• Colorlines takes a moment to talk to featured artists from a recent Smithsonian Asian-Latino pop-up exhibition about how they're changing the landscape of cultural representation in American art. [Colorlines]
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"We're all mad here" might be the best description of almost all of the characters in Batman: The Animated Series, including the caped crusader himself. Most of the villains in Batman are super criminals with personal obsessions that drive their crime sprees well beyond the point of parody. Of course someone named E. Nygma is going to be puzzle-obsessed and, when double-crossed in business, take up the mantle of The Riddler to gain revenge. Of course someone named Victor Fries is going to invent a freeze ray and take up the mantle of Mr. Freeze in order to get revenge on the man who almost killed his terminally ill wife. Of course Bruce Wayne dresses up in a mask and a cape and clears Gotham's streets of super villains. And of course the villains mostly end up in Arkham Asylum instead of Gotham Penitentiary. They're all crazy! Mad as hatters! (And yes, there is a Mad Hatter, obsessed with Alice. He vows revenge when Alice spurns his advances.)
What's different about the Crazy Ladies of Batman is how their motivations and actions are a bit... different... than that of the various male characters. To steal from Nostalgia Chick'slist of the top 11 Villainesses, these ladies aren't motivated by the death of loved ones, personal betrayal in business, or even romantic obsession. No no, these ladies are liberals gone mad.
Unlike Miyazaki, Hosoda embraces our dependence on virtual worlds, but not naively. He's aware of its dangers and isn't above satirizing it; the resemblance of the OZ hub to Murakami's deranged pandas, combined with its toothy, walleyed grin, makes even the pre-Love Machine OZ appear fun, but slightly dangerous, and the entire Love Machine storyline is a cautionary tale against putting all of one's faith in online solutions. That combination of wariness and recognition of digital culture is something I don't think we would ever see from Miyazaki.
Like so many other aspects of the film industry, animation is still a male-dominated field. In the early days of the industry, women worked most often as inkers and painters, so while their work was arduous and crucial, it often went uncredited and rarely got them promoted to supervising or directing positions. Fortunately, women are constantly gaining ground in animation, especially as producers – Toy Story 3, produced by Darla K. Anderson, became the highest-grossing animated movie of all freaking time – and I'm already counting down the months until Brave, which will feature Pixar's first female lead plus is co-written by Irene Mecchi, who you might know as creator of the esteemed Recycle Rex (really) and co-writer of a little movie called The Lion King (due credit also goes to Osamu Tekuza and, uh, Shakespeare). But let's turn the clock back and pay a little homage to a woman who became an animation pioneer before 3D, before CGI, even before Mary Ellen Bute's experimental shorts or Retta Scott's Disney screen credit: Charlotte "Lotte" Reiniger (1899-1981).
Because I currently have to rely on the internets for my American TV shows (save the ridiculous smattering of FBI/cop shows they export to Danish television), I'm only now catching the recently-canceled reruns of the short-lived animated sitcom by Office Space/Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge, The Goode Family. The Goodes are the epitome of clueless liberals—painfully white, completely unaware of what PC language they oughta be using, and seemingly unwilling to learn why that might matter beyond not embarrassing themselves or their black neighbor. Their adopted son Ubuntu marks "African American" on his driver's license because while white, he was born in South Africa, his academic father insists. Obsessed with environmentalism, the Goodes drive a hybrid, though dad mostly bikes everywhere and is often seen in his bike gear, totally out of context. The family is vegan, shops at a ridiculously expensive snooty grocery, and even gives their dog Che vegan dog food (though he often sneaks off to chase and eat neighborhood animals). The entire premise—if you have enough progressive political awareness to get the jokes and can laugh at yourself—is riotously funny.
One of the most exciting events of New York Comic Con this year was the world premiere of the new Wonder Woman animated film that will be available on DVD March 3, 2009. No, it's not the big screen action film that Wonder Woman deserves. A whole mess of people - including Joss Whedon - have tried to make that film over the past several years, and all have failed. But this Wonder Woman adaptation is an important milestone for the title, as it joins the ranks of Superman: Doomsday and Batman: Gotham Knight as the fourth installment of the highly successful line of direct-to-DVD movies created by DC and Warner Bros.