Animators mistreated in the entertainment industry

Diego Hernandez, Co-Editor-in-Chief

In the past decade, animation has made major strides. From major feature films like ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ getting critical recognition to animated shows like Netflix’s ‘Arcane’ or Disney’s ‘The Owl House’, animation fans are getting more quality content than ever before. There’s no doubt animation has been the best it’s ever been.

However, under the beautiful animation, there are issues in the community. From overworked animators, major budget cuts, and even sexual misconduct, animation, unfortunately, has many issues in its industry that aren’t discussed enough.

Last month, Discovery+ and HBO Max announced a merger, in which the 2 streaming services will be combined into one streaming service in 2023. During an investor call, it was revealed that many shows were being cut from the streaming service. The list of shows includes the critically acclaimed “Infinity Train”, “Close Enough”, which is made by Regular Show’s creator J.G. Quintel, and other famous cartoons such as “Uncle Grandpa” and “OK K.O.! – Let’s Be Heroes”.

Upon the news, many famous figures in the community expressed their frustration with the matter. “As for HBO Max’s horrifying and idiotic decision to kill countless wonderful shows to pinch pennies, go check them out before they’re gone! And once they are, well, Yar Har Fiddle Dee Dee”, said Alex Hirsch, creator of “Gravity Falls”, on Twitter, encouraging fans to pirate the shows once they’re off HBO.

Although animated shows getting cancelled is unfortunate, the treatment of animators in the industry can be far worse. MAPPA is currently one of the biggest anime studios, with their biggest project being Attack On Titan Season 4. Mushiyo, a popular Japanese animator who quit MAPPA, claimed many of the allegations against the animation company were true in a series of tweets. He compared it to working at a factory and criticized MAPPA’s choice to work on 4 shows at the same time.

Another Japanese animation studio, Madhouse studio, known for Japanese films like Perfect Blue and Paprika, was being accused of violating labor codes. Employees worked nearly 400 hours per month and went 37 consecutive days without a day off. Investigators even found out that an animator who used to work there but died by suicide, had also worked more than 600 hours in the month leading up to his death.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment isn’t an uncommon thing to happen in the entertainment industry as a whole. And it’s just as common in the animation industry. John Lasseter, the founder of Pixar and a writer for Toy Story 1 and 2, left Pixar after multiple sexual harassment allegations were made against him after working there for 32 years. A longtime Pixar employee claimed Lasseter hugged many members of the entertainment community, but was also known for “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”

Chris Savino, most commonly known as the creator of the Nickelodeon show, “The Loud House”, had faced a union trial by the Animation Guild, a labor union with animators and writers. He was accused of sexually harassing women in the industry for almost 14 years. The oldest out of the 11 allegations was made by Anne Walker Farrell, previously a director on “Bojack Horseman”, who said Savino had attempted to convince her to send him explicit images when she was just starting out in the industry.

Many of the victims of these allegations had come out during the wave of the #Metoo movement around 2017, where victims of sexual abuse spoke out about their horrible treatment from powerful people in the entertainment industry, and more and more victims felt comfortable speaking about their experiences.
Although animation is a fantastic way of storytelling, it is important to acknowledge and speak out about the issues behind the scenes. If we want more stories like ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ and ‘Arcane’, we need to help the storytellers who make them, and make sure they’re personal stories aren’t unheard.