Animated Film and Disability
Published by: Indiana University Press
While many live-action films portray disability as a spectacle, "crip animation" (a genre of animated films that celebrates disabled people's lived experiences) uses a variety of techniques like clay animation, puppets, pixilation, and computer-generated animation to represent the inner worlds of people with disabilities. Crip animation has the potential to challenge the ableist gaze and immerse viewers in an alternative bodily experience.
In Animated Film and Disability, Slava Greenberg analyzes over 30 animated works about disabilities, including Rocks in My Pockets, An Eyeful of Sound, and A Shift in Perception. He considers the ableism of live-action cinematography, the involvement of filmmakers with disabilities in the production process, and the evocation of the spectators' senses of sight and hearing, consequently subverting traditional spectatorship and listenership hierarchies. In addition, Greenberg explores physical and sensory accessibility in theaters and suggests new ways to accommodate cinematic screenings.
Offering an introduction to disability studies and crip theory for film, media, and animation scholars, Animated Film and Disability demonstrates that crip animation has the power to breach the spectator's comfort, evoking awareness of their own bodies and, in certain cases, their social privileges.
PREFACE: CALL ME TRANS-CRIP
INTRODUCTION: ANIMATION, DISABILITY, AND SPECTATORSHIP
1. RESISTING THE ABLEIST GAZE: BETWEEN MAINTREAM AND EXPERIMENTAL FORMS
2. EMBODYING SPECTATORSHIP: INTERSUBJECTIVE WAYS OF BEING-IN-THE-WORLD
3. BLINDING THE SPECTATOR: NON-VISION-CENTRIC PLEASURES
4. DEAFENING THE SPECTATOR: RETHINKING SONIC PLEASURES AND AUDISM
5. TOWARD ACCESSIBLE SPECTATORSHIPS
"A tour de force that will enrich the way we experience and value our diverse embodiments both personally and socially, Animated Film and Disability: Cripping Spectatorship is an immensely important and much needed contribution not only to film and media studies but also to the humanities and social sciences. Taking some (but not all) of the 'dis' out of 'disability,' Greenberg approaches embodiment through the metamorphic plasmatics of animation. This strikingly original and expansive critical strategy and its highlighted films give shape and subjective voice to a variety of 'crip' ways of 'being in the world,' that may also 'crip' these films' spectators, who sense (if not re-cognize) the various onscreen possibilities and probabilities of their own embodied and ever-mutable animation."~Vivian Sobchack, author of Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image
"In Animated Film and Disability, Slava Greenberg opens up a theory of 'crip animation' that grapples with the fullness of disability, queer, and trans experience. Applying a phenomenological approach, the book enables the radical basis of the animated film genre's alternative world-building objectives to surface. No longer child's play, animation operationalizes plastic universes to destabilize viewers' and normative film conventions that typically structure the visual, auditory, and cognitive processing fields. In doing so, Greenberg unveils the political possibilities of disability representation and its potential to upend the over-worn expectations of cinematic normalcy."~David T. Mitchell, George Washington University
"In this fresh and exciting study, Greenberg offers an engaging account of animation's unique potential to reflect disability experiences beyond live-action's usual realism, didacticism, and stereotypes. Greenberg argues convincingly that animation can express disabled people's interior worlds in imaginative ways that can provoke a multisensory response, moving audiences beyond the empathic to an embodied prefiguration of worlds made possible by disabled ways of being. Animated Films and Disability is essential reading for anyone interested in film and social justice."~Carrie Sandahl, Professor and Director of the Program on Disability Art, Culture and Humanities, Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago
"Is it possible to understand others' experiences of embodied difference or disability? In Slava Greenberg's investigation of crip animation, we see how the imaginative possibilities of animation challenge cinematic expectations of non-disabled spectatorship, producing novel sensorial experiences that offer affirmation for disabled spectators and challenge non-disabled spectators to moments of productive disorientation. Through such cinematic efforts, perhaps we may find points of connection and possibilities for anti-ableist change in the theater and beyond."~Elizabeth Ellcessor, author of Restricted Access: Media, Disability, and the Politics of Participation
"Through a creative use of many examples, Animated Film and Disability moves readers to consider the able-ist gaze that forms the content and perception of cinematic renderings of disability. Slava Greenberg invites us, both spectators and theorists, to detach ourselves from our typical perceptions of disability as a method to get in touch with alternative relations forged through a focus on crip subjectivities and viewpoints. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the power of perception as a political and creative site of inquiry."~Tanya Titchkosky, author of Reading and Writing Disability Differently: The Textured Life of Embodiment
