May 9, 2018

Disturbing Disney || Toy Story, or The Abuse of a Child

toy-story-disturbing-disney
Toy Story is Pixar's flagship animation, having changed the terrain for animated films forever. Its genius is based on its ability to appeal to both parents and children, and make a s**tload of money. Who couldn't love affectionate yet jealous Woody, clueless and self-absorbed Buzz Lightyear, and all the other loveable characters?! Well, me, obviously.

The film has never been one of my favourites. I think I'd only seen it once until my daughter showed interest and wanted to watch it. Needless to say I have now seen it more than a couple of times, but it has still not grown on me. I used to think it was because of Tom Hanks, but I actually like him, as an actor...

I simply don't like either of the main characters. For toys who claim to be in existence simply to make Andy happy they're terribly self-absorbed and way too focused on politics and status. Sure I understand Woody is at the top of the food chain because he is Andy's favourite toy and the hero of his imagination, but his desire to stay at the top is unappealing. Especially because he claims to have such an altruistic view of life with Andy. That Woody is so ready to confront the new toy and tell him he is in Woody's 'special' spot on the bed indicates to me that this is not the first time Woody has enforced his tyrannical rule over the toys. Why do I get the feeling that when Andy ever had a new favourite toy, Woody would have claimed the top spot for himself, even if he were no longer the favourite? Mr Potatohead's snide remarks about Woody's fear of being replaced reflect Woody's feelings and I sort of picture Mr Potatohead quietly witnessing Woody expelling the competition from under the covers (and perhaps out of the window - hey, if he was so comfortable doing it to Buzz...) once Andy is asleep or has left for school, and he sort of holds this over Woody for the rest of his life. Everything may have been different had Woody not been forced to find Buzz.
via GIPHY
With Buzz, I feel like he is pretending to be unaware of his status as a toy: why else would he also become still when Andy is in the room? Is he really just following the other toys' lead, as though Andy is some all-powerful god? Or is it more sinister? It would make a lot of sense if Buzz was actually a device planted by an alien race on Earth to monitor its children with a view of invasion, especially since Buzz's personality is so specifically defined by his default language, and he happens to be a Space Ranger. I just feel like his character arc didn't change much for him. He starts off confident and self-assured, and despite the climax of his growth seeing him withdraw into despair, he ends off confident and self-assured, albeit he now has a friend. Hell, Woody's character arc parallels his: he starts off confident and self-assured, realises during his climax that he should make space for new toys, and ends up being confident and self-assured, albeit he now sees Buzz as a friend. Neither have actually given way. Both now share a leadership position. I get the point, that they are now 'sharing' top position, compromising and what have you. But this does not reflect any reality any child will grow up into.

So like I get that Toy Story is really Friendship Story, and it's about how two people who at first dislike each other are thrown together in a manner that makes them understand and thus empathise with each other, opening up the way for a friendship. It is about not judging a book by its cover (or a toy by its box), as seen by Woody initially thinking Buzz was 'pretending' to not know he was a toy and even by Sid's mangled toys who are all simply misunderstood. It is also about accepting change. So I get that the film has a moral message for our innocent children.

But.

I just can't like it.

There's the making fun of the emasculated dinosaur.

There's the speed at which Woody was able to turn evil when he was faced with a little competition.

It's the gloating and self-important manner Buzz has around him, which yes I know is part of and necessary to his character as a Space Ranger but which just grates me as a hero of a story. And really, how could he not see it was freaking momentum driving his first flight?! As someone who's familiar with space he should know the basics of physics.

It's the whole mob mentality of the toys who claimed to be Woody's friends but suddenly turn on him when he's no longer the favourite.

It's the fawning over Buzz Lightyear and the toadying, you know, reflecting our current society's predilection for over-appreciating glamour and beauty and fake lasers and gimmicks and selfies and setup social media photos.
via GIPHY
The biggest thing for me is the whole revenge-on-Sid-the-toy-abuser scene because I can't help but think of his creativity and his imagination as he's playing with these toys, and how their revenge on him will affect his imagination and creativity going forward. Sure, he is destructive but the purpose of the toys is after all to aid in growing these two skills and when they scare him, I can't help but imagine that where he had seen himself as a doctor saving a life by transplanting a head or as a rocket scientist launching a rocket into space, he will now be too afraid to do anything like that ever again. The poor kid was likely sent away for medical and/or psychiatric treatment and would be afraid of everything for the rest of his life. I mean, seriously, after starting out with all that imagination and ambition, he straight up ended being a garbageman. So I know that the idea is to show that since Sid was such a nasty piece of work he only became a garbageman - it was what he deserved for torturing toys - but I am certain it is because of the psychological damage he suffered and not because of character flaws. Sid, after all, did not know that the toys are 'alive' and in my opinion an actual indication of a character flaw would be, say, Sid abusing his actual living dog. Or maybe it's because it feels weird that the villain of the film is a child. A child.

And then there's the fact that they break their contract to interact with Sid. If they really loved their boy, why wouldn't they actually interact with him? That would make more sense - toys gaining confidence and trust in their children and then really playing with them. Not taking revenge on a child and scarring him for life.

And I didn't enjoy the music.

But maybe that's just me.

{Lead Image Credit: Facebook/PixarToyStory}

No comments:

Post a Comment