Take the Stick

Just as they did to “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Jungle Book”, Disney is translating several more of their 2D animated classics into live-action movies – like “The Lion King”, “Aladdin”, and “Dumbo.” As part of the classic 2D animation industry, I have to admit I feel a little defensive.

I don’t think there’s any way in which any of these films could be improved. I think they’re perfect just they way they are.

I think I understand the marketing behind it, though. They likely want to make these films relevant to modern audiences. But in remaking them, they’re taking a big step away from the traditional animation many people grew up with. It is, in essence, a rejection of a centuries-old cinematic style.

But rejection is no stranger to any creative. It is the fear in the heart of every artist. The fear that their art, their communication, is negated in its value or importance.

That somehow their work has fallen short, isn’t good enough, hasn’t met some criteria and therefore is unacceptable.

There’s a great short film related to the subject by Oscar nominated animator Don Hertzfeldt (a hero of mine) called ‘Rejected‘. In it, he illustrates the deterioration of the artist’s psyche as rejection mounts over time. It’s strange and hilarious, I recommend it highly.

“Rejected” by Don Hertzfeldt

The problem is, even with the rejection, art needs to be expressed anyway. Artists have to feed the dragon that needs to reveal itself, even if it ends up eating them emotionally.

Art gives ‘love’ form and risks injuring itself through rejection.

Artists do the work in spite of the rejection, or because of it. Artists do the work because creativity is about the compelling need to communicate – it’s about the telling, showing, explaining, moving, expressing. All of that, all of it, needs a receiver, a listener, even if it’s only an audience of one. And that equation gives birth to the potential for rejection. You never know how your art is going to be received.

The truth of the matter is that there will always be rejection. Always. And, deep down inside, so will be the fear of that rejection.

So you take that rejection, you take that fear and –

“…you can either run from it, or, learn from it…so what are you going to do?” (Rafiki – “The Lion King” 1994)

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