Stylized art WINS! Whoo hoo!


So, Cartoon Network's Samurai Jack won an Emmy in the category of "Outstanding Animated Program (under one hour)." To do so, they beat out Futurama, The Simpsons, South Park, and Spongebob Squarepants.

I like everything on that list (well, almost everything. South Park has gotten pretty old and tired, and I've never cottoned to Spongebob, though I can accept it's skilled in its own way), but I'm glad to see that when the field of cartoons up for the Emmy is humor, four out of five, it's the dramatic show that actually won. If we're going to start edging towards an America where animation is considered a serious art form, we need to have recognition of artistic achievement that goes beyond "made a good pop culture reference or fart joke."

Yeah, I know. The Simpsons is brilliant. Futurama deserved better its whole run. South Park consistently exceeded its crudity to achieve true commentary and hilarity. Spongebob Squarepants lives in a pineapple under the sea. I grant you all of these things. But just like we're fighting hard to break the idea that "if it's a cartoon, it must be for kids," we need to break the idea that "if it's a cartoon, it has to be about the Funny instead of the Story." Samurai Jack is stylized and beautiful. It employs sophisticated storytelling techniques, frenetic action, true pathos, and gorgeous design. It challenges the viewer all of the time. And while it uses humor sometimes, it's not supposed to be funny all the time.

And it's not arthouse fare. It's meant to be competitive in the mass market.

It's nice there are five good shows up for that Emmy in the first place. It's even nicer The Simpsons or Futurama didn't take it pro forma. And it's nicer still that the show going for the aesthetic instead of sight gags took the prize.

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