Booklet Overview: “Dreamworks Animation: Intertextuality And Aesthetics In ‘Shrek’ And Beyond”

Dreamworks Animation: Intertextuality and Aesthetics in “Shrek” and beyond by using Sam Summers. Palgrave Macmillan, 242 pp., 2020.

whereas Pixar tends to get the entire love, plant life, and swooning for his or her impact on the GC animated feature, Sam Summers suggests that “on a story and tonal stage” the have an impact on of Dreamworks Animation has been extra profound.

In his new booklet, Summers, a lecturer in animation background and thought on the U.Ok.’s Middlesex school, argues that Dreamworks prompted a rupture within the animation trade. It did this with its pop-culture nods and winks (or “애니추천” if you choose a greater scientific label, nearly as good academic soldier Summers does); contemporary pop songs; movie star voice actors; and use of satire, parody, and pastiche. This, in his view, is primarily authentic of Megamind, Kung Fu Panda, Bee film, Shark Tale, and the Madagascar and Shrek franchises.

This animation method, as Summers acknowledges, changed into no longer absolutely resourceful. Tex Avery at MGM, Looney Tunes, etc frequently played around with the audience with the aid of making modern references, breaking the fourth wall, and very nearly by no means allowing the audience to overlook that they’re watching a silly work of fiction. Nonetheless, within the context of American studio animated points of the early 21st century, the Dreamworks method felt quite clean. Dreamworks become on no account the first to use celebrities as voice actors, however, based on Summers, their first 31 movies featured 310 standard actors.

For Summers, Dreamworks’ playful, self-referential narrative approach marked a wreck from the extra dominant “functional” worlds of Disney and Pixar facets. (“practical” is a tricky notice to make use of with animation, but what Summers seems to suggest is that Disney and Pixar movies create generally logical self-contained worlds. You typically don’t see Elsa, Raya, Woody, or Buzz acknowledging the audience or making pop way of life references like in, say, Shrek.)

This “Shrekoning”, as Summers phrases it, eventually brought on a breakup from the dominant Disney mannequin as more and more studios (e.G. Blue Sky, Nickelodeon, and Sony) embraced Dreamworks extra contemporary, self-referential, pastiche-heavy tone. Even Disney aspects, like Ralph, Breaks the web, have fallen in line with the strong use of meta-humor.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”: Dreamworks’ 2002 feature sang from the same hymn sheet as Disney’s animated elements of the Nineties, writes Summers

In every chapter, Summers offers a desirable and targeted breakdown of what he sees as a major attribute of Dreamworks movies, such as comedy, tune, movie star voice actors, or satire/pastiche. (there’s additionally a “bonus” section specializing in how the studio’s works were reappropriated online using fan-created memes and videos.)

the usage of a mixture of animation/cultural studies references — Paul Wells, Maureen Furniss, Umberto Eco — together with a litany of examples from different Dreamworks films (most prominently Shrek), Summers also attempts to find the impact these characteristics have on the story (e.G. How using a selected pop tune can impart desiring to a scene totally via its lyrics) or on the characters (e.G. A character performed using Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, or Will Ferrell goes to come back preloaded with expectations from a viewer).

Summers acknowledges the limits of Dreamworks’ subversiveness. The “narrative-cartoon mode” of their movies didn’t put an end to the Disney mannequin (Summers notes that even Dreamworks made Disneyesque films like the Prince of Egypt and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron). And as Summers rightly elements out, Shrek failed to upend Disney’s princess archetype. Fiona, for all her belching and kung-fu strikes, remains frequently a “damsel in distress.”

meanwhile, Shark’s tale is hampered by cultural stereotypes: Italian American actors play gangsters, African Americans play “hustlers.” Summers writes: “[T]he likes of Shrek and Shark story celebrate the ‘irreverence’ of their fantastical protagonists while failing to reconcile the racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes and inequalities that their reviews tangentially invoke … [T]his ‘irreverence’ masquerading as subversion means that it can not basically be observed that, ideologically talking, the studio’s CG films symbolize a considerable affront to Disney within the manner that Warner Bros.’ Golden Age work has been argued to do.”

subsequently, Dreamworks didn’t absolutely rewrite the Disney formula. In some situations, it followed the Disney playbook reasonably intently. The studio’s effect on the trade has been giant, however, stops short of progressive.