The Hidden Message in Pixar’s Films

By Kyle Munkittrick | May 14, 2011 10:53 am

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.

Before we begin, I ask you to watch the video below. Leandro Copperfield stitched together this seven minute tribute to “The Beauty of Pixar.” Full screen. HD. I dare you to not be moved.

People love these films. They are a part of our lives and of our culture. Pixar has artfully built a universe of beloved critters and beings that populate our popular consciousness. The analysis that follows is in the spirit of reverence and respect for the great contribution Pixar has made to our world.

To understand Pixar films, one must first to go back to Disney before Toy Story was released – to be precise, The Lion King. On top of being my favorite Shakespeare adaptation, The Lion King is the only Disney film to date with zero references to the existence of human beings. Disney and Pixar rarely have humans as the sole intelligent entities in their movies. Excluding plots requiring magic, non-human characters in Disney films are either anthropomorphous animals (e.g. walking upright, wearing clothes, drinkin’ out of cups) that take the place of humans (e.g. Robin Hood or The Rescuers) or are animals with a preternatural awareness of and ability to interact with feral human beings (e.g. The Jungle Book or Tarzan). The Lion King stands out in that the universe is animal only. There is no trash on the Serengeti, no airplanes flying over, no animals in hats or walking unnaturally on hind legs. You can’t even date when the story takes place, because there are no human references from which to calculate an approximation. Save for the fact that Zazu knows “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts,” there is no evidence that the characters within The Lion King even know humans exist.

The Lion King gives us a clean slate. We know what a non-human world looks like. Now we can tackle how Pixar handles people.

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.

You can see where I’m going here. Particularly in WALL•E, Ratatouille and Up! there is no ambiguity about the reality of intelligence in the non-human characters. Each Pixar film asks us to accept one deviation from our reality. While it seems like the deviation is different in every case (e.g. monsters are real, robots can fall in love, fish have a sense of family, Kevin is a girl, a rat can cook), the simple fact is that Pixar only asks us to accept one idea over and over and over again:

Non-humans are sentient beings. That is the central difference between Pixar’s universe and our current reality.

That idea alone would suffice to show that Pixar films are all but propaganda for the concept of non-human personhood. But that is where the hidden message begins.

What makes these films so astonishing and the message so powerful is the story arc of the Human as Partner narrative. The story begins with a non-human living among a familiar setting. Be it WALL-E alone among the garbage, Remy with his massive extended family, or Sully and Mike Wazowski on their way to work, we are introduced to the hero in relative normalcy. Yet each of these characters deviate from their fellow non-humans. Remy wants to cook. WALL-E falls in love. In each case, the deviant non-human is ostracized. Dug is laughed at for his ineptitude and Sully and Mike are banished to live with the Abominable Agreeable Snowman.

In being ostracized, however, the non-human encounters a human. Remy, lost in the kitchen, meets Linguini. Kevin and Dug both partner up with Carl and Russell. The deviant behavior acts as a catalyst for the first interaction. Furthermore, the human is also deviant. Boo is not afraid of monsters. John and Mary (the two people who help WALL-E and EVE) get out of their hover chairs and look away from the screens. Carl escapes the old folks home with a balloon-house airship. A team is formed when the mutual outsiders recognize a shared sense of purpose. Human and non-human rebels alike seek out each other. In combining efforts, however, the team doubles their opposition, with the non-human and human normative majorities rejecting and condemning their behavior. Remy is criticized by his father and alienates his friends while Linguini loses the respect of the entire kitchen and is at risk of having the restaurant closed for health violations. There is a high cost for non-conformity.

The new is seen as dangerous and therefore feared. Pixar’s Human as Partner films emphasize that should a non-human intelligence arise, be it a rat or a robot or a monstrous alien, there will be no welcoming with arms wide open from either side.

Victory in the battle for the rights and respect from both groups will come from an act of exemplary personhood and humaneness by those who dare to break ranks with their kind. Thus, the Human as Partner story arc ends with the capitulation of those who refused to recognize the personhood of the non-human and a huge reward coming to those who accepted the non-humans as fellow persons. In Monsters Inc. Mike and Sully discover that laughter yields far more energy than screams. In Ratatouille Anton Ego has an epiphany and gives one of my favorite speeches of all time in response to a Proustian flashback he experiences after eating Remy’s cooking. In WALL•E none less than the human race is saved from the brink of self-induced-extinction. In short, the benefits for humanity are tremendous in every case where non-human persons are treated with respect.

There is one Pixar film that does not fit either the Humans as Villains or Humans as Partner structure: The Incredibles. Instead of non-human protagonists, we are treated to super-human protagonists and antagonists. Yet the struggle from outcast to redeemer is the same, only this time, it is because the super-humans come together as a family. What enables the Incredible family to succeed is not that they are superhuman but that they are humane; that they love, support, and protect one another. As a result, the society that once feared and banished them sees the supers not as Others, but has fellow members of humanity.

Taken together as a whole narrative, the Pixar canon diagrams what will likely this century’s main rights battle – the rights of personhood – in three stages.

First are the Humans as Villain stories, in which the non-humans discover and develop personhood. I mean, Buzz Lightyear’s character arc is about his becoming self-aware as a toy. These films represent nascent personhood among non-human entities. For the viewer, we begin to see how some animals and items we see as mindless may have inner lives of which we are unaware.

Second are the Humans as Partners stories, in which exceptional non-humans and exceptional humans share a moment of mutual recognition of personhood. The moment when Linguini realizes Remy is answering him is second only to the moment when Remy shows Ego around the kitchen – such beautiful transformations of the Other into the self. These films represent the first forays of non-human persons into seeking parity with human beings.

Third, and finally, there is The Incredibles, which turns the personhood equation on its head. Instead of portraying the struggle for non-humans to be accepted as human, The Incredibles shows how human enhancement, going beyond the human norm, will trigger equally strong reactions of revulsion and otherization. The message, however, is that the human traits we value have nothing to do with our physical powers but are instead based in our moral and emotional bonds. Beneficence and courage require far more humanity than raw might. The Incredibles teaches a striking lesson: human enhancement does not make you inhuman – the choices you make and the way you treat others determines how human you really are.

Pixar has given those who would fight for personhood the narratives necessary to convince the world that non-humans that display characteristics of a person deserve the rights of a person. For every category there is a character: uplifted animals (Dug), naturally intelligent species (Remy and Kevin), A.I robots (WALL-E, EVE), and alien/monsters (Sully & Mike). Then there is the Incredible family, transhumans with superpowers. Through the films, these otherwise strange entities become  unmistakably familiar, so clearly akin to us.

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.

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.

Follow Kyle on his personal blog and on facebook and twitter.

Image of Dug seeking a squirrel via The Pixar Podcast.com

MORE ABOUT: personhood, Pixar, rights

Comments (310)

  1. Max Coldren

    Pixar demands competent evil will always be overcome, with little permanent loss, by giddy goodness. Pixar says everything is bright and beautiful, has rights, and nobody ever uses a toilet. Pixar is a triumph of emasculation in which the sow always has enough teats for her litter.

    Tell folks living along the lower 2/3 of the Mississippi that God signed a locally significant contract with a rainbow. You got where you are by doing what you did. Stupidity is not a bouyant medium.

  2. Alex

    Yeah – empathy for robots. That is so IMPORTANT. LOL – what a lame post. Some scientists are so deep in their cave, they have no idea what the world is actually like, or what the real issues are.

  3. dirk

    I looove Pixar movies. However, I’m a little more hesitant to support them now that I know that it may lead to a future where people allow rats to overrun my favorite restaurants… or if it causes future scientists to start believing their old toys have adventures when they’re not looking.

  4. Bryan

    I agree with your observations but I also wonder if it’s a conscious decision on Pixar’s part or just part of a formula they follow to make movies. Either way I think your points are valid. We Homo Sapiens have a tendency to dehumanize anyone we don’t agree with or see as different from ourselves. You see this with race, religion, sexual orientation, and even just when people live in countries other than our own.

    I think we need to learn to see other Homo Sapiens as human before we could ever accept that anyone else could be human. The real gift of what Pixar’s movies do is in moving the endpoints, the extremes. When you have a continuum of opinion and you extend the range to one side or the other the middle ground tends to shift along with it to stay in the middle. By showing that animals, monsters, and robots can be human I think what Pixar really does is make us think that other people are probably human as well.

  5. I politely disagree. What Mr. Munkittrick is saying IS, in fact, vastly relevant to everyday life in the here and now- and I believe that the phenomenon he describes introduces a revolutionary idea, one that questions the entire setup of modern, westernized society. All of the problems we face today can be traced to our culture’s failure to extend to rights of personhood to ALL fellow creatures, be they human or nonhuman. Poverty and hunger stem from our inability to view those with whom we do not directly interact as persons, as persons who are persons of the same level as those with whom we do. There is enough food and money in the world to make everybody comfortable, but because those of us who possess the bulk of it are unable to view people with whom we do not interact directly as true persons, and to empathize and respond to their needs as such, the current world order stands. People we do not know become statistics, poster children, inaccessible as persons. In addition to the problems we face today involving humans, the world of WALL-E is terrifying because it is so very near, because we do not view the elements of nature as persons. Our culture, and the culture of the humans in WALL-E, exists on the moral basis that we, as persons, are entitled to view the world and its nonhuman inhabitants as means to our own ends, rather than ends in themselves- in other words, rather than persons. I urge you not to dismiss Mr. Munkittrick as a rambling academic and to examine the way we live and where we are going- and the effect that the way we view things has on ourselves and our world. And if you would like to dismiss me as another rambling academic, I’ll have you know I’m a freshman in High School and spend as much time on I Can Has Cheezeburger as the next person, so back off. Also, I use the condescending tone on purpose when I don’t like people- so maybe I don’t disagree quite so respectfully, you jerks. ;)

  6. So, do you think that Pixar is doing this consciously? It’s been the same core team making all of the movies, and as a novelist myself I know that themes can arise in stories unconsciously, and that they can arise consistently in multiple stories, before they’ve ever been pointed out to the author. I feel that, if they were trying their hardest to push this message, the actual movies would suffer. Art for the sake of anything buy the joy art brings tends, I think, to resonate less.

    From Pixar’s perspective, I imagine they don’t see Cars (I enjoy Cars) as an aberration, because it was never their intention to exclusively create movies ab0ut the relationships between humans and non-humans.

    Did you not enjoy Cars?

  7. Peter

    Great essay, insightful and well analyzed. Important lessons about acceptance for anything we see as being different from our own experience.

  8. James

    I’m not sure if some of the previous posts missed the point but i think that this was a valid and fascinating discussion with relevance today in the move for equal rights for all. It’s about morality and ethics making you human, not what has been dictated as the accepted way of life.

  9. Ken

    (see why I excluded Cars? It’s ridiculous and out of character for Pixar)

    Almost everything in Cars shows an all-car world – there’s even that weird little scene where the insects are tiny vehicles – but in a couple of the highway backgrounds there are crops. That’s the one little thing I’ve never been able to make fit. (And it looks like lettuce, so it’s probably not biodiesel.)

  10. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    I find myself in the third intermediate position. This is a real issue, since we find functional traits which are part of what we call “intelligence” in others, from plants over animals to robots of hard- & software; it is an expected outcome of evolution (biology).

    It is also a social concern since morality, which originally encompass own species, starts to extend to others; from us to our pets, and social & moral responses from our pets in our extended family. (Say, a dog trying to look ‘innocent’ when found out breaking family rules.)

    But of course that doesn’t extend to claiming that “All of the problems we face today can be traced to our culture’s failure to extend to rights of personhood to ALL fellow creatures”. That would be insanity. (Say, because poverty comes from a complex of causes including inefficient and hazardous food production, distribution is only one of them and can never achieve the idealized utopian state.)

    I think the post is interesting as a narrative but fails to ground the analysis in testing and the biology that makes it possible, so merely a useless if entertainingly written “just so” story in the end.

    I can do the analysis in a paragraph: That movies and, earlier, tales puts personhood in inanimate or animate objects is because it is a basic biological function of our mind. (This can be tested, and if I’m not mistaken, has been.) It sells, and the social outfall is merely a positive boon.

  11. jamie

    ‘Personhood’ meaning completely anthropomorphized. Conscious A.I. and aliens will not simply be funny looking people. They will have emotions, senses, and values completely unlike our own.

  12. whoschad

    I just checked my calendar to make sure it’s not April Fool’s Day. Is this post a joke?

    This ‘hidden message’ has been around since at LEAST Mary Shelley’s book ‘Frankenstein’ (I can’t think of anything earlier, but there probably are some examples). From ‘Short Circuit’ to ‘Star Trek’, it has been preached by everybody who has ever decided to write about it. The buttery ‘They’re just like us!” message is nothing new, it’s old and stale at this point.

    I’m not disagreeing with the message, I’m just a little incredulous as to why anyone would consider this something new that Pixar is secretly inculcating us with.

  13. pathos

    This is an example of how over analyzing something to much can make you say crazy things. The use of animals and inanimate object are purely for allegorical purposes. This technique is old as stories themselves such as for example, aesops fables. These movies are not about the relationship of people to animals, but about people to people. And sometimes they really are just about cars that can talk and nothing more.

  14. NuLL.n.VoiD

    Did this guy really waste an afternoon huffing model building glue to write this drivel? He’s got some very well put touchy-feely points to make but let’s get real here folks. Pixar is not coming up with new stuff. They just put a heck of a lot more thought and research into their characters and it shows. Their characters feel complete in ways that most movie companies aren’t willing to invest in with time or money. THAT’S THE REAL SECRET. Disney lost sight of this years ago when they decided that making Movie 1,2 and 3 would be profitable instead of making one movie really well. That’s why the other two Lion King movies were just plain stupid. Personhood is not a new thing at all (thanks whoschad) and it’s certainly not the unique domain of Pixar. Pixar just puts more effort into the characters. By the way, CARS WAS A GREAT MOVIE.

  15. Max Coldren, I love the way you write.

    Anyway.

    From the standpoint of those interested in fictional story creation, this article is sound. Don’t take the altruistic opinion of the writers as a concrete fact. It is their opinion, and the article is more interesting because they express it.

    Thanks for the look behind the stories that Pixar has brought to life, it was informative and provided a perspective I had not considered before.

    Aaron

  16. Gark

    i honestly think that everyone spewing vitriol on this post didn’t bother to read it entirely. way to go, short attention span monkeys.

  17. karan bhatia

    and i thought hollywood movies only had zionist, jewish and israeli propaganda. pixar has simply found a formula for successful animated movies and you just wrote a whole article on bs. some relative of yours gave you this writing job on this site?

  18. Kyle

    This essay is looking deeper than it needs to lol. There is a much simpler, less diabolical explanation. The whole nonhuman part is just Pixar engaging in smart marketing to children. That’s all. Kids like anthropomorphic things. They would get really bored if movies for them always had just people so Pixar was just like, hey, let’s always do nonhuman stuff! Let their imaginations run wild! I do not believe in animal rights at all and if I ran Pixar I would do the same exact shit in my movies. That alone is proof that this is a pretty weak theory just because of the possibility.

  19. ophu

    Could it be they’re just filtering the messages that the scriptwriters grew up with? And if so, where did these messages come from? People see conspiracies everywhere nowadays.

  20. JBat

    I think you were high when you came up with this idea. NOT because its stupid or anything but because only a stoned person would think of it

  21. Unknown

    “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.

    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.

    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 get your message, but by refusing to see Cars (and its sequel), you’ve pretty much destroyed the whole point you’re making. Also, Wall-E is probably the only Pixar film that is rooted between human and non-human….literally as its main theme. The other Pixar movies were more about “finding yourself”, “accepting others”, or “accepting yourself for who you are” without “humanity” being anywhere in their focus.

    It’s people like you that make my love for Cars grow stronger, because on the outside, they don’t look like people, but inside, they are individuals too. :)

  22. Don

    So can we have a 1000 word treatise on Luxo, Jr? Of course that first Pixar movie, like Cars, had no humans in it, so you probably didn’t see that either.

  23. joanholt

    Whatever the reason these printable coupons or “Printapons” exist and it is valid to use them, although it can skew the marketing research for which they were intended.

  24. Heidi Mason

    Some comments on the “vitriol”…

    Of course this essay is deeper than it needs to be. Essays usually are.

    Of course Pixar isn’t coming up with new things. The truly new is frightening to the human race in general. The best stories and themes are often old repeated ones, even if they’re in a different packaging. Then again, you’re also right about them putting in more research and thought than the typical storytelling company, which is why each of their films have been a success.

    And on that note, of course these themes have been around since “Frankenstein,” and even long before Mary Shelley’s classic novel.

    Of course this is over analyzed, and of course it’s a bit crazy. But some of the best ideas in the world are like that, as are the things that make us think deeply. Just because something is a comic book or a cartoon doesn’t mean it can’t be deep literature that makes us view the world around us with more thought, more care, and more ethics.

    So, my final thought about people who claim this post is “lame”: What is it about your life that you have to attack others so fiercely? Whether you enjoyed this or not, the author’s intent was to explore an idea, not necessarily change the world overnight. What is wrong with posting “I didn’t enjoy this. Nothing about this applies to my life” instead of attacking with language that puts down the author? If you want to attack me for that stance, then do so. I am not thick skinned, so it may hurt. But I also believe in being considerate of others and watching what I say online. The anonymity of online interaction does not excuse us from being human, it does not give us permission to say things about and to others that we would not normally say to their faces. And even if you would say such things to people, perhaps you missed the point of this essay, which is that it does matter, the things you choose to do and say, and how those things affect other people.

    To me, the writing is sound, the ideas are well supported and explored, it is well-written for a target audience (instead of being something like a formal college essay), and though I disagree on a point or two, I found that it provoked me to think.

    And now, because I can’t resist, I have to bring up the one point I did disagree with. I feel that “Cars” also fits into this description of personalization. Like the stage that describes “The Incredibles,” it is not the level of skill or how a car is built that determines how “human” or personable a car is, but, as the author points out, “the choices you make and the way you treat others determines how human you really are.” Not to mention the level of success in life, and the level of happiness that “person” has.

    Thank you for a good read.

  25. Heidi Mason

    Oh, and I totally believe that EVERY story has an agenda, hidden or not. Every author, storyteller, politician, or whatever type of communicator has their own belief system that they bring to the table. This, of course, influences the medium by which they communicate, provoking a message about their belief system, intended or not, in the content of the communication.

