Monday, April 24, 2017


NOTE: Students are to pick TWO of the final four posts - 1. Anthropomorphic Animals, 2. The Adult's Inner Child. 3. Junot Diaz (and a guy named Neil), and 4. David Almond or Dodie Smith. Comments should be posted no later than Weds. May 3. If you were habitually late with blog posts (i.e. need a little extra credit), I strongly suggest doing all four.

Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 350 words) to the combined reading and viewing linked or noted below. Students are to post ONE comment addressing BOTH the viewing and the readings. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

“How do you make children’s films appeal to adults?” Finlo Rohrer, BBC News Magazine: "You might be forgiven for thinking children's films are for children and adults have their own films. But 2009 - with the likes of Up and Where the Wild Things Are - has seen the triumph of the trend towards making children's films that speak to grown-ups too." Click heading to read article.

“Directors of the Decade: Miyazaki & Pixar,” Matt Zoller, Salon: "Miyazaki, who turns 69 next week, is still underappreciated in the United States. His last four features, “Princess Mononoke,” the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Ponyo” were released stateside by Pixar’s parent company, Disney, in dubbed versions, earning critical praise but not a fraction of Pixar’s usual box office haul. Worldwide, however, Miyazaki’s last three features as director made about $700 million. That’s a Hollywood-studio-level number that’s noteworthy on its face, but it’s even more striking for those who appreciate Miyazaki’s willingness to depict situations, emotional conflicts and moral struggles that neither Pixar nor any of its U.S.-based competitors would dare touch. If Pixar is the Babysitter — the smart, likable professional you can trust — Miyazaki is the Grandfather: a wise and beloved elder who understands kids as deeply as (in some ways more deeply than) their parents do, and knows that while the ability to delight and comfort children is a rare talent, it’s not the only one worth cultivating."Click heading to read article.

"Fantastic Mr. Fox: Wes Anderson and the Capers of Middle Age," Cara Parks, The Huffington Post: "Both [Where the Wild Things Are and The Fantastic Mr. Fox] have sparked debate over what is and is not a children's movie, but both films seem designed less to appeal to a particular age demographic and more to a particular sensibility. The childhood of both films is filled with whimsy and wonder, the reckless adventuring no longer freely associated with what might be more aptly known as pre-adulthood. But it also recognizes the longing of children to grow up, the willingness to shed a certain amount of entitlement and freedom for the firm bonds of social attachment. Inside each of us may be a wild thing, or a wild animal, but there is also a future wife, father, or caretaker, learning to take the burdens of a complicated life. Mr. Fox's fantastic appeal lies not with an adult's inner child, but a child's inner adult." Click heading to read article. 

After reading ALL THREE of the above posts, watch a film that fits in with the general thrust of the articles. (That is, a film that straddles generational demographics, not simply "winking" at grownups, but actually speaking to them, moving them.) If you plan to respond to a film you've already seen, please re-watch it in light of the above articles.


Susan Lee said...

I think a good film is one that appeals to all ages. Although sometimes it doesn’t work out if one sets out to make an adult film, the children and the adults in their lives usually watch children films so it makes sense to aim to make children films appeal to adults as well. I think the key really is to make references that adults would understand and enjoy.

I thought Miyazaki was very recognized for his work in the United Staets because his movies did so well here. I was surprised to learn that it didn’t even make a fraction of Pixar’s usual box office haul. However, I think a large part could be attributed to it being a dubbed version. I think it is technically unfair to compare it to fresh new original films by Pixar. I was impressed with and I definitely agreed with the comparison with the ‘Grandfather’. His movies have a depth that adults will understand and maybe even relate to while it also provides creative scenes that apply to the children.

I think that is always going to be the fine line of what counts as targeted towards children and what is not. I personally don’t see what’s wrong with just labeling movies as Rated R and not rating other ones. I think we live in a time where even the concept of children has changed. I feel like the younger demographic has matured faster in terms of the types of things they have been exposed to because of the continuous development of technology. As such, it should be left to the viewer to decide whether they felt like they gained a lot from the film or whether it was too childish and shallow.

Sierra Commons said...

Rohrer's article talking about the inclusion of adult themes in children's ("family") movies definitely felt on-point. There are so many issues that children can be barely phased by yet hit adults like a sack of bricks, mainly because of a deeper understanding and empathy that has been brought about by experience. I hadn't thought about it too much before, but it's fascinating how jokes and references aren't the only thing that can be tailored to an adult audience. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that most of the conflicts don't get too heavy or require much thinking (UP's first 5 minutes are basically Pixar hitting you over the head yelling "LOOK AT THIS SAD THING LOOK AREN'T YOU SAD") so...that transitions pretty well into the next article.

