Friday, March 27, 2015

Dangerous Toys Beneficial For the Education of Youth

I want to bring to your attention a threat that is inherent in the emphasis on “safe toys for children” and in the related campaign against so-called violent computer games. I contend that not only do these games provide useful real and simulated experience of the world as it is, but other countries may be way ahead of us in educating their children with dangerous toys thus leading to a threatening and ever-widening "dangerous toys" gap.

What a child learns when they are young stays with them for the rest of their lives. Therefore it is up to us, as mature and experienced parents of these innocent biped mammals to see to it that their education contains the elements that they will need for a healthy and rewarding life, if you call this living.

What are these elements of a proper education? Well certainly there is learning to read and write, learning certain social skills such as not spitting in public, learning to keep themselves relatively clean and tidy, not to chew with their mouth open, that sort of thing. Some would include in this some pillars of a basic education such as the classics of western civilization (Homer, Isaac Newton, Bulwer-Lytton, Blavatsky) and the basics of managing hedge funds and real estate development. Perhaps not all classes of society really need the latter skills and education should be tailored for the different classes. For example, the rich may have to learn how to manage hedge funds but the poor how to avoid getting bitten by rats or how to find discarded but not completely decayed food to eat so that they do not starve to death, etc.

But all of us, rich or poor, can certainly benefit from knowing that the world is, as Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it, “a dangerous place”. It is a world filled with things that can drop on you and smash you flat, or people who will shoot you for a dollar, or people who think that they are entitled to distort the political system to get their way, or people who have beliefs that are dangerous to our beliefs. All of these things and more are true. So what benefit is it to educate our children to think that they do not exist? What is the point of waiting until they are adults, or nearly so, to let them in on the secret that they can easily kill themselves and others with that car or that gun? Or to keep from them the knowledge that there are rich and poor in America and that the poor have very little chance of having a decent life or receiving justice? Why keep from them the knowledge that as screwed up as this country is, they should have a look around with their own eyes and see how other countries are doing, some much better and many far worse. Or that people and nations and political groups lie every day both to the public and to themselves, often with tragic or disastrous results.

And that is what the campaign to eliminate dangerous and disturbing toys has set out to do. To hide these brutal facts from our young children out of the misguided notion that being sheltered helps them. Sure it may avoid a few hundred or thousand injuries or deaths, but at what cost? The cost is that our children do not have the first hand experience that they need to understand the world as it is.

Look at how far ahead of us the children of Afghanistan and Iraq are.  In America, misguided parents are horrified that “war toys” are produced and sold. But in Afghanistan, pretty much every boy gets their hands on an AK-47 by the time they are 10 years old and they are not toys. In America, our children do not know what an ammo dump looks like, let alone how to behave around one. But every kid in Afghanistan does. And how many American's have a relative or neighbor who is an internationally wanted terrorist? Precious few, I think.  By the time a boy turns 15 in Afghanistan, he has probably had many years experience smuggling opium over the border and killed at least one enemy of his tribe.   This experience so early in life is priceless.   

We shoot our selves in the foot, so to speak, to think that this pretense of a safe world that we construct for our children helps them or us. It just leads to shock and dismay when our privileged and self-entitled narcissist child has to face the real world. The shock may lead to total collapse and psychological disintegration. That is where this ill-considered policy leads.

But by no means does that mean that we have to start selling war toys to our children. There are other ways to get the ideas across that are more in the areas of industry and manufacturing than in warfare. My favorite is a toy my older brother had and which I loved. It was made in the very early 1960s by Mattel and it was called VAC-U-FORM.

VAC-U-FORM gave a child the ability to create vacuum molded plastic parts at will. It consisted of a very hot heating element, a vacuum pump, a contraption to press things together, sheets of thin plastic as material, and various molds to use as templates. Think of it as a 3D printer ahead of its time.

The smell of the melting plastic issuing obviously dangerous and probably cancer-causing chemicals was the joy of every teenage boy. One could easily damage oneself on the hot heating element, or on the melted plastic before it cooled. Or with exacto blades to chop out the manufactured parts. There were so many ways that a child could get themselves sent to the hospital with an irate and hysterical parent accompanying them.

Now that is the kind of toy that won the cold war. That is the kind of toy that bred tough and realistic Americans who were capable of manufacturing and surviving in this dangerous world. Its a toy that would send parents of today screaming in rage at the borderline-insane cavalier attitude of the toy designers towards safety or the lack thereof, not realizing that these toy designers were just trying to make America that much stronger.