  26. Shane

    It’s a fascinating analysis, and not without value. Cars actually fits into the same mold the author tries to apply to the Incredibles by blurring the line between people and tools by combining them into a single entity that is both more and less than human.

    The problem, however is not in the analysis, but in the nature of great modern stories. Any story with sufficiently developed complex characters and story arc loans itself to this kind of thing. Whether it’s Hemingway, or Knowles or a Pixar film, great stories that focus on the Hero’s Journey especially ( or really, any of the 7 great plots ) can be used to make a convincing case for nearly any kind of “agenda”. Any character or object can be imbued with significance or representational value. It need not be a treatise on accepting non-human intelligence. It could just as easily, and convincingly be that the non-humans are metaphorical vehicles for heretical thought, confusing alien cultures, or uncomfortable realities. They could also be externalized realizations of the internal struggles of the protagonist, where the non-human actors represent either his flaws, or the ideals to which he aspires, and the resultant conflicts and friendships represent his internal journey/transformation.

    They could also simply be well crafted cyphers. Dimensional and compelling, but with enough traction to allow us to project our own values, and own interpretations onto them. Removed and alien enough because they are non-human that we can project our fears and uncertainty onto them, but non-threatening enough that we are willing to let the story help us confront the fears and uncertainty along with the protagonist and see past them into a friendly resolution. We see ham-handed versions of this in childrens programming all the time, but often fail to realize that masterful implementations are the defining quality of most great stories and great literature.

    This is the art of story telling at it’s finest, not a secret agenda to prepare us to accept non-human intelligences.

  27. Dillon

    Listen, to the people who wrote the first few comments….YOU ARE RETARDED AND NEED TO ATTEND THE LOCAL INSANE ASYLUM. Pixar films and even this analysis aren’t about rats “over-running” our restaurants or old men flying away in houses suspended by balloons in the future. the analysis says, and I believe that the point in the films is to show a malleable generation that there is no point in persecuting those who are different for the sole reason that they are different.

  28. Rick

    OK I can breathe again, the level of humor upon reading these comments was so amazingly off the scale, that I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s a MMMMOOOOOOVVVVIIIIEEEEE!!!!! Get over it.

  29. IanW

    “I refuse to watch Cars or its preposterous sequel”

    If you haven’t seen it, how do you know it’s preposterous?

    The first ‘Cars’ was just like other Pixar movies: animated, hilarious, interesting, almost ingenious – at least in parts. There’s no logical reason to discriminate.

  30. Karen

    “I have a Grand Unified Theory of Pixar movies … but one of their most popular franchises doesn’t fit, so I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist.”

    Sorry, not working for me.

  31. Frank

    “one that questions the entire setup of modern, westernized society.”

    Oh please. Like social inequality and bigotry didn’t exist in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas before European contact. Imperialism is terrible, but it isn’t the monolithic root of all humanity’s ills. Selfishness and tribalism are way more ingrained in our biology than you suggest.

  32. Ken

    Unknown wrote: It’s people like you that make my love for Cars grow stronger, because on the outside, they don’t look like people, but inside[...]

    That’s my other theory of the Cars universe – that each vehicle gassed its driver, and now drives around with the dessicated corpse behind the wheel, powered and animated by a human soul writhing in eternal torment…

    P.S. Do not share this when a six-year-old asks “Where are all the people?”

  33. the shadow

    you people have way too much time on your hands……. they are just movies people!!!!
    get a life!!!

  34. So you’re saying that Pixar has a pantheistic worldview in which all things have character. It shows our narcissism. This is a greatly worded piece, but I think your representation as a hidden message is a good enough attempt to reach an intended audience. Either way, I like what your saying and do believe it has some merit. Anthropomorphizing critters is not only cute, but opens one up to another world view less compartmentalized than the sad box we are most often lead to…thanks for an interesting article.

  35. I think you should watch Cars. Though my personal opinion is that it is the second weakest Pixar film (ahead of only A Bug’s Life) it is still better than most every other animated film of the last decade.
    Interestingly, Incredibles also has a theme, in its climax, of the inherent uncontrollability of technology. With the last fight coming against a remote controlled robot which gets a mind of its own and rebels against its master as well as all that stands in its way. We find danger in assembly-line mindlessness as well, whether it be the doorway scene in Monster’s Inc., or the baggage room conveyor belt of Toy Story 2.
    The narrative is not only a matter of how well we treat these non-human entities, how we treat the other, but also of how technology can be a negative as well as a positive. Of course, this isn’t anything new as well. Pixar doesn’t corner the market on this theme.
    The short films have much to say as well. I’d love to see a follow up including those.

  36. Tim

    1. This “hidden message” is not exclusive to Pixar. You can date it back to Aesop. He used animals as stand-ins for humans to make an analogy, or sometimes an allegory. It’s not a hidden message. It’s a common storytelling motif.
    2. Humans are very difficult to animate convincingly. That’s why the early Pixar films have main casts made of hard shiny material… Plastic toys, insects with exoskeletons, etc. Even fur was was a technological hurdle that had to be crossed later in the game; that’s why the dog in Toy Story looked kinda funky. Sully and company had to wait awhile for the software to catch up.

  37. pheldespat

    Overanalyzed. Also comment 30.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    There’s nothing new about depicting non-humans with human intelligence. Look at Aesop’s Fables — the roots of those stories go back to pre-literate times. There have been “talking animal” stories as long as there have been stories. Is “The Three Little Pigs” some kind of a plot?

    Some people need to get a life. Also an education.

    edit: what Tim said.

  39. Bobby

    I agree with your assertion that personhood should not be limited to humans, that humans need to realize and care about the fact that they can cause other living creatures to needlessly suffer.

    I don’t, however, understand how you reach two of your most basic conclusions: a) that Pixar intentionally writes their movies with this secret agenda in mind, or b) that this kind of message primes kids to think about how their actions affect more than just themselves or other humans.

    The article would have been ok if the author had simply said, “This is what I got from Pixar movies.” Great, that’s a personal matter, I’m glad you got something positive from your experience, I didn’t see any of that when I watched the movies, but your analysis is your own.

    When you go off making testable claims like the two I mentioned. though, you have to have evidence to back them up. Otherwise people will say it’s a conspiracy theory — and they’ll be right.

  40. PopeJamal

    It’s his essay. If he wants to exclude “Cars”, and include dancing bananas or anything else, he can . It is, after all, his essay.

    The author is absolutely right, Pixar is hoping that your children don’t grow up to be like you. What a bunch of a-holes…

  41. Aaryn

    I agree with many of you who are agreeing that this essay is digging too much into what isn’t really there. Personally, I know a few animators who work at pixar and I have been obsessed with the industry because I am in it.

    One of the main reasons that pixar has continually used non-human characters sparingly early on in their movies was because it was not really feasible. Animating and texturing human characters was REALLY hard to do (See Cid in Toy Story 1 and compare to Andy in Toy Story 3). The Incredibles was a milestone for pixar because the technology had finally caught up to the point where human character models were at an acceptable level of quality where they could use them for their movies.

    The second reason that Pixar uses non-human characters a lot is because, again some of you have said this, children resonate with animals more. Animals are more universal and a great way to market their movies across the world.

    On top of all of this is story. Pixar has some of the best story artist in the business and it really shows. They have been able to work with ANY kind of characters and have made amazing stories.

    Personally, I did not appreciate Cars but I did watch it and I did give it a shot.

    Again, the author is digging into conclusions that do not exist. Yes, there is a continuing pattern to their movies and yes, there is a message being played in all of them but not to the point the author is mentioning. Acceptance, Love, Bravery, Trust. These themes are in EVERY form of art. Please research and understand the history of 3D animation.

  42. Uncle B

    Aliens, preparing American Luddites for total acceptance? Not aliens? commie Chinese then? or a master race of international financiers? factory foremen overseers? computerized world where intimate objects take role of controllers?

  43. A Realist.

    Why don’t you write PIXAR before you post an entire research paper about subliminal messages of humanism vs personhood. Im sure there is not a single Phd staff member on the entire PIXAR team. If there is I am most positively sure that he did not intend people to formulate extremely tangented conclusions. This paper is equal to the ideocracy of South Park’s Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs, and that is from a very low IQ’d writing team. That people read into things way too much. I would rather hear from PIXAR, that they are probably just doing what they do well. And that is developing stories that include all the lost qualities and morals modern movies. Which is why they are so engrossing are they not? I think some people really do over read into some things, and yes they probably don’t want our children to grow up deusches like my generation.

  44. J.C. Samuelson

    I wouldn’t go as far as the author did, but all the same I enjoyed the (over)analysis. The strongest statement I’ll make against it is this: I suspect the author’s cognitive biases got in the way of an otherwise fair observation.

    Pixar is very good at delivering common, humanist themes to diverse audiences, and there’s no doubt there are messages embedded in their movies. However, if there is a unified theme or message at all, I would instead argue in favor of strong messages about relationships and connections. But this is hardly new in movie-making, or in storytelling more generally.

  45. Jay

    Some interesting responses to a fun article. I love the passion!

    I find that most Pixar movies are about dealing with loneliness.

  46. Aaryn

    @jay I completely agree with you! It shows how passionate people are about Pixars movies.

  47. BKPrice

    Okay, I can buy the idea that Pixar wants us to be nice to everyone because though they are different from us, they may still feel emotions, share relationships, etc. However, I think you may have gone too far to suggest that we should actually extend “personhood” to non-humans, to include assuring them rights, etc. But your own summary gets to this point:

    “In whatever form non- or super-human intelligence takes, it will need brave souls on *both* sides to defend what is right.”

    Humans may be willing to respect the “rights” of animals and/or machines but the same will not be said of the animals/machines. The best we can hope for from “them” is that if we leave them alone, they will leave us alone. That is not the same thing and is hardly indication of a human like sentience.

    Otherwise, I don’t think you over analyzed. Its an essay. And to suggest that the theme has existed previously is not really the point. The point of the article was that there was a unifying theme of Pixar movies. Unfortunately, you lose points for excluding Cars (which I agree is the least entertaining of all the Pixar movies).

    Cheers!

  48. jason

    who is this message from?

    why now?

  49. Bart

    Cute theory, but overwritten to a stupefying degree. Compare: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Pixar

    It would be far better to write something to the effect: A recurring theme in many (but not all) Pixar films, is the prominence of non-human sentient creatures. Example, example, example.

    But the main problem the author has is that non-human sentient creatures are kinda, you know, the oldest trope in the book. I mean, you could go back to the snake in the Garden of Eden. The characters in the Jungle Book. The candlesticks and plates and clocks, etc in Disney, yes, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

    The author is obviously young and bright, so I’m sure he will produce work in the future that holds up better. For now, his success is in generating conversation, not in a viable literary theory.

  50. Kevin

    I think this is a beautiful post. Personally, Toy Story sticks out as the movie most in line with your thesis. I’ve grown up with Pixar movies (Toy Story came out when I was five). Way down deep, it still makes me apprehensive to think that my toys could have lives that I’m unaware of. I think this apprehension comes from the fact that these toys’ happiness and sense of fulfillment comes almost entirely from the approval of Andy. I’m drawn to think, even now, what if the toys I’ve abandoned over the years have felt the same depression and ennui that Woody and Buzz would have felt if Andy callously abandoned them? Of course, given a little deeper thought, it’s ridiculous to think that plastic toys could have self awareness. They’re made of plastic, they don’t have a nervous system. But the thought remains, because it’s found a parallel.
    There is certainly something else, something non-human, which has emotions, happiness, sadness, which is largely dependent on my attention and approval. It’s the family dog. Dogs can be happy, sad, and even depressed. My best friend had a dog who died from depression soon after the dog’s sister died. Doug, from Up, catches the personality of dogs pretty well. And if we start to wonder if dogs can be people, then what other animals might be people, too?
    I’m a vegetarian now, and I don’t think it was due to Pixar movies, but I’ll say at the very least that it’s plausible.

  51. Calli Arcale

    Not a bad article, but you really *should* see Cars. Admittedly, it would cause problems for your thesis, because there are no humans in it at all. (Mind you, this is also true of “A Bug’s Life,” for the most part — there, humans exist but only as scenery.) But it’s not as ridiculous as you think. Nor as ridiculous as the trailers made it look. I had avoided it for many years, having been annoyed away by the trailers. But it’s actually got a satisfying story there, and it’s not just “flashy race car learns humility and gets some new friends”. There are other stories, woven together with that story.

    The “human as companion” trope is ancient. It’s an archetype. People have mentioned Aesop (and “A Bug’s Life” is clearly influenced by “the Grasshopper and the Ants”) but there’s also Puss in Boots and many others throughout the centuries. More recently, it describes almost the entire oeuvre of the Jim Henson Studio. From a storytelling standpoint, it doesn’t much matter what species the characters are. It’s their relationships that matter, because that’s what the story is about.

  52. Jesse Healy

    I have seen Cars and I disagree that it takes place in a world devoid of human influence. The characters are sentient machines that have vestigial human traits such as rear view mirrors, they make reference to seat belts( something unneeded for machines that never had drivers. I suggest that the message is that even after humans have disappeared, our legacy maybe our humanity, culture, and limitless potential to do good.

  53. Jessica

    Very thoughtful and insightful post. I much enjoyed reading it.

  54. @ reply 43 – PIXAR do indeed have PhD level people working there. One of them was the co-founder. Their ever more powerful proprietary software doesn`t write itself ;)

    also, passing South Parks staff off as “low IQ” is not only insulting, but hideously elitist. South Park is anarchist animation, they comment on anything and everything and when they choose to carry a poignant message, their conclusion “hits the nail on the head” so to speak; it just usually happens to be delivered alongside the resolution of the sillier B-story and with a hint of absurdist potential. An excellent example is the medicinal Marijuana episode, the A-story is about the abuse of the medicinal marijuana legislation, while the B-story takes the drug-based story of Scarface and parodies it to be about KFC, which is now contraband for the purposes of the episode.
    Don`t be fooled by the crass nature of the show :)

  55. oooooooor The secret behind Pixar that no one wants you to know is that Pixar is a business trying to make decent films so they can make billions of dollars? Sounds crazy I know.

  56. Whoa, reading in way too much there!

  57. Byuyukker

    First of all, I just want the author to know that there are people who realized that your thesis cannot be encapsulated simply by the idea of “anthropomorphization” — skimming through the comments would suggest otherwise, but you should know that your idea shines through loud and clear. Haters gonna hate.

    Second, on a personal note, I always wondered why Cars never really twinkled for me and now I think I know. So, thank you. It was a wonderful film and I’ve seen it numerous times (thanks to some younger family members) but it doesn’t fit on the same plate with Toy Story, Wall E, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc. I realize there are people out there who really resonated with Cars and that’s totally cool but I never liked it as much and was frankly disappointed when I saw because I was expecting, well, a pixar film. Probably doesn’t make any sense to people who liked it, but I feel like I’m not alone here.

    Also, who cares why the producers at Pixar made these films? I don’t know about you, but that’s not why I like them. Ughh are people really criticizing this essay for “reading in too much”? That doesn’t even make sense. Who are you? The analysis police? It’s dismissive mentalities like these that make life lame, boring and mundane. Live a little. It’s the internet, after all.

  58. FogFee

    Wow, that is truly amazing. I had no idea dude. WOw.

    http://www.total-anon.us.tc

  59. icarusfalling

    Funny that Cars is excluded because it does not fit within the premise. Especially given that its the brainchild of Lasserer, who presumably defined Pixar. I know a lot of the ppl at Pixar. I took classes from Andrew Stanton & Pete Doctor back in my art school days. Methinks too much is being read into their stories (not at all diminishing their great writing and directing).

  60. Alex

    For all of you yelling about how this is mindless dribble or that the point isn’t new at all dont get the point of this article. The point is that Pixar, a huge company making a huge amount of movies for the next generation, and that almost everyone in the next generation of adults has seen almost all of these movies. The message behind these movies is being pressed into the heads of the generation and I think Alice even found the deeper meaning to it, to respect life no matter in it directly effects you or not, aka dont be greedy

  61. It’s simply conditioning to make it more acceptable to believe the absurdity of corporate personhood. A fictional entity that has the attributes of a man.

    ala Citizens United v FCC.

    Well people 1000 years ago knew this was wrong and was coming.

    Ex fide non ficta

  62. Or maybe they’re just allegorical/formulaic stories following a classic structure of outcasts finding a way to fit in. Coleridge dealt with the problem of believability (or lack of it) in Shakespeare by pointing out that we, as audiences, accept temporarily that (to use a Pixar example) a rat can talk to a man and pull his hair to direct his cooking, but we know that it isn’t real. This article assumes that audiences are stupid enough to accept the absurd as realistic. That, in itself, is an absurd assumption. Audiences take fantasy as fantasy. The only lessons they take from it are those ethical messages the story offers, and of course Pixar, being a money-making venture, does follow a formula to simplify the work. But you’re mixing up the fantasy and the theme when you suggest people are taking away the message that toys can really talk and act on their own or that rats can cook, or to take it a step further (because the one is an effect of the other) and say that they’re teaching us to accept personification as something more than fantasy. Interesting theory, but it is completely illogical.

  63. kadof kadof

    This analysis is essentially useless without contextualization. In other words, why is Pixar doing this, if they are, in fact, doing this? You assume it is for the benefit of mankind. What if that were not the case? What impact would that have on your analysis? Further, what allowances have you made for that in your analysis? In this era of corporate greed and lies, does it seem appropriate to make such an assumption?

  64. Regardless of whether Pixar is trying to put hidden messages into their films, what better message could we want communicated to our children? I for one am happy that these positive messages are being broadcast to the youth of today, as well as their parents.

  65. Chris

    congratulations, you can interpret something at an undergraduate level. awesome job.

  66. Frank

    I didn’t even know it was possible to collect this much paranoia in one post. Congrats. Don’t forget to change your tinfoil hat on May 21st.

  67. Chad

    Give ‘Cars’ a chance. Much better than ‘Up!’, in my opinion.