Really glad to see Miyazaka/Ghibli in here. I mark Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke among my favorite films. A lot of what Seitz talks about here sounds very familiar to me- it sounds very similar to making comparisons between any eastern (Japanese) and western (American) animation. Cartoons vs. Anime, essentially. The general idea of it is that western = dummed down / action and eastern = complex stories / themes. That's been -mostly- true for a while largely because in America cartoons were almost immediately relegated into "Children entertainment" and have only relatively recently begun to be accepted as forms of entertainment for adults. Even more recently, there's been a sort of debate online about many newer cartoons that have come out that go a step beyond and tell a great story. Avatar: The Last Airbender is a big one that people often call "American Anime". I personally like more complex storytelling and hope that it can sink further into American mainstream, because stuff like Ghibli films are really popular outside the states for a reason.

Anyways, I've actually got Fantastic Mr.Fox saved on my computer and own Spirited Away and Howl's moving castle. But I decided to go for a newer movie, Bakemono no Ko (The Boy and the Beast), an anime film about a kid that goes to another world full of humanoid animals and gets raised by Kumatetsu, one of the strongest fighters but a guy with a real bad attitude. The clearest example of the movie speaking to both adults and children is in the parallel story of the boy and the beast- one is a coming-of-age any kid could enjoy, the other about an old headstrong man learning as much from his adopted son as he teaches. There's also a side-plotline of another character dealing with some really harmful self-doubt and hatred that isn't really shied away from. Watching that character (and his brother) mature in different ways was very satisfying- they don't turn out the way you'd expect at the start, which speaks to how real people are affected by real life.

Rachel Westerbeke said...

As adults are largely in control of what movies and books that their children are exposed to, it can definitely be beneficial for adults to be remembered as part of the audience for children’s literature/movies. The BBC News article by Finlo Rohrer sites Shrek, Shark Tales, and Toy Story as movies that make an effort to include adult audiences by making pop culture references to varying degrees of success. Because adults generally dictate what kids watch, it can be beneficial to draw in adult audiences, too, however if the references are too forced, they may detract from the plot of the story.
The cultural references are not really required to draw adult audiences in, though. Of the movies that I watched as a kid, those that are still important to me in adulthood generally have other timeless qualities about them. Spirited Away is a beautiful film with feelings and conflicts that are relevant to all ages. Similarly, Wall-e is a moving film that contains some very sentimental scenes that adults can appreciate and relate to also. In addition, Wall-e explores many issues within society that children may not recognize as reflective of real life as adults would. Seeing how Wall-e and his friends were created as solutions to issues that we are currently inflicting upon ourselves resonates with an adult audience.
Recreating older movies to be more relevant to adult audiences is also a possibility. The new version of Beauty and the Beast had both child and adult audiences captivated as it pushed on some of the boundaries that traditionally restrict Disney films and told the story in a new way.

Jenny Huang said...

I rewatched Spirited Away after reading these articles. The movie had always reminded me of something that garnered interest beyond its target age, and I’m thinking that the reason for that is because of the very real adult morals/themes that are portrayed in the film. Like the BBC article “How do you make children’s films appeal to adults?” says, the movie has a subtext that only adults are capable of understanding. In Spirited Away, when Chihiro discovers that her parents have turned into pigs, it resonates with the theme of human greed. Chihiro is also constantly between a child-like attitude and adult demeanor – when Yubaba takes Chihiro’s name, she is forced to become almost adult-like in nature. Additionally, something else I had not noticed was the difference in clothing: Yubaba, an ‘evil’ and domineering character, is constantly dressed in Western garb, while Chihiro wears Japanese clothing. Her parents also represent the West; they drive in an Audi. Some of these things I would not have noticed in a children’s film if not for reading these articles. In the BBC article, they give plenty of examples about how children’s movies often appeal to all ages, whether they have funny “adult” jokes – like in Shrek – or because of an adult theme that children have yet to grasp – like in Toy Story. I love the idea that screenwriters are putting this much thought into their scripts – it is amazing that they can create something that is appropriate for both adults nad children alike.
I really liked the second article comparing Miyazaki & Pixar. I watched many of Miyazaki’s movies growing up, and always found them to have many more references to the real world and what the adult world was like than Pixar movies did. Like the article stated, Pixar movies had “good characters sound[ing] conventionally lovable, good and evil being clearly defined, and no ‘good’ character’s goal left unmet.” Miyazaki allows for much more of a grey area, where you are unsure if the characters are good or bad, or somewhere in-between – much like the real world and how it operates. Wes Anderson’s film Fantastic Mr. Fox also did a wonderful job of letting adutls into the film, whether it was the style of animation – stop motion – or because of the conflicts that Mr. Fox comes to. The conclusion is that the movie is catered to a child’s inner adult. My question is, how do we distinguish which audiences these animated films are catered to – an adult’s inner child, or a child’s inner adult?

