Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stock Disney Characters - The Gay Arabic Villain

Animated features are way behind the best cartoon shorts and Television sitcoms when it comes to character. Features have formula plots and a handful of antiquated stock characters that plug into the contrived story lines. The instant you see a feature character, you know which stock personality he or she is- the bland lead character, the sassy smartmouth girl, the short obnoxious sidekick...who am I forgetting?

These kinds of simplistic stereotypes can't exist in other mediums, not even comedy anymore. They are just too outdated. Super expensive animated features keep them alive long after their relevance to human life.

Here is the stock animated feature villain and how he came to be:

Disney animators have shrewdly deduced that the average Joe thinks homosexuals and people of middle-eastern descent are the most evil people in the world. So when an animated feature needs a villain, they automatically create a stereotype combination of a hooked nose man with fruity gestures. For some reason, these characters are always lanky, so tall skinny people I assume must also be evil.

Ancestry of the Disney Villain:

1) Melodrama from a century and a half ago This kind of stock stereotype probably started in the 1800s. Simon Legree is typical (although in the book, he is more shaded than in his theatrical and silent movie performances).

This character was used so often in melodramas that he eventually became stale and "cartoonish". Soon entertainers only used it for comedy, because no one could take a character like this seriously anymore. It can't scare you when it's such a cardboard stereotyped representation.

2) Dracula - Gothic Horror Villain

Here's another genre with characters you couldn't take seriously except in the context of the horror film and even then you really have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy the drama.
Cartoonists quickly jumped on the inherent silliness of living dead people and the stereotype became stock comedy cartoon material.
3) Homosexual Caricature
There are many funny homosexuals in entertainment, as long as they live up to their stereotype.

4) Goth Merges With Gay

The wacky gay stereotype approaches the walking dead eager to conceive the next Disney Villain.

They eventually mated a goth character with a zany homosexual and came up with this:

A transvestite goth villain.

And eventually gay, goth, Arab and Simon Legree all together.

Animated feature characters need more than an obvious design to define their character. In the best features, each main character usually has a certain gesture or expression assigned to him, that the other characters don't have. We instantly recognize this symbolic key to the character because we have grown up seeing it so many times.

INSTANT EVIL: The sniffing of the turd

I'm not sure if Disney invented it, but animators know that the quickest way to turn the audience against someone is to have them sniff the ceremonial turd. Decent people instinctively know you shouldn't be poking your nose around that area and won't root for the turd sniffer.
This fellow is all the villain stereotypes in one. The most turd sniffingest of all.
Hey, he's copyrighted! I guess no one else can ever use this character again.

I'm confused as to why we need villains in every animated story in the first place. Merely "evil" ones. And the same version of evil.

Will features ever surpass Terrytoons in characterization? (Let alone catch up in fun)
I bet the animators would love to try characters with more meat on 'em if they were allowed.


Anonymous said...

I have to admit, top hatted curly moustached villains have always thrilled me. The others are kind of annoying, but I've never gotten sick of the tying-to-railroad-and-evicting-from-farmhouse type villains.

Leandro Robles said...

But, considering that the villans are always the coolest, is Disney really against gay-arabic-goth? Or are they saving for them the best part?

Roberto González said...

I think Kent Masley is a very interesting villain. I think his character could exist in real life. Most of Disney villains are just too evil to exist.

The Simpsons have interesting villains. Mr Burns is one of the best characters in the series, if not the best one.

But that's about all. This is also the one thing that annoys me the most about animated movies, I wish there were some of them without villains or romantic interests. The villains are more annoying to me than the love story cause they are really unbelievable. That can have a point sometimes, in Fairy Tales. But not every animated movie is a fairy tale. Not even all disney movies are fairytales.

One of the better aspects in Lilo and Stitch was that none of the characters was completely portrayed as the villain, even though the change of attitude in some of them was a little incredible and irrealistic.

But The Three Caballeros is an example of a movie that could entertain you all through it without villains, well, without even a plot. I wish we could have some of those nowadays.

If there is going to be a villain I prefer one that is funny.

Anonymous said...

Strangely enough, the only time Osama Bin Laden has ever portrayed as a villain in a cartoon, they just made him ape-shit crazy.

Actually, that cartoon's heckler character would disagree with you.

"He's not crazy, he's just an idiot. I know how to deal with these people" -Cartman

Sean Worsham said...