  68. Morgan

    This was a lovely piece to read and a beautiful idea is presented. I have always loved Pixar for their ability to make us as people feel strongly for non human characters. The lessons and values taught in their movies are strong and plant the seeds of great ideas of equality and humanity. However, they are just seeds. If that seed is not nurtured it won’t grow. While i would love to believe that a movie corporation could shape the ideas of our future leaders, it is ultimately up to the parents of the kids watching these movies, and the kind of parents those kids grow up to be; that will shape the members of society we will see in future generations. This is not to belittle the amazing and well thought out meaning to this writing, or the efforts of Pixar, if this was in fact their intention. However we can not rely on movies to teach our children how to respect life.

  69. K

    Wow. I can’t believe someone would write such a lengthy post about Pixar yet “refuse to watch Cars.” How can you claim to analyze the meaning of Pixar films while excluding one of the most successful?

    And yet a few paragraphs later, he calls it “ridiculous and out of character for Pixar” — so, did he watch it or not? If he didn’t watch it, how can he possibly know where it stands with regards to his interpretation of Pixar’s “character”?

    Lazy writing. Sloppy research.

  70. Dennis

    Am I the only one who’s noticed that the central conflict in all Pixar feature films is always resolved via fist fight? Except in those cases where fists don’t apply, such as Cars, where fenders are used instead. Let me think about this… Toys=fight with evil toys. Cars=fight/race thing with evil cars. Up=fight with evil explorer and his dogs. Wall-E=fight with evil co-pilot. Monsters=fight with monsters. Why the hell did Up have to degenerate into a fist fight? It started out so promising. The Incrdibles had lots of fighting, but it was a superhero flick after all so no complaints there. You’d think the

  71. A lot of negativity, wasn’t bad, i enjoyed the read. That theme pre-dates pixar though. Also, the post just above mine… that’s perfect… . “Why the hell did Up have to degenerate into a fist fight?”

  72. David

    Key point that seems to be missed: Pixar makes CGI films.

    Unsurprisingly, Pixar chooses ideas that give life and human intelligence to otherwise inanimate, not-so-intelligent items (cars, toys, rats and so forth). That’s because it plays to the strength of the medium.

    It’s a bit like noting that early Disney films were all fantasies, without observing they were also animated.

  73. Bart

    If I’d be working at Pixar and read this I think I’d be LOL-ing for the rest of the day. What? The rest of my career.
    Let’s move on to Sesamestreet now, give it an in-depth analysis.

  74. Matt

    Hidden message? Sounds like their stories just have a moral, as all good stories do.

    A whole lotta words to say nothing ;)

  75. I think you completely forgot to analyze A Bug’s Life. Like Cars, there are no humans here.

  76. Maybe you want try it: http://www.mathfeats.com

    Have you been wondering certain things regarding the Brainetics Review Secrets exposed from the Human Calculator, Mike Byster? His Brainetics program include five DVDs, a Parents’ Guide book, a Playbook, Credit cards and Flash Cards is essential to actually comprehend the Brainetics secrets.

  77. Ieuan

    So how exactly can you praise Toy Story but denigrate Cars? Both of them feature inanimate objects as sentient beings, whether it’s a car or a toy cowboy makes no difference.

    I am a big fan of pixar’s films, I think they are a level above anything Disney itself produced even in it’s pomp. But you are searching too hard for meaning there. The one and only reason for bestowing intelligence on otherwise lesser intelligent species (ants, dogs, whatever) is that it allows them to place the film in an alien setting that immediately generates interest in kids. They keep doing that because it works as a tool to sell movies, not because of some social agenda.

    Also please note this is a method that has sold movies since long before Pixar was a twinkle in anyone’s eye. Lady and the Tramp – Talking dogs. Wizard of Oz – Robot/lion/scarecrow.? Bambi – All the animals. Bugs Bunny?

    Hell, if you go far enough back you can find elements of it in shakespeare, arthurian legends, the mabinogion, even the old testament.

  78. See David Brin’s essay “The Dogma of Otherness”

    http://www.davidbrin.com/newmemewar.htm

    “The Dogma of Otherness is a worldview that actually encourages an appetite for newness. A hunger for diversity. An eagerness for change. Tolerance, naturally, plays a major role in the legends spread by this culture. (Look at the underlying message contained in most episodes of situation comedies!) A second pervasive thread, seen in the vast majority of our films and novels, is suspicion of authority.

    Historically, this is a very strange meme, one which encourages such art forms as science fiction, and is in turn spread quite effectively by such forms. Its notion of a Golden Age, for instance, does not reside in some lost, lamented past but in a future that our children may create, if we hand them tools and a better world to work with. The importance of this reversal in the perceived timeflow of wisdom cannot be overstated. It represents a sea change in the human relationship with time….”

    http://www.google.com/search?q=brin+“dogma+of+otherness” will find the text various places.

    Brief excerpt:

    “… I roll the phrase over on my tongue, then repeat it, perhaps a little pontifically. “The Dogma of Otherness insists that all voices deserve a hearing, that all points of view have something of value to offer.

    “Your reactions reflect this fundamental assumption. Having been raised in the same culture, I believe in it as fully as you do. Recall how reluctant I was to decide, at last, that dolphins aren’t superintelligent. Most of us here believe in diversity of ideas.

    “But think, for a moment, how unique this is . . . how unusual this cultural mind-set has to be! Throughout history nearly every human society has worked hard to ingrain its children with the assumption that theirs was the only way to do things. Oh, we still get a lot of that here. It probably comes automatically with flags and nations and all that tribal stuff. But where and when else has the societal dogma also included such a powerful counter-indoctrination to defend otherness?”

    A man in the front row speaks up.

    “That’s a culturally chauvinistic statement!” There are agreeing nods all around the room. “I mean, what’s so special about our culture? We’re no better than, say, Asian civili–”

    “You’re doing it again!” I cry …”
    ———

  79. Chris

    Given the conclusion you reach, that “The message hidden inside Pixar’s magnificent films is this: humanity does not have a monopoly on personhood,” your uninformed knee-jerk reaction to Cars reminds me of my close-minded grandfather who saw no good in reading any popular fiction at all.
    Cars works on multiple levels, especially for anyone “of a certain age” who fondly remembers the Mother Road and the towns along it that disappeared with the age of cheap gasoline. In many ways, Cars makes a similar nostalgic statement to the Toy Story movies, as well as The Incredibles, regarding the passing of essential elements of Boomer culture.
    It also serves as a commentary on our culture’s fixation with celebrities and athletes, and on our willingness to forget the same when they are no longer the flavor of the month.

  80. Gregg

    Native peoples have an expression for this: “We’re all related.”

  81. Drew

    What a ridiculous article. Kyle Munkittrick spends an entire article trying to demonstrate how clever he is by analyzing Pixar films and ends by making the bold (no pun intended) statement that what Pixar is communicating is that “humanity does not have a monopoly on personhood”. For a start I’m not even sure that sentence makes any sense at all, but he totally overlooks the incredibly obvious which is that Pixar is in the business of telling stories (and they do it superbly). And the key to story telling? Well, it’s invoking identification and empathy. And how do you do that? PERSONIFICATION. You give non-human characters human traits. There’s no agenda to Pixar’s movies other than to be great at what they do, entertain people and make them money – oh, and I guess provide a vehicle for people like Kyle to hang their ever-so-clever half baked theories from. I almost missed that last one.

  82. Nobunny

    i’m not sure how you came away with the idea that the Pixar library features NO MAGIC in their movies…How did Mr Frederickson’s house find the exact location of Paradise Falls? How can a robot recognize love, much less actively pursue it, in violation of it’s hardwired programming? How can a closet door become an interdimensional portal running on the harvested energy of a child’s laughter? What possible scientific extravagance can allow toys to interact with the world all by themselves, as long as nobody is looking? No Magic? Near as i can tell, you can’t watch a Pixar movie without SWIMMING in Magic…

  83. Chris

    Interesting analysis. I’ve avoided every Pixar film based on the poor trailers but this shows there is more to them than the simple mechanical story designed to accumulate wealth for the copyright holders. Now it seems their value is at least comparable with the old Asimov short stories. I’ll have to find a few of them and take a weekend to watch them.

  84. jeff

    “It is easier and more believable to humanize animals than it is to humanize humans.” — Chuck Jones

  85. a mere 50 years after Cordwainer Smith covered all this and more, the dialog concerning the meaning of “consciousness” and what natural law follows from it–laid out by Buchner in the 1880s can begin to be tangible to those who will one day be decision makers: the cildren for whom it is all about.

  86. Mario

    Like Tim and a few other people said, it’s easier to present and animate non-human creatures realistically. Computer generated animation has come a long way but there’s still something indefinably creepy about how the most real ones are rendered and animated. Humans are very, very sensitive to facial expressions and other non-verbal cues. We know if something is off. Thus, even though the tools now exist to do an almost photo-realistic rendering, animators are opting to do cartoonish humans or non-humans to tell their stories, freeing the audience to concentrate on the story and not subconsciously disturbing elements.

    There’s definitely some thought that goes into Pixar’s stories, I just don’t know if the above points are what they’re shooting for. Nice theorizing though!

  87. Christine

    Challenge accepted, I lost. I was TOTALLY moved by the tribute.

    Especially in the case of WALL-E, but also other films, I have felt that hint, glimpse toward overcoming greater world challenges. I see also in many of the films a true balance of personal responsibility and social responsibility. I would mandate that all lawmakers watch these films (ok, except Cars…) and write a 500 word essay on what they learned and value from the film. I would be far more inclined to elect my leaders based on their own assessments of those films.

    Your well-written explanation has put words to ideas, concepts that had not fully formed, but were fermenting for some time.

    Thank you.

  88. jezebel

    Fascist, liberal Hollywood propaganda is nothing new.

    Do you know why so many young people today are so anti-intellectual, so anti-American and pro-neoliberal socialist? Because they’ve been fed a steady diet their entire lives of socialist, anti-American propaganda from Big Liberal Elite Jewish Hollywood, starting with children’s cartoons such as PBS’s Sesame Street and working it’s way through public school education, popular comic books and graphic novels perused by teenagers, music, TV shows, and movies.

    By the time they’re adults, they’re full-blown sheep indoctrinated by the almighty Entertainment industry without one original thought or idea emanating from their shrunken brain. The US is a superpower and yet we cannot compete on any educated level with the rest of the industrialized world. Instead of being ashamed by this we instead laugh about it and go back to watching Big Brother or Jersey Shore.

    The real question we all need to ask ourselves is this: why do we, as parents, allow Big Hollywood to mold our children into their own personal brain-dead hyper-consuming soldiers who know the value of absolutely nothing that truly matters in life but can recite every American Idol contestant since the beginning of the show?

    Amusing Ourselves To Death. Read it and weep for the future. Sadly, Pixar is part of the problem, not the solution.

  89. “…brave souls on both sides …” of what? This isnt right/left wing political nonsense from glenn beck (although itis a cute ad for Pixar). There are a myriad number of directions these things can go and to cast sides is infantile and polemic. The reality is that those who stand fast and strong in their beliefs are cut down, not rewarded. This is true of the side you agree with and the side you dont. THis article was a cute ad, but largely silly and naive.

  90. Mark

    Empathy is what makes us human, you disillusioned who wallow in your own pity or use others sufferings to justify a lack of humanity disgust me. All sentient beings deserve respect. We are nothing but another bug to someone else out there and people like yourselves make us easy to squash without a care. Grow up.

  91. It all boils down to money. Period.

  92. Cel

    Way to take characters out of context in order to push your own agenda. And why pick on just Pixar…why not Dreamworks? If you think Pixar has a huge agenda in Monster’s Inc or Up…you certainly didn’t pay any attention to Happy Feet.

  93. Rocco

    All these comments and pixar are sheer bullshit!

  94. Rich

    When I was a kid I would watch re-runs of Mr. Ed (the talking horse) That was way before pixar, or ILM ect… I don’t think what pixar is doing is new, granted their technical skill is unmatached but the idea of giving animals “personality” is not new by any means.

  95. Mark

    Congrats to the OP. You ferreted out the Disney/Pixar’s general MO and made your own story!!
    When does your movie come out? Can I have a part? :-)

  96. LouAz

    We have not succeeded in solving all your problems. The answers we have found only serve to raise a whole new set of questions. In some ways, we feel we are confused as ever, but we believe we are now cornfused on a higher level and about more important things. The Management.

  97. Red Humpy Design

    Kyle,
    What an amazingly insightful article. I’m sharing it with my 17 year-old son who has grown up on Pixar films and now as a young adult appreciates the adult themes and nuances that he missed as a child. I am intrigued by your Pixar personhood theory. Echoing what Kevin asks in comment 6, do you think Pixar is doing this consciously, perhaps as a philosophical principle? I’m involved with a small corporation that is honing in on their core values and doing business with principles and purpose to actively work towards making the world a better place.

    Is personhood a purposeful principle being pursued by Pixar?

    The original Star Trek episodes from the sixties often portray personhood and compassion among non-human creatures, so the concept is not new. But as you say in your article, “An entire generation has been reared with the subconscious seeds of these ideas planted down deep.” That is an incredible legacy to leave to humanity, and if Pixar is indeed making a conscious effort to ensure that humans remain humble in their gift of personhood, I applaud their efforts. And for those humans who think that only our species can be capable of personhood, I quote Hans Solo: “Don’t get cocky.”

    Thank you for the great read. I’ll be thinking about your article when I watch the next Pixar movie!

    (PS: I skipped Cars, too.)

  98. Collin

    Interesting. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that pixar has a hidden agenda to extend human rights to non-humans (animals, robots, corporations.) But, I think the non-human is a device to draw children into the story. Children identify with not quite human characters who don’t get to do/have the things that adult humans do and have. It parallels their own situation.

  99. maeghan

    Woah. Paranoid much?
    The article was well written, but come on? Pixar is just a company that makes movies so us HUMANS can escape reality. :)

  100. ScottH

    The unified theory, cars exclusion comment above was pretty great. If Ray Kurzweil’s calculations are even approximate though, much of the outright derision in the comments section will need to be re-evaluated.

  101. Ina

    very nice, interesting. but i think there should’ve been some clarification. you don’t mean to say that pixars trying to teach us that toys actually are sentient and that we should let rats in our kitchens. It’s more like, what happens when we find alien life? or when we create sentient AI’s? that’s at least a little more realistic. also, dolphins. but i think really what pixar is teaching us is not to make war on others just because they’re different. they’re slowly reversing our war-mongering instincts. quick! we need pixar movies in the middle-east!

  102. I knew it. I freaking KNEW it! Comment #96 proves that no matter how long it takes, someone in a Comments argument will invariably invoke STAR TREK. May I round out the stupid banter with the other four following terms: STAR WARS, VADER, HITLER, and NAZIS. Thank you.

    There. Now that the five inevitable terms have been spoken, may I point out that what the author either said subconsciously, or didn’t mean to say but still said was:

    “The definition of what it means to be a human being has nothing to do with what you look like, but how you act towards others of diverse kinds. People everywhere are going to be different, frightening, alien, strange, and incomprehensible. But we must learn to see past that in today’s world if we want to survive and thrive. We cannot just hide behind our ethnicity, nationality, language, culture, or traditions and stay afraid, if we want to progress in our existence. We must be brave enough and intelligent enough to welcome people of all diversity.”

  103. blair

    By ignoring Cars you are cherrypicking what data you wish to use to support your theory. Put Cars back in and try again. Also, the “non-humans have rights” thing was taught to us by Bugs Bunny, so Pixar has no reason to repeat it. Pixar’s real point in all of this is much more elegant and useful.

  104. CodLiver

    Pixar is human, no? So you’re saying that they are the enabler for Disney, which is toiling in the shadows to bring verisimilitude to the preternatural. Ah, yes. And I suppose you just returned from an extended cruise on a Pixar panty liner. It was ecstasy was it not? Did you return feeling more alive?

    I can’t wait to see your scholarly analysis of the various methods of cooking spinach and what they tell us about our desire to hear noises from outer space. All I know is that the only way a pirate captain can quit smoking is with the patch, and the only way to quit writing about writing is cold turkey.

  105. Anony

    Hayao Miyazaki does much of the same with his Studio Ghibli films.

  106. Laurie

    Before you give Pixar the credit for all this insight into humanity, think about children’s books – Charlotte’s Web, Frog and Toad, Curious George, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Ugly Duckling, Are you my Mother?…

    It is pretty common to use animals as main characters, and often there are human friends or human villains involved. Good stories will usually involve a moral or social theme like belongingness, good vs evil, friendship, etc.

    Having said all that, I like the way the author figured out the general Pixar themes. They do tend to cluster a bit – but are amazingly well done, and able to interest children and adults at the same time – no mean feat.

  107. Not sure if I buy all this. The more dominant theme in MOST movies people watch is this:
    REGENERATION THROUGH VIOLENCE. And by that I mean a person, by way of a violent act, gets the girl, gets the job, protects the city, wins the war, and on and on and on. Even within Pixar, there is always a conflict at some level and by stepping up and commiting some level of violence, to the winner goes the spoils. The REGENERATION THROUGH VIOLENCE theme is more pervasive than any other and explains why, in 2011, we are still killing innocent civilians in the name of peace and our children’s children will continue to do so.

  108. Isaac

    i read this and enjoyed it, but i read the comments and was totally confused,
    first of all i see people writing about they are one of us theory, i took this differently.
    first of all the hidden message is the writers point of view, you dont have to believe anything, the message could just be lets make quality movies, and lots of money too, but what i took from this story was not for us to understand toys or bugs or monsters, when i look at a toy i think wouldnt that be neat if that toy had a secret existence like toy story, but i dont believe it, i took it more as you dont have to be human to be good, its about what you are made of and willing to stand up for, when i saw a bugs life i came out in the end seeing that one mean person can be ruled out by the courage of many.
    there is goodness in the world, but it doesnt come to you just by having the right as a human, pixar takes the human out of the story but it still is 100% human, but you come out of each film with a sense of right. a lesson learned, i saw toys story when i was 5 and i didnt go away from it thinking my toys were real, i came away with what the value of friendship meant to me, and the troubles that come with it, and what you would do to help them, be your brother, youre cousin, friend, or anyone.
    like the comment on ratatouille, i didnt come out of it wanting to harbor rats and teach them to cook, i saw it and saw that you may be born and brought up told that you are poor and useless, and that is youre purpose, but by the act of good will and determination, he came out with his dream intact. yes these stories have been told in a million different ways like i could compare varsity blues to ratatouille, dad thats youre life not mine !! thats what i saw.
    this story can be taken in any way you feel, our brains all digest it differently, but i love pixar films and anything disney, and Cars is a very good movie, that comes with a great lesson too. and yes all pixars have fights, but to get anything dont you have to fight, you want good education, you fight to learn, you just dont get smart without trying, be the fight literal, or figurative, and with pixars movies a fight is always necessary, we all cant just get along, thats not life by a longshot, they have to end the story correctly, or it just wouldnt be right, it wouldnt be pixar without closure !
    pixar is human, because the lesson is intended to humans, if youre child, or even you comes out of monsters inc and actually believes in monsters in the closet, then they need help, cause you come out with a really good movie, youre moneys worth, and a can do good feeling, and a lesson that will stick with you about anything from, you got a friend in me, to the value of family !
    I love PIXAR and stand by them no matter what, and this comment is my own, and if you disagree with it then ok, but i have the right to believe in whatever i want to believe, and bravo to you, but please dont go bitching for something i can care less about. that is the beauty of being human ! have a nice day and youre pixar story was a delight to read !

