Phil Lord and Hollywood’s Animators Slam Oscars for ‘Belittling’ Animation Categories

“Super cool to position animation as something that kids watch and adults have to endure,” the “Lego Movie” director tweeted

Encanto animation Oscars
Encanto (Walt Disney)

While “Encanto” spent a lot of time in the Oscars spotlight with a Best Animated Feature win and two songs performed during Sunday night’s awards, many animators in Hollywood were not happy with the jokes made by the presenters about how animated films are for kids.

When presenters Halle Bailey, Lily James and Naomi Scott — actresses who starred in live-action remakes of Disney animated films — came out to present the award, the script provided for them by the Oscars’ writing staff included remarks on how animated movies are “formative experiences” for kids who watch them “over and over.”

“I see some parents who know exactly what we’re talking about,” quipped Scott.

But a lot of animators on Twitter resented the joke, including “The Lego Movie” co-director Phil Lord, who tweeted sarcastically that it was “super cool to position animation as something that kids watch and adults have to endure.”

Many others in the industry echoed Lord’s frustration with the hashtag #NewDeal4Animation, which has been used over the past few months as a rallying cry for members of The Animation Guild (TAG) demanding higher pay for animation workers and a nationwide expansion of IATSE’s animation contract with Hollywood studios, among other labor demands. Hundreds of TAG members gathered in Burbank last weekend for a solidarity rally as the guild’s negotiating committee continued its contract talks.

“We spend YEARS pitching, writing, storyboarding, designing, directing, and rewriting only to have our medium spoken down to and publicly mocked at less than half the price of our colleagues in live-action,” tweeted Shannon Tindle, whose animation credits include storyboard artist and co-writer of the Oscar-nominated film “Kubo and the Two Strings.”

Ironically, there was someone at the Oscars urging people to view the medium as more than just for children. Alberto Mielgo, who won in the Best Animated Short category for his film “The Windshield Wiper,” used his acceptance speech to declare that “animation is an art that includes every single kind of art you can imagine.” His speech was one of eight that was edited into the live broadcast after being moved into a pre-taped segment.

“Animation for adults is a fact,” Mielgo said. “It’s happening. Let’s call it cinema.”