What about Dick Tracy's and Batman's villains (since we're on the subject of non cartoony animated villains?) Those all don't use the same stereotypes Disney has used. I really love Bruce Timm and crews versions especially. Although they are all gothic in a sense, not all of them used the curly mustache stereotype.

Dick Tracy's villains are especially interesting. Chester Gould really inspired the comic book and non cartoony animated world (Batman the animated series)
and cartoony world (parody "Duck Tracy") with villains such as Flat Top, Prune Face, Lips Manilus etc. Not all of them used the goth, gay or arabic stereotypes.

JohnK said...

Hey Sean
this post is about Disney/Cal Arts vilains, not every villain in history...

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

A great post, especially the sniffing-the-turd part, but I'm not sure if I find the sharp-chinned villain as offensive as you do. Stereotypes can be useful in comedy, as you pointed out in another part of the post.

Robert said...

So would we consider Ursula in Little Mermaid a departure from formula for Disney? Or is she basically Divine with tentacles?

Franky said...

I always thought that they had more of an anti-semitic than an anti-Arabic influence dating back to Shakespeare and Shylock.

JohnK said...

She's a 70s Hanna Barbera
Saturday Morning cartoon character.

Sean Worsham said...

>this post is about Disney/Cal Arts >vilains, not every villain in >history...

Ahh I understand, it's just that pic you posted from the Hanna-Barabara comic, where you use to show how every cartoonist got on the bandwagon kind of threw me off. I get it now.

Sean Worsham said...

That and this sentence at the end kind of threw me off too:

>I'm confused as to why we need >villains in every animated story in >the first place. Merely "evil" ones. >And the same version of evil.

Just pointing out that there is in non-cartoony animated stories too, but I get your point now.

One more thing, Dick Tracy is boring but well-drawn for a non-cartoony comic and animation.

JohnK said...

Dick Tracy has the best cartoon villains ever!

Feature animation ought to be inspired by those and invent new ones.

Colin said...

"What about Dick Tracy's and Batman's villains (since we're on the subject of non cartoony animated villains?) Those all don't use the same stereotypes Disney has used"

I always loved Batman's rogues gallery, and The Flash's. His never get's any exposure which is a sham because there such compelling characters.

Sean Worsham said...

It depends on which version of Dick Tracy you mean too. The UPA version was very cartoony. The Chester Gould comic was more serious and didn't attempt to be funny, although done in a charicature-like manner. The later crappy filmation version used in Archie's TV funnies was closer the Chester Gould version so in a sense it became more like a serious hanna-barbara/ filmation show of the 70's (and it was). Although you are right, I guess since the villains are charicatures that makes them cartoony villains. At least they were not cliche like Disney ones that's for sure!

I don't even wanna talk about the Warren Beatty feature (which is trying to get a sequel off the ground).

Speaking of which I thought the heroes that Tracy used in the UPA version were VERY CARTOONY! :)(which reran on MTV to promote the movie in the early ninties).

I will always remember Go Go Gomez since those were UPA cartoon designs (In my Opinion) at their funniest:


PCUnfunny said...

>I'm confused as to why we need >villains in every animated story in >the first place. Merely "evil" ones. >And the same version of evil.

I agree. I also don't see the need for every animated film to have a character resucing or saving something or someone. Why can't it just be about random cartoony fun ?

Matt said...

The "villain" in Ratatouille turned out to be no so villainous at all. Nowhere near the outrageously evil persona that is typical of a Disney feature. In fact, he was barely in the movie. Why didn't you highlight who the main villain was? The short, stalky, big-headed Skinner? He was an extremely fun character to watch. You know? The big, fun, happy, children-loving head that you advocate so fiercely? I get your overall point, though and I agree.

I know you hate Pixar and all (or at least you seem to,) but c'mon... every time you try to bash their latest movie, it just makes you look more intimidated by the mere fact that it's CG. Everything that you say makes something entertaining was in that movie, yet you seem to hate it based on the principle that you think all things animated should be hand-drawn and slap-stick cartoony.

Don't get me wrong.. I love you, man, I just don't entirely agree with that philosophy. You got me excited about drawing and cartoons again, and no one else has ever been able to do that, but I think you should cut Pixar SOME slack. They know how to entertain an audience.

Sean Worsham said...

Here's a clip from the filmation version, very crappy and serious:


Sean Worsham said...

The superior UPA version opening titles:


A commercial for the DVD (sorry this is the only clips I can find that showed some more animation):


David said...

You should consider becoming a Christian missionary, John. I'm an atheist, but after this blog revealed the gigantic chip on your shoulder, even I cried out, "Jesus Christ!"

