User-submitted post by Eduardo Garcia
It’s no secret that folks are…well, a little miffed these days when it comes to animation and its recent drought of diversity in terms of lead characters. Just do a quick search on Tumblr of your recent favorite animated flick and sure enough, you will find folks complaining about the smaller presence of people of color in animated films.
But things are changing as luck would have it, and this year it seems like more and more films are starring characters of different ethnicities and backgrounds. We already have The Book of Life and pretty soon we will have Big Hero 6, a film whose cast is all about diversity both on screen and off.
So what does that spell for the world of animation at large?
Well now that The Book of Life can be considered a success ($69 million worldwide and counting), I think some things are about to change, and for the better. After the less-than-stellar performance of the Princess and the Frog in 2009 (at least in Disney’s eyes), Disney Animation not only put 2D on the back burner, but characters of color as well.
We had a good span of about five years where not a single film from the company was lead by a person of color and that is an issue. Sure, we already have established and wonderful films featuring POC (people of color) characters from Disney’s rich history. But in the world of storytelling, there is always room for more, especially from cultures that are unique to our own.
Enter The Book of Life, which is proving a number of things with its steady box office and critical praise. One of those wonderful things is that beautifully animated films with such distinct and indie-like styles can make it in the mainstream audience. Also, that an animated film heralded by three Latin protagonists can be a success.
It’s a big deal, since this is the first mainstream animated film focusing on Latin culture and people, featuring them front and center of their own story. As Jorge Gutierrez so wonderfully put “I kept waiting for the Latina princess to show up, and she never did.”
I’m still waiting for Disney’s first Latina princess to show up, but thankfully it might not be that long from now, at least if Pixar’s upcoming Dia de los Muertos film has anything to say about it. I am more than sure Lasseter and company are keeping a sharp eye on this film to see how to forge on with their own project. So for them to see this film has become a success should read as nothing but good news that audiences will indeed be interested in their own Dia de los Muertos project.
(Concept art for the Pixar’s Untitled Dia De Los Muertos film)
But I digress. The success of this film sends a message to the execs of Hollywood so to speak. It’s no secret that he had trouble pitching the film in the first place. With a shocking 14-year development period just because no one would pick up this film.
(Concept art of the film’s beautiful and distinct style)
But now that its officially making money this film is considered a success. Along with that comes the opportunity to open doors for other companies to put out films that highlight different kinds of people and cultures. We already have the wonderful Big Hero 6 headed our way, but we definitely have more on the way. With Dreamwork’s Home on the horizon in 2015, Disney’s Moana in 2016, and Pixar’s untitled Dia de los Muertos film, it seems like we have a few great years ahead of us in terms of diversity.
But there is always room for more, and hopefully the continued success of The Book of life will put a twinkle in the eyes of other major studios, one that could inspire more films featuring diverse casts and stories. Should audiences fall in love with Hiro Hamada and the gang from Big Hero 6, I think we could really see a big change coming. One that I am ready to embrace!
What are your thoughts? Do you think this film can inspire a sort of renaissance for diversity in animated films?