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.