JohnK said...

"Why didn't you highlight who the main villain was? The short, stalky, big-headed Skinner? "

He's the wacky obnoxious character. That's for another post. Not scary or threatening at all.

Pixar is definitely the best feature studio,no contest.

There are great animators and artists working there. Underused in my opinion. They need better stories and ideas as all animation does.

The stories and characters are the same formulas as they have always been.

They are just animated better at Pixar than anywhere else.

They have good cutting and action sequences. Live action style.

And their backgrounds are less garish than usual, but too realistic. Might as well be photographed.

I don't care if it's CG or 2d,funny or dramatic, I'd like to see some imagination.

They can sure afford to try it sometime.

Anonymous said...

One thing that's always fascinated me about Pixar "villains" is that they seem like they were made up by somebody who wants to do the exact opposite of Disney, but in doing so Pixar has created it's own sterotypical villain; the bratty whiner. Darla, the kid from Toy Story, the nerd from the Incredibles and that girl from the Monsters Inc. all fit into the "Pixar Villain" mold; somebody seemingly harmless who's unaware of the torment they put the protagonist through. This guy from the new movie (I haven't seen it yet), I'm guess he is some sort of shift-manager?

pappy d said...

A swishy villain makes the prince seem less gay.

Matt said...

"Pixar is definitely the best feature studio, no contest."

Yes! Haha, that's all I needed to get outta you, John.

I agree that they should change their formula. I admit, I'd love to see Pixar branch out and do something really different. They do have John Carter of Mars in the works, so maybe that's what I'm waiting for.

Sean Worsham said...

Hey John,

Would you direct a Pixar short if you had a chance? That is if they let you do it your way, but in CGI? I only saw Future Jimmy from you from the Bjork video (so I know you are not closed to the idea). I want to see how you would do a full, funny cartoon cgi short at least before I leave this earth.

I know there are lots of fans of yours in Pixar (Lou Romano, Teddy Newton and Rob Gibbs) being ones that I interacted with before who strongly liked your work. It'll open some new doors and contacts for you at least. Then you can champion more cartoony 2d and would get more people on the bandwagon!

PCUnfunny said...

Alright he said something good about Pixar and here is the proof. Will people quit bugging him now ?

SlashHalen said...

If there's one thing I hated about Jafar, besides his mouth was to big for him, was the fact that his lips are to thin. Not that I have a thing against people with thin lips (whats a dude gonna do, he can't help it) but god, they make him look... I'm gonna puke.

stardust said...

Funny enough all my gay friends want to bang Jafar ...

lastangelman said...

I was going to jump in to comment about Pixar , but maybe for another future post - I do think after Cars, Lassiter should stick to being the exec producer and let others write and direct - sorry had to get that out - Interesting you single out Jufar from Disney's Aladdin because that charcater was cribbed from a muvh better looking villain, Zigzag from Richard Williams lost animated masterpiece (notice I didn't say cartoon, but Richard has animated some great cartoons in his lifetime) The Thief and The Cobbler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thief_and_the_Cobbler)
I'd give a link to "cobbled" version of movie on You Tube but it's been removed for about a month. It can be downloaded here (http://www.mininova.org/tor/327018) using Bit Torrent. Zigzag is more cartoony and funnier than Jufar (and sounds better too as he is voiced by Vincent Price).

smackmonkey said...

Richard Williams used the Gay-Arabic-Villain in his unfinished masterpiece The Thief and the Cobbler which I forgive him for. He's Richard Fricken' Williams, fer crissake. Too bad Warner's got a hold of it and shat all over it.

I think the "just-smelled-shit" part renders the villains impotent of any real malice. They appear so fraught with compulsive foibles that they are easily outwitted by a child (or someone with a child's intellect). A REAL villain would stomp the living crap out of any modern hero in about ten seconds and then get on with the business of destroying the universe. I love being angry!

Joel Bryan said...

I can understand the villain in terms of easy story conflict. Lazy storytelling is what I call it.

Internal conflict is much funnier and complex. That's what makes Ren so hilarious- his inner torment.

John said...

It seems to me that all cartoons not Just Features seem to use Stock Characters and I am So Sick of it! Every show and movie are all almost exactly the same and it Stinks! Seriously Who's Brilliant Idea was it to use the same stupid characters over and over again anyway!

Emmett said...

"I don't care if it's CG or 2d,funny or dramatic, I'd like to see some imagination."

