Anime Not Receiving an Oscar is an Issue – But Not in the Way You Think

TheWindRises2

Did you follow The Oscars this year? I personally never follow it, but that does not stop me from seeing all kind of mentions in newspapers or on the Internet. This time around, however, there was one little thing that caught my eye and bothered me for many reasons.

If you have some knowledge regarding the whole Academy Awards ordeal, then you might know that animation has never stood a chance against live-action films. In fact, only three animated films have ever been nominated for the Best Picture award. These are: Beauty and the Beast (1991), Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010).

There are many controversies surrounding The Oscars, such as a lack of non-English films, which is perfectly understandable. After all, this is a huge award ceremony supposed to honor the film industry and as such it should be as open-minded as possible. It is never a good thing if other factors than the films themselves end up affecting the awards.

AnimeOscarsCartoonBrew

Cartoon Brew.

The article that interested me is called “Definitive Proof That Academy Voters Are Ignorant About Animation” and written by Amid Amidi, published on March 2 2014 at Cartoon Brew. In the article we can read about how four of the seven anonymous Academy members abstained from voting in the Best Animated Feature category. However, the three who did end up voting all gave their vote to Disney’s Frozen.

Let us put this into perspective. If we assume that there are only seven members and over half of them (four) abstained from voting we have an issue and the award itself is no longer trustworthy, especially considering how one of the asked had not even seen all of the films. This is, after all, something the members have all signed up for. This is a serious matter if it were to be the case.

AnimeOscarsAcademyAwards

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

However, there is nothing that says there are only seven members. If we look at the official website for The Oscars, we can under the subcategory “Short Films and Feature Animation” ironically find exactly seven persons listed for “Animation”. On the other hand, if we look slightly higher up on the page we can find the following:

“Below is a short list of individuals from each branch.”

This implies that there are more than seven members. I cannot find any exact number myself – it is possible this is confidential information – although this in turn renders the whole article meaningless. The article in question is written with the intent to make animation a victim, to showcase that “Hollywood doesn’t care or know the first thing about animated films” to quote the author himself.

Due to a lack of information regarding, as mentioned above, how many members actually exist it does not matter in the slightest if four persons abstained from voting. It could have been four out of ten or perhaps even one hundred! Not to mention that the article does not mention how the original article by The Hollywood Reporter it uses as source also mentions Academy members in other categories abstaining from voting.

As a result of this bias and lack of information, no one should take this article seriously except for the few actual quotes it presents (once again originally from The Hollywood Reporter). This is an article written with malicious intent.

Now, the very reason this article ended up in my view was because of my Twitter feed. Somehow it had spawned a discussion on anime, or to be more precise: how The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki was nowhere to be seen. Some claimed the award members had simply not seen it, yet had voted for Frozen. Others believed they disliked anime. A few conspiracy theorists conspired over how Frozen would have won regardless. It was a chaos to behold.

AnimeOscarsCrunchyroll

Crunchyroll.

Normally this sort of ruckus would naturally go away after a while. However, one day later the largest legal anime streaming website Crunchyroll wrote its own article on the matter, using the previously mentioned article “Definitive Proof That Academy Voters Are Ignorant About Animation” as a source. This led to the highly biased “Anime Shut Out at Oscars” written by Scott Green and published on March 3 2014.

In this very article we can find quotes such as:

“In fact, the safe bet won in both cases. Anime was shut out at this year’s Academy Awards.”

“Of course, Japanese animation might have fared better if the voters had actually seen it.”

These two statements only serve to add fuel to the fire of nonsense misinformation, especially the latter which has no sort of basis whatsoever. Nowhere, in any article, is it mentioned that the award members did not watch The Wind Rises.

AnimeOscarsCrunchyroll2

Crunchyroll.

It does not end there, however, because in Crunchyroll’s very next article “’Vividred Operation: Hyper Intimate Power’ Wins Kusoge Game of the Year” – also written by Scott Green – we have the following quote:

“Anime might have been shut down at the Oscars, but did receive some recognition last week. /…/”

In yet another article there is a mention of how anime was “shut out/down”, despite its contents being completely unrelated to The Oscars. Much like Amid Amidi on Cartoon Brew tried to make animation a victim, Scott Green here tries to make anime a victim. For the largest legal anime streaming website to publish such a biased article is nothing short of a travesty.

If you want to criticize The Oscars, you should always remember to keep your arguments and views grounded in reality. This is not such an instance.

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9 thoughts on “Anime Not Receiving an Oscar is an Issue – But Not in the Way You Think

  1. ZakuAbumi says:

    Kevin Spacey contributed to temporarily killing twitter, that’s as far as I care about the entire thing.

  2. “Due to a lack of information regarding, as mentioned above, how many members actually exist it does not matter in the slightest if four persons abstained from voting. It could have been four out of ten or perhaps even one hundred! ”

    Of course, it matters! 40% or 4% is certainly not the same. It does put under question the credibility of the whole procedure, although personally I couldn’t care less for the ‘competitions’ of this type. There should be transparancy in the first place though.

    P.S.: Every time I see the word travesty used, I wince a bit inside. Probably coz it has the same roots with ‘transgender’ and ‘crossdressers’.