  109. chuck scooby

    None of this is a new revelation by pixar. Just look at the teaching of lord Buddha or Tao philosophy and you will see that people had the right ideas about our place in nature and perspective long ago. I only hope that this mindfulness will return and whatever medium is used to promote it I am all for. Unfortunaly after reading others responses I see that humanity has a long way to go. Please broaden your horizons through education and exploration and for gods sakes have an open mind or you will never see the world around you.

  110. Steve

    Wow, really? Reading this article was a bigger waste of my time than watching the movie ‘March of the Penguins’. Way to look for something that’s not there! Yet another reminder that bloggers are journalists who can’t make the cut.

    “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.”

    What if I told you your article sucks?

    Could you be any more pretentious? I hope you didn’t get paid to write this drivel.

  111. blorbl

    Judging by the comments, this topic was a little to abstract and meta for the average reader.

    FWIW, I do believe you’re likely right. Part of the nature of being an enlightened and well-educated person is acknowledging there are things you don’t know and there are other points of view. Pixar prides itself on being an enlightened company that provides a good product with a clean conscience. Learning to treat others with with compassion and respect, even when you strongly disagree is a lesson that is very difficult to learn.

    Returning to my initial comment about the average responses, it’s obvious that I too have a ways to go and as always, it leads me back to wondering what I can do to make them wake up and join the party.

  112. lol

    Overanalyzedtofitoutlandishperspective.com

  113. PS

    A rambling, over-analyzed, and ultimately pointless article.

  114. Bill Sardi

    This guy has struck a nerve, or why would over 100 offer comment? That this many people take time to comment on something so unimportant is striking. The article’s assessment is baseless. The same could be said of Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, etc. If talking animals are a kind of reverse evolution (I guess only the oral language skills evolved), or the humanization of animals suggests man is not to be elevated above the wild beasts, well, then maybe all cartoons need to be abolished. Cartoons teach kids words, thoughts, humor, and sentiment. The writer wins here because he has developed an audience that is commenting, regardless of the baseless claims in his article.

  115. Conway193

    This article said a lot about nothing at all – silly, anthropomorphic schmaltz for the credulous.

  116. Greg Allin

    Maybe there is no “hidden message” at all, and the Pixar company is simply focused on trying to rake in as much profit as possible by making films that people enjoy by connecting with their emotions. After all, making profit is what companies are supposed to do. Just an idea, but it doesn’t take a PhD to work that one out.

  117. Kristen

    Any true analysis of any subject cannot be complete and accurate without the analyzer taking the time to consider all the parts. The person must be objective and not put personal dislikes ahead of the process. The writer of this post clearly puts his own personal feelings ahead of doing a complete analysis, by excluding Cars in the very beginning. You cannot say that Pixar has a hidden message in their films, if you decide that you will just remove one from the list because you don’t like it. If you do that than your entire conclusion is skewed because it is only based on what you “like” or deem acceptable. I can say that all that Pixar movies do have a simliar message within them, but it’s not a hidden message and it’s not as if they are trying to fill the mind of our children with such ideas as to better future generations. They are simpling taking stories and applying them to objects that children like. As stated before they are a company and they do want to make money. When a child sees an animated dog talking through a microphone and then get distracted by a squirrel, they are going to tell their parents they want to see the movie because it made them laught, not because of the underlying story of humanity.

  118. Pam Garrett

    Oh…good…grief…I suppose anyone can conjure up a ‘hidden agenda’, ‘hidden message’, or a conspiracy theory about anything if they think about it long enough. However, how about this, cartoons where the animals, robots, plants, and what-all-ever-else can talk, feel, help you, be your friend, be the bully, be the super-hero or the super-villain—sounds pretty much like an average kid imagination to me.

    Pixar excels at creating stories with characters kids can absolutely connect with, because to kids, that IS the way the world is, and as they get older, the way they wish the world was. Actually, so do I…

  119. Mike Lambert
  120. Tami

    I rarely comment on articles like this, but I’m making an exception, here. The true overarching theme of all the Pixar movies has less to do with acknowledging “personhood” in non-human entities. It’s more about seeking truth.

    The message is something like this, “Doing the right thing takes courage. You might be ostracized by your peers and treated with revulsion. The journey might be long and the battle might be difficult. You will have to run against the grain, apart from the herd, even against your own nature, in the search for truth. The outcome might not even be what you expected, but in the end, if you endure, it will be worth it.”

    If you really want some insight into the brilliant minds behind the movies, check out The Pixar Story documentary on the history of possibly the best animation studio in the history of animation. Even the personal histories of Pixar’s founders, Ed Catmull, John Lasseter and Steve Jobs, are examples of amazing, creative risk takers who have spent their entire adult lives running against the grain. It’s quite inspiring and eye-opening.

  121. r cash

    I don’t get it,

    Car’s was a great movie, very moving at times.
    Relax ……..geesh.

  122. Paul

    I appreciate your analysis and couldn’t help but think that “Happy Feet” also fits this mold very well. And then started to think that many successful movies have similar themes (Winnie the Poo) and that’s probably why they are successful. Can’t wait for Cars 2 !

  123. Phil

    Yawn. And LOL… adding Satchmo… could you be more syrupy? Jeez, not Nat King Cole? So yeah, I was “moved” … to laughter at how shlocky and ham-handed the embedded video is.

    Oh, let’s cue Nat anyway: “Forgettable…”

    Now Pixar’s movies, on the other hand… But we all have our own feelings and thoughts about them. Leave it to “Thor” (uh, why the lisp?) to feel glomming on publicly to what he’ll never possibly do is necessary. A bit embarrassing, but fortunately for us this type of association is essentially harmless and not, for example, rising to the level of a Mark David Chapman.

  124. Corey

    I would argue that virtually all animated movies have this theme.. not just Pixar ones

  125. randy vaughan

    sure it’s easy to dismiss these types of observations and conclusions as being silly or simply the process of overly-critical thinking and analyzing. but in my experience, any time you meet someone who draws subtle distinctions few others ever consider, you really should pay attention. in this case, that distinction is found between being a ‘person’ and simply being ‘human’. and quite frankly, i’m for anyone or anything–person or computer-generated critters–that enourages the human animal to rise above the level of animal and be a humane person.

  126. Reggie

    This article is more or less bunk.

  127. Randall

    I can’t believe there are this many post!

  128. Wilbur

    Not so “subtle distinctions” in my opinion. Redefining personhood? Ha! The idiots on the right have been trying to do that for decades equivocating on the terms fetus and baby. While the idiots on the left have been trying to do that for decades assigning “rights” to trees and molusks. No, it’s easy because there’s nothing new to see here, except what passes to some as worthy of interest simply because they have not been critically thinking about these things until now.

    Welcome to Orange. In a few years, try to skip the Mean Green Meme and go directly to Yellow.

    For all our sakes.

  129. Erik Latranyi

    The fundamental mistake is that weak-minded people think real animals and insects are just like those in the movies!

    Cogito Ergo Sum

  130. TJ

    Who taught you how to write? Thesis statement goes at the beginning of your essay. I had no idea what you were getting at until the last paragraph. Very frustrating. Published writers should attend college, then get a job. Stupid Internet.

  131. wryawry

    Thanks for opening an enormous can-o’-worms! Obviously, Pixar makes “cowboy movies”, and the antropomorphic characters are simply vehicles (oops) to convey the age-old conflict ‘twixt good and evil. Every thing in this wacky world is yin-yang, light-dark, good-evil — just look at the passionate comments above! Art and literature unquestionably affect our own humanity; sociologically speaking, they help define our tribalism,the foundation of which is our biological imperative, and our reptilian proto-brain fight-or-flee instinct. All of life is us-and-them. Only the cooperation of the parts can contibute to the survival of the whole.

    Long, long before Pixar, into my eager hands were placed “James and the Giant Peach”, “Charlotte’s Web”. “Stuart Little” , “The Wind in the Willows”, “The Little Engine That Could”, and, yes, “The Incredibles” in all of their different and wonderful guises ….

  132. Len B

    Less analysis of the story lines and more analysis of the box office receipts would reveal a deeper truth.

  133. TTS

    I love how you exclude and “refuse to watch” Cars for no other reason than it blows your silly theories to smithereens. Cars is a fantastic film with a ton of heart, a nice message and tons of reverence for the car and travel culture that’s disappearing in this country.

    Pixar stories are simple “fish out of water” tales. Characters are taken out of their normal environment, struggle to cope, and learn an important lesson as a result. Not everything has some deeper, subversive, super secret hidden message that only people like you can feel intelligent by “discovering”.

  134. Hinesy

    Terrific essay but you totally missed out on “Cars” which gives us another fascinating critical view into human behavior as related to the endless pursuit of currency at the expense of values of the the past.

    I’d also disagree with earlier comments that it blows up your theory, in fact it very much parallels the underlying themes in Wall-E re being destined to repeat the past if we get too far removed from our history. (Why are anthropomorphous robots permissable but not cars, which are rapidly becoming very robotic? I sense some not-so-thinly veiled elitism here re autosports and automotive culture).

    “Cars 2″ looks amazing and my 5yo son and I are counting down the days to its release! Between now and then I’ll be dragging my knuckles with the (largely white collar college educated and often engineering-degreed) masses at the Grand-Am series @ Lime Rock and Formula 1 in Montreal. A lot of people who build robots started out working on their cars. ;)

    Keep it up Pixar!

  135. Colby

    I wonder what the ants and robots and cars are saying about this on their blogs and in the movies they make about us…

  136. David R.

    This is a ridiculous article. It’s a cartoon people. It’s called creativity, just gives us another perspective of life we are living. There is no hidden message about a non-human uprising over humans, its impossible and anti-Biblical, we are the most intelligent creatures there are .

    Why worry about to break down a cartoon’s creative phyche to “EXPOSE” some kind of hidden evil. Just sit down, watch, enjoy and please SHUT UP!(don’t forget to turn off your cell phones)

  137. Chris

    Yeah, you could say much of the same for Warner Brothers cartoons. Actually, those are even more radical because humans are subhuman compared to the nonhumans.

  138. Sully L

    I don’t “dehumanize non-humans” as was suggested of humans in some of the comments, I just don’t humanize them to begin with. I do enjoy some Pixar movies (most notably The Incredibles), but I don’t like being smashed in the face with purely optimist movies, nor purely pessimist. I prefer realist movies where people behave like humans. If someone was to grow up watching only Pixar movies, they could be confused by the mix of optimistic movies and realistic reality; Pixar saying that everything will turn out well is a good message, but not if it’s the only message they send.

  139. Mark D.

    Well, the author’s objective in writing this piece has certainly been achieved:
    We’re talking about the topic.
    The issue of personhood vs humanness or humanity is a valid one, I think. Not all humans are good people; The ‘other’ should not be judged by its exterior; Fear of that which is different; Paranoia as a way of life; Inability, or at least reluctance, to accept evidence-based truth vs accepted (read faith-based, doctrinal and/or even brain-washed) truth, etc. These are all very old themes. Using anthropomorphized characters is also a very old foil for demonstrating these things. Storytelling is, perhaps, the most ancient of artforms and Pixar does, indeed, excel at it through the medium of technology. Brilliant.
    BTW, I find myself astounded and impressed with the newer generation of humans simply because of their ability to think for themselves and by how tolerant they are of each other and deviations from societal norms – which we baby boomers can’t seem to transcend.
    Valuable discussion.

  140. jeff

    So why can’t we accept God as a person, Jesus

  141. Kara

    To the commenters who stated that Cars is a great movie, or even particularly watchable: whaaaa??? It’s a complete ripoff of the not-so-popular “Doc Hollywood” and a 90 minute toy commercial. sheesh. Yes, like other Pixar films, it’s beautifully done, but, like the original whose plot it stole, it’s a tad hollow.

    This article made me ROFL. Totally reminded me of the essays I wrote in college – you start to convince yourself of anything when you’re trying to write a convincing paper!! PIXAR makes great movies because there is a market for them. Their messages aren’t new or subversive AT ALL or they wouldn’t be so almost universally loved… These stories affirm the importance of love, freindship and acceptance. Whether the characters appear human or not is mostly window-dressing, it makes the stories seem fresh…. age-old themes in beautiful new clothing. Young people think their generation invented everything good.

  142. Max G

    The analysis is subtle and profound. But what if, as Stephen Hawking notes, new non-human visitors whose star is dying are looking to colonise our planet? History demonstrates that first contact with indigenous populations does not always turn out happily.

  143. Historian

    “History demonstrates that first contact with indigenous populations does not always turn out happily.”

    Human history demonstrates that. :)

    Sorry, Max, I’m not arguing with you, just embracing your leap (or Hawking’s) in all its possibilities, while trying not to fall into the (enjoyable) Pixar template of humanizing non-terrestials as it surely does with inanimate objects and animals.

  144. Todd

    Pixar is, or at least was, doing John Carter of Mars too.

    I think you’re over analyzing the films. All that matters is whether or not it’s a good story. Story is key. Story is the be-all-end-all. If it’s not a good story, it’s not worth telling.

    The funny part is that every story is worth telling if told the right way. There’s always something in there that can make the story. The trick is to find it. You can’t beat a great writer. I’ve seen some writers take the most mundane topic and make it extraordinary. I aspire to be one of those people, and I think I’m getting closer. In any case, I’m much better than I used to be.

  145. Dragon

    sigh… I hear Tolkien screaming from the grave, about the difference between applicability and agenda. Applicability is the good writer reflecting reality that will hold up true for generations, and each person will see themselves reflected in the story. To write with an agenda, the writer reflects only the writer and relentlessly shows only that, and is as boring as a catechism. One merely needs to see the crowds of dozens at the new release of “The Fountainhead” and match them with the size of the crowds at a Pixar movie (or Harry Potter) to reflect on the difference.

    Also it is wise to make sure you think through an idea that you would post to a wide audience such as this, as what you did not think of (like Aesop’s fables) will be noticed and you will be roundly beaten with it.

  146. Lance

    Only one word describes this article: Stupid!

  147. martin g

    I prefer a Marxist interpretation of Pixar’s work. Animators are expensive because they are human (and that goes for Koreans too). Computer animation is more profitable. Get used to a non-human world where the human worker can be completely dispensed with.
    Of course Darwin and Adam Smith would point out that it won’t ever actually come about (or only as a brief aberration of the natural order) because man does not live by fairy tales alone no matter how cheaply they can be produced. No magic? Cartoons- The opiate of the masses!

  148. umyeahh

    Yeah, sorry but this is retarded. You need a reality check dude.

  149. Agree with Lance. STUPID.

  150. Mike

    Dear Kyle:

    How can you consider yourself qualified to talk about Pixar movies when you haven’t even watched ‘Cars’? Once? I saw it in the theater with my daughter and thought it was okay. However, after umpteen re-viewings (and hearing the audio during trips in the car), it is near the top of my Pixar list. Brilliant writing (most importantly), hilarious, outstanding dialogue, and believable characters. Watch it three times and then tell me it’s no good. I dare you! Conversely, ‘Up’ simply does not hold up to the ‘repeated viewings’ test. Flat, stale, etc. The tragic death of Joe Ranft has a lot to do with that.

    @ Alex – it’s “drivel”, not “dribble”!

  151. BC

    Disney movies were well known for having non-human characters as sentient beings, starting with Bambi and Dumbo.

  152. Looee In Meffaa

    The U.S. Supreme Court is saying the inverse thing, by giving non-human entities such as businesses rights as if they were human, and by taking rights AWAY from real live United States citizens.

    To PIXAR: THANK YOU!
    To the conservative John Roberts supreme court: SHAME ON YOU!

  153. Rick

    I think this article is a testament to over-analyzing.

    All Pixar movies are about people and deal with human emotions and human interaction, because that’s what people like to see. Animation allows humans to take non-human form but in the end they all act like people in one way or another.

    Are there agendas behind it all…probably. All movies want to make a statement of some kind.

  154. Darth Vader

    I like those star wars movies better….

  155. John Longenecker

    Hello

    I did not refuse to see CARS.

    JOHN LONGENECKER
    Academy Award Winner

  156. rereno

    Analyzing stories (in any medium) always cracks me up…

    It brings me back to highschool where my English class was forced to completely dissect the novel “The House of Spirits” by Isabel Allende. Close to the end of the section, we watched a movie about Allende to understand where she got the ideas of the book. In an interview, she said (and I’m paraphrasing) that she enjoys hearing all the metaphors and themes people come up with when reading her book, but all she (Allende) did was write a story with no intention of any hidden messages.

    Since that day, I refuse to over analyze stories since you can spin them anyway you want, and everything that comes out of doing so is right and wrong at the same time.

  157. John

    Love Pixar, hated Cars, but still a good movie, didn’t like Up, worst of the recent offerings, totally contrived and awkward, not a good movie per se, brilliant art as always though. Love Ratatouille and Incredibles. Bolt was so good on all counts it might as well have been Pixar.

  158. Fishnoise

    Kyle — don’t let the bastards get you down. I’ve long thought that most of Pixar’s films had exactly this theme of pushing out against limiting conceptions of what constitutes a valued, sentient person. After all, Pixar has made us cry over the fate of toys, robots, one-eyed monsters, supernormals, rats, and most extraordinarily in our culture, senior citizens.