I am 100 percent with you there. As much as I love Pixar's movies, their ideas can be much more imaginative. They have already established themselves, and hopefully, they will go a lot further in the future.

And villians can be much more imaginative too. They can be just as interesting as the protagonists.

I'd like to point out what was done in Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Gaston was treated like a comical character early on, and it wasn't until the last quarter of the movie that we see what a bastard he is.

Anton Ego is also different, because he undergoes a transformation (and a brilliant transformation in my opinion).

Another great villian is Aku in SAMURAI JACK, because he is a shapeshifter. A villian with a lot of appeal, fascinating design, and nothing homophobic.

By the way, Mr. K, I don't consider Frollo (from HUNCHBACK) to be queer in any way.

CGsucks said...

Well, I dont think all features, animated or otherwise, all need villians. I do think most stories need an antagonist of some kind. Antagonists don't have to be evil, they just have to be an obstacle to the protagonist.
Also, I never noticed that whole terd sniffing stock expression before. I laughed out loud when you pointed it out. :]

Ryan G. said...

Wow John..I never really realized this..The arabian guy looks just like this guy..
squashed version of arabian guy

Wouter said...

Yeah Jafar's pretty gay

But what about ZigZag?


Mr. Semaj said...

I'm confused as to why we need villains in every animated story in the first place. Merely "evil" ones. And the same version of evil.

Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, and Chicken Little didn't have any real villains. In fact, I think Lilo & Stitch succeeds the best in that aspect, as very few of the leading characters, or their interractions with others are black-and-white.

It seems to me that all cartoons not Just Features seem to use Stock Characters and I am So Sick of it! Every show and movie are all almost exactly the same and it Stinks! Seriously Who's Brilliant Idea was it to use the same stupid characters over and over again anyway!

You remember The Oblongs? Looks like they mangled the premise of that show pretty badly. Most of the episodes are quite generic for a show that looked like it was pushing the envelope.

Leigh Fieldhouse said...

Hey John, my fellow animation classmates have directed me to your site. Lots of amazing advice and information.

I read your earlier post about how you are making Kali copy Bosko and Oswald cartoons to teach her how to animate, could you go into more detail on which scenes? I've download an ton of Bosko and Oswald shorts from the late 20's and early 30's.

If possible send me an email to

Leigh F

Colin said...

Pixar isn't alone in having the stock characters. Anime is probably the worse offender of this.

How many times have we seen the young hero whose on a quest for vengence or honor, or recognition.

The big eyed female love intrest who keeps blabering on and on about how she believes in the main character.

The annoying kid comic relief.

And the overly-effiminite archvillian.

Will you ever do(or have you done), a post of this? Or is anime something you don't upon?

R. Banuelos said...

Good post. I was actually in a class where the teacher taught us how to draw an evil character. She used the very shape and look of this guy. It's hard to break a mold I guess. Disney movies suck but then again he got on it before anyone else. Other studios were making shorts, Disney wanted features. Imagine if WB or MGM had wanted to push animation into features like Disney. We'd be using their stock cartoon faces and backgrounds. We would wonder why every bird has a fat head and big eyes.

Disney set the standard and no one has successfully debunked it. Pixar could have, but got bought by Disney. Hopefully Pixar can change Disney. Probably not though, seeing how most of the people at Pixar came from Cal Arts and Disney. Monsters Inc. was real cool.

Anonymous said...

I observed a whle back that Disney's fortunes with its animated features started to decline when its female protagonists started having sex. We had a pretty unbroken line of virgin heroines and mother villains, starting with Snow White, the title of which could not have made her virginity any clearer. The Little Mermaid was a fine example of this formula, and it was a smash hit. Then we had a few more virgins; Belle, Jasmine and Pochahontas (let's leave the lions out of this for the moment). All of these films madea a good bit of money.

At this point, Disney's animated features started to make less money. We had Esmeralda, who was obviously getting some action from those filthy middle-eastern looking guys she hung out with. And she danced barefoot on street corners. Then we had Megara, who was someone's ex-girlfriend, and who made several jokes about her no-longer-virginal status; more animals; a princess who was a few thousand years old (she must've got some in all that time!), Chica, who was pregnant, the two moms from Treasure Planet (the cat-woman became mom at the end). Mulan was a cross dresser, so not really a 'pure' girl. Lilo's sister had a boyfriend, though the protagnoess of that film was a pure little girl. And it made money. The rest were a bunch of animals, and Jane from Tarzan, who is an anomaly. That film did feature a lesbian gorilla, though. Elsewhere, we have Princess Fiona, who is completely impure, being green and foul. She might once have been used in a "Girls Be Chaste!" campaign from the 19th century. "Girls, this is what will happen to you if you have sex!"

