an environmental message using the 'two little lizards' contemplating their future in a transformed Goat Island without bringing down the wrath of certain sections of our society.
Can we just have fun without merely ridiculing sections of our society? It can be done, of course, what I am really asking is would this be popular or merely annoying to some. Remember the controversy around the first erected Bob Marley statue near the stadium? How dare the sculptor, Christopher Gonzales, try something different.
People are we ready to really explore the benefits of animation both for learning and entertainment using our own stories?
animated figures from http://heathersanimations.com/