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The Hidden Message in Pixar?s Films
I love Pixar. Who doesn?t? The stories are magnificently crafted, the characters are rich, hilarious, and unique, and the images are lovingly rendered. Without fail, John Ratzenberger?s iconic voice makes a cameo in some boisterous character. Even if you haven?t seen every film they?ve made (I refuse to watch Cars or its preposterous sequel), there is a consistency and quality to Pixar?s productions that is hard to deny.
Popular culture is often dismissed as empty ?popcorn? fare. Animated films find themselves doubly-dismissed as ?for the kids? and therefore nothing to take too seriously. Pixar has shattered those expectations by producing commercially successful cinematic art about the fishes in our fish tanks and the bugs in our backyards. Pixar films contain a complex, nuanced, philosophical and political essence that, when viewed across the company?s complete corpus, begins to emerge with some clarity.
Buried within that constant and complex goodness is a hidden message.
Now, this is not your standard ?Disney movies hide double-entendres and sex imagery in every film? hidden message. ?So,? you ask, incredulous, ?What could one of the most beloved and respected teams of filmmakers in our generation possibly be hiding from us?? Before you dismiss my claim, consider what is at stake. Hundreds of millions of people have watched Pixar films. Many of those watchers are children who are forming their understanding of the world. The way in which an entire generation sees life and reality is being shaped, in part, by Pixar.
What if I told you they were preparing us for the future? What if I told you Pixar?s films will affect how we define the rights of millions, perhaps billions, in the coming century? Only by analyzing the collection as a whole can we see the subliminal concept being drilled into our collective mind. I have uncovered the skeleton key deciphering the hidden message contained within the Pixar canon. Let?s unlock it.
The message hidden inside Pixar?s magnificent films is this: humanity does not have a monopoly on personhood. In whatever form non- or super-human intelligence takes, it will need brave souls on both sides to defend what is right. If we can live up to this burden, humanity and the world we live in will be better for it.
The relationship between humans and the non-human characters is critical to understanding Pixar?s movies. There are certain rules in Pixar movies that make things far more interesting than the average Disney fairy tale. The first is that there is no magic. No problems are caused or fixed by the wave of a wand. Second, every Pixar film happens in the world of human beings (see why I excluded Cars? It?s ridiculous and out of character for Pixar). Even in films like a A Bug?s Life and Finding Nemo, in which humans only exist as backdrops for the action, humanity?s presence in the story is essential. The first two rules are pretty direct: the universe Pixar?s characters inhabit is non-magical and co-inhabited by humans.
The third rule is that at least one main character is an intelligent being that isn?t a human. This rule is a bit complex, so let?s flesh it out. There are two types human roles in Pixar films. The first is Human as Villain. In films like the Toy Story 1, 2, & 3, A Bug?s Life, and Finding Nemo, the protagonists are all non-human. Ancillary characters like Sid, the Collector, and Darla are not main characters. A more accurate description would be that they are pieces of the environment and, on occasion, playing the role of supporting antagonist. The second type of Pixar film is Human as Partner. In these films, the main character befriends a human being as part of the hero?s journey: Remy, Colette, and Linguini; WALL-E, EVE, Mary and John; Sully, Mike, and Boo; Russell, Carl, Kevin and Dug. These are the heroic teams of their respective films.
In each Pixar film, at least one member of the team is human and at least one member is not human but possesses human levels of intelligence.
An entire generation has been reared with the subconscious seeds of these ideas planted down deep. As history moves forward and technology with it, these issues will no longer be the imaginings of films and fiction, but of politics and policy. But Pixar has settled the personhood debate before it arrives. By watching our favorite films, we have been taught that being human is not the same as being a person. We have been shown that new persons and forms of personhood can come from anywhere. Through Pixar, we have opened ourselves to a better future.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost