If you have children, care for them, or are a big grown up kid you recognize some of these characters right? I want to ask you the viewer about the reach and impact animated films/TV have on kids and culture. Beyond these five Disney characters, what cartoon series or animated film do you know of with an Asian American main character? Got one? Good, now look up the highest grossing 100 animated films/shows via wikipedia. How many of Asian American characters are present? Are the stories fun, silly, serious, preachy, informative, realistic, visible, or invisible? How do you feel about people challenging Hollywood (animated studios make blockbusters too) for whitewashing characters based on Asian or Asian American stories or not including Asians at all if it’s not an animal? If all children could see themselves represented prominently in billboards, bus ads, backpacks, toys, and films would that make a difference? More directly, how would films/shows about Asian American life, culture, and backgrounds help our kids feel understood, loved, or proud when they are not in our presence? PLEASE do me a favor and watch the most recent of these “Sanjay’s Super Team”. I think it speaks volumes about these questions without trying to preach or put anyone down.
Sources: Up, Lilo & Stitch, Big Hero 6, Mulan, Sanjay’s Super Team
Dig this? Check out this portrait of model maker/SFX artist Fon Davis
I cannot wait to see this short. It will be the first time I get to see Sanjay Patel’s work like this and it will be one of very few times when I’ve seen a major film company like DreamWorks or Pixar dedicate the time and promotion to a story featuring a young child of color. I think if you asked most staff they would say they just want to tell a great story, which I wholeheartedly agree with. But, I don’t think they fully understand and appreciate just how much nuance, light, darkness, bravery, triumph, humanity is dedicated to white characters / children’s stories. That devotion whether intentional or not teaches people about white people. But, children of color whether they are from India, Pakistan, Ghana, Tanzania, Mexico, or Cuba need to see themselves reflected in the same complexity too. And white kids need to see this as well because when you can feel for someone, understand who they are and where they come from, there is less ignorance, racism, fear, xenophobia, and prejudice that translates to laws, procedures, borders, walls, murders, etc.
Listen to this interview w/ Sanjay Patel
Here is the trailer for his short film “Sanjay’s Super Team” which I am more excited about seeing than the film it proceeds.