Toy Story as Allegory

My two grandsons, my wife and I saw Toy Story 3 yesterday and we were well-pleased with what appeared on the silver screen. The boys, age 10 and 7, missed many of the subtleties that the grownups in the audience noted, but they surely did not miss the overt allegorical lessons therein.  Additionally, just before the movie began, a 5-minute ‘cartoon’ was shown that stole my attention and that of the youngsters as well. One amorphous blob was ‘day’ and the other ‘night’ and neither cared much for the other as they were, obviously, the antithesis of one another.  In the end, however, they ‘merged’ and discovered that each of their separate attributes were enriched in their mutuality.  That lesson of respect for ‘the other’ clearly reached the souls of the young audience.

Toy Story itself was a lesson in mutuality.  Toys with differing attributes and abilities worked together in harmony to solve the problem in which the toys found themselves. No one toy could accomplish what all of them together were able to do.  So much for ‘rugged individualism.’


The allegorical lesson that the packed audience learned yesterday was that cooperation is the method to solve a mutual problem.  Shades of socialism! That lesson from the main film together with the lesson of respect for ‘the other’ in the 5-minute clip flew in the face of the hot rhetoric being spewed by the right-wingers and Tea Party advocates to the adults in America on that same Fourth of July day.  Two polar opposite messages, two totally different audiences.

Yet, the rainbow of hope lies in the youngsters, my grandsons, and others in the theater yesterday, that they learned the most important lesson of all.  Elsewhere at Tea Party rallies and other venues, the hate-filled, exclusivity message was absorbed by the older folks, those who will be dead in the next decade or so, whereas those millions of children who attended Toy Story were given the most important lesson of all and they will carry this into their adult lives.  Hope rises eternal.

The ‘lessons’ of hate, individualism, exclusivity and “them v us” hopefully will fade like the horse and buggy as time goes by. The new generation of Americans may rightly excoriate my generation for our pettiness and our insular, myopic view of ‘the other’ in society.  And our greed, our stinginess, our ‘I’ve got mine’ attitude in life. Perhaps then ‘socialism’ may no longer be an unpatriotic word in the American lexicon.

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6 thoughts on “Toy Story as Allegory

  1. It would be nice if the individualism trend in US politics went away, but I wonder how much that myth influences modern politics. It is indeed a myth since the “patriots” could have said why bother supporting the Independence movement and left for their homes (if the colonists looked at it, they had a much better deal under the British, those who fought for the Colonial forces were paid worthless Continental dollars). Some did, Morristown is rarely mentioned since there was actually were several mutinies by soldiers during the War for Independence, the most famous being the one in Morristown 1781.

    What really made the US great was the spirit of cooperations.

    In fact, there was a book The Communistic Societies of the United States by Charles Nordhoff that was published in 1875 which talks about how Socialistic and Communistic movements built the US.

  2. a book The Communistic Societies of the United States by Charles Nordhoff that was published in 1875 which talks about how Socialistic and Communistic movements built the US.

    Fascinating bit of information, Laci.

    Let me add the subject of labor unions as a ‘socialistic’ factor that has/had an enormous impact on the democratization of the United States, enabling millions of American workers to build up the middle class of this nation.

    There is a direct proportion between the numbers of members of labor unions in this nation and the number of people classified as ‘middle class.’ As labor union membership faded, so did the middle class.

    People ask,”What happened to the middle class?” My answer is,
    ” Ronald Reagan.”

  3. Yes Laci…stamp out individualist traits in everyone…require everyone to think the same, act the same, dress the same! No dissent or, dissenting oppinions should be allowed!
    You probably read the book 1984…and rooted for Big Brother!

    Muddy…
    “People ask,”What happened to the middle class?” My answer is,
    ” Ronald Reagan.”

    Of course NOOOOO responsibility of the ebbing away at the middle class has anything to do with the UNIONS pricing labor and competition right over to China does it?

    The “bad guy” is always the business that is forced to choose between being priced into non-existence by cheaper labor or, outsourcing manufacturing just to remain IN business!

    My neighbor is a UAW line worker…a middle class job…where he grossed over 125 grand last year plus top of the line benefits.
    He’ll be the first to tell you that the company had almost no choice in the matter because they (the company) were held hostage and given the option to conceed to the demands and lose money…or, face a strike and make ZERO money!
    Ronald Reagan didn’t kill the middle class, the unions who built the middle class got greedy and forged their own downfall.

    Odd how the unions can’t take care of their own members but, still have managed to pour billions into political coffers over the years…and then either blame the president or, the company that employs their members!

    It USED to be about fair wages, safe working environs and, putting a halt to tyranical management practices.
    Now it’s all about taking everything you can get from the company that feeds them…and damned the consequences!
    125 grand a year plus a healthy benefit package for a guy to use a machine to put tires on 1 side of a car that rolls by should give you a hint as to why people started buying Kias and Hondas when comparing prices!
    The unions have extorted a wage and benefits package that the company passes onto you and I…and then when we make our choice, they blame us too!
    I DON’T buy a brand new fully customized 4×4 every 2 years but, my “poor” middle class neighbor does!
    Do you?

  4. Sepp, if everybody looked out for themselves, they wouldn’t be a society.

    In fact, looking out for myself. I don’t really pay any attention to what you say since it is basically ignorant crap.

    Do you understand that you don’t say anything of value?

  5. this is sort of tangential:

    But I was driving home from work today, and I work at the airport.. so I drove past the very recently fire demolished “Cleland’s Outdoor World”. For those of you not from Toledo – Clelands is the foci of Toledo’s gun culture. The place burned down about 2 days ago. As I drove past I noticed that the grounds surrounding the burned out hulk of the building were filled with dozens and dozens of people.. just standing there milling about and staring at the wreckage.. all those melted and destroyed glocks and ar-15’s. These were 30’ish white males with camo shorts, shaved heads, and goatees.. basically Tea Partiers. And so I hadn’t taken my A.D.D. medication yet.. so my mind spun out into a million different directions.. from the rise of Toledo as an industrial center thanks to O.I. and Willies Overland post WW2.. The flood of black labor into Toledo to fill the factories during the boom years of the 50’s and 60’s.. Subsequent white flight into the surrounding areas.. and the Swan song of Toledo with the death knell of the auto industry. Somehow the burning down of Clelands is a book end, or at least a chapter in this saga and would make an interesting essay if I only had the time.

    http://toledoblade.com/article/20100706/NEWS16/7060346

  6. Thanks Steve for bring that story up. Your description of the burnt gun store and the ‘homage-payers’ in camo shorts and goatees is classic! I know something about this gun crowd from a friend of mine who works in a psychiatrist’s office. I don’t know the details, of course, but my source describes these 30′ish white males with camo shorts, shaved heads, and goatees.. as the boyfriends and/or sperm doners for some of the clients there. I’m sure that you get the picture.

    And yes, Steve, it would make an interesting essay. Maybe you , UptheFlag and I ought to attempt to put up a skeleton frame of that essay as UptheFlag lived in Toledo for the first 25 years of his life.

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