Drawn to television: Amercian animated SF series of the 1980s

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    Abstract

    Much attention has been paid to sf film and more recently television, yet animation, as part of these media, is still a relatively untouched area within sf scholarship. Perhaps because of the controversial and somewhat inaccurate perception, noted by Paul Wells, that animation is ‘an innocent medium, ostensibly for children, and largely dismissed in film histories’ (Understanding 187), sf scholars have ignored the plethora of animated media texts that can be considered part of the genre because sf on television has itself at times been accused of such childish things. Seemingly bucking this trend are the Japanese anime features, such as Akira (Otomo Japan 1988) and Ghost in the Shell (Oshii Japan 1995), which have attracted more scholarly interest, not least because of their ‘mature’ subject matter, graphic depictions of violence and thematic concerns with the cyborg, technology and the claustrophobic urban environments of dystopian futures. Animated sf on television, particularly American, is largely ignored since it both attracts a young audience and is emblematic of the insidious nature of the television industry, whereby only the potential for a show to make advertisers – and thereby the networks – money drives the production of new content. This drive for profit, seeing the audience as merely consumers, is one of the reasons why animation took so long to embed itself in prime-time schedules. While this essay is an attempt to address the imbalance in sf scholarship, to bring a focus on television animation, I cannot claim to discuss every series there has been. I do suggest, however, that by paying closer attention to the historical, industrial and cultural contexts of just a few examples of the animated genre we can see how important and influential they have been and continue to be today.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)287-300
    Number of pages14
    JournalScience Fiction Film and Television
    Volume3
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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