The 22nd Annual Society for Animation Studies Conference

Shannon Brownlee

“Masculinity Between Animation and Live Action, or, SpongeBob v. Hasselhoff”

: The juxtaposition of animated and live action male characters allows contemporary filmmakers to address the nature and “naturalness” of masculinity. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (Stephen Hillenburg, 2004) figures the continuity between polymorphously perverse childhood and heroic male adulthood as a continuity between animation and live action. By contrasting the animated SpongeBob with the grotesque, hypermasculinized and cartoonish live action body of David Hasselhoff, the film denaturalizes “real” masculinity and naturalizes the film's gleefully perverse animation. Ultimately, SpongeBob inspires broader questions about how the encounter between live action and animation allows us to re-imagine grotesque and naturalized forms of gender.

Biographical Statement: I am currently working on a book manuscript entitled A Passion for Adaptation: Experimental Film, Psychoanalysis, Gender. This explores film adaptation from a psychoanalytic perspective to argue that such concepts as the “original” and the “copy” are important objects of fantasy for spectators. “Masculinity Between Animation and Live Action, or, SpongeBob v. Hasselhoff” represents the beginning of a new research project on animated film and spectatorial fantasy. I teach Film Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.