During my daily visits to my pal, Mark Evanier’s web site I happened across this particular post yesterday. A reader was complaining (mildly) about what he referred to as a “dismissive attitude” about the work being done today. It turns out there’s a fair number of grumpy old timers complaining about entertainment media today. Whether it’s comics, television or film, the reader felt there was too much of an “everything sucks these days” attitude. Since I’d like to think of myself as always open to criticisim, I decided to give it some thought.
It’s true I’ve become more outspoken in my old age. However, most of that is simply to save time. I guess there’s less a concern about stepping on one’s toes when you’re older. In any case, I have grumbled about a number of things in the business that annoy me. However, I’ve never taken an attitude of, “everything was good in the good old days… and everything today totally sucks.” That’s simply not true and I’m willing to state that emphatically. There are many amazing things being done today and I’ve been totally blown away by some of the stellar work young people are doing.
Keep in mind I came to the Walt Disney Studio as a starry-eyed kid back in the old days. It’s only natural I’d have a fondness for those times because it was my introduction to the animation business and an opportunity to learn from my creative heroes firsthand. It was also a time of incredible creativity and innovation that often feels lacking today. Of course, that’s across the board with all major companies as they move from energetic start-up to massive, major monolith. If I tend to wax eloquent about the Disney good old days, it’s simply because I miss the bold, exciting company Walt once guided. I confess I miss Disney’s creative enterprise when compared to the massive marketing and distribution company we have today. Was it better in the old days, you ask? In all honestly, I’d have to answer, yes! However, that does not mean I consider the remarkable work being done today to be worthless. A new generation of animation filmmakers are just hitting their stride and I applaud their efforts and wish them well. I’m hardly the grumpy old animation veteran yelling, “you dern kids get off my lawn!”
I don’t know why Mark Evanier’s poster considered me one of the “grouchy critics” of today’s entertainment media. I'm not upset about it. It was a rather mild criticism. I welcome innovation and the creative move forward as much as the Old Maestro would have welcomed it. I would, however be mindful that we not forget our past. The future, as exciting as it may be, still has its creative roots in the amazing work accomplished by the talented pioneers who built the creative foundation for all of us.