Michael Mintz said...

Making a children story for adult viewers is often done in many movie and shows. Often to accommodate the adults who are forced to watch those shows with the adults. Often times using clever references to things why before the day the children where born. For example in Spongebob there were many episodes with references to 2001 Space odyssey. These small inclusion make a world of difference in the stories often giving the adult plenty of enjoyment including them into the process of watching or reading as well. In the Golden Compass the whole Anti-God view is well beyond the normal processing unit of many children. However for adults it allows them to view the authors opinion and agree or disagree with it while giving them a worthwhile prompt to think about. Such ideas or often what keep and adult reading certain books or what attracts them. The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe is another great example where the story itself on face value is just a fun jaunt through a fantasy land. Where the more astute reader realizes it’s a story that is an allegory for Jesus and god. Aslan being Jesus, and the edge of the world being heaven. Of course not all stories require deep political or religious ideas hidden inside them to attract adult readers it can just be a great and epic story like Lord of the Rings. Which really has no idea over then a person wanting to create a story for a language he made up.

Colleenie vonVorys-Norton said...

Having children's movies also be enjoyable for adults is a very good marketing plan. When adults are also about to enjoy the film, this opens the door for not only more ticket sales but also for assorted merchandise. Capitalism aside, having movies for all ages is a very interesting idea. In some movies, like Shrek, they have references and jokes to things that adults would enjoy. Nowadays, this idea has stepped up its game with movies like Zootopia. Zootopia plays with very complex themes like racial profiling, ptsd, and bullying. Throughout the film the main theme is that its predators that need to be contained and restricted because a few of them are going wind. This leads to the PTSD of the main fox character, Nick, flashes back to when he was a child and his friends turned on him and put a muzzle on him because he was a fox. This intense bullying scene also comes up in the beginning of the film where Judy, the main character, is bullied because she wants to become a police officer even though they are all predator animals. These themes are very intense but made manageable for children to understand and for adults to love. the The movie ends (Spoiler Alert) with everything turning out great and that the animals should not be seen as predator verses pray but as a collective unit of creatures. This teaches children that message while also creating a story line that adults will be able to enjoy and connect to the world.

Dan O'Connor said...

It is an interesting problem, having to make movies that fill that special spot of young and old enjoyment. The articles talked extensively of different films and how they try to work out a solution to this problem. Personally, I think the Shrek movies are a poor excuse for mixing adult and child entertainment. That kind of reference humor seems to me to only be fighting itself if the goal is to make one movie. I understand the idea of subtext, but these movies are not very subtle. When designing a movie around references you are going to cut out part of your audience. How then could adult and child bond over the experience of this film if they are watching two different movies? Maybe this provides some bit of humor in a dull children's movie, but I don't think this makes a good movie for the family. What I think is important is the focus on image and character emotion.
For a movie to go along with this post I might have gone a little off from the children's side, but I watched Moonrise Kingdom. As a film I think it captures well problems of identity and love, things which trouble kids and adults. I also think Wes Anderson is at his best when dealing with younger protagonists. The way that the film treats the romance of the kids and how the adults function around that world is done really well. There is a lot in that movie that a young persona and an adult can take away from it, but more importantly what they are watching is not fighting itself. The film is one entity designed to show an emotional bridge between adults and kids displaying their similarities.

Louise McSorley said...

