December 28, 2006

Motion Capture, Animation and Attribution [2:08 pm]

Or is this just troublemaking? Hard to tell. Penguin, Shmenguin! Those Are Savion Glover’s Happy Feet!

The animated film “Happy Feet” is a big hit for Warner Brothers and for Hollywood. Children of all ages and such.

[...] For lovers of tap dance, his dancing looks powerfully familiar. Almost exactly like the dancing of Savion Glover, at least if Mr. Glover looked like an unstoppably cheerful penguin. Which is no accident, since Mr. Glover is Mumble, or Mumble’s dancing moves.

[...] Mr. Glover himself professes total satisfaction with his credit. “My job was to be a stunt man,” he said yesterday through a spokesman in his office. “I love George Miller, and was happy to be a part of the film. I have no problem at all.”

Maybe a proper credit for Mr. Glover just slipped everybody’s minds, including Mr. Glover’s. Maybe dance, even in a film whose entire plot hinges on dance, is so far from the concerns of most people that Mr. Glover’s credit escaped everyone’s attention. But that omission seems especially worrisome when the dance being slighted is deeply rooted in the black American tradition.

“I was just so excited that someone was putting dance in the movie,” Mr. Glover told Ms. Kaufman. “I didn’t ask any questions. I was just going on the strength of tap-dancing — someone wants tap-dancing.”

Well, someone did, and maybe Mr. Glover is as happy as he says he is with his, and tap’s, new prominence. But if tap is to be respected, its greatest living exponent must be respected too. To win respect, you have to do more than be the best there is. You have to fight, meaning negotiate, for the recognition you deserve.

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