I’m going to compare two talks we attended at our university that were problematic for me and a classmate and talking about how our perspectives influenced us having to confront or warn our classmates as a reaction. The first was by a former student who graduated a few years ago and had gone on to create incredible work, work with big names and start a small studio. She showed her work, talked about her inspirations and gave a workshop. While she was showing her inspirations she spoke about an animator and described her work in the 70s as her main inspiration. She showed a film by her and we soon realised why her work wasn’t known so well. The character design if made by Disney in the 30s would be on the banned animation list for relying on racist African-American stereotypes. When I asked her whether she saw anything problematic with the design she became defensive and attempted to justify it by saying the animator was one of the few female animators at the time. Which is fair point, only in my opinion one doesn’t justify the other. A similar point came up when discussing Moana in another talk. Having dealt with more direct and corrosive forms of racism before, I consider this as a form of media enabling mindsets.
Another talk was by a young puppet animator, his work has been recognised by many big festivals. It was evident with the talk that he was skilled at his work, gave us many tips on techniques to use. But it soon became evident that he was very into promoting his name throughout the presentation. My classmate was uncomfortable after the presentation and said all his inspirations for work were men, and would only refer to women as girls, in a slightly demeaning tone. My classmate being trans clearly more directly understood the consequences of such subtler forms of sexism. The only consolation I could provide was to learn the techniques and skill and nothing more. Overall I’m glad to have a diverse class to study with and to understand differing perspectives. Hopefully if and when we’re out in the world we will be more informed and sensitive than our predecessors in what we say through our work and how we say it.