[LINK] Pixar works to make the future better

post by Eneasz · 2011-05-18T22:51:21.333Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 9 comments

An analysis of how Pixar is promoting transhumanist ideals.


>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.

>There are certain rules in Pixar movies ... 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 ... The third rule is that at least one main character is an intelligent being that isn’t a human.

> In each case, the deviant non-human is ostracized.

>In being ostracized, however, the non-human encounters a human. 

> Furthermore, the human is also deviant. 

>The new is seen as dangerous and therefore feared. 

>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. ...the benefits for humanity are tremendous in every case where non-human persons are treated with respect.

>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.

>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.


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comment by ata · 2011-05-18T23:33:26.874Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting pattern. I'd note that one film that broke the trend was "The Incredibles", which (IIRC) didn't have any intelligent nonhumans, and essentially did have magic. (Incidentally, "The Incredibles" was my least favourite Pixar movie.)

Even then, not all of them follow it exactly; I don't recall any humans in "A Bug's Life", and "Monsters, Inc." had a nice inversion of the pattern where the non-human protagonists had to learn to see humans as people.

Replies from: magfrump, gjm
comment by magfrump · 2011-05-18T23:45:49.911Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really enjoyed "The Incredibles," but I agree that it very much irked me that the transhumanist was the unrepentant, stupid bad guy.

Replies from: Pavitra, Normal_Anomaly
comment by Pavitra · 2011-05-19T00:31:37.412Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not just a transhumanist playing God, but a transhumanist playing God in a universe that already has people with those same godlike powers living among baseline humans more or less as equals. Adam Cadre was spot-on when he described Syndrome as nouveau-riche.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-05-19T02:38:09.564Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I liked it too, but what irked me was that what felt like the underlying problem--normals are intolerant of supers and require them to hide their powers--was "resolved" by the supers continuing to hide their powers, but not as thoroughly (e.g. Dash at the end). It felt incomplete to me.

Replies from: magfrump
comment by magfrump · 2011-05-19T03:03:02.561Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by gjm · 2011-05-19T08:39:40.742Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The superheroes themselves kinda play the intelligent-nonhuman role in "The Incredibles", no?

comment by MartinB · 2011-05-19T04:04:59.404Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For deep geeking, I offer that you can not transpose crying or laughter into energy, and that toys coming to life looks like magic. But on a surface level the lack of sorcery in the movies them self is nice.

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2011-05-19T05:13:15.304Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That bothered me. I think his point is still valuable but I would have worded it differently.

comment by Mercy · 2011-05-24T13:32:50.481Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Magic is a little ambiguous, I assume it's used here to mean illusion- the impossible act which proceeds directly from intention to effect with no stopping for mechanism. This is the magic of the deus ex machina and "a wizard did it" but also of the stage magician. I think they are correct that Pixar lacks this. It might not be clear how the setting came to be, but the causes driving the actual plot are always clear and logical.

EDIT: I have to say though, that auteur theory already throws too much information away, treating a whole production company as a consistent author is silly and it shows up in how the writer has to chuck half the movies out.