    As someone pointed out, Hiyao Miyazaki’s films, at least some of them, can be similarly analyzed, particularly Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Pixar’s intellectual and artistic debt to Miyizaki is openly acknowledged — how many spotted the tribute to Kiki near the end of Ratatouille?

    I also dislike Cars and have always considered it an exception to Pixar’s otherwise great conceptualizations. The art isn’t the problem — the Southwestern sunsets, neon-lit night roads, and the decrepit structures of Radiator Springs are wonderfully drawn. The idea of driverless cars transposed into a humanless world simply doesn’t make sense. Why do the cars even have doors? How do the cars even manage to manipulate the world around them? They don’t have arms. Why cars? Why not cheerful little tugboats, or brave airplanes? But what’s the point of having any of these vehicles in a world without people?

    Cars is simply indistinguishable from a thousand children’s books and cartoons — a simple-minded lesson about valuing friendship using stand-ins for humans. It’s the most mediocre and Disneyesque of Pixar’s efforts — decent, even admirable, animation combined with a safe, predictable plot and (literally) cartoonish characters. Meh . . .

  159. Cory

    So I did read the entire, long winded, and sometimes repetitive “article”.
    While I can see a mild pattern emerge when I cross my eyes and beat my head off the wall, and slip in to a schizophrenic episode….. .

    Really?

    Its call reference, the reason that they all seem to have non-humans with human like personality’s/morals, would be because it was WRITTEN BY HUMANS. Regardless of imagination people are bound to the reality/reference’s that their mind knows.

    Shy of a documentary you will never see a movie with animals/monsters/aliens playing poker,saving the world, falling in love in their natural manner. Does this make some subliminal message or programing….. NO it means get back on your meds and I bet you lose a bit of the paranoia

  160. Bob Forgrave

    An extended analysis of a simple reality–Pixar’s films value empathy and diversity. They depict wildly different characters listening to each other and teaming up behind a noble goal and succeeding because of that diversity and the shared passion of the noble quest. THAT’s a message we can all take to heart in any challenge worth facing.

  161. Rocking in the chair, wearing an old gown, talking to “mother” and then responding to yourself while you chip away pieces of 5 year old peanut butter from the inside of a bowl and eat it.

  162. Matthew James

    Love this article. Thanks Kyle for an insightful and well written essay.

  163. Foolish Mortal

    The hidden message in the Hidden Message post:
    We are being prepared for alien invasion from Mars. An advance team of alien replicants have infiltrated Pixar and have been conditioning us not to resist when the main invasion begins. Humans are a warrior race. There has been war somewhere on earth during our entire history. So, we are being conditioned to accept replicants as people. When your granny is replaced by a pod person look a like, you will be delighted, because she will not go senile and die! Our leaders will be replaced, and they will bring a new era of peace. Eventually all humans will be replaced by replicant pod people. Inevitably, there will be some resistance. Bloggers using hidden messages in their posts will organize and lead an underground resistance army. There will be a fight in the end, but the human bigots will lose. Replicant rights will triumph as they should, because pod people are people too!

  164. Hinesy

    Fishnoise — I like your comment but have to respectfully disagree.

    What if you view the automobile through the lens of a vessel that carried Americans (in particular) into a new era of freedom, expression and discovery… all we had to do was gas em up and turn the key and they carried us into new horizons of self and national realization and awareness? Did we care more about Native American culture, for instance, when we had to drive through the blighted reservations surrounding Rte 66 versus merely read about them on Google news as we fly over them on wifi-enabled jets?

    And what about the notion that these vessels have largely evolved from great gleaming expressions of post-modern fantasticism (the 50s, 60s, even 70s) which also killed the environment into highly utilitarian expressions of technological conquering of our surroundings (efficiency over style…) with far less soul? How does that line of assessment translate into the larger theme of forgetting a past where we stopped to smell the roses (while bascially killing them in the process) versus merely speeding by them on the freeway off to where we need to go to (so what’s the point of saving them)?

    Maybe I’m just a car nut looking for deeper symbolism in something I love (I would maintain that anyone who has ever gotten their knuckles bloody working on them, or say ridden motorcycles where you can hear and see the machine working around you… knows that these machines do truly have “personalities” as any man-made technologies do)…

    But I’d defintiely argue that Kyle’s critical interpretation does carry over into Cars and quite well at that.

    Of course the beauty of critical theory is that you can always hijack it to infer your own obersvations and opinions. ;)

    And if you don’t like critical theory, obviously this article is not for you!

  165. You're nuts

    Someone forgot to put on their foil hat today.

  166. James

    Interesting article and some well stated arguments. Unfortunately, I think that Pixar’s commitment to non-human characters has much more to do with exploring different approaches to animation (not to mention avoiding the “uncanny valley” of near-human images) and new approaches to anthropomorphic creatures and objects. The similarities of theme have more to do with the craft of animation than any hidden agenda.

    What is a medium like animation for if not to explore non-human characters?

    I think several of the arguments and story models here would apply just as well to the work of Jim Henson.

  167. Mike

    One of my favorite people said, “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” – Dumbledore

  168. Jake

    Hmmmm… sounds a lot like Star Trek… another ground breaking, belief challenging series. Yet another reason why I love Pixar films.

    Ron Howard is no fool. He’s old school and was mentored by Andy Griffith… in my opinion, two stable and well-rounded individuals. It’s all about the human condition and seeing ‘people’ as equals rather than the sum of their experiences and actions. We should all hope to be as wise and compassionate.

  169. Todd X

    I found myself getting sucked into this post because I wanted to find the hidden message of Pixar. I did not, perhaps the meaning is hidden somewhere in the body of text.

    The title is misleading. These are not hidden messages. Pixar clearly states the message verbally and visually with all the subtlety of a nine pound hammer nailing a sign to the wall that states emhaptically this is what we want to tell you.

    This is not to say that Pixar are bad storytellers, quite the contrary. Pixar delivers the precise message they want through effective and creative storytelling. .

    And the whole aspect of removing Cars from your argument is…frustrating.

  170. jon

    I THINK YOU HAVE KIDS AND SMOKE TOO MUCH WEED. Yes I have thought of the idea a long time ago, you broke it down too much and your first mistake is you decided not to include CARS, i dont disagree that it was bad, i think CARS kinda hindered your theory, although it does follow the same patterns of Pixar steps as you described. I was a child from which you described i learned much from the Pixar movies and i live my life as they painted my picture, i can still use Pixar movies in everyday encounters, Look I’m Picaso!

  171. alfred

    What makes Warner Bros Looney Tunes so appealing is also their very human animal characters.

    I think what the writer is talking about here is not so much that humans and non-humans must work together.

    These stories are metaphors. The “other” , the stories are saying, must be regarded as valid. The non-human characters represent the part of us that feels disenfranchised, ostracized, devalued. They are saying that perhaps we need to listen and consider others more deeply. Love the enemy, if you will. Pixar allows us into the world of “the other.” We relate to them and care about them and we get a sense of how it feels to be “the other,” and therefor unrecognized and regarded as unimportant.

  172. AppleSucks

    That was your point? After reading that whole blurb, that’s all you came up with?

    Media shapes cultural acceptances far more than “whatever” becoming human.

    Maybe you should look at how Disney and countless others are pushing the homosexual and the inter-racial agenda. Not that I have anything against gays, but it’s obvious that a pro-gay message is constantly being spoon fed to everyone via every medium.

  173. Susan

    I never liked Pixar movies. At least now I know why.

  174. alfred

    What makes Warner Bros Looney Tunes so appealing is also their very human animal characters.

    I think what the writer is talking about here is not so much that humans and non-humans must work together.

    These stories are metaphors. The “other” , the stories are saying, must be regarded as valid. The non-human characters represent the part of us that feels disenfranchised, ostracized, devalued. They are saying that perhaps we need to listen and consider others more deeply. Love the enemy, if you will. Pixar allows us into the world of “the other.” We relate to them and care about them and we get a sense of how it feels to be “the other,” and therefor unrecognized and regarded as unimportant.

  175. Tammy

    I think you are all missing the point. To me, the message is love and respect. For each other, for animals and nature, for how it all comes together.

    Our world now is so greedy and selfish, they walk over dead bodies, destroy the planet and hate each other.

    Embrace the differences and give each respect or soon, you will not be respected.

  176. JR

    Dumb….Da, Da, Dumb.

  177. Steven Pinker's Awesome Hair

    Pixar’s non-human entities may be sentient, but I’m not at all convinced that all the entities posting comments in response to the article are any more sentient than, say, a broken rubber band.

  178. JP

    Disney has always had an underlining theme of respecting all life. This is common knowledge and nothing new.

  179. Spud

    What? A message in fairy tales? Since when? (unless you include the bible or the koran, etc.)

  180. Tammy

    74. JR Says:
    May 19th, 2011 at 1:11 pm
    Dumb….Da, Da, Dumb.

    He proves the point The world of Warcraft mentality is full bloom

  181. Erick

    Well, he certainly got people thinking and talking. When I was a kid in the early eighties, no one had a cell phone, no one surfed the internet and no one did anything useful on a computer. In twenty five years or so nearly everyone has a cell phone that is better than the computer that took men to the moon that is portable and easy to use (so easy my 3 year old daughter can use it). The internet and all of our gadgets were designed by people who didn’t grow up immersed in it like the kids of today. A computer beat the best humans at Jeopardy a few months ago, I think that will be in a history book someday as a milestone that we don’t really recognize now because we don’t know what’s coming nor how fast it’s going to get here. We’re also just at the cusp of cloning human beings, we’re certainly capable of it now.

    Cudos to Pixar for anticipating that, even if we’re alone now, like many of the characters in their movies, we won’t be for long. We might have neighbors not from some other planet, but from all around us that we’ve taken for granted for decades. I think the new planet of the apes prequel is going to explore a darker side of this idea. Science fiction has been dealing with it for years, but PIXAR takes these concepts and makes it platable to mass audiences (not just kids) and I think it’s important.

    The questions for the next generation, I think, will be far more complex than the issues we’re dealing with now. Hard to imagine, but maybe our kids will be a little more prepared for it with thoughtful entertainment like this.

  182. rh

    I do think he has a point, but I don’t think the messages are “hidden”.

    I do agree with the first poster, that ultimately, Pixar movies and Disney movies both focus on “the ultimate evil” being overcome by “goodness” in a way with little lost. But even moreso, it’s not “little lost,” it is coping with a major loss (loss of Bambi’s mother for example) in a “oh well” manner. Maybe that is more psychologically healthy than holding on to major losses, but these animated movies tend to minimize the pain of survivors, tend to make the ancillary characters all shallow and unfeeling.

    It could also be thought of as the “Homey Da Clown” mentality, that the main characters are always “fighting the Man”. But I ask myself, how long will that mentality exist? How soon will we make changes so that financial criminals in the justice system who have ruined thousands of peoples lives are treated like a neighborhood crack dealer (Dave Chappelle reference)?

    Why *do* we have to “fight against the establishment”? Why do we ignore the obvious fact that a rat is not clean, and yes would be killed or at least removed from a kitchen? Why do we ignore the fact that intelligence in robots is not directly related to emotion?

    We ignore it because,contrary to what the author says, the Pixar stories ARE about magic, and are in a magical world. They are ready-for-video-games where the scenery is beautiful, and the supporting characters are only important for how they relate to the main characters. And that is sad, considering how much of popular media and music is focused on ME ME ME, that our cartoons focus so much on individuality, the individuality of the ONE (or the few), instead of learning to work together. The “personhood” mentioned in the article is only a form of magic, presenting the “short kid”, the “kid with glasses”, the “smelly kid”, the “smart kid” as anthropomorphized characters cute to look at.

  183. One time, after a massive bong hit, the meaning of life was revealed to me in the form of a “Sour Patch Kids” wrapper. It’s message about life was as profound and simple, yet hidden by the sinful goodness of the candy. Indeed, the message we need to understand (as revealed by the SPK) is that life is sweet. And sour

    WOW!

  184. asimov

    Wow, this has to be the silliest, most pointless article I’ve ever read.

    seriously.

  185. LiT

    I believe one of the reasons they began by using non human characters is that in the beginning of their computer generated graphic technology it was difficult for them to render human looking skin, everything turned out rather plastic looking, so they decided to use toys to tell the story and everything progressed from there.

  186. Bob

    I willnever see another pixar film. After much excitement about UP, my beloved wife and I were reduced to sobbing tears within the first 5 minutes of this beautifully rendered but horribly cruel movie. Having suffered 10, yes 10 pregnancy losses, and our jobs and with our jobs the prime health insurance which was to help us try a donor egg (adoption i$ out of the que$tion at $30k+ and the risk of the child being taken away years later by an uninformed bio father) we were stunned and rendered helplessly broken by the miscarriage scene at the begining of the film. While trying to caretake my wife through wretched grief, this movie was suppoed to be a childs film – soething bright and pretty to bring a smile to her face – not wretching pain. F pixar forever. The scene did not belong there and I am sure we are just two of the heartbroken childless parents who were slammed in the face by this travesty. Comments on the movie I read after the fact revealed that mothers and their small children were also stunned and confused by this scene and mothers forced to explain things to small children at Pixar’s choice in time, not their own. F pixar

  187. Scott

    The basic thesis of the article, and especially the conclusion, is just nonsense, a weak and short-sighted view of the world. The author sums up, saying Pixar is somehow giving us what is needed to “defend what is right”. Yet what the author doesn’t realize is that when everything is subject to change, as it seems to be in our society today, there is no enduring right or wrong. We all become subject to just whatever the latest rule or regulation is that has been pushed on us by academics or politicians. Society needs to return to basic values, morality and codes of conduct that have enduring value – those found in the Bible.

  188. Mr. Lucas Brice
  189. SamiJ

    And in the future, all major characters will be men, with little input from women. Not that they won’t be included, but the stories will still be told from the man’s viewpoint. Because the story/world revolves around them.

  190. WNP

    They aren’t that smart…or, they aren’t that dumb.

    These movies are just different takes on the Progagonist/Antagonist story line.

    Since its Pixar, they are animated very well (Academy Awards.)

    Since its Disney, they are very marketable (Talking Dogs, Intelligent Cars, Environmentally- Conscious Robots, Characters that will become the next must-have action figure.)

    I love Disney/Pixar movies and I try to see them all, but they arent impacting my worldview beyond a tendency to want to see them in the theater instead of waiting for the DVD.

  191. Tony

    On the one hand, you speak to the greatness of every Pixar film. On the other hand, you steadfastly deny yourself the experience of another masterpiece, namely Cars.

    Your refusal to watch it invalidates your entire article and marks you as functionally retarded.

    If you’re still reading, the worst Pixar film was Nemo. Daddy Fish and Dummy Fish were as annoying as this analysis.

  192. TJ Weldy

    Every single Pixar film includes the following:

    1) An established assumption or doctrine
    2) An individual trial that leads to realization of the fallacy of the assumption or doctrine
    3) Personal sacrifice in challenging the doctrine
    4) Enlightenment leading to a better world

  193. Renni

    Scott – you didn’t take your argument far enough. The concepts of personhood, basic morality and ethics expressed as described in the main artlcle ARE those of the bible. They are separated from the concept of God but are the same ones espoused by Jesus in his lifestyle.

  194. David

    Fail. Lion King was not the first. Try Robin Hood. You can’t point out that Lion King is an adaptation of human stories and in the same breath discount the adaptation of a human story lacking humans. The basic social structures in Lion King are also human structures. Otherwise Simba would not have animal friends, he would have dinner.

  195. JW

    Somebody get that #5 Alice kid into college RIGHT NOW. Seeing a 15 year old with that much insight and perception (not to mention superb grasp of written English) gives me some hope for the future of this miserable country.

  196. 2David

    Fail. Robin Hood is discussed in the same paragraph. Try reading.

  197. Scarlet

    A lot of thought went into this, but I’m not sure Mr Munkittrick knows much about the construction of fiction and CG movies.

    Pixar’s use of non-human characters can be directly traced to the gradual development of CG technology. Toy Story couldn’t have been about children, becasue at the time it was made, rendereing was not complex enough to create a believable human being. Pixar used toys (unrealistic creatures in a world of houses, created by straight lines) as a way to overcome CG limits.

    They made a movie about bugs becasue they had progressed beyond needing a straight-line background, but still couldn’t render hair. They expnaded their background tech by setting a story in the ocean – great background, but still no hair. Then they made monsters, which could look like anything, to experiment with hair. It’s all a technological progression.

    The stroy of the outsider seeking to be accepted is as old as time. It’s what stories are ABOUT, because it’s a problem we all have. It speaks to everyone’s heart, because we’re all alone.

  198. Han

    I wonder how these rules will apply, if at all, to their film for next year, “Brave.” That one looks to be about humans and involve a little magic.

  199. So in jest they are portraying what we as good parents and as humans should teach our youth.

    Never judge a book by it cover until you have gained enough information about said species that you can make an intelligent decision for yourself.

    The more we teach it without necessarily preaching it the better off we will all be.

    The problem is that as humans we are all prone to quickly judge things before we know the whole story that is most humans nature. We take things for face value. We are a now society that feeds on having and producing ways that make our lives faster, easier and more convenient. Most of us buy into what the news has to say and they tend to leave out the important items in the sake of making what they think is good news that people want to see. Reality shows drive me nuts. People are drawn to drama and what someone else’s life is like and how they live instead of improving your own. We have become soft as humans by not taking the time to stand up for what is right. Values aren’t taught anymore most parents just let their kids be because they are more involved with work or their own personal problems to demand that there child learns respect for their elders and that hard work pays off. Gone are the days where parents are putting their feet down and telling their kids to go outside and play instead of allowing them to drone away mindlessly in front of the t.v.’s

    Now I’m starting to ramble. Anyways get back to spending more time with our youth and that is where they will learn the difference between the right and the wrong.

  200. Really?

    Oh man, this article is the result of what occurs in the mind of someone of average intelligence as he or she attempts to draw inferences in patterns. The result? He or she can’t.

    I do believe Disney attempts social engineering. However, I’m uncertain how intentional this is. For example, Bambi, an entire generation of animal rights and anti-NRA activists was at least partially influenced by that movie. Was that really the plan of the movie probably not

    As for the thesis that Disney is once again social engineering with the idea of human and non-human interaction as their central goal; the idea is absurd to write the least.

