This debate has been a hot one since animated media became commonplace.
"Do cartoons count as art?"
Those who disagree usually say that art is supposed to speak to an observer and tell them something either about themselves or the world around them, but those who back this train of thought usually do not take the time to watch any of the same shows they critique.
But, on the other hand, it is all too common to find people of the pro-artform argument who devote the majority of their time to the consumption of media.
One of the most recent shows to find its way to this debate was Dreamworks' 2018 rendition of the 80's classic "She-Ra".
With stunning visuals, a resonant musical score, and character development that trumped the original version, this show found itself under scrutiny for representation of self-exploration and the importance of emotion.
The 80's version also found itself to be the unfortunate target of fetishization by many, and this reputation caused there to be much more backlash from communities that disliked the representation of the LGBTQ+ community being included within the show.
However, as an art form, the intention is to convey a message, emotion, or intent. And at this, the 2018 rendition definitely succeeded. For those who gave the show a fair chance, against any internal biases, many found that this show was faithful to the intent. The clear message for many was that in the end, you need to have an agency within your own story, regardless of selfless intent, you are just as important as those around you.
Others looked at this in a more direct tone and found the message that you choose your own destiny. Regardless of where you came from, you can choose your own path and make your own fate.
Another animated show that has reached classical status would be Nickelodeon's "Avatar". While touching on dark themes such as death, grief, trauma, and abuse, this show trusted its audience, predominately children at this point, to understand the importance and impact of these matters. The result was a fanbase that grew with an understanding of people's backgrounds effecting their current status. Empathy is a common theme amongst this show, even even going so far as to have the protagonist refuse to use lethal measures against an evil dictator.
The trust that this animated show gave to its audience allowed them to explore the reasons that people do horrible things, even animated characters, from a young age. This is a factor in how I, myself, have grown over the years.
A common thread amongst many animated shows is that anybody is capable of what they deem to be a worthy goal as well as emotional capacity being a vital skill in life.
As such, it is my belief that animation is definitely an art form. Any message, positive or negative, that is conveyed in a manner that people can understand can be granted the title of an art form. Why does it matter the medium? Paint on canvas, a sculpture of iron, or pixels on a screen. Each can be used to pass a message or idea. What matters is the way that the observer interprets the message, and how they let this intent shape their acts.