Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Studios lose vast amounts of money, time and talent because of gossip, so you’d think they’d put a stop to it. But no, gossip and even outright slander are not only tolerated but actively encouraged by insecure department heads as a way of keeping tabs on artists.

This makes the atmosphere in Hollywood animation studios surprisingly sour and bitter for places that makes a fun product.
Regular office gossip is bad enough, but cartoon gossip is far worse. Like the images themselves, animation gossip is grotesquely distorted and viciously twisted. No matter how unrealistic and downright asinine, it’s swallowed whole, enhanced, enlarged and passed around as fact. And, worst of all, this laughably implausible rubbish is not only believed, but acted upon. No benefit of the doubt, no verification, no defense. Reputations are routinely assassinated and careers destroyed by loose-lipped artists.

Even a saint wouldn’t escape the sharp tongues and dull minds of the gossipers. And the gossip is not always behind your back, sometimes it’s delivered right to your face. Artists are accused of being or not being whatever the gossipers have decided they are or aren’t.

The hostility caused by gossip makes artists feel isolated and uncomfortable and it also diminishes the quality the artwork in a business that requires co-operation and team-work.

All this misery and waste of time and talent could be avoided by simply making it company policy not to tolerate gossip––see this interesting  New York Times article by Shayla McKnight, November 14, 2009: “... the human resources manager who interviewed me, mentioned the company’s no-gossip policy. She said something like this: “There’s no back-stabbing here, and no office politics. Gossiping and talking behind someone’s back are not tolerated.
I remember thinking: “Really? That’s odd. How is that possible?” Everywhere I’ve worked people have gossiped..." "

If sycophantic smiles and hysterical jollity can be strictly enforced, and in animation they are, then it’s not impossible to make gossip unacceptable, which would make workers happier and greatly improve the product as well as the atmosphere.  The wonderful art of animation would also be a wonderful job instead of a nasty business.


Rick said...

Sounds like you have a fun job with a sad place to do it. Cartooning should always be created in a happy environment.

Nora Lumiere said...

A commonly held view is that art can only be created in misery, but Picasso didn’t seem to suffer much and he did all right. I’m with you, all creating and especially cartoons, should be done happily with champagne and chocolate and giggles.