    Disney’s style of story telling comes almost directly from the influence of Anton Chekhov. Yes, he was a Russian but a Russian of the Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy breed. Chekhov’s plays and short stories are unique in that typically the herioc figure while present does not take the central role in the story. Rather, the primary and important roles revolve around the servants and those who typically are in the background of the story.

    Chekhov does not do this so much as a political statement but rather as a dramatic, artistic statement. He wanted and became a unique figure in actually portraying the typically non-essential characters as the essential characters and the hero’s as just the purpose for the story to exist.

    I mean seriously read anything by Anton Chekhov and you will see him do this. Disney does the same thing ever since Snow White and the Seven Dwarves but most notably in Beauty and the Beast. Beauty and the Beast is just a complete ripoff of Chekhov’s form and style.

    In conclusion to the author, do not attempt to think to hard it is dangerous for yourself and your readers–who may actually take you even slightly seriously

  201. AmyB

    How can you claim to love Pixar movies and not have seen Cars, arguably their best creation?

  202. sid

    I wana ride the pony.

  203. GZ

    The non-human characters, central to all the plots of pixar films are not a unique or contemporary invention. Animation, from its earliest days made use of this sort of plot. Take for example the early work of Ladislas Starevich. My main point however is this:

    Children are able to empathize with non-human animated characters who live in a human world because these characters represent their own experience of living in a world inhabited by a separate more ‘essentially human’ class of people ie adults. (Actually the psychology of a film like Toy story is more complex than this. Woody, for instance is both a characterization of an child orphan and an adult father. ) Toys and animals are essentially non-adults, which provide a ‘safe’ space whereupon a child can project its own awareness.

  204. Giselle

    Pixar movies are trying to say that the Universe does not go around the Human being.

  205. CP

    Hello! Has anyone seen Toy Story (the first of Pixar’s great films)? There aren’t many human scenes because humans are the hardest thing to re-create realistically in 3D animation. For example, has anyone seen The Polar Express? That could have been a great flick, except for the unrealistic, distracting human characters. As the animation quality improves, we will see more human characters. It is as simple as that. It doesn’t need to be that complicated.

  206. This whole article just quietly ignores that every non-human Pixar character TALKS. They are anthropomorphized. I don’t care if Simba runs around on all fours. He talks, thinks, and acts like a human.

    These films are not about extending ‘personhood’ to non-humans. They are about displaying the best aspects of humanity. The use of non-humans is a common device to avoid the audience identifying too closely with the characters (and from there coloring the story with their own preconceived notions).

    It’s really very basic storytelling and has nothing to do with the point of this mammoth article.

  207. Mark

    That was the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

  208. I’m really intrigued by this by not fully satisfied. I’d like to hear someone analyze this stuff through history. for instance:

    Early Disney feature films – Stories all had magic. Girls were very fairy tale princesses. Mostly were about kids trying to get fractured family situations figured out.

    Modern Disney – More about coming-of-age issues, less about kids looking for lost parents. Lots of exotics (Native Americans, mermaids, etc)

    Pixar – Pretty well-described above.

    Generally, there isn’t much about kids and schools and kids and peers. What does all this mean?

  209. Bryan

    I don’t understand all of this talk of “Toys coming to life not being real”. My toys are alive and I talk to them everyday when I come home from work. They get cold when I leave them outside and they miss me when I’m gone. Don’t yours?

  210. ISee2Much

    I had to do a find on all the comments to discover that only ONE person (Ieuan) referenced the Wizard of Oz as the Cinematic archetype for this paradigm? I wouldn’t be so concerned with the “lessons” Pixar’s visions of the future may hold, as much as what many seem to have already forgotten (or never learned).

    Sentimental ideals which touch on the basic needs of the infantile human as expressed through the assignment of anthropomorphic characterizations to both inanimate objects and animals, sell to children and adults alike. That well proven strategy has served Pixar admirably and mixed with their adept technology, will even make some people believe they have a higher calling than the profit line.

    Now that’s magical!

  211. AlanC

    Disney pictures often had a sense of fate, that the protagonist was destined to succeed because of noble birthright. Pixar characters tend to earn their outcome.

  212. rbjd

    You can’t have your cake and it eat too. If you are trying to develop a unified theme throughout Pixar movies, you don’t just get to toss out Cars because it doesn’t fit your theory. I imagine many aspects of Cars, and other Pixar movies, have as much to do with the technology of movie making as they do with the story or its themes. You can’t shunt that to the side.

    Cars, of course, is a metaphor on humanity as much as any other Pixar film. The hero of the story is, in fact, something of an upstart or an outcast. Keep in mind that Lightning McQueen gives up the chance to win the big race in order to pay respects to the elder statesman (while also resurrecting the career of a forgotten champion.) These themes are clearly similar to those you describe: triumph of the rebel tinged with the humanity of assisting others. Your disdain of this movie is completely unfounded.

    It is unfortunate that you criticize what you have not seen. How can you expect to be taken seriously as a critic if you cannot effectively analyze your material because you refuse to watch it?

    Let me nitpick some other points. For instance Sully is not really a deviant. He is the role-model. He is always the strong hero. He is banished not for deviating but for uncovering an evil plot. Which really means his banishment is for being the strong hero, not for being a deviant.

    As for the lack of magic in Pixar films, I think that you need to go back and watch them again. Can you say that going through a door into another universe a la Monsters Inc is NOT magic? This is a bit of Alice through the looking glass, is it not? Is there nothing magic about talking toys living in a seemingly normal human world? Or the technology at play in WALL-E, The Incredibles, or even UP! Of course a house floating away on bouquet of balloons and coming down in a magical land where dogs talk involves no magic.

    Perhaps a theme in Pixar movies is really Technology AS Magic. Maybe you should write about that. It would be more cohesive. After all, what is the difference between a magic wand and a remote control, anyway? Isn’t that the crux of Arthur C. Clarke’s maxim?

    And don’t overlook Pixar’s connection to Studio Ghibli. Lasseter and Miyazaki are great friends. Miyazaki’s movies are filled with “magic” as you might define it. To say that Pixar’s movies lack magic really is missing the forest for the trees.

    I think you need to go back to square one and flush out your ideas out a little more.

  213. Angelina Young

    Awesome! I love this article! As a mother of three we’ve seen just about every Pixar and Disney film there is to see (even Cars, but not the sequel) Keep up the good work

  214. Karen

    Enjoyed reading the essay, but I’m a little annoyed (and a lot amused) at those of you trying to attack the writer for expressing his opinion here. Your opinions suck too, then, okay?!

    I have one question though; am I the only one wondering where the humans are in “A Bug’s Life”??

    [Even in films like a A Bug’s Life ... in which humans only exist as backdrops for the action ...]

  215. Mcsnert

    I think the author needs to go back on his meds.
    I might want to hear what he/she thinks of Warner Bros. and their Looney Tunes but my sides are hurting me too much already!

  216. JoeBlow

    Your article is long and drawn out. Pixar creates high concept films, there is no other explanation. Your conclusions do not accurately fit your theories… I’m sure there are many other conspiracies brewing in that brain of yours. Just keep the four pages of nothing to yourself next time.

  217. dolph

    I would be careful in ascribing too much significance to an establishment of ideas in children. Research in this area has repeatedly shown that children have an acute ability to distinguish fantasy from reality and are actually distainful with adults that attempt to “pretend” that cartoons have meaning in “reality”

  218. caboholiday

    I partially agree with the author…
    First of, all, most cartoons incorporate adult themes, with Humans, non-humans, A.I. blah blah, and Pixar is no different. I don’t think they all sit around trying to vilify humans, but they all have underlying tones of class division, prejudice, racism, greed, and “corporations are people too” motifs.
    However, I argue to that its deeper than this. Its def. politics, def. business, def. capitalism.

    The overwhelming perspective, and basis for all Pixar films, is the dialectic method (think Hegel, Engel, and Marx…). Pixar is about the ‘underdog’ vs. the over-powering and greedy ‘superdog’, with a synthetic outcome. Its about the possible vs. the impossible, with a psuedo-mutually beneficial synthesis. The way this method is used in Pixar establishes the foundation for implanting ideas, reinforcing or perhaps reshaping socio-cultural behaviors, a temporary deterrence from reality… to reinforce capitalism, or rather total-captialism. Where am I going with all of this…?

    The rhetorical media genius …. Steve Jobs. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors and is the former CEO for Pixar. When you mentioned WALL-E scene, it immediately reminded of Apple’s “Think Different,” 1984 Orwellian commercial and the heroine who rescued the masses from chains of a manipulative, Big Brother totalitarian government. Now, Apple has taken IBM’s place on the platform, transforming our cultural, economic, social, and yes, even our political world through iPods, MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, AppleTV, iTunes, and … Pixar too. (For those of you who disagree, and are are like “Politics.. really?” … Yep, take a look at who serves on the Board of Directors at Apple, and you’ll see.)

    What does it mean for our future … I dunno know, but its clear we need to look a little bit more at what motivates the creators of stories ‘behind’ the films, instead of focusing too deeply into of them.

  219. Alan

    Regardless of whether the subject of non-human personhood has social relevance, I simply don’t buy the author’s argument that these stories are fundamentally new or that they are unique to Pixar. Examples of these types of story arcs, although uncommon in prior Disney films, do exist even there. “The Cat From Outer Space”, for instance, is a great example of what the author calls a “Humans as Partners” story, and “Escape to Witch Mountain” deals with some of the same issues of enhanced humanity as “The Incredibles.” Although I can’t think of an example of a true “Humans as Villains” story in prior Disney films, those stories are certainly quite common in non-Disney animation. Heck, that was the basic structure of most of the Bugs Bunny cartoons. He just wanted to be left alone in the woods to eat his carrots, but hunters or opera singers or NASA kept interfering, and so “of course you realize, this means war.”

    “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. By Order of the Author” — Mark Twain

  220. Cop Turned Journalist

    Wow! VERY interesting article. But I think you missed the most important point about Pixar.

    Like Disney, it is a for-profit business. While individual writers, artists or producers may have some ulterior motive incorporating social engineering, that’s not the company’s main drive, because it can’t be … legally. Because they lead a publicly-traded company, Pixar’s executives are bound by law to do whatever will make the company the most money, regardless of morals and ethics. If they don’t, they are violating their “fiduciary responsibility” and are subject to civil liability and, in some cases, criminal prosecution. If making movies about deodorant would make more money, they’d do it.

    They are making movies with the kinds of characters they do, because those characters are easy to replicate as marketable products. The irony of this is that – in their portrayal of Al from Al’s Toy Barn in Toy Story 2 (?) – they make fun of the very marketing circus that they perpetuate with their movies and spin-off products.

    Pixar is in this game to make money. When they create characters, human or not, that your kids develop an emotional attachment to, Pixar makes more money. Find an animated storyline about adults that your kids will fall in love with (and demand to have the dolls and accessories from) and I guarantee you Pixar will be all over it!

    I think the people who run Pixar are naturally-greedy humans, just like the rest of us. But I still enjoyed your analysis. It took a lot of thought to look that deeply into these movies. And reading and responding to it burned a good hour of my, otherwise, very boring afternoon.

    Thanks!

  221. Jackie

    The most abhorrent theme in the Pixar franchise is that women are still secondary characters. Not ONE pixar movie has a female as the lead. Not ONE. All moral transformations are undertaken by male lead characters. The journey is never the woman’s.

  222. jedi

    The author’s theories are all over the place. In sequential sentences, he uses A Bug’s Life as an example of Human as a Villain. Except for the trash the insects interact with as a part of their environment, there are no humans. Period. He goes out of his way to exclude Cars, saying that it doesn’t fit with Pixar’s other outings, but fails to see how the same traits that exclude it would also tend to apply to A Bug’s Life.

    Later on he uses The Incredibles as an example where humans are neither heroes or villains, because they were super-human. But had he actually watched the film, he would have seen that Syndrome was human. He had no powers and therefore fell into the previously defined categories already elaborated on.

  223. ssaponaro

    Putting the humanity back in humans is great. I am cautious about Disney and Pixar heterocentric romance. If you are gay watching the movies, it’s easy to see yourself in at least one of the overtly gay disenfranchised characters. Nevertheless, when i see two obviously male or female characters fall in love and kiss in Pixar film, I will lay my arms to rest. Until then, this gay viewer will enjoy the films, but remains just a little disenfranchised despite the “inclusiveness” of the films’ message.

  224. howyadoin

    Man you REALLY like pixar

  225. Maoman

    Kyle, you are Brilliant. As such, i’m sure you’re smart enough to realize that 90% of the people who have posted here have no idea what you just said, much less what they think about it. 9% of the last 10% understood it but can’t grasp the detailed nuances, so the main point blew over their heads.

    I still disagree with your insistance on not watching Cars, however, and I disagree using your own points. It’s very similar to the incredibles if you make the simple connection that the crowds of cars and the country bumpkin cars are all your average humans. McQueen is a super-human, as are the Incredibles, but he gets lost and stuck in the country town. There he interacts with the ‘humans’ there and learns that the Win, the Cup, the Race… isn’t everything. He learns love, compassion, friendship, and eventually sacrifices the entire race in order to save the life, pride, and career (in that it was his last race) of the horribly wrecked Strip Weathers. I think you should at least give it a try – if you still hate it after 30 minutes, feel free to shut it off, but please, just 30 minutes?

    Also, most of the commenters here? Go back to youtube.

    Think of how stupid the average person it… then realize half the people in the world are stupider than that.

  226. Person

    Look. This post doesnt mean that Rats will cook or will will move in a spaceship in the distant future. It just means tat Pixar is trying to send us a mesage on how to treat our other human beings. Toys wont talk to you or be senient. We just souldnt make war on the others of our species. B ekind and dont be raceist sexist or religonist. Thats all.

  227. Cory

    Maoman:

    Yes because the vast majority of people who actually forced them selfs to read the four pages, of often conflicting/repetitive ramblings of ill conceived and incomplete thoughts, all in the hope of finding the hidden meaning in PIXAR movies. Its a flawed and skewed view to say the least. with no real backing for any of the ideas presented. I agree I must have missed finer nuances, because Im not a schizophrenic, with paranoid delusions that someone is always trying to F with me.

  228. David

    Your thesis is well-reasoned, and you had me until you claimed Pixar is influencing the policy of a generation. You’re grossly overstating the importance of the message, and incorrectly implying it’s Pixar’s invention.

    This message didn’t start with Pixar. It is similar to themes in every children’s cartoon ever. Anthropomorphizing didn’t begin with Buzz and Woody. If Pixar is influencing an entire generation in the way you state, then we all would be vegetarians after Bambi, Charlotte’s Web, and Babe. That is, in my opinion, the biggest problem with Transhumanist rhetoric: it tends to ignore history.

    Don’t forget that as a generation ages it also develops reason. We don’t have to draw on childhood movies alone for experience. It’s experience and reason that shape the policy of the future, not Finding Nemo.

  229. Kyle Munkittrick

    ALRIGHT I’LL WATCH CARS! SHEESH!

    As for the rest of the comments. Thank you thank you thank you. Even those who are convinced I’ve been on some major mind-altering substances and/or am of sub-par intelligence have given me a mighty chuckle.

    Indeed, Alice, along with a few others (Torbjorn #10, Heidi #24, Shane #26, and Jeff 83) get major bonus points for elevating the discourse.

    Thank you to those who pointed out the Hayao Miyazaki connection. I will definitely be watching and rewatching his catalogue.

    Ken (#32) wins with the most hilarious Cars interpretation I’ve ever heard. Stephen King will be pleased to know how the Christine/Maximum Overdrive Apocalypse ends up.

    To those who think I’m paranoid – no, I don’t think Pixar is doing this deliberately. I think they are capitalizing (both $$ and story-wise) on latent beliefs that people possess but struggle to express.

    As for the “this is nothing new” arguments: Of course more classic forms exist here and in previous works. There is a reason I gave a nod to Joseph Campbell. The hero’s journey isn’t just about the story structure but the culture and symbols that populate the basic frame of the narrative. Pixar really is doing something special here.

    PS. Bug’s life acknowledges humans (i.e. beer bottles, animal crackers box, match sticks) and portrays them as environmental threats (fly paper, bug zappers, etc.). It’s the least connected to humanity in that sense, but maintains the more human behavior = deviancy as related to the group (e.g. tool use, meritocracy).

    Thanks y’all.

  230. Interesting, if not bizarre theory you’ve concocted that you contradict yourself on many times. Perhaps I’m a bit simplistic, but personally, I believe the only hidden agenda they have is to make money while entertaining people with their craft of telling a story via animation. They use inanimate and non-human subjects for several reasons. 1) Children (and adults sometimes) relate better to them 2) To create an alternate reality 3) To sell toys and make more money. This kind of story-telling, using otherwise non-human subjects has been around for more than 150 years.

  231. Anders

    What about Rafiki in the Lion King? He’s quite anthropomorphic.

  232. Jen

    Interesting thread.

  233. Jen

    I agree wholeheartedly with Shane, #24.

  234. Two quick notes:

    Loved this post. It’s over the top, thought provoking, and gets under a reader’s skin. Just like a good opinion piece is supposed to.

    Second, to all those saying this post is [negative adjective here]; 231 comments and probably a truck load of pageviews, including yours + your comment says it’s quite the opposite. A post/essay is as good as the engagement, not necessary about the context.

    Great article.

  235. Polynices

    Yeah, it’s hard to take seriously any comment about Pixar movies (or really any movies at all) from someone that is proud not to have seen as unobjectionable a film as Cars. Echoing comments above, how can you know it’s bad if you haven’t seen it? I’d actually say it’s one of their best but that’s undoubtedly influenced by having small children who love it and have seen it literally dozens of times.

  236. M. Krebs

    What is wrong with you people? This “post,” or whatever you call it, is profoundly stupid. Let me say that again: This “post,” or whatever you call it, is profoundly stupid.

  237. Do you own a pet? Then you’re guilty of slavery!

    Do you eat beef steak? Then you’re guilty of murder!

    Animals don’t have rights. What a lame post.

    Robots that can pass the Turing test have rights though, since they know the difference between right and wrong.

  238. Davis

    Has this guy ever heard of Bambi?

  239. Tristan

    I have a question. How does a Bug’s Life fit into this theory?

  240. jdk

    @Davis Has you heard of the the human that murdered Bambi’s moms?

  241. klo

    And thats how to over-analyse films

    Just accept it, they are skilfully made entertainment , nothing more. There is no hidden meaning to them unless you yourself are desperate to find one , in which case you will construct one from nothing.