I hope that America will come to its senses and return to these educational toys before it is too late. I could imagine a line of toy drones being used to find and disarm neighborhood land mines, for example. Or toy drones used to find insurgents hiding in the neighborhood during a play guerrilla attack. What fun that would be!

The future has so much promise if we just embrace it.


Here is a video from the 1960s showing the VAC-U-FORM at work

The Wikipedia page on the VAC-U-FORM

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Yet Again, the Problem is the Documentation

There are several unwritten rules about the Internet and we might as well make them clear up front. The first is that everything is great, and if you dont say and acknowledge that its great then you are an asshole and must be ignored and written off as someone who complains.  And I do complain so they are correct.  The second rule is that the documentation sortof sucks, and it does.  It is not intentional on anyone's part that the documentation sucks, or rather is uneven.  It is just the way things turned out.

Now for some details and a specific example and one more time it is not the technology per se that is bad, although of course there are always things one might like to change.  The problem, as always it seems, is that the documentation is either wrong, inadequate or overwhelmed by noise that masquerades as signal.  And that noise manifests itself as "helpful" documentation available on the Internet and authored  by the "group mind" that is, unfortunately, wrong or out of date or replicates what is already there or all of the above and there is no easy way to tell the difference.  As a result, the anarchic state of the documentation makes learning new and possibly better approaches on the Internet annoying and much more time consuming than it needs to be.

Websockets is the “new” approach to client server communication for browser applications. It does not look like much, but it is apparently almost as good as what we had with the Arpanet on day one in 1972.   As I read more about Websockets, I realize that there is a lot of thought that has gone into it in fact just because the Internet is not the ARPAnet and there are a variety of considerations that this forces on the design of technology like Websockets.  

Now Websockets is marked as experimental and is also considered to be incompatible between various implementations/browsers. However, it seems that is old news and that there are good implementations in most browsers and a variety of frameworks to hide differences between browsers.   For my application, I am not too concerned about this as my specific application is more of a proof of concept and we can finesse such things as working transparently on all browsers, for example.

But as always, the documentation is ad hoc.  There are many different frameworks one might use for your server side implementation.  Each of them has a different approach to documentation. Just choosing between the different frameworks (in this case that works with node.js) is itself a chore and a half.

For example, the site has the source to an echo client that runs in a browser and is written in Javascript, and they also run a live echo server on their site.   But the source for their echo server is not available.  Why not?  And there is no contact information on their website such that you could ask them that question or any questions at all.

I presume that the people involved in all these technologies and frameworks are not lazy nor stupid.  I suspect that there is a combination of things going on here.  They include such things as (a) being not particularly talented at writing documentation nor enjoying the process, (b) not realizing that such documentation is necessary, (c) balancing the needs of this project with other responsibilities, (d) relying on someone else to do it, and (e) actually believing the groupsource myth that says that other people will write it for you.

My guess, my personal guess, without enough information, is that Websockets is an effort by an elite who simply do not understand or care that people learning their protocol who have not lived with it as they have on their committees will need more documentation and usable examples to make good use of their time.  It works for them.

If you dont like it, well its the Internet, and you dont have a choice.

[Addendum.  As time goes by, I penetrate more of the mysteries and it is not too bad. In fact, it may even be reasonable.  But Jesus, they really don't try to make it easy for you.]

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Garden Update Spring 2015

I have no idea who, if anyone, is interested in my gardening experiment. But here is my update, Spring 2015.

At first I was not going to have a garden this year since I have learned most of what I expect to learn and since I have much less time than before.

But I decided to plant another round anyway for the following reasons: the incremental work since everything has been set up is small, I own all the seeds and materials I need for most of this next season (e.g. insecticidal soap, copper solution, time release fertilizer), and because I wanted to see if I could get better results from the peas and beans disease wise by spreading them out. Also to see if I could get the lettuce to not bolt so fast by planting them in the shade.

So we planted

4 x rows pole beans
4 x rows sugar daddy peas
2 x rows oregon sugar peas
1 row and 1 container romaine lettuce, 1 in shade and 1 not
2 x containers basil
4 x containers sweet 100 cherry tomatoes
2 x rows carrots

I will plant a few containers of cucumbers and a few of semi-determinate hybrid tomatoes if I can find any.