"Animated Film and Disability: Cripping Spectatorship offers a much needed interdisciplinary intervention by interrogating cinema's 'ableist gaze' and theorizing animated media's capacity to subvert it. Poised to become a foundational text in disability studies and animation studies alike, Greenberg's groundbreaking and timely study deftly combines phenomenological analysis and critical disability theory, defining a rigorous, inclusive framework for the study of disabled subjectivities and their transformative potential."~Mihaela Mihailova, editor of Coraline: A Closer Look at Studio LAIKA's Stop-Motion Witchcraft
"Slava Greenberg's Animated Film and Disability is not just about disabled characters or creators, it is about how we take in, sense, and are immersed within animated media – what this does to our bodies and minds – or bodyminds – and how this spectatorship forms new relationships between bodyminds. Readers of this compelling, clear, and beautifully-written book, like spectators for these films, will find themselves guided into and through similar processes of encountering and embodying difference and disability. The book is highly personal – and not just in the sense that Greenberg so carefully and openly captures his own crip power and vulnerability, but also in the sense that the reader will have a deeply personal response, likewise powerful and vulnerable, fraught and desirable. The book develops novel methodologies for reading any cultural text with and through disability, as well as means of animating a wide range of conversations about embodiment, affect, intersubjectivity, and the sensorium."~Jay Dolmage, author of Disabled Upon Arrival: Eugenics, Immigration, and the Construction of Race and Disability
"In Animated Film and Disability: Cripping Spectatorship, Slava Greenberg combines cinema studies, gender studies, and disability studies in an interdisciplinary investigation that goes beyond negative images and underrepresentation. Focusing on avant-garde animation films that enact crip subjectivities, he postulates an affective link between certain stylistic choices and viewer experiences. In nontraditional formal constructions that disrupt viewers' conventional ease, he elucidates an inter-corporeality between film and viewer. The variable world of animated film acknowledges that all people, including all film viewers, live with illness and change. With astute analysis, Greenberg explicates how films that engage viewers in the mental and corporeal states of disability expand their audiences' subjective prospects. Slava Greenberg has given to us not only a scholarly book, but also a gift of improved spectatorship."~Chris Straayer, author of Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies
"Slava Greenberg's powerful new book, Animated Film and Disabiity: Cripping Spectatorship, explores new territory at the intersection of animation theory and disability studies. Greenberg identifies the multisensory cinematic strategies that "crip animations" use to not only represent their disabled subjects, but to involve them as key creators, and further, to make them accessible to a diversely disabled audience. This text is essential reading and a necessary companion for all who teach animation studies. Similar to the 2020 wake-up call to include BIPOC animators and subjects in course content, Greenberg's list of crip animations must also be included on our animation syllabi as a means of countering ablist animation content and its assumed able-bodied, able-minded spectatorship."~Lisa Mann, Professor of the Practice of Cinematic Arts andExpanded Animation Research + Practice (XA), School of Cinematic Art, University of Southern California
"In this imaginative, brave, and extensively researched book, Slava Greenberg puts two generally understudied areas of film studies—animation and disability media studies—into dialogue around media spectatorship. Specifically, he rethinks spectatorship and the transformative possibilities of media representation from interrelated perspectives of disability and trans embodiment. Animation dynamizes screen, spectator and the being-in-the-world experience their relation evokes. Greenberg carefully traces how it thereby imagines and generates possibilities for a non-ableist gaze and spectatorial experience. Animated Film and Disability is thereby a must-read for scholars of animation, disability studies and film spectatorship in general."~Kathleen McHugh, author of American Domesticity: From How-to-Manual to Hollywood Melodrama
"The focus on 'crip subjectivity' and 'first person crip' is a needed exploration of animated films that do and do not involve people with disabilities. Authenticity and collaborative work with disabled people are rightfully extremely crucial to disability representation these days, but I fear most scholarly study forgets about animation, so this book corrects that problem. . . . Most of the films discussed in the book have not been considered within the Disability Studies field, which is a major omission that this book corrects."~Beth Haller, author of The Routledge Companion to Disability and Media