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However, it touches deeper issues than are apparent at first glance, and is a hypnotic vision of reality, which is simplified for effect by usage of stick figures. A close analysis of aesthetics in the film will suggest that Animator vs. Animation engages issues of the misuse of power by higher beings, the truism of David and Goliath in reality, and the fact that animation can portray and touch subjects relating to real life by using simple drawings such as; the stick man. The film opens with a blank screen, and then quickly turns to a drawing of a stick figure, who is named the “victim.” The scene is taken directly from Flash 8’s desktop, with all of the tools bordering the screen. It is obvious that the animator is controlling the actions of the stick figure, and is the “Animator” the title is named after. The victim is shown in the rectangular box that Flash puts around all objects, and the box is then shaken up and down. The torture continues as a large black weight is drawn and dropped on the victim, who knocks the box over to escape. The box is shattered to pieces, and he is able to use one side of it as a weapon against the mousecontrolled cursor. The figure then swings himself up onto the toolbar, using the leverage of the “enemy” arrow. He uses tools to make a bow and arrow and shoots at a cannon the animator has drawn. Bullets made of tiny black and white squares come at him, and he repels them using an eraser as a shield and a paint brush as a sword. Realizing that he can use his paintbrush sword to actually paint, he paints a dome shield over himself, and ‘slingshots’ his sharp eraser shield back at the perpetrator, slicing open the cannon. Gaining knowledge and confidence, the stick figure draws homemade steps, and brings himself closer to the toolbar. It is a David and Goliath story; Goliath has the upper hand and all of the power in this situation. He has many tools to use at his disposal, and they are used as weapons against the weaker David. Stuck in a tricky and dangerous situation, David (the stick figure) must use his brains and spirit to defeat the almighty Goliath (the animator). The animation uses the same idea as Chuck Jones’ 1953 classic animation Duck
Amuck, where Daffy Duck is controlled and tortured by the animator, Bugs Bunny. He uses the paintbrush to control Daffy’s speech, surroundings, dress, and ability to be seen by the audience. Bugs enjoys this torture, because at the end there is a clip of him grinning and he exclaims mockingly, “Ain’t I a stinker?!” and even while we sympathize with the latter, we join Bugs in his joy at the expense of the helpless Daffy. Animator vs. Animation, on the other hand, is a different situation. Because Daffy Duck is a wellknown Warner Bros. character, he has the ability to be satirized and poked fun at without any feelings of resentment towards the antagonist. Like Paul Wells says, he is “a model of incongruity and irony.” (Wells 2002, Animation and America Page 50) In Animator vs. Animation by contrast, we are more sentimentally drawn to the character because he is basically a “nobody.” 1 Victimized from the start, he has nothing and no one to back himself up when being attacked by the animator. The figure is personified without physical features, and does not speak, so we really have no way of knowing what he is thinking or what type of personality he has. Because we can’t judge him by physical features or personality, we take sides with him because he is the underdog. When the character is brought onto the scene, his presence certainly feels palpable; he exists in a common placement that we as viewers are used to being in control of. As the intense flash animation 2 continues, and the victim starts experiencing the wrath of the animator, you want to take control of the mouse and overtake the animator’s actions by putting an end to the torture. The Animator creates this feeling by portraying the stick figure as a helpless victim. It is human nature to feel a desire to help when someone or something is being hurt or tortured in any way, and because the animation is innocent and has done nothing wrong, we feel the need to create justice for the figure.
I refer to the figure as male on for simplicity reasons, but in reality we have no way of knowing if the character is actually a girl or boy. The story would have a whole different effect if the victim was female, because then this animation would touch on a whole new topic, like women abuse, for instance. The animation would lose a lot of its comedic value, because people would take offense to the fact that the animator is creating a female victim for the sole purpose of controlling and torturing her (or at least that is what it may seem).