  242. Guy

    so I discovered this post while exploring WordPress.

    I wrote this article about Wall-E .. Which has a lot of similarities to yours

    http://videowordmadeflesh.com/2011/04/04/a-touch-of-humanity-how-a-robot-taught-us-to-be-human-2/

  243. Guy

    Dude, don’t listen to these guys… You did a great job. It disheartens me that I inhabit a world where people are so cruel to those who try to step outside the box. Transhumanism is great… In my opinion we need to work on humanism first. But read my essay on Wall-E .. I have a good feeling that you will see I understand you a lot better than others. I loved that phrase “Humanity does not have a monopoly on personhood” … your essay was NOT about anthropomorphism but in fact ethics and existentialism.

    This was quite an insightful essay.

    You have my support and thank you.

  244. irv

    Personhood for all other living creatures? Hogwash. I say animalhood for all humans. Then it would be okay for me to rip a humans head off just because that’d be okay, because you know, I’m an animal!

  245. Disclaimer: I’m an old fart and I’ve seen this trend ever since I read Karel Capek’s R.U.R and every Isaac Asimov robot book I could get my little grubby 12 year old hands upon.
    They, and now PIXAR and the game makers are giving us all examples of other creatures as not just helpers, but as co-equals or superior entities that will help us solve our problems. Be it IBM winning Jeopardy, and then moving into the medical diagnosis field, or autonomous drones in sea, air, and land, helping our military, or the numerous spacecraft [robots?] heading off to explore our possible future worlds. How many times has your car reminded you that you left the lights on between 2000 and 2015? And how many times have you totally forgotten to turn them off on the newer models, only to realize that it can take care of itself, and they will go off in 10 minutes or less.

    From Special Forces Dogs, to future designer bugs, soon we’ll have creatures that we can communicate to / from at a much higher level that was ever dreamed of a century ago. And, what will our children’s reaction be to ‘Monsters’ who arrive at our planet to say “Hi !” Will they shoot them, like we did to Michael Rennie aka Klatu ? Just remember, Gort was the one in ultimate command. Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!

    Good Luck, Kids… I leave you a screwed up planet to fix.
    - Gramps

  246. sketchycat123

    The article states, “You can’t even date when the story takes place, because there are no human references from which to calculate an approximation. Save for the fact that Zazu knows ‘I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts…’”

    Actually, other than Zazu knowing that song (composed in 1944), he also knows “It’s a Small World,” which was composed in 1964. So the movie isn’t quite as timeless as it might seem.

    Fun article! :0)

  247. narploo
  248. TheC

    This is not only well written, the message is clear. I agree, movies help shape the values we grow up with, they inform our perspective. You have a lot of hate comments here that showcase a great deal of ignorance. What you have said makes a lot of sense, and I rarely find that a Pixar movie has a negative message. Also, by using non-human characters, children learn to identify with something, because a human character can be too close (that’s not me, that’s Andy), but when it comes to pretend and non-human characters, they can better understand abstract meanings.
    Well done!
    C

  249. mia lopez

    kwel… dot… dot… dottt….

  250. Nicole C.

    First, of course there are messages in Pixar movies. There are messages in most all movies. This is not new, revolutionary or shocking. The author was not indicating that it was.

    To those who think movies are just pure entertainment, please choose to examine the world around you. However, there are messages that are received (as in all art) to the degree of receptiveness of the audience. It’s about how it makes you feel and how you react to the piece. Subjectivity. We will not all feel the same after seeing any movie, let alone a Pixar movie.

    To those who are so certain that humans will be the only sentient beings, please read: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2048138,00.html about the very short amount of time before computers are capable of programming themselves. We may need to address robots with feelings sooner than you think.

    The essay may be a bit much, but the essence of the social messages is valid. Whether or not you’re able to see it, well, that’s another topic.

  251. JT

    Brilliant analysis.

    However, PIXAR is simply picking up on something that many of us have lost when childhood ended: imagination, a sense of wonder and awe. Childhood ends for everyone at a different point. For some, it is through a series of events; others it is a singular cataclysmic event.

    For most, it seemingly slips away over an unrecognized period.

    At that point, one begins to march to the drum beat of the “civilized” and “normal” corporate world. If one isn’t “on track” for joining the hive state of modern humanity, becoming a “human resource”, one gets drugged with fun things like Ritalin.

    I think PIXAR’s greatest achievement is the ability to have the most jaded adult called home to their childhood.

    Maybe, just maybe, when we are able to see the Earth, its creatures, and the myriad peoples of the world colored by the wonder of a child’s eyes and not tinged with the fear generated by those who profit from that fear, we’ll all live in a better place.

  252. Mind-Pattern Programming.
    Cabalists,
    Malignant Personalities,
    Sociopaths,

    Whether you know it or not, you and/or your children are being brainwashed, programmed, tranquilized, and hypnotized by a mialitary-industrial mind control machine.

    Ritual magic using subtle techniques of sub-conscience programming, trauma based mind pattern programming, symbology, and a host of other techniques.

    Wake-Up and wipe the drool away?

  253. ObamaBotNot

    Well, just remember to be realllllly nice to the nerds in your class. He or she could be the one who is responsible for programming your future A.I. buttmate in prison.

  254. Jay

    Just another homosexual movie producer that does everything he can to denigrate masculinity, hide reality and deny any existence of the God that will judge him and send him to hell someday.

    What’s so special about that?

  255. Dave

    That is some fine intellectual paranoia!

    …and all those nerds, all those hundreds of people needed to make a pixar are all sitting silently (nerd style) not revealing to friends and family…hummm

    Really?

    This is nothing more than a blogger writing as much as he kind so he can read it back and enjoy the sound of his voice and the intellect of his narcisitic paranoia.

  256. There is another Pixar film that should be studied for its message…,Monsters, Inc., in which children’s fears are used as a power source. Not quite a hidden message. place of refuge 2012 dot com

  257. Mikeh

    I agree with the author’s premise, however the conclusion that this type of thinking will lead us to a better future is preposterous! The idea that animals or robots etc, should have the same rights that humans have is totally ridiculous. And, I think anyone that says the major studios that produce the majority of our culture’s entertainment do not have an agenda, are simply naive. Well written article. Ridiculous conclusion.

  258. Good post and good insights! I always enjoy watching movies more when I make a game out of trying to decipher the messages they are “programming” into me.

  259. Paul Chesterworth

    Anyone to analyze animated movies like this must be on POT. There are no majic formulas to creativity. You’re a conspiritorial idiot!

  260. JD

    This is ‘Transhumanism’ and it is a great post. Now (whoever denies it) shake your dumb-ass brain and read it in detail.

  261. Stan

    I’m the biggest Pixar fan in the world, but I’m a little iffy on the main point of contention here. Anthropomorphizing none human characters hardly supports the idea that Pixar has a running theme of accepting non-humans as sentient beings. For one, in Up, Dug remains firmly relegated to the place of a dog. For another, in Toy Story, the toys are never elevated in the human characters’ minds beyond the place of toys. To cherry pick a few examples to make your point is kind of missing the point. Pixar’s films are mature, nuanced and very deep. This is a quality that has been evident from the very beginning. To try to read deeply into an overarching theme is to miss that complexity and nuance that makes them so special.

  262. This isn’t about the “cute” little toys that are alive, or the race cars that can talk or move… This is about the message it sends to the kids fantasies that won’t become real and disappoint them. That’s the very reason why kids aren’t content (as many as I know) to just play with toy cars, airplanes, action figures. They want something not real. And every time it takes the child away from true reality. They are heavily influence by what they watch and see on t.v. or movies. Even though this might seem small or minor how many times have I heard I want to be “lighting queen” or I want to be “buss” and they aren’t satisfied with being themselves and we just keep feeding them more and more and more..

  263. orcus

    And they never have a father or Mother together, if you look back at Disney in most of there animation its either Mother or Father but not both in there movies. Destruction of family continues and America suffers….

  264. Dude

    Firstly; It’s your right as a human being to like Cars or not. Whatever you think, you’re right. And if I don’t want to watch it because I think it’s boring and I hate Nascar, that’s my business and I don’t care what you think.

    Secondly; Practically every Pixar film created, with the exception of the second and third Toy Story films (and even parts of those can be included in this) has the same plot, and that is; Dude has problems, dude makes friends to help him solve problems, dude has to admit dark secret and earn back trust of friends, friends help dude solve problem. They do this because it works, and they can make money. Whatever creature or thing they choose to use as their medium by anthropomorphizing it is irrelevant. It was said before, kids like that stuff, so they do it. I also use the word “dude” specifically because up until the movie “Brave” Pixar has yet to make a movie with a female protagonist. Not exactly a great example for kids who you are trying to teach equal rights to.

    Thirdly; The main point of this paper is still good though. People are people and you should treat them the way you want to be treated (golden rule!). Pixar is a company that wants to make money, and the things they make are safe and fit their ultimate goal, which is making movies for KIDS. So parents and fellow movie enthusiasts… enjoy the movies, and teach your kids to treat every other creature on this planet with love and respect, because that’s the only thing that will change the world.

  265. Hi there,
    I love Pixar, so I naturally enjoyed this post, however I have a few issues with it – the main one being that you left out Cars. Now, as a huge pixar fan, I understand that Cars wasn’t the best movie Pixar has made and I can understand how you’d come to the decision to exclude cars. But just because ya don’t like it, it doesn’t mean you get to leave it out because to be honest, the inclusion of Cars throws a spanner in the works of your entire arguement. So much so that it actually proves your theory wrong, the fact that Cars even exists proves that this isn’t what Pixar are trying to do when making movies.

    Pixar is in the business of telling stories, and their prime audience for those stories are families with children, so there’s naturally going to be a theme of “treat everything around you with respect”. I completely agree that this is a very central theme for Pixar movies, but all stories have themes like this, not just Pixar films and different films will have different themes. To go as far as calling them “hidden messages” shows little understanding of storytelling themes.

  266. toulouse

    over thinking and looking for something that’s not there. it’s very simple really, updated stories with much needed character development and the KEY is “animals are easier and more fun to draw and animate!” that’s it. nothing sinister or conspiratorial. animators + technology.

  267. fellow human

    There is no doubt that our world and the “people” living on it need to drastically change their point of view on many subjects and issues. I think we can all agree that the opinions of other humans are not very easy to change, even in the slightest ways. However, there is one exception to this rule and that is children. It has been said time and time again that the children are our future, but the sad truth is that nobody seems to be doing anything to help these kids change the future. Change has to start somewhere. The ideas our children have are shaped by the surrounding stimulation. I think that Pixar is trying to take a step in the right direction with their animations. They are trying to teach valuable lessons to society’s children through their films. Lessons that the public should be teaching through our actions. If everyone is waiting for somebody else to start a global change then it will never happen. In the same way if we put the future in our children’s hands yet don’t point them in the right direction then they will continue the cycle of hoping for a better future. I realize this is the 265th comment on a rather lengthy article, so it probably won’t ever be read do to the impatience of our world; and I’ll admit, I didn’t read very many of the previous comments. I guess all I wanted to say is that this is an extremely well written article and I support the interpretation even if these are not Pixar’s motivations.

  268. Joe

    Humanity never thought it had a monopoly on personhood. God is and always has been a person. This is pretty obvious. However the human problem is not seeing non-humans as persons but ALL humans as persons. Pixar takes us out of our familiar environment (as do all good stories) and allows us to see with other eyes. That however does not mean necessarily that dogs are persons or that robots are persons. That is too literal and not the meaning. No one believes that the story of gingerbread man means that we should treat cookies as persons.

  269. LoganSqLady

    Fantastic article. I too love the speech that Anton Ego gives. One of my favorites by Pixar.

  270. natty threads

    I don’t support transhumanism
    or equal rights for animals
    and the like.
    I am in fact a hard-line Biblical Creationist
    with all of the concurrent prejudices-

    BUT

    Animals ARE sentient beings,
    fish- some-
    DO live in families,

    and how on earth does someone get off saying Toy Story-
    with sentient ragdolls-
    does NOT resort to magic?

    And what about the doors and such in Monsters, Inc?

    Sorry I lose the thread of the argument
    when I have disproven the premise-

    I’m just that way.

    So whine and cry and piss and moan
    or whatever
    that PIXAR is promoting
    human submission.

    I’ve seen aught
    but kind and gentle creatures
    defending one another
    through thick and thin

    from the beginning with those sweet lamps.

    ;-)

    Yah bless.

    Look for some real boogy-men
    and leave the animated monsters alone.

  271. Me

    This is NOT what PIXAR are doing! There is a VERY good reason why PIXAR films lean in the direction you have noticed. It’s a keen observation… but the point has been missed on you. I don’t think they really give a hoot about robotic intelligence. Have a look around the net for more information about PIXAR and you might understand what is probably really the source of the themes you are noticing… :-)

  272. Coffeecake

    Pixar isn’t the only media outlet that emphasizes human qualities of “personhood” manifested in not only people but in non-people too. Star Trek was doing it back in the 60′s. In particular, there was an episode called “The Changeling” where a malfunctioning space probe was treated with sympathy and fear. The TV show “Lost In Space”, the robot was treated as having human feelings. The car Kitt in “Knight Rider”, was treated by his driver as an equal. All these are very different than say “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” where the car was magical but didn’t show emotion and react to humans. I do understand your concern for the hidden messages, but non-people have been representing people to tell stories with embedded lessons of human nature in literature for centuries. In Peter Rabbit, the humans (as represented by Mr. McGregor) are projected as mean and cruel. Obviously in the back of our consciousness, there seems to be longing and hope that if humans fail in kindness and humanity, that just maybe there is something else out there with humanity’s best and strongest qualities of love, tolerance and kindness that will redeem or rescue us when we ourselves can’t.

  273. Tom

    This was an interesting read. I agree with most of it, but I’m self-entitled and believe my opinion also matters. It doesn’t; but that’s just how I feel.

    My hypothesis:
    If this article is true, than Pixar films are alien propaganda to condition humans for future contact.

    All joking aside, this is not a new narrative. Pixar is simply extremely successful at following a somewhat formulaic plot line. Others have done it recently, quickly: Happy Feet in 2006, AI in 2001, and I am Number Four in 2011 (lolz).

    Still, others have followed this narrative for far longer. Look at Frankenstein by Mary Shelly in 1817. I chose this piece because it’s kind of the anti-Pixar narrative but conveys a similar sentiment in that sentient beings have a personhood. If I were more literate I could list works as long as my arm. In my brain I’m trying to cross reference “Ratatouille” with “Literature,” and I keep coming up with that part in George Orwell’s 1984 where the rat nearly gnaws his face off.

    Really, it can be boiled down to a narrative describing the relationship between “Us” and “Them,” and the conflict that arises from heterogeneity. In Pixar films, the conflict is resolved in a harmonious way because the Pixar audience consists of a broad demographic that includes children whose parents want them to sleep in their own beds at night. (Can I get an amen?!?!)

    My point is that the homage to Pixar in this article was shelled out a little ad nauseum for my taste. The premise of this article is that Pixar kind of ‘coined the idea’, which is false. That being said, I could still cling to the hope that Pixar will be so successful at belaboring this point of the acceptance of the “Other” that we will finally learn.

    Oh and CARS RULLLLEZ!!!!

  274. Sam French

    You, sir, are a tool. This essay is a waste of time….

  275. Heather

    I love Pixar. I don’t think the message is so thought out about AI and non human, although there is a general respect for all beings. I see the message as about the little guy rising to the challenge and overcoming. And I also love Cars.

  276. gabriel

    man some people here are such derps.

    1.) he never said pixar has invented something new or unique. does he have to quote every instance ever that someone has tried to pass along the message that non humans can be persons for you to understand that he has heard of them?

    2.) the import of his implications is that unlike star trek or frankenstein (really now?), this message is being taught to our youth in an uber effective way so they dont grow up like the bastards generation y churned out.

    3.) the importance of a company like pixar doing something like this as opposed to some 6 figure revenue stream non profit is not only the reach of the message but the advancement and moral integrity of the corporate structure that brought it to bear. in the same decade that BP spends boatloads of money to make people forget about the oil spill effecting record profits and the trillion dollar failed drug war that has made drugs more available and cheaper and the disastrous war on terror that has bankrupted america in exchange for massive military industrial complex profits, a megalithic company like pixar is actually doing something GOOD. not only good, but REALLY good

    4.) if you are not aware of the coming technological paradigm shift, then its time to stop huntin deer with your pappy and get with the times. the human race is in for some serious change and its high time you acknowledge it. what he is saying literally cannot be more relevant.

  277. dillon

    I enjoyed your article, as well as your observations and thoughts.

  278. gabriel

    **4.) technological singularity

  279. LeeAnn

    Good obervation, I’ll give you that… But what life really boils down to is this… In time of crisis, are you going to save real people, or robots? And in time of hunger, are you going to starve, or eat the cow?

  280. CalgarySandy

    The hidden message is: We don’t need real artists anymore because we have CGI. Reusable code is so very cheap and a computer does not talk back. Manually drawn animation is an art form and Pixar just pumps out the same old stuff time after time. It was interesting as a technology and has a place in gaming. In fact, my experience shows me that many games are better done than Pixars movies. CGI can be an art form but not the way Pixar does it.

    It presents a world people want to believe in rather than the one they do live in. It tells you that everything will be just wonderful if you behave and believe. It implies that animals are just like people with the same motivations and abilities. That is just plain stupid. Even the old Disney movies had some ambiguity. Old Disney movies also contain some of the greatest manual animation ever done and they did it before most of us were born. I’m 62.

    My son’s day care was getting parents to sign up on movies. Yes or no. I said “No” to “All Dogs go to Heaven” because I did not want my child thinking that there is a HeII, that you get a second chance at life if you mess it up, and that Dogs are inherently friendly little guys. The same cannot be said for “cats” in the movie. We had seen it in a theatre and I had to debrief my little guy from all the Christianity that was been peddled in that movie.

    Pixar is to animation what disco was to music.

  281. CalgarySandy

    Moral Integrity? Who does not know that Walt Disney was a misogynist (very weak female characters until Beauty and the Beast) and hated children. What he was was a smart businessman who knew his markets.

