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Job for life - The Ex-Communicator

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August 6th, 2010


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09:42 am - Job for life
I liked Toy Story 3 a lot, but I disagree with the common opinion that the feeling of redundancy the toys experience when their owners outgrow them is a metaphor for the feelings of a parent when their children leave home. Adam Roberts for example makes this comment today.

I think all of the reviewers who have expressed this opinion are fathers of young children. Speaking as a mother of adult children my feelings are the exact opposite. The toys are burdened by immortality. A parent is only too aware that they are mortal.

Perhaps parents of young children, being themselves young, feel an illusory immortality. Also they imagine that their current work is all they will need to do, and when it is no longer needed their job will be done. But - believe me - twenty years from now, you won't feel your job is done.

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Comments:


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From:sheenaghpugh
Date:August 6th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
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I blame Puff the sodding Magic Dragon for all this absurd sentimentality about plastic figurines and suchlike. Also I think some male viewers feel entitled to get sentimental about plastic figures where they wouldn't about people and animals. Baffling.
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From:communicator
Date:August 6th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
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I used to cry real tears about Puff the Magic Dragon! Also the Little Prince and the Selfish Giant. Boy, childhood was traumatic :-)
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From:nancylebov
Date:August 6th, 2010 04:29 pm (UTC)
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Fair point about slavery-- I hated the first movie and didn't see the sequels.

It's weird that the movies are set up to make you empathize with the toys while getting most viewers to not notice the general horror of the toys' situation.
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From:communicator
Date:August 6th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
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I think there is a - and I don't think this is exaggerating - a massive existential horror in the Toy Story films, which talk about parenthood or slavery doesn't really capture.
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From:nancylebov
Date:August 6th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
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Agreed-- the toys' minds are trapped as well as their bodies.
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From:julesjones
Date:August 6th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
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I'd agree. I think the first two films (I've not seen the third) are stunningly good pieces of film-making, but there's a level of existential horror in there under the buddy story, and I think the film-makers were well aware of it, even if it's mostly not openly referred to. Only mostly, because that scene where Buzz finally understands that he's a toy is heartbreaking, and quite clearly deliberately so.
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From:communicator
Date:August 6th, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)
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It's got some of my most frightening ideas - not being able to die, and having no power at all
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From:gfk88
Date:August 6th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
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We just got back from seeing it. I read your post earlier in the day and so I was all full of trepidation that it was going to be upsetting - I may have mentioned before the horror I've had of the casual betrayal in Puff the Magic Dragon since I was little, and this would fall slap bang into that territory.

But in fact it was utterly fab throughout, and as far as I could see had nothing at all to do with parental abandonment fear or slavery (?). Seems to me, if it was about anything, it had much more to do with the idea that you can grow up or grow apart and sometimes that can be achieved in a positive and graceful way. And conversely that grief can easily turn to bitterness and hatred and destroy you from within.

Now I have a young daughter but I'm not young myself. What's that going to do for me in 20 years' time ? Do you really not feel job done once they're out of the house ?

By the way, they made the film pretty scary didn't they ? There was more than one child in the cinema sobbing in terror at various different times.
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From:gfk88
Date:August 6th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
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Damn and sorry - I now see everyone got there before me on Puff.

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From:communicator
Date:August 6th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
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I suppose a good film will evoke different ideas from different people, but I couldn't get something as benign as you do from it, because the toys are in this horrific powerless position.

Do you really not feel job done once they're out of the house ?

Nope, and I bet you won't either.

it was jolly scary
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 6th, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
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I suppose I unthinkingly equated knowledge with power, which makes the toys the more powerful because they know they're alive and the people don't.
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From:nancylebov
Date:August 6th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
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And Ratatouille..... I was mostly able to let it slide, but what if people found out that rats are sentient?
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From:communicator
Date:August 6th, 2010 10:43 pm (UTC)
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I think you are teasing me now :-)
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From:katlinel
Date:August 7th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC)
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Well, anyone who's read Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh already knows full well about the sentience of rats and probably assumes that their lack of visible appearance in the upper echelons of society and its leaders is merely due to their superior intelligence leading them to side with with dophins in that mucking about and having a good time is a better way to live their lives. :-)

But regarding your point and the reviewers, I think the view that the reviewers are taking that the film is talking about empty nest syndrome allows them to package up their thoughts neatly. Whether they are doing what so many reviewers and journalists do in simply universalizing their experience, because that's the way the world works for those reviewers, that their experience is nearly always portrayed as universal, or whether it's because it makes a neat and tidy piece of journalism that can be packed into a small word limit which 'it's always more complicated' doesn't or both, who knows?
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From:communicator
Date:August 7th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
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I do believe it was Douglas Adams that gave the game away w/r/t highly intelligent rodents: 'Eating a piece of cheese, failing to complete a maze, suddenly dropping dead of myxamatosis. We've been manipulating your civilisation for centuries'

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