Danyael's Hist 389 Blog

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Blog Post #13: Evolving Cartoons, Evolving Issues

Since this is my last blog, I figured I would reflect on how cartoons have evolved along with their issues and story lines. When Snow White came out in 1937, it was an artful masterpiece; however, the personalities fell a little flat. Having recently seen Monsters vs. Aliens and Up, I realized that as animation has gotten more complex and realistic looking, so has their problems the characters face in their respective films.

Earlier films generally dealt with evil forces trying to prevent a hero from their goal, and the hero learns some sort of lesson in the process. While this is still the general template in which story lines tend to run their course, the evil forces and the hero’s journey tend to become more complex and relate-able. For example, in Monsters vs. Aliens the main character Susan learns not only to accept herself (the usual animation lesson). Susan learns that her fiance wanted her to not outshine him; unless her powers benefited him Susan realizes she should not marry someone like this. She also realized she should not have to mold herself into the  perfect partner just to be with this guy. This is a very deep storyline as opposed to those in earlier films like Snow White and Cinderella, where there are beautiful princesses with hateful step-parents that try to kill them or ruin their lives.

Another story that gets very complex is in the movie Up. In it, both Russel, the kid, and Mr. Frederickson, the bitter old man, have very realistic and complex issues. Mr. Frederickson is coping with life after his wife dies who he had been with his whole life. He tries to fulfill her life dream. In the end, he realizes that she viewed their life together as a dream and the greatest adventure. He even found a note from her telling him to have his own adventures, which helps give Mr. Frederickson closure and the ability to live life. The young boyscout Russel deals with issues many kids deal with today. Russel’s father remarried, and he does not want to play with him anymore. In fact, his stepmother even tells Russel that his father is annoyed by him. In the end, Russel finds a friend and father figure in Mr. Frederickson.

Even movies with princesses have gotten more complex issues. The Princess and the Frog addressed issues that different classes face. Tiana felt the need to fulfill her father’s dream. In the end, she realized she needed to make herself happy and everything else would follow. The Prince also had his own problems. He was dealing with issues of money. He needed to marry rich if he wanted to maintain his lifestyle. He also realized in the end that it was better to make himself happy then worry about money.

It is obvious with the evolution of animation has come the evolution of story lines. The result has been much more dynamic realistic looking characters that are easy to relate to. Since animations are for everyone and have entertained for about a century, what better way to keep audiences engaged than through real problems and real story lines with a little animated humor wedged in between.

I commented on Brittany Alberry and Brenda Weber’s post.


April 26, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. It’s very refreshing to see stuff like this become topics of animation, which hopefully means that people are looking at animation from a storytelling/ artistic standpoint rather than, “It’s something for kids!” That being said, I’d rather watch Princess and the Frog over Cinderella any day; what does that teach girls, that if they just sit around, get pushed by people who are no more (even less so) superior to them, someday a big strong man will rush over and save them and they’ll be rich and famous? Then again, this is considering that times have changed since Cinderella and to Disney’s credit, they gave Princesses like Tiana, Jasmine, Belle, and Ariel some good excuses to achieve their goals and fall in love. If you go onto ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com, Nostalgia Chick has a very good video explaining the evolving complexities and issues with the current Disney Princesses, as well as comparing the princesses from the “Old Disney” (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc.) with the princesses from the “New Disney” (see above examples).

    Comment by cpocalyk | April 27, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] commented on Andrew Steward and Danyel Hughes‘ blogs. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)MarzGurl’s History of […]

    Pingback by Post #13: Wizards (and a short discussion on “Adult Animation”) « History of Animation | April 27, 2010 | Reply

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