What does all this mean? I'm not sure, but it is an observation about Disney villains and I think it is a good comment to make in this thread. I don't think people want virgin heroines anymore, and people actually like moms. They aren't evil. Still, we have to wonder if The Frog Princess, which appears to be going back to this virgin vs. mom formula, will be a success.

Robert said...

"Funny enough all my gay friends want to bang Jafar ... "

They're gay and they didn't notice Alladin???

Well, anyway... Skinner is definitely the villain in Ratatouille. Anton Ego just doesn't figure enough in the plot to be the villain. Villainous, perhaps, but not the villain.

I wonder when we will get to the point where villains don't have to be always white? I suppose there had to be a non-white villain in Mulan, but I can't recall it.

PCUnfunny said...

"Most of the episodes are quite generic for a show that looked like it was pushing the envelope."

I don't see how it was. The Oblongs had the same old dysfunctional family premise except they happened to be mutated.The show was alright but pushing the envelope,nah.

James Lutz said...

The character design and animation in a most films are designed for a viewer to establish themselves inside of the story. the more simplified the design of a characters personality in a feature animation the easier it is for a child to identify with the character and be able to possibly project them self into the title position. Wait, or did we forget that these films are in fact made for children.
As far as gay villain types you should be ashamed of yourself for lack of ability to produce another adjective. The villains in these films have been over dramatized and pushed over the top for the very reason that the average child would not be so inclined to identify with them. The animation on these characters is always bold and beautiful fantastic drafting (If you could design any character on this list with half of the appeal, and not make it look like something from Ren and Stimpy I would eat my hat). As well as pushing such a narrowed minded opinion, you are projecting onto a group of people that have nothing to do with your angry outlook on things or the state of the animation industry.
We are not experiencing a drought in imagination, I feel that we are pushing the ideas and the medium more each film to be more than what you see. The funny thing about all of these character arch types is your tastes are the only ones that have not been thrashed on this blog in the last few weeks. While talented artists efforts have been trashed repeatedly for not meeting a standard set by the greats oh so long ago.
The definition of animation is not just to be funny. Animation like any other medium can be taken from the artists dreams and life experiences.
While we are on the topic of the same old same old.We have seen the same thing from you for nearly twenty years now, yet you rant relentlessly about the bastardization of a cartoon style that was dated within the very decade it was created. The animators that you hold so highly in opinion learned from the Disney ways, majority of popular cartoons are built off of all the same principals you are spitting on.
As far as your ceaseless attacks on the students of Cal Arts, when Mr. Finn(Whom is in an exceptional animator, not to mention holds Andreas Deja the animator of Jafar in high regards, and from what I can see an all around nice guy)can benefit a Comcast commercial it is an amazing opportunity to get a Disney great to to do animation. Will is a Cal Arts grad why is his education better than anyone else whom has graced the halls?
I respect what you are attempting to do, attempting to get people to think and draw. I worry that your inability to enjoy anything may shroud your judgment some. I for one have learned many great things from you. I just wish I did not have to sift through all of the other crap to get to it. Even before you or your followers get to your defense and trash me, Let me assure you that I know you can not defeat an opinion and I have simply stated mine to yours.

Shawn said...

That Dishonest John puppet is the shit.

Peter F. Bernard, Jr. said...

That made me laugh, that was really funny!

Ash Collins said...

what the hell do you mean by turd sniffing?

Fco. de Borja said...

Congratulations john for a great post!!! It really made me laugh!!
This bad and evil stuff is a simplistic and pathetic idea used not only in cartoons anymore, you just have to turn on the telly and you’ll see your politicians speaking like if we where in a Disney movie and, obviously, you the Americans (sorry, the USA, America is a whole continent, Cuba is also America) are the goodies.

Clinton said...

"Features have formula plots and a handful of antiquated stock characters that plug into the contrived story lines." --John K.

Hi John, I think Disney are using formula plots and stock characters in all their television programming. Try and watch Toon Disney for a whole day, and you will see the same plot used in every series, and their stock characters thrown right inside. The worst part is that with every new season, or new series, Disney just recycles those formula plots all over again.

LOL! I guess Cruella reminds me of that tran doctor from Rocky Horror Picture. Ursula reminds me of a fat brothel madam. Medusa looks a like crack whore.