The term Flash animation not only refers to the file format but to a certain kind of movement and visual style which, in many circles, is seen as simplistic or unpolished. However, with dozens of Flash animated television series, countless more Flash animated television commercials, and award-winning online shorts in circulation, Flash animation is enjoying a renaissance. (wikipedia.org)
Just like in director James Whale’s 1931 movie, Frankenstein, it is Man vs. his own creation. Frankenstein was portrayed as a monster, and his actions backed up this argument, but in truth, he was a confused and misguided creature who did not understand the world around him. As with Frankenstein, we feel a sense of compassion for the unknowing victim, who did nothing to deserve the treatment to which he is subjected. Unlike in the movie Frankenstein, however, where we know who is responsible for the creation of the character (mad scientist, Dr. Waldman), in Animator vs. Animation we really have no idea who is the creator of the “victim”. What is the identity of the animator and what is his purpose for his creation and actions? Why did he create a stick figure and not a more detailed victim? Does he have anything against stick figures or is he just looking for something to torture for fun? Although we feel compassion towards the figure, it is hard to ignore the comedic aspects of the video. On one hand, we feel for the little guy, and the fact that he is getting beat upon by a greater force. It is almost reminiscent of early school days, when the smaller, awkward kid got beaten up by the evil, older kids who thought they ruled the school. But on the other hand, the actions the Animator uses to defeat the victim is actually quite brilliant and funny. This makes me feel that it is less likely that the animator is some angry artist who takes joy in hurting things, even if they are computer animated, and more as if the animator just wanted to have some fun with the victim and create something that he could play around with, just like Bugs does with Daffy Duck in Duck Amuck. Like in Frankenstein, however, the plan backfires, and the victim is created with more power than the Animator thinks, the power to fight back. It is always funny and fulfilling to see the “bully” get a taste of his own medicine, and when the animation starts using the tools to fight back, the animation gains comedic value. Alan Becker looks at things from multiple points of view in this animation. How often is it that a paintbrush and an eraser from the tools of Flash 8’s desktop are used as a sword and shield? The animation uses the dynamic freedom of lines and shapes that animation makes possible, and disobeys the norms by altering the original configurations of the tools. He found ways to make use of something created for the intent of art, and viewed it as something he could use to defeat his creator. After dodging bullets and destroying the animator’s weapons of attack, the animation gains confidence, and is beginning to believe that he will be able to defeat the animator. At first, the animation was in a “do or die” situation, where he had no choice but to try and defend himself. As he started to break down the animator’s attacks, the
motivations of the figure changed, and he was no longer in a state of defense. The figure becomes the one in power, and finds that the tables have turned because now he is in attack. His actions are fueled by his realization that he could beat the animator at his own game. At one point, the animator tries to delete his creation, and the figure quickly swipes the arrow away from the delete button. A true underdog story is not complete without the underdog coming out on top, and as the video continues, the chance of that happening becomes greater and greater. Just like out of a scene in a game of Capture the Flag, the figure frees his fellow stick figures out of “jail” (which is actually the library section of the Flash program), and joins forces to battle the animator. The figures begin creating havoc in the animator’s setting, and more objects are being destroyed in the Animator’s program. Because the Animator tried to delete the single stick figure earlier, the fact that numerous figures are appearing on the scene with the intent to battle makes it evident that he will be even more obliged to end what he started. He backs down from the fight, and exits the program before the animations take their brigade of “new found” power any further. The scene dissolves when the computer asks to save the project, and the Animator clicks “No.”
This video is an example of technology taking control from it’s makers. The fact that the Animator created the figure to torture and play with in the first place makes it even more comical because he ended up getting a taste of his own medicine when the animation began taking control of him. We take joy and amusement out of other peoples expenses or mistakes. When people make fun of themselves or qualities about themselves, it’s funny. Because the video is commenting on its own production and making light of the fact that we don’t control everything, there is humor in the animation. It displays the fact that we cannot control everything in life, yet some people still think they do. When these people get proven wrong, such as the Animator is this video, we enjoy it. The video is also funny when the animation uses the tools in ways that one would never use them for. The part where he creates a bow and arrow and uses the eraser as a shield is especially clever. Alan Becker creates feelings of compassion in the video, but the comedic aspects of the animation are what make it great. He creates a dimension of sympathy as well as humor for the viewer and leave us feeling good when the Animator is defeated. A stick figure is something that children are first taught to do when they are learning to draw. Something that seems so simple is used as a main character in this film, yet we can look at the figure not just as a stick figure, but as a real person in a victimized situation. He is David; the little guy, the victim, the underdog. We lose sight of the fact
that he is only a drawing, and relate his actions and the actions of the animator to reality. We are drawn to the character out of compassion because he is being targeted by a “Goliath” (someone of greater power and control). In the end, the misuse of power and misjudgement of the creation became detrimental to the Animator when his program is overtaken by the animation.
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