In my June 2015 blog entitled Thank You Pixar: Inside Out is a True Masterpiece, I wrote the following:
“I am here to express my gratitude to Pixar for bringing this timely topic of emotions to life, by magically weaving together science, psychology, storytelling, and artistic genius.”
Today, more than four years later, I would like to thank Pixar once again for similarly weaving all of these key aspects together with their undeniable artistic genius in this summer’s masterpiece, Toy Story 4. I recently had the privilege of seeing this heart-warming film about friendship and love and would not be exaggerating in saying that I adored and admired every single moment of it.
With each new movie, Pixar brings an important subject matter to the forefront and for this reason they are a respected leader and role model for adults and children. The imparting of essential life lessons is built right into the arc of their story brand.
To tell a toy’s story, Pixar imagines getting inside the head of a children’s toy and asking: If you had a mind what would you think? If you had a heart what would you feel? If you could act what would you do?
Pixar imagined that toys would be similar to humans. Just like we tell ourselves stories as we narrate our lives using our inner voice, so too would toys create their very own stories. Interestingly, many of our stories would overlap.
A common theme throughout the Toy Story series, which has continued for over nearly a quarter of a century, is the desire to feel loved, valued, and relevant. Pixar imagined that, like a child, a toy would want to be played with—touched and held. It would want to be seen, acknowledged, and valued. A toy would like to be attached to a child in a meaningful way in order to feel relevant. It would never want to be discarded or tossed aside, only to feel lonely and neglected.
As humans, we too have an inner voice, and we give our lives meaning by attaching to specific stories that we tell about ourselves, about others, and about the world around us. One of those stories is clearly about purpose and relevance.
We, too, move through our days wanting to be seen, heard, and acknowledged. We feel better when we are being valued. We feel relevant when we are needed. We seek to leave an important legacy for our loved ones. No one wants to be boring or to become obsolete. We all want to feel “special” in some way.
Science and psychology have proven that meaning and connection are two of the primary pillars of well-being. Pixar did their homework, as they always do, and they depicted a truth that is sure to hit home for almost everyone. This story resonates so beautifully because it strikes an emotional chord that is attached to a universal story—we all want to belong and to feel useful, so useful in fact that we hope to feel completely used up by the end of our lives. Like the Toy Story toys, no one wants to be tossed away, abandoned, or forgotten.
I am so grateful to Disney and to Pixar for stepping up to the plate and making the conscious decision to always educate and expand awareness around such essential wellness topics. They help to fill a gap found in our own educational system which very often fails to offer us sufficient training in emotional intelligence.
They also promote tolerance and open-mindedness. Pixar leaves us with the idea that there is no one way that is the right way when it speaks to relationships. Just as some toys require attachment to a kid in order to be happy, some people want children. But in the end, we all get to individually choose what will bring each of us greater joy and contentment.
It’s movies like these that create the kinds of meaningful conversations that our society so desperately needs at this time.
If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend that you put it near the top of your to-do-list. One viewing may not even be enough to appreciate every magical detail in this gem of a film!
I did not think it was possible to create four masterpieces within one series. Once again, Pixar, you have raised the bar on what is possible—for every human being and toy!