We need villians in every animated story because there are heroes in every animated story.

cemenTIMental said...

Pixar isn't alone in having the stock characters. Anime is probably the worse offender of this.

Colin, think about what you actually just said there:

"Specific Animation Company isn't alone in having the stock characters. Entire nation's output of animation is probably the worse offender of this."

Gibberish on various levels.

Mainstream Japanese animation does of course contain stereotypes and cliches, just like any other medium, but the kind of "point" you and others are making is based on totally wrong thinking.

JohnK said...

Hi James

sorry if I offended you.

I'm just trying to hone all our observational skills so we can be more creative.

It'd be more fun to try new things, at least I think so and maybe some others will too.

With hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on animated features we might as well try some new characters sometime.

If I was a full animator and had to do the same characters and expressions and actions over and over for the rest of my life I would be pretty bored, wouldn't you?

I'm on the side of the animators. Let us have more fun and creativity.

Animating shouldn't be like going to church.

lastangelman said...

My friend Josh Alan's brother Drew does some amazing drawings (many of you have seen his work) but he doesn't use the turd sniffing pose for villains, he applies it to drawings of Long Island Jewish American Princesses, especially the ones from Great Neck!

Gabriel said...

I wonder when we will get to the point where villains don't have to be always white? I suppose there had to be a non-white villain in Mulan, but I can't recall it.

I think he was grey, with yellow eyes!! Now that's evil. I can't remember if he had fangs too.

Anonymous said...

Hi John

Good observation on the turd sniffing thing.

That's actually the the universal human facial expression for disgust or contempt, It's one of those expressions all people have in common and do unconsciously when reacting to things we don't like.

We smile when we're happy, and we snif turds when we're disgusted with something or someone.

It actually makes sense to give villans such traits as disdainful, the expression it self turns us off.

Turd sniffing is a great way to discribe it.
I think i might use that.

Bye for now.

Oh and I love the Blog!

Sean Worsham said...

>Animating shouldn't be like going to >church.

Wow, you just put it all in a nutshell John!

Sean Worsham said...

It all makes complete sense now! :) Animating should be fun!

Mr. Semaj said...

The Oblongs had the same old dysfunctional family premise except they happened to be mutated.The show was alright but pushing the envelope, nah.

The tale is that the original format of The Oblongs, something along the lines of Creepy Susie, was defeated from constant retooling by both Jace Richdale's writer-producer staff and the WB suits. I'd like for Vince Waller to give us some details someday.

Had Angus Oblong taken his project to a more appropriate outlet, it would've had a chance.

Animating shouldn't be like going to church.

Make that your newest quote. ;)

Will Finn said...


RE: "Ursula" in LITTLE MERMAID: you should have seen the model sheets before they went thru the executive blanderizer, they were pretty great! same design essentially, but much, much broader. everybody was bummed when the two-ton "too cartoony" hammer came down.

Colin said...

"Mainstream Japanese animation does of course contain stereotypes and cliches, just like any other medium, but the kind of "point" you and others are making is based on totally wrong thinking."

I see, so what you're saying is it's not fair to single out one, becasue animation is full of them.

My apologies.

pappy d said...

There's no problem doing an interesting villain. That's easy, especially an evil one. Usually they need toning down because they're naturally easier to relate to than the unself-interested heroes.

At the risk of seeming evil myself, I just don't get the American fascination with morality plays. Isn't there enough of that on TV?

Maybe it's our own personal self-interested world view turned inside-out so that the whole universe reflects our own will to power & whoever opposes us is morally wrong. In as much as we identify with the good guy, we can imagine that our subjective outlook is an objective reality.

Maybe this is one for Uncle Eddy.

Guy said...

cementimental: You say that as if it's impossible. Anime has been telling the same stories about the same characters with the same art and the same themes for decades. It's in-bred to a degree beyond anything else.

JohnK said...

we're not gonna get on this anime stuff again are we?

aren't there anime sites to love about anime?

NateBear said...

i still can't believe you're doing this site for free.

NateBear said...

i'm trying to think of any villains that have a round nose at all.

cemenTIMental said...

aren't there anime sites to love about anime?
There are, but most anime fans seem to know or care little about animation... or sometimes, anime!

Both above who replied to my comment, you TOTALLY missed my point, but like John says this isn't about anime, so I'll leave it at that.

cemenTIMental said...