In the past, a planting of this type has resulted in occasional useful crops of all the above vegetables, with some disease and bolting problems. As long as you are not depending on them, they are nice to have fresh from time to time. The pole beans and the peas are by far the most regularly available and actually useful (as I do not normally buy them at the store due to the prices).

The garden experiment is mostly over. It is fascinating to get a feel for the genetic and development issues in plants, and it is also fascinating to see with my own eyes the continuous struggle with disease and pests. If you have never seen this before, it is worth it. As an economic or health activity (e.g. save money or improve health with fresh vegetables) it is marginal. I would have to invest much more and scale way up before the incremental value was worth the investment.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

270 Million People and the History of Religion in Los Angeles

[Apparently there may be 80 million Methodists worldwide, but about 10 million in the USA.  See other thoughts at the end of the post].

The point of this essay is not to run down Los Angeles, or call Los Angeles or the people who live here bad people.  But it is to support the thesis that Los Angeles is a different place, different from what people who have not lived here think it is.  And also that LA may very well be different from what the people who do live here think it is because they just do not notice.

Now, it is true that this particular issue, indifference to history, annoys me a lot.  But that is just me and if I dont like it I should not live here.  Which is correct, I should not live here.

There is also a potential perceptual error in this post.  I assume that because I did not know something, that no one did, and in fact I have asked around, and no one I have talked to seems to have known this story.  But maybe everyone else does, and I am just wrong.   Lets see what you think when I finally get around to telling the story at the end.

But before we begin, why should we care about history?

History is how we know what happened in the past, good things, bad things, great things and small things. It allows us to memorialize places and events in a way that can be inspirational to all our people.  But LA is not at all interested or sentimental about its history.  You can live here all your life and not realize how much of the history of aerospace, or the history of contemporary architecture, or the history of broadcasting,  to name just three fields, happened in this town.

I, on the other hand, am very sentimental. I think that there should be signs around the city to indicate points of interest.   For example, I think there should be signs where James Dean crashed his Porsche, where Jim Morrison lived when attending UCLA Film School, where Tom Mix had his log cabin, where Harry Houdini had his mansion and where Howard Hughes crashed his jet. If it were up to me, that is what I would do.

But LA would have none of that. Their eyes are always on the horizon, looking to the future, not the past. They care about what is happening now. What important landmark can they destroy now to build a new mini-mall? What innocent can they exploit today? Who can they steal from now, not who did they steal from back thenThe citizens of our fair city of the angels have priorities and keep their eyes firmly on their goals.

This particular story is about the history of religion in Los Angeles, and no, I am not talking about hippies or the love generation or Transcendental Meditation.  This is about the creation of a new denomination of Christianity that has done very well for itself over the last century.

Most people believe that religion is something that was started long ago, and that is of course somewhat true. This country is primarily a Christian country of one type or another and obviously Christianity started roughly 2,000 years ago. Most of the notable religions around the world started over 1,000 years ago, but there are some exceptions. There are some aspects of modern Hinduism that are more recent, also the same with certain sects of Buddhism. Marxism is certainly a religion and that is much more recent. Shinto is very ancient in certain ways, but it has also been reinvented and reinterpreted much more recently as well.

And of course, the history of this nation and its religion is very much tied into the history of Great Britain from 400 years ago, in particular, the history of the Protestant Reformation. New England was founded by people who were radical Calvinists, Virginia by the children of the Anglican gentry. The descendants of the Virginians' became what we call Episcopalians when the American Revolution happened. And of course there are various other denominations, Presbyterians, (ana) Baptists and so forth. The Methodists came into existence before and during the American Revolution, and John Wesley came to America to speak about his ideas at the invitation of the people of Savannah, Georgia. You can not be in Savannah for longer than about fifteen minutes before they proudly tell you about this.

Some of the history of religion in this country is not so pretty. Most people know of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (e.g. the Mormons) and know that it was founded by Joseph Smith. What most Americans do not seem to know is that Mr. Smith was murdered in Illinois while in jail on a trumped up charge and his murder was sanctioned by the government. No due process of course. No one was punished for his murder although they knew who did it. Another proud moment in American history swept under the rug.

So now, I am going to propose a metric to indicate whether a religion, or denomination, is important. There are about 15 million members of the Church of LDS and about 10 million Methodists in this country (said to be 80 million worldwide) as counted by the churches themselves (and thus are taken to be approximate).

So I hope you will agree with me that a denomination of Christianity that has about 270 million members and which is arguably the fastest growing denomination of Christianity is worthy of notice. And perhaps you would be as surprised as I was to learn that this denomination(s) was founded here, in downtown LA, a little over a century ago in 1906.

The story, somewhat simplified, goes like this.

In the year of 1906 a preacher from Texas was invited to come to Los Angeles and preach to a congregation in downtown LA for a month. He was a poor man, and lived at the home of a member of this congregation as a guest while he did so. The congregation decided that they did not like what he had to say for various reasons so they asked him to stop coming around, so he did. But he continued to live as a guest at that address on N. Bonnie Brae Street and somewhere around April 9, 1906, he started preaching out of the house to the people of the neighborhood and the people who came around to listen. The word got around and more and more people dropped by to hear what he had to say. After a while, they rented a space upstairs nearby on Azuza Street and he continued preaching from there.

The house on N. Bonnie Brae Street

The prayer meetings were exciting and eventful, supposedly.  The true religion was in the air for those people and the word spread.   People of all races and from all over the country came to hear William Seymore and his associates speak.  It became a phenomenon which lasted about four years and is now called the Azuza Street Revival.

The space on Azuza Street

I have of course oversimplified this story. There is more back story and many more people involved as the movement grew and evolved, as you would expect from a movement that in a century has hundreds of millions of members all around the world. But it is the case that the Pentecostal movement is really that large today and is the fastest growing Christian denomination in the world. And it started here, in that poor neighborhood of Los Angeles, that day in 1906 when William Seymore started preaching out of that house on N. Bonnie Brae Street.

Wm Seymore and his wife, Jennie

Now, I will be first to admit that I do not understand the Pentecostal movement. Speaking in Tongues seems off the wall to me, but that is fine.  There are lots of strange things in religion, and also strange things in our society, and I am not going to make judgments.

How is it possible that a major religious movement could start in the city of Los Angeles and yet no one here seems to know about it?   Is it because this movement was started by a poor black man and had beliefs outside that of the religious orthodoxy?  Is it because there is no particular way to cash in on the story and make money?  Perhaps.  I really don't know. I do know that the LA Times wrote nasty articles about the movement back in the day and the LA Times has always been the voice of the people who run Los Angeles.

But I also know that a denomination of 270 million people is worthy of notice and if it started in my city I would want to know about it.

So again, remember, I am not saying LA is bad.  Just that LA really is indifferent to history of any type, and certainly does not care about its own history.   Seriously, does not care.

I think its a little weird, ok?

[Further reading has suggested other explanations for the apparent neglect.   Although all the Pentecostal organizations and independent churches do, apparently, trace their origins to the Azuza Street Revival and William Seymore, these organizations and churches are not at all united and have various differences between them.  Of course that is true in many different denominations in Christianity and all other religions I am aware of.  But it would help to explain why there is not one important voice calling for recognition and acknowledgement in Los Angeles.  Furthermore, I was not aware of the extent of the hostility between the more established Christian churches and Pentecostalism.   Only recently has Pentecostalism been acknowledged or partially acknowledged as a legitimate part of Christianity.  Whether I have that right or not, the extent of the outsider status of these Church(es) could also help to explain the anonymity in this, its home city.]


Mormon Statistics

Methodist Statistics

The Churches of Richmond Virginia


Azuza Street Revival

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Miracle of Light Rail to Santa Monica and Other Transit News

Watching a city build a transit system is like watching the grass grow. Not much seems to be happening on any given day but things are happening nevertheless. In the case of Los Angeles, we have a decades long process which is distinguished by world class obstructionism, stupidity, failure, self-destructive behavior and progress.

For those of you just joining us, Los Angeles has been slowly building a light rail system to various communities in the greater Los Angeles area and much more slowly and expensively building an underground heavy rail system, e.g. a subway.  The latter, the so-called Red and Purple lines, have been notable for their dysfunctional politics at the local and national level.

But its no big deal. I mean, its not really important. Why should it be important?   Los Angeles claims its a major city, but every street has potholes, except in Beverly Hills, of course. The traffic, as predicted, collapsed into a puddle of congealed shit two decades ago, and the smog caused by the automobile, the Port of Los Angeles, and the refineries results in an air quality which damages the life of everyone who lives here.