When I was younger, I felt more connected to film than to books. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve always been an incredibly picky reader. I don’t know why, but I do believe that it’s made me a better writer. I also get more inspiration from movies than I do books (most of the time anyway). I adore film more than I adore most things. And I genuinely think that film for any age range can be appreciated by anyone—especially children’s films.
I have complicated feelings, though, because for almost four years now, I’ve worked at a movie theater. I’ve had the awesome yet very unfortunate pleasure to clean up theaters for movies like Frozen (never again, please no), Monster’s University, Moana, Despicable Me 2, and a lot others. Three out of the four movies mentioned were Disney/Pixar. Disney has perfected the way adults “should” watch kid movies. Even though the Rohrer article does not specifically mention Pixar/Disney, nearly all the movies discussed came from Disney/Pixar. Movies like The Lion King, Toy Story (and its sequels), Wall-E, Up are some of the most iconic and critically acclaimed movies ever—animated or not. They pushed animation technologies and what was possible for the storytelling medium. All while including “echoes Hamlet” or mimicking an “Apple mac booting.”
I re-watched the first Toy Story because the scene in the beginning of the movie when Mr. Potato Head says to Slinky, “Look! I’m Picasso!” when his face looks, literally, like a Picasso painting. Slinky has no idea what that means: he shakes his head and says “I don’t get it.” Mr. Potato Head then gets angry and yells “You uncultured swine!” to Slinky as he walks away. I recall this scene because I remember being really young watching this movie and also not understanding what Mr. Potato Head meant. But I laughed anyway when he makes fun of Slinky simply because it was mean and funny. Then, once older, I laughed even more because I had knowledge of Picasso—who doesn’t know Picasso? It was one of the first instances I can remember thinking “Wow, there must be loads of jokes like these in Toy Story!” And there was. Also, though one can argue most of Spongebob Squarepants winks a lot at adults, this was another cartoon I appreciated even more as I got older and re-watched some of the earliest episodes and the first—and best—Spongebob movie.

Leah Usefara said...

I always liked to think of myself as a child at heart. Whenever a Disney or Pixar movie came out, I would go see it with my friends. I remember being in High school and taking my two friends with me to watch Brave in theaters and surrounded by kids. Interestingly, my friends and I laughed at different moments in the film than the kids. I can't remember why, but maybe it did have something to do with that divide; some jokes are aimed at children and others at adults. But yeah, it doesn't mean an adult can't enjoy a movie meant for children.
I remember someone saying that just because it's a kids movie doesn't mean it has to be stupid and animated kids shows and movies these days talk about very serious things while still having an appeal for children. Zootopia balances its dark and light subjects. Although children won't understand that it's about racism relating to real life, they understand the concept of judging someone based on their appearance and see how bad it is in subtle movements, like the scene where a mother bunny holds her baby bunny closer to her when a big tiger sits down next to her who's watching something on his Ipad with a smile. Children may not be able to articulate how exactly these themes relate with real life, but they understand the concept and dissect the movement around it.
I know when I was a child watching Princess Mononoke, I didn't know what pollution really was, but I knew about dirtying the forest and killing its creatures. I love Miyazaki films and I love the gray scale of bad that's in them. The waste witch in Howl's moving castle becomes a sweet old lady, the overseer in Princess Mononoke wants to help her people, Noh mask in Spirited Away wanted a friend, and Kiki's Delivery Service didn't have a villain (unless you count the little bitch who didn't want her grandma's fish pot pie). I know that Disney has some of the most fascinating, memorable, and colorful villains, but they need reasons for their actions that could be elaborated. I think maybe the audience is supposed to take some of their lines and figure out what happened on their own, because we don't know what makes people do what they do to such an extent. Although I don't completely agree with it, maybe the past doesn't matter, it's the villain's ultimate choices and actions that decide how they're seen.

Crystal Lam said...

Growing up, Miyazaki films were just as important to me as Disney films. Where Lion King and Pocahontas had the amazing songs and lovable characters, Studio Ghibli movies made me tear up without quite knowing why (it also had great instrumental music). In recent years, I have rewatched many Miyazaki films just to truly appreciate them as an adult and understand their deeper meanings. For the post, I rewatched NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind. This was one of the first Studio Ghibli movies I watched as a child and since then have not had the chance to revisit since it is such an old movie. As a child, I had watched it with Chinese dubs which was a completely different experience. After seeing the movie, I realized where my fear of bugs may have come from. The Ohms are humongously terrifying (is that a made up word?)! This further illustrates the point that these movies are not aimed at a specific audience. While it looks like just another anime for kids, there are so many sophisticated meanings buried in the characters' actions. One of the things I really appreciated about Miyazaki movies is the strong female leads. Rather than having helpless princesses who wait for a prince to rescue them, the heroines in Studio Ghibli movies are independent and powerful in their own ways. This is one of the largest differences between Disney and Miyazaki for me. Like the Seitz article says, Miyazaki is like the grandfather who changes children's lives. It is where a child can look to for meaningful messages and lessons. Disney, the babysitter, is there to mesmerize, fascinating children but staying clear of controversial topics. While I have never watched "Fantastic Mr. Fox," it seems to align with the values of a Studio Ghibli film to appeal to a child's inner adult and teach them about issues from pollution to death and extinction.
The BBC article also mentions some valid points. I remember watching movies with my parents and asking them why they laughed at certain points. They never explained many of the instances because the references were before my time and not relevant to a child. I appreciate that Ghibli films are timeless and in thirty years, people can still understand the messages without needing to have lived in the 80s. While many Universal films have the ability to appeal to adults and children alike, the BBC article is correct in pointing out that sometimes they go too far. It is good for a movie to be aimed at a broad audience but trying too hard can also backfire.