P.S. if anyone does want to discuss Japanese animation like a rational human, with neither 14 year old Dragonball fandom rubbish nor "anime sux LOL why they do have big eyes its all the same LOL spikey hair LOL" morons trolling, then the best place is the Anipages BBS.

Pretty much the only place on the internet where people can actually discuss the animation in anime.

Doctor Jones said...

Good read, thanx.
My favorite Disney villain has to be Prince John from Robin Hood.
Though he falls into a few of the stereotypes you write about, his nasally voice and arrogant, evil, yet wimpy personality still crack me up today.

Just wondering out loud here.
I always looked at all Pixar films to appeal to a wide range audience.
I can't think of any studios that do this better while still maintaining the overall quality.
They don't make me question my intelligence like most mainstream animated films do today.
Within their stories are not only gags for kids, but enuendo's for adults to pick up on.

Do you think Pixars financial need from investors to appeal to a general audience may also hinder their ability to try something more risky in content or something more different with their characters?

When you say they should be more "imaginative", I can't help think that they are being as imaginative as they possibly can. I've always thought that it never really mattered what character or storyline you come up with. It'll always have a story or character that's similar in comparison.

But a reincarnated Rat that becomes a master chef?
That sounds a hell of a lot more inventive and original than a retarded Shrek sequel will anyday.

Sean Worsham said...

>we're not gonna get on this anime >stuff again are we?
>aren't there anime sites to love >about anime?

You actually criticize it well, John. That's why people talk about it on your site! XD

murrayb said...


villan stereotypes are pretty established.

disney played against type with the handsome villain gaston in Beauty and the beast... and reused it with clayton in tarzan.

basically you have the bodytypes:
snydley whiplash/sniveling bitter nerd(sneering scrawny)
pegleg pete, bluto(brute/bully)
sidney greenstreet, kingpin, jabba (fatso),

Then you have specific cultural types:
flamboyant gay man/tranvestite(gender confusion), military/police/government authoritarian, foreiner-ethnic stereotype, inbred hick, greedy rich tyrant, mad scientist, supernatural/undead.

its funny you can probably name a wrestler to match all of those.

MitchLoidolt said...

Hey John,

This might seem a little off-topic... and I know this is concerning mainly cal arts and disney villains, but I'm reminded of something and am sort of interested in your thoughts on the matter of one of your early 90's Nick ilk: Pete & Pete.

That, for being live action, was pretty cartoony, unrealistic, but also believable and entertaining almost always except for the violin-laden heart-to-hearts that are the staple of familycentric shows.

But the mention of Dick Tracy villains reminded me of these:

Endless Mike, Pitstain - who had pitstains, Papercut - who was a master of the paper knife and only threw 'paper' in rochambeau...

These, while not causing any serious threat other than nominal psychological trauma, do defy the standard archetypes in fun ways.

There was even a superhero that never defeated a single one of the show's villains, save for a brotherly-love-splitting bowling ball (and even then it was a monumental battle)...

I guess, to get to the meat of my question... did you enjoy that show? Is there anything in that type of programming or the thought behind that kind of show that has any merit for ponderance?

Gabriel said...

Pete & Pete was unique, there was nothing like it. I watched one episode this year and i was amazed that it still blew me away, even though i'm 26 now and had never seen it again since i was a kid.

Anthony said...

@ james lutz - Can you please hire an editor? thanx.

HaraldSiepermann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HaraldSiepermann said...

@ Murrayb
>>>>disney played against type with the handsome villain gaston in Beauty and the beast... and reused it with clayton in tarzan. <<<<

I was thinking in no way of Gaston, when I did sketches of Clayton, my mind was much more on John Barrymore. If you wish to know more about it check this out ---->
And regarding the gayness of certain villains, I don't think it's a caricatureof their sexual orientation, but a caricature of their habit of being too much in love with themselfes and their overacting. Funny enough, that's a charactertrade that Gaston and Clayton have in common.
Otherwise, John, your blog is always fun and entertaining to read, although you sometimes come across like the Muppet Show's Stattler and Waldorf squeezed into one person, anyway, keep up the good work, regards Harald

J.E. said...

Hey John,

Just so you know, Pixar's going to try something a little bit different in their next film, WALL E. Its said to be a a significant departure from everything that Pixar has done to date. For example, from what I've heard the first third of the film isn't going to have any dialouge at all.(With the exception of some audio coming from a TV in one scene).

You can read the details in this article:

Justin said...

do you wake up every morning looking forward to reading the comments of all the people you have intentionally pissed off?

...and yes, I am looking forward to reading your hopefully pissed off response.