But slowly but surely things are starting to improve, and remarkably we are about to achieve a transit milestone I did not believe I would ever see. The light rail from downtown, through USC, and ending in Culver City is in the final stages of being extended to 6 th Street in Santa Monica. This extension is not sometime in the far distant future (see below) but is actually nearing completion and will be in test within 12 months.

Now 12 months is a reasonable time frame.

Expo Line extension being built out to Santa Monica

Furthermore, another extension to the Expo line will turn left at Crenshaw, pass through some of the worst parts of town, but then arrive at a new LAX combined transit center (i.e. where the shuttle buses meet the train and the rental cars).  And this is scheduled for completion in four years or about 2019.

Now four years is a little longer than we might like, but is still in the foreseeable future. And at that point we will have a light rail system that serves downtown, Pasadena, Long Beach, USC, Culver City, Santa Monica, the airport and several other communities.

But lets give credit where credit is due.  I am proud to say that all through this, citizens of Santa Monica have done everything in their power to destroy the extension of the transit system. True to their values. Pure and unspoiled.   They will fight a transit system to their last day.   Yes, they are that .... oh I don't know..... how about selfish and fucked up?

It is 2015 already.  We are 15 years into the new century.  Traffic collapsed in Los Angeles, repeat that word, collapsed, over 20 years ago.  As we all knew it would.   That means the city became unlivable, not that the city was becoming unlivable.  No.  20 years ago (or so) it became unlivable.  To oppose something as simple as light rail to Santa Monica for any reason other than something really serious, such as it destroyed an important historical monument, for example, is more than merely weird, it is insane.  Light rail could only help.  Opposing it is not just a sortof bad idea, it is nutty-boy crazy

So much for the positive news, now lets talk about the weird expensive heavy rail system. It stops right where it ought to stop, naturally, and sensibly at Wilshire and Western. Oh. Yes, I suppose that is a stupid place for it to stop, but hey, that was only 20 years ago. They plan to extend it all the way down to La Cienega and Wilshire!  And they will have that done in a mere 8 years, or 2023.

I can barely catch my breathe!   Those animals!  So speedy!   And then to Century City and finally all the way to Westwood in a mere 20 years or roughly 2035.

Planned Westside Extensions to the Transit System

If heavy rail is so expensive and slow, maybe they should put in light rail in the interim?  It would be no trouble installing light rail on Wilshire Blvd because you could just shut down the street while you were building it.  I mean why not?   The traffic is already fucked.

This should all have been started in 1980 and completed by 2005, a mere 25 years.  But not Los Angeles, no.   No one would describe the people and government of Los Angeles as far sighted and progressive.

In case you wondered who was paying for this, it is not the people of Los Angeles.  As far as I can tell, it is the Federal government, at least for the Purple Line extension.

Still, it is amazing that a working system from downtown to Santa Monica is nearly there .... that in and of itself is a miracle.


Exposition Transit Corridor, Phase 2 to Santa Monica

Metro Breaks Ground on Purple Line Subway Extension

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Animation and Genre


Apparently someone at the Academy Awards referred to animation as a genre and this provoked a large negative response from many of my friends of friends on Facebook who are animators or in the animation business. They all unanimously thought that animation was not a genre. The person who made this comment originally during award coverage may have been an actor.

Remember, before we begin, that the motion picture industry, like many other industries, feels perfectly entitled to take any word in any language and give it a new meaning when it is convenient. So what genre means to someone in the motion picture industry might be very different from what genre might mean to a film studies professor at the university.

In film criticism, a genre generally refers to similar story elements and conventions that are common between films which are said to be a genre. For example, most westerns have a climactic shootout in which good confronts evil and the matter is decided by a gunfight. In most spy movies with an evil genius, there is often a scene in which the evil genius explains to our hero their plan for world domination. In certain fantasy quest stories, the plot often contains a section in which the hero searches for a special weapon to use in fighting evil. Time Travel was considered to be a genre that had no commercial potential until Back to the Future became a hit series.

Genres are often mixed, many films today are likely to have a romantic subplot no matter what the genre.

Genres tend to bring with them advantages and disadvantages as both a commercial property and also creatively. It is generally easier to market a genre film than a film that has no overt genre or which cuts across genres. The disadvantage is that generally a genre has limitations and requirements that the audience expects and you can not easily violate these expectations except with great skill and risk. A famous counter-genre element is the ending of Shane in which the hero is wounded, possibly fatally, in the climactic shootout. Anyone who violates genre expectations runs the risk of displeasing a part of their audience.