    • Marow says:

      I am sorry for the super late reply. There is no excuse; I have simply procrastinated

      Of course, it matters! 40% or 4% is certainly not the same. It does put under question the credibility of the whole procedure, although personally I couldn’t care less for the ‘competitions’ of this type. There should be transparancy in the first place though.

      As regarding whether it matters or not if they vote, you have to take the context into consideration. I am talking about how poorly written the article is and am pointing out how it does not matter if four persons abstained from voting when we don’t know how many actually votes. The reason I say this is because the article tries to use those four abstaining persons as “proof” that “The Academy” are ignorant about animation. It never mentions that it’s the statements of those abstaining that matters, it says:

      “Four of the seven Academy members abstained from voting for best animated feature. The three that did vote all chose Frozen.”

      It is not until the article mentions the “Short Films” it talks about the actual reasons for abstaining being the issue, and even then it never questions the aforementioned part of my text you have an issue with. I am talking about how poorly written the article is.

      But I do agree that it is bad to abstain from voting. However, it is not an issue if there is a valid reason for it. Three of the four did not actually see all movies, though, which is an issue when it comes to credibility as you said.

      Yet again, it is not an issue in the perspective I am talking about – the poorly written articles – as there is a lack of transparency (and therefore number of voters). What you are talking about is not what I am talking about in this text.

      P.S.: Every time I see the word travesty used, I wince a bit inside. Probably coz it has the same roots with ‘transgender’ and ‘crossdressers’.

      I had no idea about that! I hope you weren’t offended by it.

  3. Yumeka says:

    Yeah, it’s hard to determine the exact credibility of the Oscars. I usually don’t care too much about it as I’m sure there’s a lot of bias going on, but this year I was actually hoping that Frozen would win since I think it’s one of Disney’s best. I haven’t seen The Wind Rises or any of the 2013 other Best Animated nominees, so I can’t say that they didn’t deserve the award either…but I feel the reason so many Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks animated films win isn’t solely due to bias against non-Western works, but because their films just have a certain universality that’s appealing to people not just in America but all over the world (hence their high worldwide gross earnings and popularity). Having extremely high-budget CG animation helps the appeal too of course. Ghibli films and perhaps others from other countries can be fantastic films too, but might not have that universal appeal that people from all cultures around the world can relate to the way Disney and Pixar seem to nail it. Not sure if that plays a part in the Oscars or not but I think it might XD

    • TheSvengali says:

      Their only universal appeal is their English language. I have seen other animation from France and Belgium and they are as good as well but just like anime’s they are completely ignored because it doesn’t hold the same powerhouse market compared to US based animation companies.

  4. I’m really not a fan of the way information propagates into the most sensational/headline grabbing format possible. Statistics without broad context (4 out of 7 out of however many, in this case) might be very slightly more indicative than nothing, but once they’re out there, people can grab onto them and use them as “real” proof for a weakly supported and strongly worded premise that gets all kinds of clicks. I’m not a fan of ann’s editorial perspective, but I like them as a site because they do fact-check their stories and separate out the speculation from the harder data, and their interest tag clearly designates the clickbait. CR does interesting interviews, but they’re not half as rigorous.

  5. Overlord-G says:

    I only pay attention to who won and move on with my life. It’s always been like that with the Oscars. The Wind Rises already won best movie at a Tokyo Award ceremony so why The Oscars continues being treated as the “creme de la creme” of worldwide cinema is beyond me. Maybe it’s because it’s hosted in the US or something. Whatever. Let other internet critics and diehards mope about this stuff. How this “travesty” of Frozen beating The Wind Rises affects their personal lives is beyond me. Oscar judges have become as legit and trustworthy as Boxing and MMA judges.

  6. Derek Morton says:

    This is an interesting topic, in fact it might be a bit too deep for something as shallow as the Oscars, which one could argue is a few steps up from Honey BooBoo in importance. The awards don’t have a clear focus on the industry anymore, but that’s getting off the anime thing.

    Despite how popular anime is, as a whole it’s still nowhere as big as Walt Disney/Pixar or any other North American animation studio. That being said, having an award show that focuses on the “BEST IN FILMS” would dictate that foreign films would have a larger role in it. It’s a bit like how Major League Baseball has the World Series and only teams from TWO countries can play in it.

    That being said I was kind of underwhelmed by The Wind Rises after seeing it. Not by the animation, which was amazing, but by it’s story and sloppy narrative. In fact, one could argue that the only reason it was nominated in the first place was due to the popularity of Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, who already has an Oscar (Best Animated for Spirited Away). But then that’s just my opinion.

    I believe that anime films (and anime as a whole) should be recognized for it’s artistic and technical achievements (something that the best animated film category is known for) more often, but most anime titles that get noticed one a larger scale aren’t as strong narratively as Oscar winning films. Akira is an important film in anime, but narratively it fails due to six volumes of manga being shoved into two hours.

    Additionally anime is still seen as a niche market, not like the Billion dollar empire that Pixar has build.

    I love anime, I have since I was a kid, but I understand it has a small audience outside of Japan. It’s like Pro Wrestling or collecting stamps, it’s not for everyone. Some might turn up their nose but we still enjoy it for what it is, no matter what Kevin Spacey or the Academy might think.

    P.S. sorry for writing a novel, I got a bit carried away.

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