Katie Steely-Brown said...

As a kid growing up, I was never a big fan of books that were solely marketed to children. I liked children’s and young adult literature, yes, but I liked the books in that genre that adults also read widely. The children in these books were written less like adults trying to remember what they thought and felt as a child (and failing to do so correctly) but written in a way that highlighted the inner adult that is in every child. The Harry Potter books were particularly good at this. Harry and his friends were treated like children by the adults in their lives, but so many scenes in the book showed the problems that were caused by them not being treated like they were smart and mature (like they actually were). This is why books that appeal to a child’s inner adult do so well with actual adult readers, though— they actually feel nostalgic to adults because that is how they remember their childhood being. Books that write children as overly immature aren’t relatable because no one was as immature or not understanding of the world as a child as portrayals of children describe. Adults might not even realize it if they have reached the point in their life where they forget kids have very mature, deep thoughts and opinions too, but books that appeal to a child’s “inner adult” appeal to an adult’s “inner child” because it feels more realistic to the memory of their own childhood. This is found in pretty much of all the children’s books and book series that are also popular with adults — Narnia, The Hobbit, Matilda, The Giver, and more.
The themes in books like these are also far more timeless than in very “children” level children’s and young adult books. New children’s and young adult fiction tries to keep up with the times so to speak, often discussing new technology, memes, and other things that can alienate adults, especially as modern topics will be outdated and useless in a short period of time — even in only a year in some cases. Children’s books that appeal to adults often do not do this, allowing an adult to pick up the book at anytime in their life and still be able to relate to the nostalgia of being a kid, no matter how old they get.

Richard Urquiza said...

The challenge in making a children’s movie gripping for adults is the same as the challenge as making a film mentally stimulating for children. Over all, if a movie deals with themes that challenge a child’s way of thinking, or at the very least gets them thinking, an adult will be able to find a connection with it. Adults and children are both humans after all, and can be gripped with the same themes. Fear works similarly. In a lot of horror works meant for children, the writer approaches the scares with more subtlety, often with building of tension or visuals. Adults often appreciate this method more than the recycled are predicable tactics used in horror movies for adults. Children’s horror is very unique, with inventive monster designs. A recent example of this would be the strange threats found by Wart and Greg in Over the Garden Wall.

The method of placing underlined themes in children media that only adults will understand, such as the one talked about it the BBC article, is one I consider less desirable, but still affective. One way to use it is to insert inside jokes. Sometimes the jokes will be low brow, like a simple innuendo. However sometimes there is a clever refinement to the humor, such as in Rango, when the titular character bumps in to Raul Duke on his way to Las Vegas. In addiction to entertaining adults at the time of its release, the jokes can provide a lot of rewatchability to a film once the child grows up, as like discovering treasure in a familiar location.

Melissa Cecchini said...

I think that marketing a "children's" movie towards adults isn't as hard as most people think it is. Especially as the next generation starts to reach adulthood. A lot of people grew up on Disney movies, and they like to return to these kinds of movies as a way to escape back to their childhood. That being said though, there is some work that needs to be done so that adults don't feel like they're strapped into their booster seat to watch the newest episode of Sesame Street fifteen years later.

This is where the balance between a children's and an adult's movie comes in. Entertaining the children isn't too difficult - the songs and the characters and the colors are the parts that really are for the younger audiences. But that's also not to say they can't connect with the big emotional moments. I remember going to see Frozen in theaters and at the part where Hans betrays Anna, I remember there was a child in the row in front of me, couldn't have been more two or three, and she just went wide-eyed and she leaned forward with her mouth wide opened. I don't know whether she understood what was happening, but the emotional feel of the whole movie at that moment was not lost on her, and she reacted in the way that she was meant too.