Hollywood often screws up genre when it tries to cash in on a film that is successful. Everyone wants to be first to be second. Most of the original imitators of Star Wars were pathetic in their gross misunderstandings of what made that film successful. Its always important to remember that many of the top people in Hollywood are not too smart. That is why they get paid their small salaries in the low millions.

So is animation a genre?

The first thing to realize is that the person who made this comment was an actor. Actors have always hated animation. Why? Because what they want is more films to be made that star actors, of course. Voice over with celebrities is a new phenomena, and besides, its not the same thing. The politics of the situation means that they are in general opposed to animation. The same is true for writers, directors and producers, because generally speaking the people who write animation are drawn from a special list. People who direct animation rarely make the crossover to live action (a recent exception to this is Brad Bird). Same issue with producers, generally speaking. Jon Davison is famous for producing “pop corn” movies, but when he tried to produce films outside his “genre”, e.g. Robocop and Starship Troopers, he did not get the approvals and support he sought. Now Jon loves animation, it turns out, but many producers who produce live action most certainly do not.

This is also the same reason why it is extremely hard for an animated film to win best picture. The academy is made up of actors, directors, producers, etc, and most of them do not make animation. They dont understand it and they dont like it, so they dont vote for it.

But there are other reasons why animation could be considered a genre. Animation generally falls into two categories when it comes to marketing films in this country: one category is so-called family entertainment, and the other sometimes called kid-vid, or animation for very young children. Now this is a cultural issue, and does not necessarily apply to other countries. In Japan and the far east, there is another category of animation which we might call “young adult”. In this category, we can have much more violence and it is much closer to action adventure films. But animated films in this category have never done well among general audiences in this country, although there is a very loyal and committed set of fans here. They do not have the economic clout.

By far the most desirable of these categories in this country is “family entertainment”, which generally refers to films that are for the most part intended for young audiences but which can be enjoyed by adults as well. Thus the parent of a child or group of children can take them to see a movie and not be bored to tears or wait out in the lobby. In the case of more pure kid-vid, its the sort of thing one might want to rent from the video store, use it as a way of performing day care for the children, but go and do other things while they watch.

Generally speaking, a successful film that qualifies as family entertainment is going to contain elements that appeal to very young audiences as well as having a plot, or nuances of a plot, or of a character that can be entertaining to adults. Famously, on television, Rocky & Bullwinkle by the Jay Ward Studios was such a show.

In longer product, such as films, it was pointed out to me that films that are going to keep the attention of very young children are all musicals: it is the musical interlude in particular that appeals to young children and without that they get bored.  So I am told.

The Walt Disney Company made a film called Rescuers Down Under (1990). It did not contain any songs and was intended for a bit more of the young adult audience. It did not do well at the box office. Disney felt that they had learned a valuable lesson here. (Rescuers Down Under was also the first feature film made entirely with the CAPS system).

May discovers the "dust bunnies" in Totoro.  How could anyone not love this film?

One of my favorite films of all time happens to be an animated film, My Neighbor Totoro (1988). Now Totoro has no musical numbers, it is very long, and the protagonists are two little girls. Very little apparently happens in this film, Mai gets lost, Mai is found, the two little girls are able to visit their sick mother in the hospital and believe that she will get better. I suggested this film to a friend of mine with a 12 year old American boy and he HATED the film with a passion.  Troma, of all companies, attempted to give Totoro a theatrical release in this country, which is how I happened to see it at its premier at the Director's Guild.  But it didn't work, and this unbelievably wonderful film died at the American box office.  So did Akira.   Nevertheless, later films from Japan did get larger releases and have done well.   So it is not black and white.

Nevertheless, I doubt you could get American financing for an animated murder mystery.  Or an animated western with a climactic gunfight. Or a film noir. Because it is commonly believed that such films, if animated, have no chance of making their money back.

There have been independent animated films that break the mold. But again, these films although independent, are also intended to make money. Had they made a huge amount of money, then people would try to imitate them.  But unfortunately they did not, at least not to the best of my knowledge. Still there is no law that says it has to be that way.   Was Team America an animated film?   Did it do well?  It also had at least one musical number.

So, is animation a genre? Well, yes and no, genre may not be exactly the right word. But it is easy to see why some professionals in the motion picture industry would think that it was.

Film Genre on Wikipedia

Rocky and His Friends (1959 - 1964) on IMDB

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) on IMDB

Rescuers Down Under (1990) on IMDB