Alex "Mad Dog" McCarron said...

Tall, lanky, gay and hook nosed sounds like Vincet Price, who is in fact very effectively absolutely-fucking-terrifying. He has a very scary screen presence, even when he's not doing anything particularly scary. He's like horror's Buster Keaton.

He probably didn't invent the form, but maybe he helped define its current use a little bit.

jim45y said...

When all the disney pictures are lined up like that you really can see just how almost identical they are... and dont forget scar from the lion king... that crazy homo. Character designers really should try harder i mean vain and efimente villians! come on... and its so safe! since a majority of america seems to think gay people are evil anyway. its offensive and a major easy out... Need a villian? wait outside any gym or coffe shop in west hollywood. BAM! instant evil. ma and pa out in middle america will poop there pants too.

THE SIR said...

[i'm trying to think of any villains that have a round nose at all.]

mr. smee,
peg-leg pete,
mr. winkie,
all the weasels (mr. toad and who framed roger rabbit),
the queen in alice in wonderland (although not the true villain, for alice was her own villain--the queen is still villainous),
brer' fox and brer' bear,
honest john and gideon,
dumbo was attacked on all sides and that was a really rounded style,
the wolf from peter and the wolf,
half the goons of maleficent, there's some more, but i got to move on.

and no one talked about Edgar Balthaza, the evil butler from aristocats. hmmmm...

Kyle Baker said...

What's strange is how most of these gay villains are actually created by gay people. Especially all that '80s and '90s stuff with all the Broadway musical talent behind it.

C:) said...

One other Disney Villain that kind of threw me was the expedition leader from Atlantis. He doesn't reveal himself as a bad guy until it's time to leave and time to make profit. Clayton from Tarzan - you knew to keep an eye on him from cell 1 but Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke from Atlantis had a very friendly feel that sucked you in until he stuck the knife in your back. Ah, lack of mustache. THAT was the difference.

CM said...

I wonder how many of these snide European types have ever BEEN to Middle America, or have any idea of the culture they're talking about other than what they picked up from some government-issued playbook with chapter titles like "How Fox News Controls Americans' Minds" and "Iowa: Space Alien Infiltration or Radioactive Waste Accident?"

Spugsley said...

Syndrome in the Incredibles is a very fun, surprising and original villian, and is superbly animated. Interestingly, he is not purely evil, and the script makes the audience feel some sympathy for him, and gives him likable traits. Quite complex, actually. The scene where Syndrome is "monologuing" and "geeking out" is absolutely stellar animation.

Michael Luzzi said...

This is a stretch. Very flimsy.

Jordan179 said...

Your claim that the "gay Arabic villain" is a Disney stock cartoon character is odd. The only Disney animations with _any_ Arabic villains that I can recall are the _Aladdin_ movies and TV series, and of these ONLY Jafar even _remotely_ fits your bill. And I say _very_ remotely, because Jafar is (arguably) "effeminate," which is NOT the same thing as "gay!"

Note that Jafar is sexually excited by Jasmine (which is why her distraction tactic works on him in the first movie). His main motivation is of course ambition rather than lust, but he clearly views bedding a beautiful girl as an attractive perk of his plan. So at most you could claim him as "bisexual" -- except that he doesn't display any attraction to _any_ male chaaracters in _either_ of the two movies in which he is the principal villain.

Of Aladdin's other villains, the only other one that strikes me as even remotely effeminate is Mozenrath (from the TV series) who appears to be asexual and motivated purely by power-seeking.

The other main character you referred to, Captain Hook, is neither Arabic (he is, in fact, ENGLISH!), nor gay, nor even particularly effeminate (given that he's obviously meant to be a man socialized to the costuming norms of around CE 1700). So you're really reaching with this claim.

You might have a better claim for homosexuality (and cross-species attraction) with the mad scientist and the Federation guy in _Lilo and Stitch_ -- except that they're not really the villains either of the movies or the TV series. It _is_ kind of odd how easily the Federation guy takes to the "wife" role ... :)

Gabriele_Gabba said...

I know this is an old post, but wow, you nailed it! I'll never shake this imagery for as long as i live, my hat's off to you John!

Leeann H said...

Tie me to a railroad track, that (albeit older) post was just brilliant! :D

'The Sniffing Of The Turd' sounds a title for one of those conspiracy exposing Disney-Is-Evil books.

Anonymous said...

In the South Park Episode, "Safe Space," the character representing reality was designed with this exact archetype in mind.