Ah, “Film Studies Degree”. Three words that, when put together, will make literally everyone you know think you’re a massive bell end. In my experience, the most common responses upon saying you have one are: 1) “So, did you just, like, watch films?” and 2) “I bet you hate all films now”. Clue: only the first one of these statements is true. But, although I love movies, I do understand why the second question might be asked.
We’ve all thought about what’s in the suitcase in 'Pulp Fiction'. We’ve all wondered what Bill Murray said to Scarlett Johansson at the end of 'Lost In Translation'. We’ve all got our own opinion as to whether Colin Farrell lives or dies at the end of 'In Bruges'.
Those are mysteries placed there by the film to get you to ask a question – all the best films do that, challenge you as an audience, engage you, turn you from a passive to an active viewer. However, this doesn’t mean you can just make shit up when it suits you. I’m looking at you, Pixar conspiracy theorists.
Nobody cares about your stupid theory. I repeat. Nobody cares about your stupid theory, save for maybe people with deviantart profiles, and serial Redditors. These ridiculous smart arse theories are making the rest of us, who spent a lot of time and money getting a useless degree look bad. If people think people do Film Studies to come up with Pixar fan theories then none of us are getting laid, ok? Not one.
Take 'Up'. 'Up' is an outstanding opening to a very good movie. However, this fan theory that claims that the entire film is Carl Fredrikson’s ascent to heaven, and that he died in his sleep before doing the balloons thing, is utter guff. The theory continues: Russell’s offer to help Carl “cross the street” is actually a metaphor for crossing over to Heaven (vom), and the rising of the house represents the move from the physical into the spiritual world (right?).
Now, the issue here is quite simple. The writer hasn’t seen the film 'Up', certainly not all the way to the end. If he had have done, he’d have seen the bit where Carl returns to the fucking ground, and takes Russell – a genuine human, by the way, not a fucking ghost – to his ceremony. There you go. Myth debunked.
Or how about this? A man called Jordan Hoffman, who as far as I can tell is paid to write as a film critic, has hypothesised that Toy Story 3 is a Zionist text. In his second paragraph he says: “These toys are left behind, just as host nations left behind the Jews as the Third Reich conquered Europe.” I swear to God, that’s literally what he’s written down. Here’s another doozy: “Buzz Lightyear stands forward and suggests sanctuary IN AN ATTIC. [his emphasis, not mine]” Ahem. Here Jordan Hoffman suggests Buzz Lightyear is some kind of Anne Frank-esque character.
His final sentence is the weirdest of all: “It [the toys new home...Israel I guess?] is a place where many of their kind already live and have an established foothold, and it would appear that security, finally, is at hand if they are vigilant”. That link is the British Mandate for Palestine. The WIKIPEDIA page for the British Mandate For Palestine. He also describes Sunnyside as a concentration camp, specifically Dachau, in what may be one of the most offensive things ever written anywhere.
And then there’s the biggy. Jon Negroni, self appointed “Pixar Detective”, with his all encompassing “Pixar Universe” theory that claims, through an elaborate connection of in-jokes and Easter Eggs, that every Pixar film is part of the same universe, and that Boo, from Monsters Inc, is time travelling through the Monsters Inc doors. He says: “This theory covers every Pixar production since Toy Story”, and then conveniently leaves out every short film that Pixar have ever made.
Also, part of his theory hinges on the idea that all the animals talk not because they’re anthropomorphised characters in films ostensibly made for children (but still brilliant, don’t get me wrong), but rather that they’re highly evolved super animals. I’m not sure why Jon Negroni hasn’t applied this theory to 'Shark Tale', or even 'Bee Movie' – I mean c’mon, he’s at least a lawyer in 'Bee Movie' for a bit.
I have an actual point to make here. This isn’t just a rant against the nerds of the internet and the 'Fan Theories' sub-Reddit that I have unfortunately just found out about and will likely spend the night trawling. When a movie leaps over that wall from 'good' to 'great', when you want to watch it again and again, your mind is allowed to wander, and the movie encourages you to think about what everything means.
Why is that take that length? Why is that picture on that wall? The Director puts things there for a reason, everything means something. However, you can’t just make shit up. If you do, you’re no better than this Christian fundamentalist ragging on The LEGO Movie.
The worst thing about this is, there is a lot of interesting stuff to say about the Pixar movies, and they do all corroborate to a certain world view. There are overarching themes that span across their entire output – even their shorts, Negroni. Almost every Pixar film is about absent or neglectful fathers, for instance: there’s no dad in the 'Toy Story' films, so Andy seeks a male role model in Buzz and Woody; Remy in 'Ratatouille' fights against his father to pursue his dream; Russell in 'Up' hasn’t got a dad, hence Carl taking his place at the end, which further establishes how fucking far that chump from before has missed the point; Mr Incredible is a shite Dad; Boo seems to see Sulley as a father figure. You get it. That’s interesting to me, that a series of films that families are going to watch together would explore the idea of the disintegration of the family unit over and over.
So there you go. Your Pixar theory is bullshit and nobody cares about it. Leave it to the pros next time.