Essay #2: Exploring My Online Image

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Animation Discourse is all about “watching animation critically”. Western animation is constantly looked down upon as an inferior form of storytelling compared to its live action counterpart. Although there is no denying that many cartoons are targeted at children, there are plenty of animated works that tell complex and compelling stories that many adults can appreciate as well. As I wrote in my About page:

Western animation can be smart, funny, self-reflective, and most significantly, progressive. So why not talk about it in a way that falls into this spectrum? Besides, even if many cartoons are targeted at young people, shouldn’t this motivate us to pay more attention to the media content that plays a huge role in shaping young minds?

Animation Discourse was created to take Western animation seriously; especially because it’s a form of storytelling similar to any novel, comic, or live-action film—so why not place some of its elements under a critical telescope? Essentially, this platform was created for myself as I am an avid viewer of animated works and enjoy engaging with them. As the creator of the podcast Bullseye, one of Jesse Thron’s (2012) philosophy towards his platform’s success is to follow your passion: “It is passion that drives audiences today. Not something-slightly-above-disinterest, but PASSION”. I find joy in talking about cartoons, and as I continue to write articles I have realized that this platform can also appeal to other people who enjoy animation for its themes, characters, and settings. Based on this, my imagined public consists of readers who are intrigued by animation’s intricate messages; people who want to see the deeper meanings and hidden intentions in animated works. To my surprise, based on Google Analytics, a few people located outside of British Columbia have stumbled upon Animation Discourse and actually stuck around for long enough to read at least one article. This means a lot to me. The fact that some people have actually come across my writing, even though this platform is still so new, motivates me to keep publishing blog posts. Additionally, although a large bulk of the comments I’ve been receiving are spam, there have been a some posted by classmates which have been very motivating.

After writing a few articles that strictly focus on discussing critical topics in the scope of animation, such as feminism and general progressiveness, I’ve realized that my public might appreciate a variety of content; also that I would enjoy writing a wider variety of articles. Critical topics can be very heavy, and although I enjoy taking animation seriously, I also enjoy aimlessly watching my favorite cartoons when I want to give myself a mental break. As a result, I have decided that  Animation Discourse should represent my feelings towards animation as a whole; both something that I enjoy assessing as much as I have fun watching. Hence, I have begun to incorporate articles like reviews and personal pieces onto my growing list of published blog posts. In terms of design, as mentioned in various process posts, this platform has taken plenty of inspiration from Overly Animated’s website. Web-based platform designs are becoming very homogeneous in appearance, so having a site that is visually different is important to stand out in the cyber realm (Gertz, 2015). I’ve previously praised Overly Animated‘s website as nicely designed in the sense that it follows a traditional-blog format that has been lost in the modernized cyberspace, so I decided to create my own variation of it. In doing so, I added a slider plugin containing recent posts, as well as a list of featured posts that I feel represent some of my best thoughts on animation.

 

As Danah Boyd (2014) mentions in the published work It’s Complicated, “[p]eople develop a sense for what is normative by collectively adjusting their behavior based on what they see in the publics they inhabit and understand” (p. 201). In this sense, for people who enjoy viewing Western-produced cartoons but don’t necessarily read deeply into them, I feel as though I am shedding light on important hidden or normalized messages that should be brought to viewers’ attention. For example, one of my favorite posts so far is about how many female characters in animated works are personified through having a “boy-crazy” trait:

Typically, its a defining element of their personalities. Western animation seems to carry the impression that young females are constantly engaged in high/middle-school crushes- and it can be quite humorous. But more importantly it begs the question of: Where are the girl-crazed boys?

It’s implications like this that I bring to the forefront of readers’ attention, and by discussing this and similar topics, “people develop a sense of others that ideally manifests as tolerance and respect” (Boyd, 2014, p. 201). Through Animation Discourse I explore important subjects that only a small handful of people discuss. And because so many of these series are targeted at impressionable children and youth, normalizing behavior—in this case boy-crazy qualities—reduces females to be at the subject of their crushes. Greater attention should be focused on the content that young people consume because it shapes their thought processes at an early age. And by spreading awareness of both the issues and redeeming qualities of animation, my platform can aid in this front.

 

During its introduction, Publishing of Self in Everyday Life promised to explore the often-spoken phrase of “everyone is a publisher now”. After taking this course, I can confidently say that this statement is not necessarily the case. Everyone (or at least those with Internet access) has the ability to publish, but this ability doesn’t automatically deem everyone a publisher. As we have learnt, earning the title “publisher” means to create and distribute content on a consistent basis; content that is meaningful, accurate, and attempts to reach a wider audience. During this course, I have learnt about the conventions that come with being a publisher—and dare I say that I have become one through developing  Animation Discourse. This platform acts as a form of self expression as writing and sharing the content has proven to be very enjoyable and rewarding, so I fully intend to maintain this platform after the course is over.

The blogger behind the website The Entertainment Nut responded to a comment I posted on one of his articles: “Thank you for the compliments, and knowing that I have people reading my articles. I rarely get compliments, so it can be difficult to tell if anyone is even reading what I post up”. The Entertainment Nut is maintained by a publisher who has been blogging since late 2011; yet despite his supposed lack of feedback, he continues to post weekly. This is significant because it implies that this blogger doesn’t publish his work for the glory or the revenue, but rather because he enjoys talking about forms of entertainment and wants to share his insights. Success follows passion (Thorn, 2012), and although he doesn’t believe people are reading, his popular articles have sparked much discussion as shown through their comment sections.  I feel like I am in the same boat; although only a tiny number of people visit this website, I still enjoy forming and publishing weekly posts, and choosing what data trails I leave behind on the topics discussed through this platform.

 

Overall, it’s amazing what can be learnt when students are given the freedom to create a platform on any desired topic. As Audrey Watters (2015) mentions in an article: “Having one’s own domain means that students have much more say over what they present to the world”. Students, and young people in general, are rarely given the luxury of choice, so exploring the publisher in us through our personal online platforms has been quite an eye-opening experience.

 


Audrey Watters. 2015. “The Web We Need to Give to Students.” https://medium.com/bright/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x.

Boyd, Danah. 2014. “Searching for a public of their own.” It’s Complicated. pp 213-227 http://www.danah.org/books/ItsComplicated.pdf.

Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. Available from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines.

Jesse Thorn. 2012. “Make Your Thing.” http://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing.

The Entertainment Nut. 2017. “Book Review: Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension.” Available from: https://theentertainmentnut.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/book-review-star-and-marcos-guide-to-mastering-every-dimension/#comments.

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