Ever since Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks Studios have dominated the world of animation, a new debate has been sparked—who are animated films for? 

It’s an old debate that has generated some heat after Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood was disqualified for Oscar consideration in the Best Animated Feature Film category earlier in October. After suggesting the decision was based on an “ingrained bias,” it’s easy to notice the mistreatment of the medium in film. 

The debate isn’t helped by Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek, who has assumed that Disney’s animated content is only for children and that parents and childless adults aren’t tuning in for animated movies. 

While speaking at Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference about the Dinsey+ brand, Chapek said, “Our fans and audiences put their kids to bed at night after watching Pinocchio, orDumbo, or Little Mermaid, then they’re probably not going to tune in to another animated movie. They want something for them.”

Chapek did say he was “open” to R-rated content given the elasticity of the consumer base, saying that they “probably ought to listen to our audience, which means we have more degrees of freedom than we probably thought.” After the success of Marvel’s TV-MA features like Werewolf by Night and Moon Knight, the entertainment giant seems to be changing its content strategies to appeal to a large audience.  

While this looks like a step in a new direction for Disney, Chapek seems to forget Walt Disney’s motto when it comes to animated and film media. Walt famously said, “I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us, whether we be six or 60.” 

This quote stays true to this day. Animated films are for everyone, not just children, yet it seems that this idea that animation is for children has plagued Hollywood. Filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro and The Mitchells vs. the Machinesproducers Phil Lord and Chris Miller have spoken out about animation being viewed as a domain exclusively aimed at children. 

Who are animated films for?'The Mitchells vs. the Machines'Credit: Netflix

While children are the targeted audience for most animated content that comes from Disney, we all still have a nostalgia-based connection that encourages us to return to them years later. If you need any proof that adults are still drawn to the media that watched as children, then look at the success of Disney’s live-action remakes of animated films like The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. 

If Chapek wants to focus on broadening the media made for a wider audience, then the power of animated movies shouldn’t be undermined. There is so much power in animation that can connect people worldwide in a way that writing and live-action films sometimes cannot do. 

Let us know what you think in the comments!

Source: The Wall Street Journal