April 20, 2017
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Cohen’s Cartoon Corner
by Karl Cohen
While Jessica Rabbit seems like a bimbo, she's "just drawn this way," and does sharp repartee with her co-star Bob Hoskins. photo: Disney
Sex Life of Toons
Why do some people think cartoon characters have a secret sex life off screen?
“Are you ready for a gay Disney princess?” asked a long article in the Washington Post (5/12/16). It may be amusing to speculate— “I’m not bad I am just drawn that way,” as Jessica Rabbit tells Bob Hoskins in the groundbreaking “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988)—but they really don’t exist except in images that artists create.
After I sent Paul Naas the article he replied that since the goal of the artists who create cartoon characters is to make them believable to the audience, some people wonder about the character’s sexuality, hobbies, etc. When he worked as an animator/teacher for Disney in Florida he was fascinated at how people at the theme park accepted the costumed actors who meet and greet them not as actors, but as the real cartoon stars.
The Animation in Sean Lennon’s Bubbles Burst
Webster Colcord directed the animated sequence in Les Claypool and Sean Lennon’s “
” video. Michael Jackson and his chimp Bubbles are the subject of this new surreal music video by the group The Claypool Lennon Project. The story behind “Bubbles Burst,” based on Lennon’s childhood relationship with Michael Jackson’s chimpanzee Bubbles, is indeed quite strange. They became friends in the 1980s after Sean was invited to hang out at Jackson’s ranch Neverland.
Sean Lennon told NPR, “I met Bubbles at Michael’s house. It felt like I was in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ or something going up to that house. There were Model-T Fords driving around and re-creations of old streets. It just felt very surreal and fun. And I think I met [Bubbles] in an arcade. At least I say that in the song. There was a big arcade with video games, and that’s where a lot of the people my age liked to hang out. I remember running into Bubbles there. And I’d say we became friends because I wanted to hang out with him a lot. It was just surreal.”
Rolling Stone tells us, “The song and its video recount Jackson's adoption of the unique pet and the singer's childlike treatment of Bubbles, including how the duo would wear matching sequined gloves and feast on candy. After its creepy black-and-white opening, the video explodes into colorful Claymation for its second half. Despite the somewhat grotesque portrayal of Jackson and his relationship with Bubbles, Lennon insisted in an interview with NPR that the song itself is sincere and harmless."
Michael Jackson and Bubbles in the 'Bubbles Burst' music video. image: courtesy W. Colcord
Lennon told NPR that, "I think it's important that even if people don't believe me or are angry about the way Michael is portrayed in the video, that the truth is my intention is very sincere and harmless, and I'm just making a song… I'm not trying to take him out or anything, or put him down. I was just trying to have fun and talk about an odd situation in a way that makes it art… It's like a reflection of a reflection."
"Childhoods end / And bubbles burst," Lennon sings on the track's chorus. "We didn’t understand / Dancing with Peter Pan / What would be the result when we / Turned into young adults."
"I just thought it was an interesting metaphor for what happened to a lot of Michael's friends who were my age. It felt like there was something odd going on, and I still don't know what it was," Lennon said of the lyrics. "Nothing ever happened with me in an illegal way, but the whole place just felt like I was in some Peter Pan fantasy land. And there was a sense that when Bubbles got too old, he'd have to be gotten rid of, because chimpanzees turn into angry adults or dangerous adults."
The four-minute song is on the LP album “Monolith of Phobos” (2016) and the last minute of the video is animated. Webster wrote me that the video is “a collaboration between Les Claypool and Sean Lennon; I'm responsible for the claymation sequence. It should be noted that I share something in common with Sean Lennon—like him I was involved with Moonwalker and I made reference to it in the animation.”
He also provided his credit list that includes a familiar name or two. Direction, Animation, Camera, Compositing: Webster Colcord. Design, Sculpture, Fabrication: Damon Bard. Additional fabrication: Mike Murnane, Ralph Cordero, Fon Davis, Eliot Sirota, Sabrina Wichner, Keri Palmetto. Rigging Assistance: Justin Kohn. Rig Removal Assistance: Raj Solanki. Webster lives in Fremont, but travels wherever his jobs are produced.
Poster for Sony's 'Sausage Party', a horror comedy which did better than expected. image: courtesy W. Colcord
Bay Area Theater Apologizes for Sausage Party Trailer
A Bay Area theater made national news when it apologized for screening an R-rated “Sausage Party” (2016) trailer ahead of “Finding Dory” (2016). The “Hollywood Reporter” on June 29th said “theatergoers who showed up to watch “Finding Dory” in Concord, Calif., earlier this month may have been shocked when a preview for the R-rated comedy “Sausage Party” was shown before the PG-rated “Finding Nemo” sequel.
“Sausage Party” is an animated dark comedy about grocery food items finding out that when they are purchased they will be eaten by humans. Theatergoers were so upset and offended by the showing of the trailer, Brenden Concord 14 released an apology.” The vice president of operations told the “East Bay Times,” "Playing that trailer was a one-time honest mistake by a theater manager moving screens around in effort to accommodate several large last-minute groups wanting to see Dory."
The R-rated comedy, made for less than $20 million, was expected by the “Hollywood Reporter” to have an opening in the $15 to $20 million range while Sony was being more conservative and was expecting less at the box office. It turns out the film took in over $34.2 million the first weekend! So far it has grossed $120 million worldwide.
Rotten Tomatoes says “Sausage Party” is “definitely offensive, but backs up its enthusiastic profanity with an impressively high gag-to-laugh ratio -- and a surprisingly thought-provoking storyline.” They gave it an 83% from the critics, and an audience score of 79%. The “NY Times” review says if you bring a young kid you may have to answer questions both about the supermarket orgy and “also about the existence of God. In adult company, you might find yourself debating whether the film is a Christopher Hitchens style atheist polemic or a more pragmatic, William Jamesian exploration of the varieties of religious experience. I won’t spoil that one for you.”
Image from Martha Gorzycki’s earlier short, '
'. image: courtesy W. Colcord
Gorzycki’s New Short Wins Prizes
Martha Gorzycki’s new short has won five festival prizes thus far. Her “Voices from Kaw Thoo Lei” is somber sensitive meditation on the horrors the Burmese people she interviewed experienced before they escaped their country. The film is an excellent and powerful human rights experience with a carefully crafted soundtrack that is accompanied by somber abstract earthlike images.
Indeed, it recently won the Best Short Documentary Award at the Artist Forum for the Moving Image in NYC, the Best Sound Design Award at the World Premiere Film Awards in Ottawa Canada, and the Bronze Spotlight Documentary Film Award in Atlanta, GA.
In April, it won the Remi award at the 49th Worldfest Houston International Film Festival and in January it won the Merit Award at the Impact Docs Awards in La Jolla, CA. In September Martha’s film screened at the Portsmouth International Film Festival in the UK and at the Canberra Short Film Festival in Australia. In October it screens at the Human Rights Festival in Utica, NY.
Karl Cohen is an animator, educator and director of the local chapter of the International Animation Society and can be reached
Posted on Oct 14, 2016 - 04:25 PM