Personally, I find animated avatars to be a distraction. I guess I'm showing my age, but if I want stuff to jump around on the screen, I'll watch TV or go to a theater.
This forum allows one to turn off avatars altogether (in "My Preferences"), which is nice, but there's a middle ground. My browser of choice, Opera, has a setting to show the pics, but not animate them. Other browsers might have that setting as well. This way, I can see Richard's lovely blue whatchamacallit, but not have to wonder if David Regal's thingie is going to crawl across the screen. ;-)