That's All Folks? Ecocritical Readings of American Animated Features

That's All Folks? Ecocritical Readings of American Animated Features

That's All Folks? Ecocritical Readings of American Animated Features

That's All Folks? Ecocritical Readings of American Animated Features

Synopsis

Although some credit the environmental movement of the 1970s, with its profound impact on children's television programmes and movies, for paving the way for later eco-films, the history of environmental expression in animated film reaches much further back in American history, as That's All Folks? makes clear.Countering the view that the contemporary environmental movement - and the cartoons it influenced - came to life in the 1960s, Robin L. Murray and Joseph K. Heumann reveal how environmentalism was already a growing concern in animated films of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. From Felix the Cat cartoons to Disney's beloved Bambi to Pixar's Wall-E and James Cameron's Avatar, this volume shows how animated features with environmental themes are money-makers on multiple levels - particularly as broad-based family entertainment and conveyors of consumer products. Only Ralph Bakshi's X-rated Fritz the Cat and R-rated Heavy Traffic and Coonskin, with their violent, dystopic representation of urban environments, avoid this total immersion in an anti-environmental consumer market.Showing us enviro-toons in their cultural and historical contexts, this book offers fresh insights into the changing perceptions of the relationship between humans and the environment and a new understanding of environmental and animated cinema.

Excerpt

Bambi is arguably a film that vilifies hunting and the human hunters who burn down the animals’ forest, thus perhaps valorizing the rights of animals more forcefully than those of man. But the film also advocates for animal rights based on these animals’ humanlike qualities, helping them build a community of family and friends in a protected forest free from human intervention. Despite the film’s clear argument favoring at least some elements of nonhuman nature, such a position may conflict with tenets of the environmental movement.

This conflict between animal rights and environmentalism is also reflected in popular culture from the 1940s, when Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac was first published. Walt Disney films from the 1940s and 1950s are no exception. According to Rebecca Raglon and Marian Scholtmeijer, “Advocates for nonhuman animals note the similarities between human and other animal spe-

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