The Animator as Inventor: Labour and the New Animated Machine Comedy of the 2010s

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Around 2010, the inventor character started to populate animated blockbusters. Computer 3D animated films and their sequels such as Robots (Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha, 2005), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, 2009), Despicable Me (Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, 2010) and Big Hero 6 (Don Hall and Chris Williams, 2014) all feature inventors and their extravagant machines. In this article, the author explores the inventive artisan character as a self-reflexive trope of the animator. She expands Crafton’s thesis of the animator’s self-figuration and Tom Gunning’s work on machine comedy and operational aesthetics to further discussions on the animator and thereby the labour of animation. The article seeks to reveal the political agenda in the new animated machine comedy of the 2010s, which not only reflects the modes of production of contemporary animation studios, but also the larger concerns in the post-Fordist mode of production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-251
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Fordism
  • animator
  • computer animation
  • computer user
  • film comedy
  • inventor
  • labour
  • operational aesthetics
  • post-Fordism


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