The global animation industry is growing very fast, as practitioners, we are all caught up in the excitement of producing our own animated creations to keep abreast of trends and take advantage of the “hype”. However, there is a tendency to blindly follow animation styles that are already well established in popular culture. Located in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is strategically situated between the East and West and sandwiched between the great civilizations of China and India; thus it has always been exposed to different cultural influences that have shaped its local culture. Therefore, cultural adaptability and hybridity have always been unique features of Malaysia.
Looking at our rich culture with indispensable values, we should have animation products that somehow reflect our legacy, unfortunately, our local animation industries are still searching for its 'stands'. Why is our local animation industry always looking to foreign animation genres for inspiration and guidance, especially when these styles encourage questionable values rather than bringing moral benefits? Why do we care more about the technology used to deliver these entertainment rather than the basic human values that we should, theoretically, treasure the most? Why are the fundamental moral issues being neglected? Moral and ethical issues that are fundamental to a society’s well-being are often dismissed by most viewers, especially when the entertainment factor is so high that the prime reason for watching is enjoyment at the expense of social and moral concerns. The tendency of children to mimic what they have seen from animated programmes, such as using harsh words against their peers and talking back to their parents, is a tangible phenomenon that can be observed. What kind of entertainment should they be allowed to watch? In terms of animation, what kind of programmes should be encouraged, local or foreign?
Younger generation is very much exposed and easily influenced by things that they see everyday. Prime entertainment especially television (TV) has become the most ‘popular’ source of daily informal lessons. TV has become the second classroom after school. Anything seen on TV is perceived to be ‘cool’ by these children. Animation is observed to be the highly watched programmes by young children. If the animations they watch are educational based programmes, then they are fine. But when they watch animations other than from the Playhouse Disney channel, then the credibility of those programmes is very much questionable.
Issues in Animation to be Looked Into
There are three main issues being identified to be the major influences of animations to the audience: • Foreign Influences
• Cultural Stereotyping
• Local Contents and Elements
• Foreign Influences
Imported animated movies have become important sources of entertainment to young and old Malaysians. People tend to get influenced very easily with what they see every day, and therefore, our minds are set to accept those kind of values without many questions. Also, with cable TV channels like Astro that has become a lot cheaper and more accessible, Malaysians are exposed to a wide varieties of entertainment. With all these lavish exposures, the issue now becomes more obvious, most of our local audience are morally inclined to the foreign 'norms' and 'values' that they see through imported entertainment and media.
Because of the influences from tons of imported entertainment, most of Malaysian animators have an established mindset (thinking that western or foreign style is ‘the style’ to achieve). This makes it more difficult to evaluate our achievement and finally set our own ‘values’. Majority of our locally produced animation productions somewhat reveal that we have a crisis of identity and this issue is indirectly affecting the audience. Our...