So yes, while children do get something out of the emotions of a movie, the larger implications are really where you get the adults. Because I think the older we get the more we look for connections. We look for things that remind of our own experiences and feelings in such a familiar childhood format to give us comfort as we grow up and grow out of what the superficial "target audience" of these movies is. While the low brow, adult humor is an easy shot towards adults, I think it's a cheap shot. I think to give the adults the comfort they need with movies that say "hey you're getting older and that sucks but you don't have to completely grow up", that's more important.

Sara Hankins said...

Reading Seitz's article about his appreciation for Miyazaki and his work had me grinning. I've seen nearly all of his films multiple times, and I remember distinctly watching Princess Mononoke with my little brother. Being his first time watching the movie, I turn to him to explain how the main "antagonist" is actually more than that. She wishes to take down the forest spirit and indeed wants to rule the world, yet at the same time she gives jobs to lepers and to women that were oppressed before moving to her Irontown. While explaining this to my brother, however, I began to realize that this description of a gray area character actually fits well into many, if not all, of Miyazaki's films. While I love my classic Disney and Pixar, subtle adult jokes aside, the complexity and beauty of Miyazaki's work keeps me and other fans coming back to his worlds time and time again.

With this in mind, I rewatched Zootopia, a Disney movie about a rabbit who wants to become a police officer. The main theme that this movie addresses is race, as much of the citizens of Zootopia are divided, even if subconsciously, into predator vs. prey. Even this theme can get complex, as at first it would seem like the prey are discriminated against as it takes a very long time for the rabbit to get onto the predator dominated police force. As the story develops though, a case pops up that seems to target predators. Suddenly the movie is about trying to treat all the citizens fairly, whether they are predator or prey, and I have to give a nod to Disney at not only making a fun and relatable movie about racism and acceptance, but making it so that no matter what side a person views the issue, their thoughts and opinions can be reflected.

Elaina Yu said...

I think the point that the first article makes about the ultimate film should be able to appeal to an audience of all ages is true. But I don’t think every movie is trying – or should try to – be the “ultimate movie.”
Between Pixar and Miyazaki, they cover most of my favorite movies ever. However, I think it’s what Matt Zoller talks about in his article. Pixar is wonderful and great with its gorgeous animations and storylines that hits me right in the emotions. But it barely scratches the capacity that Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli studios can accomplish.
Miyazaki understands the strangely beautiful and terrifying expanse of a child’s imagination. The ease they accept the fluidity and weird concepts that are in Miyazaki’s style are something that can’t be explained and haunts the mind. There is nothing they can’t accept and that is a responsibility that Miyazaki understands and holds dear. The first time I watched Spirited Away, I was thirteen. I was terrified in the same way watching a disaster happen – I couldn’t look away. I was enthralled. It excited me in a deep phsycological way in both the art itself, but also how the artistic style echoed the style of the Chinese animated movies I watched as a child. And once I started watching, I would never be able to stop.
I’ve always believed the quote “The creative adult is the child who survived.” Adults have more responsibilities and life experience, but they shouldn’t stop being children. So, I think all adult movies are for adults. But all movies markets as children’s movies are for everyone, because you need to be able to teach lessons that parents can’t or are afraid to teach.

ALEX LYU said...

A good film transcends strict guidelines of target audience, to a certain extent. While the purposely niche definitely has its own merit, relying too heavily on the guidelines of some artificial boundary is ultimately stifling and limiting. Personally, I love Miyazaki's work, and I consider his movies to stand among, or some even above, the best of Disney or Pixar. They have such a beautiful, wistful feel to them, and they flow together so well, in story, theme, art, and score. I wasn't too surprised to see that a movie about some Asian girl fighting Japanese animated demons didn't do amazingly well in the United States. He is a foreign director, didn't have nearly the advertising budget nor connections, and honestly, people in America don't want to watch a movie like this unless they want to watch an "Asian move." The themes and archetypes are very strange for people only familiar with US/Euro things, and thus can be alienating. There is also the fact that the voice actors are people trying to emulate the ORIGINAL voice actors, so once removed. I think Miyazaki achieves the fine line between entertaining children and adults well, and provides quality entertainment for the whole family.
Ultimately, there is always going to be a divide of rating in order to "protect" children and to easily categorize things. As much as having everything just be whatever it wants to be sounds liberating and interesting, it's currently impractical unless A) the morals of our society shift a bit and B) marketers find a way to properly package the information in efficient ways. It is true that our culture has already changed with the advent of the internet, and every X amount of years, the subject matter that was viewed as inappropriate Y years ago is considered fine, so I have no doubt that some changes will be implemented, whether de facto or not.