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“I’m not a real boy, I’m a puppet”: Computer-Animated Films and Anthropomorphic Subjectivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-262
Number of pages17
JournalAnimation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Issue number3
Early online date24 Oct 2016
E-pub ahead of print24 Oct 2016
Published1 Nov 2016


King's Authors


This article rethinks anthropomorphic representation and animated animality within the context of the contemporary digital era and, more precisely, against the rise of the computer-animated feature film. By interrogating the fractured identity of the anthropomorph as a necessarily hybrid figuration, it suggests how popular computer-animated films have rejected ánthrōpos and instead exploited the non-human morphē element to manipulate virtual space through anthropomorphic subjectivity. The anthropomorph is here refined into a more prescriptive and functional agent, absorbing the audience into a spectatorial game that sharpens their awareness of the digital realm. Films such as Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007) and Bee Movie (Simon J. Smith & Steve Hickner, 2007) are offered as case studies that reflect the shift towards the form or morphē element, one that is registered through a particular mode of subjectivied address. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze’s notion of ‘gaseous perception’ to elucidate this delivery of enlivened space, this article argues that the computer-animated film is implicated in a hierarchical switch away from humanlike behaviour to embrace the possibilities of the anthropomorph’s non-human morphē identity, thereby upturning the received narrative of how anthropomorphism has been conceptualised among critical studies of animation.

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