    There is no moral integrity in pushing insupportable values on children. It is a bold faced lie that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough with the right attitude. There are millions who will never overcome because they are poor or ill. Success requires absolutely opportunity not just desire. If you think the current 20 plus are too entitled just wait for the generation that has grown up awash in this trash. They might like animals and be nice to animals but, ultimately, they will not understand real animals and are learning nothing to help with living in the real world; especially a world that is going down the tubes thanks to our greed for more and more stuff; like more movies done exactly the same way.

  282. I take exactly the opposite message from the Toy Story trilogy.

    In the Toy Story universe, toys have agency. Perhaps they retain the agency imbued upon them by their children or, as is sometimes implied, they gain a measure of agency through being loved and appreciated by their children. Whatever agency they have, the rules of the universe are such that it must never appear to the humans that toys have agency; toys are rendered inert by the presence of a human. Only in the absence of human beings to toys start to show their full capacity for agency.

    Throughout the Toy Story series we the audience are asked to do what children do– accept that Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the others have not just agency, but something more profound: humanity. They have feelings, hopes and fears for the future, and a real love and concern for one another, and for Andy, their human owner.

    And yet we also accept, without questioning it, that they have an owner. That they are toys, things made of plastic and cloth and metal and stuffing, destined some day to break down and be discarded.

    And while we’re being asked to care about Woody & company, we witness many other toys around them, especially in the third film, experiencing existential horrors of their own. There is the eternal threat of “ending up in the landfill,” which is apparently the toyish idea of Hell– and in the third film we see someone tossed into the dumpster and headed to the landfill, with a mere shrug of the shoulders. “That’s what happens to toys when they get too worn out. Poor fella,” one says.

    Andy, being a good owner, finally finds an appropriate home for his toys in the end. Most toys aren’t so lucky. Most toys don’t have quite so loving a god. (In fact, this point is made all the more strongly when the nemesis character, about to have his moment of triumph, shouts at Andy’s toys, “Where is your child now?”) Most toys’ existences end first with despair, and then with horror.

    (Toy Story 2 makes the point that there’s an utterly relentless pressure to upgrade and expand the child’s toy collection, and that most toys do end up unloved and ultimately sent to the landfill. The life of the average toy in the Toy Story is little better than that expected of someone in a Jonthan “In the Hands of an Angry God” Edwards sermon. )

    And yet this all seems acceptable because the rules under which these toys live makes it acceptable. They’re not entirely human– they lack agency in our presence. They’re not Darwinian– they lack any capacity for reproduction or struggle. In fact, unlike us, the entirety of their existence is about purpose (paging Agent Smith, Agent Smith to the white courtesy telephone, please) and dedication toward a singular human being. (Woody, in fact makes this point hard in Toy Story 3, to the point that he suffers less than the others do because he never loses faith in Andy’s essential love for his toys.)

    A counter-point to Kyle Munkittrick’s essay is that if we’re not to be destroyed in a Matrix-like holocaust of enhanced beings or self-improving machines taking out the weaker unenhanced, unimproving (and unimprovable) homo sapiens, what we human must do to ensure viability for ourselves is morally questionable.

  283. Robin

    The Lion King was a rip off of “The Kimba The White Lion,” the US version of the Japanese manga by Tezuka. Yes, he was a huge Disney freak and he based it on Bambi. I think Disney’s choice to eliminate the humans from the Lion King was to avoid outright plagerisim more than anything else. As I recall, none of the animators “recall” Kimba, which I think was a lie. Humans played a huge roll in Kimba, but they were not part of most of the episodes. Anyway, my point is that The Lion King is not really a good Disney film to base a premise on, because it ws based on plagerized material.

  284. Fyrehed

    Believing that things have souls is no more outrageous than believing in gods, especially when you consider that we are all made of start dust. It probably isn’t anything we can imagine as a consciousness, having no senses. But things, familiar things, can be involved in some rather incredible and bizarre coincidences. It’s kind of like the ghost in the machine sort of deal, one I can only believe you haven’t experience if you weren’t paying attention.

    It might be all superstitious nonsense, but unlike a lot of other bullshit out there, these concepts can do little to bring us harm. Especially considering the tendency of people to treat other people and animals ‘like objects’: if objects were more respected (things were cared for, kept in good condition) not only would things be running a lot more smoothly for us, it would be another slice of logic to support equal rights for individuals AND the collective.

  285. dave

    I look forward to a future where even bloggers are accepted as persons

    seriously people, what’s up with all the anger? this is just something for you to read for a couple minutes, nobody’s making you go to church about it.

  286. I find it comical how offended some of the commenters are – whether it’s due to the essay or in reference to Pixar and/or Disney themselves.

    For myself, I love Pixar and really hope for the chance to work with/for them someday.

    The stories Pixar chooses to be movies is based on a few criteria. One of the most important being that they have to love it. Almost all of their movies have been written and directed by different people. They honestly want to avoid pushing out the same storylines over and over again just because Toy Story and Bug’s Life were successful in the beginning. While they might rehash those Titles and Characters, the stories to me are always very unique.

    Well, I can’t get Doc Hollywood out of my head when I watch Cars, but I still love it despite that. Maybe not new, but still unique.

    They saw too many companies create a one-hit-wonder and then get comfortable, which is why they always have new directors and people. I believe Dreamworks has issues with this – like they release one good movie for every 6 they produce.

    Anyways, I’d recommend anyone who has Netflix to go watch The Pixar Story. Oh, and they/it-the-movie will tell you that they were extremely saddened when stories started coming out that 2D was a dead medium. They are just doing what they are good at – 3D. They are revolutionaries in the industry.

    ******A 2D animated story can do just as well as a 3D one! The difference is… *drumroll* the STORY has to be GOOD!

    I think if I were to pick something to be offended at in relation to this essay – it would actually be a few mentions I read about how ‘easy’ or, for sake of, ‘soulless’ 3D animation is. Personally, as a 3D Animator myself, I can verify that this idea is a hot steaming bag of bullocks. Watch a dang making-of bonus feature! So much love and attention goes into every detail! From the Sculpture Models to the Storyboards to the actual 3D modeling! I understand that Pixar might make it look ‘easy’, but I gawk in awe at what they accomplish! There is a flippin’ good reason it takes them a couple years between movies!

    Perhaps I’m too shallow-minded, too much of a Christian (and let me tell you, I was not expecting to have my faith insulted while reading one or two of the comments to this particular article), not a Parent, too young, too uneducated (college graduate) to come up with a reason to retaliate against a company and brand that has brought so much joy to my life and the lives of EVERYONE around me. This is Pixar, specifically, because I have issues with Disney.

    Or perhaps I can simply appreciate the wonderful filmmaking of very talented people who love what they do, work tirelessly to create the best product that they can, and cause me to feel a range of emotions that even good movies can’t. (because theirs are GREAT).

  287. Julian

    I believe some people are getting somewhat misled here as to what this essay hopes to point out.

    This is not about marketing (as some mentioned it above, ‘kids just love antropomorphized things, let them want them and buy them’), nor is it about authorship, nor is it about Pixar, the company, itself.

    This is about a pattern in the narratives which children (and us, “older children”!) are being presented to, a constant lesson being taught – most of the times, unconsciously – to viewers. The main issues regarding the plot reaches the viewer and stays with him/her (I believe we all agree here that Pixar’s films are, indeed, ‘touchy’), to some extent shaping his/her interpretation of the surroundings. As rational beings, we sum up experiences in order to develop a critical eye: if a whole generation of kids is experiencing Pixar’s plots, specially during an age when their acknowledgement of an outer world is starting to develop, they are, somehow, processing them.

  288. Matt

    John Steinbeck theorized in “East of Eden” that the most timeless stories are ones that make even the most wild and/or broad-minded ideas personable and open the doorway to personal reflection. If this summation is true, Pixar stands next to Shakespeare and Tolstoy and even THE BIBLE as a teaching mechanism. And that’s not blasphemy; I’m sure God approves of animated family fun with a wholesome moral fiber.

  289. Eddie

    I agree with many of the observations you make here, but I think you may be taking this too far. I doubt that Pixar ever intended for people to see toys, or dogs, or fictional monsters, as possessing “personhood.” I think their message is ultimately tolerance, whether it be racial, ethnic, religious, or whatever, but ultimately tolerance for other people. I’m not saying that the things you mention, like animals, for instance (in the form of dug or remy) deserve cruelty, but c’mon. Animals are not sentient, robots are not sentient, and we should not pretend they are. Tolerance is a great message, and I think that’s really all pixar was going for. For the time being, personhood pretty much remains restricted to human beings.

  290. Domo

    I disagree Eddie, you’ve never had a pet? Animals are sentient, i think all living things are sentient (able to feel) just because we don’t understand it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
    I seriously doubt Pixar is doing it on purpose.

  291. Mike

    Your premise is remiss. ALL the characters anthropomorphism make ALL the Disney and Pixar productions homo-centric. ALL the viewers are human…, pretty much.
    You might want to check out Egyptian art as well as every other civilization to further your studies. My God…, even Jesus used animal analogies (lambs, lions, etc.). Also don’t forget…, The Goat.

  292. Thats lovely stuff you have written up here. Have been looking for articles on this all over. Nice blog

    Hope you would like to read about inflatables montreal

  293. Tates

    I like how you wrote an entire college thesis on this when you could have just used that one paragraph, and I wouldn’t have had to skim/scroll down over 9000 times.

  294. Brent

    Seriously? I wasted 20 minutes of my life on this? And now I’m wasting 20 more posting a comment? I don’t know why I’m so compelled, as I’ve NEVER commented on a blog before in my life, but here goes. I cannot help myself!…. Can you say OVERANALYZE?

    I’d guess that the screenwriters and producers at Pixar go to work at their cubicles every day and try to make up a great story that the animators will then turn into a wicked cool movie. They want it to sell millions of dollars worth of tickets and entertain people, and are darned good at it. I highly suspect some of them might have heard of fellows named Shakespeare, Faust, Steinbeck, Kurosawa, etc….

    Next, I would hypothesize that some high-IQ-possessing grad student sits around after a few bong hits and tries to attribute some grand theme to all of this, all the while throwing out the %10 of the information that contradicts his thesis.

    I couldn’t care less about defending Pixar or Disney, and my compulsion to post here is only brought about by my utter astonishment at this blather.

    Ah, the internet. A place where persons, entities, transhumans, bloggers and yes, even commenters like me can spew all of the bizarre tripe that happens to rattle out around their little noggins…

  295. Chaby

    if you knew what ghibli is. You wouldnt even be talking about, or watching so many pixar movies. (which i hate) Who still involves people in the same story: The good (the heroes) and the bad ones. Things ghibli wont ever do, cause they focus on more important stuff, by taking their stories on “normal” living, and making them magic realism. If you ever read Cortazar or García Marquez. You would know what this means. And appreciatte it.

    (Sorry for my bad english.)

  296. Alex

    I don’t know if this was expressed by anyone else (294 comments is a lot for me to sift through), but this article is a example of how statistics can be used to lie. The author has deliberately chosen to leave out a portion of the sample group that doesn’t fit the conclusion they wish to express. However, if you leave in Cars (and I’m sorry, but you have to look at all originals, not necessarily sequels, of a creator’s work to establish an over-arcing message) the “hidden” meaning of Cars is that you need to learn to accept those who are different from yourself, especially those you have learned to view as inferior. Plain and simple, and it works with all of their films, not just with the hand-selected sample group of someone trying to force their own point through deliberately incomplete statistical studies.

  297. Eliza

    I think this is an interesting analysis that brings up some really great points. I would like to mention however, that women in these films are portrayed as living in a male-dominated world. That is, there are one or two strong female characters that almost exclusively interact and problem solve with a group of male characters. In addition to valuing nature, animals, creation, and even for our belongings, PIXAR needs to work on sending a message to girls about strong women–women whose sense of self is not based on her appearance or relationships with men. Rather, strong women who enjoy each others company and do incredible things together.

  298. Chofo

    No mames, chato ten una vida y disfruuta los 90 minutos de una peli, pero no insinues que los que vemos las pelis, grande o chicos, estamos siendo bombardeados por estereotipos que nos quieren plantar en el cerebro, velo como diversión y tu vida tendrá más alegrias y menos preocupaciones, a mi me encanta A Bug’s Life! Y no por eso me voy a volver histerico que mis hijos tengas desviaciones o problemas de conducta, de las pelis la que mas me preocupa porque es una cruda realidad es la de WALL-E observen a las personas de ahora sobre de todo en USA, se parecen mucho a los obesos, los niños en latinamerica se ven identicos a las animaciones, son flojos, gordos….en fin, bajale a tu tacos compadre, comprate una botella de agua, unas palomitas dietéticas, un helado y a ver peliculas!

  299. Rance Mohanitz

    @Max Colden

    Were you hoping for some animated defecation? Sorry, defecation animation.

  300. Aaron

    Why does everybody hate on Cars? I thought it was one of their best movies.

  301. A non-human person

    I think it’s very amusing that everyone has to write in such a scholarly tone. You should all realize that everyone does this because they need self-validation of their own intelligence. (The smarter you sound, the smarter you feel.) In addition, you try to sound smarter than the person you disagree with, in attempt to discredit their argument. Clearly I am no exception to this rule, and in acknowledging this, I am attempting to exempt myself from this trend, as I try to sound smarter than you all, which further proves my point.

    As for all of you “haters,” you throw ad hominems at the author as another way to make you sound smart. And many of you, take the opportunity to call out the “haters” so you can validate the compassionate side of your being. You think that defending the author against cheap attacks makes you look like a good person, but you really have no vested interest in the author. After all, the internet is merely a conglomerate of individual, anonymous minds. My suggestion is to stop seeking for validation on the internet. You don’t have to sound smart, you don’t have to sound moral, and you don’t have to sound wise. If it gives you confidence, then fine, just know that that confidence was always in you, and you don’t need blogging and posting to bring it out. But then again, sometimes its good just to hear yourself speak, no? However, I think the author would prefer if we stayed on point in their discussion…

    If the author means to say that animals can be people too, I think they are mistaken. They share some traits that we do, after all, we are animals, but in no way are you obligated to treat an ant as you would a human.

    I think Pixar uses the age old storytelling technique of personification, because they want to make good movies, that make good money. Very few writers try to make their points with everyday plots, and dialogues. And why should they? If people can’t find meaning in ordinary, everyday life, then why would movie makers attempt to share their message through mundane anecdotes? Writers use many techniques to captivate their audience, and anthropomorphic figures are particularly captivating to children. That’s why pixar uses them.

    I will admit that Pixar tries to promote acceptance and compassion for others, this is pretty well undisputed, although someone felt the need to convince us anyway…

    I don’t want to dismiss the author’s point, but acting like there’s a big secret message in Pixar films is a little far-fetched, when there are perfectly reasonable explanations that author clearly did not explore.

  302. mikeyintheoc

    Oh for Pete’s sake roll clip and enjoy. I bet you lose sleep over Disney cartoons as well.

    Hey, Hey just kidding cowboy. Good thought went into this.

  303. Marcus Commager

    You are obviously crazy. These are movies for kids, kids like talking animals, ergo, there are talking animals in the movies. You mean to tell me that Cinderalla, Little Mermaid, Snow White, and every other movie that uses animals as a stylistic advice is somehow teaching children that humanity is divorced from the concept of person? To do what, raise an army of brainwashed children support the abortion and genetic research lobbies of 2020? I’m going to dismiss this essay as written on weed, but I hope you realize that Pixar as a corporation has no interest in modifying kids and no one comes away from Ratatouille thinking we should give rights to rats.

  304. AlphaWord

    He created a Debate now didn’t he. Even so. The author is very correct. What is being done is called human conditioning. And really is to prepare us for social future issues. It is actually very important that this happens because if you are a futurist and see the patterns we are heading into a technological age where robots are building robots and eventually human kind will be replaced. I would also like to point out. even though he neglected Cars and Cars 2, in these movies the same themes exist. Only its New cars Vs. Old Rusty Cars. The people who do not understand what is being done will make fun of this article, because after all its a joke if you don’t have intellect to see what really happening. Remember folks your a business because you have a SIN number. Make the best of it.

  305. Joey

    I can assure you all ,this : while only with brief gazing and and a few sit ins with kids with these types of movies on ;I picked up the underlying social conditioning propaganda; I would not let any one watch theses films especially kids with out showing them to have a critical mind one that analyzes and uses righteous judgement to discern the purpose; intent and motives of any of these and any media; and to discuss among the whole frame of generation ( grand-parents -parents- siblings- young and close friends). when the “perfect man” all ablaze in light and ultra-hi-tek capabilities with a computer generated perfected voice which will awaken all the sub-limenal and unconscious postings Speaks as the worlds grand savior and ruler the man of peace and equity ; you and your children can kiss your sweet asses goodbye! you stupid consumers lose your souls and gain the whole world in vivid hi-def color and propaganda !and pay for it too !

  306. Tia

    I absolutely love meditating! I never imagined it would work before I tried it… I wish all humans would try it. When I started I just felt a bit calmer and was amazed that this kind of spirit stayed with me the whole time or at least a few days. Now I can’t imagine living without it

  307. Hugo

    u need help! movies are for enterntainment.

  308. Spiderz

    I think you are over-emphasizing the significance of non-human characters. They are a useful teaching tool because they put a little separation between the learner and the story. This separation prevents the learner from becoming defensive and missing the lesson. Take, for instance, Anantsi the spider from African folklore, or Brer Rabbit et al. These are anthropomorphic characters used to teach humans about humans, not about animals. Which is not to say that it’s impossible or unlikely for someone to learn an unintended lesson from the story, such as a belief that robots can love.

    I also thought I’d bring up, for the sake of discussion, the idea of purpose in Pixar movies. For instance, the characters in Toy Story are Andy’s toys; their purpose, to paraphrase Woody, is to be there for Andy. Dug loves and serves his master. Eve is bent on completing her mission. Particularly in the case of these three examples, their role places them in a position of subservience to humans. How would this work into Kyle’s theory? Is cooperation necessarily equality? This is just for discussion and does not reflect my personal views, or all Pixar films.

  309. Amber

    This post is brilliant. Anyone that says these movies are just for entertainment is completely incorrect. The media is one of the most powerful things in the world what company with strong views wouldn’t use that to their advantage? It’s ignorant to think that these movies that people have put so much time and effort into to make beautiful stories that we all could benefit from are just for entertaining toddlers.

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