Animation and the National Ethos: the American Dream, Socialist Realism, and Russian émigrés in France

Jennifer Boivin
2017
Animation is seen as the innocent child of contemporary media and is often considered innocuous and juvenile in general popular culture. This might explain why it is still a marginal field. Perhaps this perception is influenced by the mass media of animation being mostly aimed at children, or at least perceived as such. This thesis specifically focuses on animated films' aesthetic and content in relation to their particular cultural context and ethos, or national ideology. I investigate the
more » ... ican Dream, Soviet Socialism, and a Russian émigré ethos in France to show how seemingly similar content can carry unique ideological messages in different cultural contexts. Therefore, my film analyses examine the way animation is used as a medium to carry specific meaning on the screen, expressing this ethos. The national ethos is manifest in beliefs and aspirations of a community, culture, and era, and it promotes a certain cultural unity and order. It is a form of nationalism oriented towards utopian values rather than clear civic or political engagement. It can be politicised as well as individualised. This idealised ethos remains a largely constructed paradigm on which the regular citizen (and the audience) should model his behaviour. In this thesis, I propose that animation is not only a form of entertainment, but also a possible mechanism of social control through national ideas, responding to prevailing cultural and social conditions. In some cases, as in the American Dream and the Soviet national models, the Dr. Micah True, my supervisor, for countless hours of work, comments, specification on English, and discussion, but also for his dedication into orienting my career. This thesis project could never have been possible without his input and he certainly deserves a part of the success of this dissertation. Dr. Alla Nedashkivska for accepting the challenge of being on my supervisory committee, for her comments on the thesis, and support of my academic career. Her humour, dedication, and energy had stayed an important inspiration since the day she taught me. Dr. William Beard, who also accepted to be part supervisory committee. His knowledge of cinema and challenging comments helped in shaping this research project. His contribution on this thesis and on my scholarly development has been invaluable.
doi:10.7939/r3s17t66h fatcat:gnhy4zlmzzcavk2aqh3ygypjtq