Friday, July 19, 2019
Jason’s Soapbox: Fixing the Pixar Theory
ByIf you are unaware of the Pixar Theory, it is the idea that all of the Pixar films are actually part of one universe, on the same timeline, and telling the same story. It was created around 2013 by Jon Negroni and popularized by the SuperCarlinBrothers on YouTube. It’s become a fairly popular theory over the years and Mr. Negroni has even published a book on the topic (electronic high-five). Personally, I have really appreciated the work put into this idea by the theorist community but I think there are several glaring issues that we can fix right here and now.
Okay, just so that we are on the same page, we are going to use the SuperCarlinBrothers’ (SCB moving forward because I’m lazy) most recent update on the topic as a base to work off of (and you can watch that episode by clicking here), but let me give you a quick rundown:
According to the SCB, the key to understanding everything is the power of human memory. In Coco the spirits of the deceased continue to exist in the land of the dead so long as one living human remembers them; the emotions from Inside Out are fighting over which emotions color the memories; the memory of Chef Gusteau is the central concern in Ratatouille; Wall-E comes to life due to his prolonged contact with human memorabilia, and some argue that the earth was brown and dying because mankind had forgotten about it; the monsters from Monsters Inc. are harvesting not just the screams or laughs, but the power of the memories of that event. So, with that in mind, let’s take a(n oversimplified) look at the proposed timeline and what each film reveals about the Pixar theory.
The Good Dinosaur – The comet missing Pixar’s earth allows animals to evolve without the interruption of an extinction level event. So, even though the dinosaurs die-out much later, everything still turns out the same way it does on our earth save for one thing: insects and animals are intelligent than in our own.
Brave – The witch is a time traveling Boo (the child from Monsters Inc.), which is how the witch’s hut changes with each opening and shutting of the door (also, like Monsters Inc.): the door is taking visitors to the house at different points in time per the witch’s desire.
The Incredibles films – Introduces A.I. (artificial intelligence) which secretly takes over the mega-corporation BnL (Buy N Large).
A Bug’s Life – Maybe, it’s here or maybe it’s later, doesn’t really matter though.
The Toy Story films, Finding Nemo/Dory/Ratatouille/Up/Coco/Inside Out – All of these films are occurring around the same 30 year time period (mid 90’s through today). Toy Story shows us that human memory is bringing certain inanimate objects to life; Finding Nemo/Dory are both films driven by the power of memory and show how polluted the Pixar earth has become; in Up Carl is driven by his memories of his deceased wife to do the impossible; and we’ve already addressed Coco, Inside Out, and Ratatouile.
(Humans become enamored with technology and damage the earth’s environment so significantly that they have to leave. Robots stay behind to clean up the mess but humans forget that our planet even exists which causes it to die.)
The Cars Films – Cars are brought to life in the order they were manufactured and take on the personalities of their owners.
Wall-E – Our favorite trash compactor gains sentience by coming in contact with human memorabilia and thus gives just the smallest spark of human life to the earth which is why the small plant that serves as the film’s MacGuffin grows so near to Wall-E’s area. Meanwhile, the BnL A.I. has control over humanity until the humans return and bring life to a dead world.
The Monsters films – The Monsters are humans that have evolved on an earth that was healing from the pollution from Wall-E. The pollution mutated humanity into monsters who use technology to magically travel through time to harvest the fear in children’s memory to power their society. A personal add-on for this aspect of the theory: this would explain why the monsters are told to avoid human contact, the monsters are trying to prevent changing the timeline. The true history of the monsters and their relationship to humanity is known only by a few elites who created the myth of human toxicity, believing it would be more effective than the truth.
That’s a very quick summation of the SCB’s version of the Pixar Theory and I basically agree with most of it, but there are a few issues with the theory as it is currently presented. Firstly, the world of cars makes no sense from a timeline perspective, it’s clean and has plant life; there are no Wall-E model robots trying to clean it up; the architecture and technology are exclusively designed for cars; there are insects and landscapes that are car shaped; simply put, this isn’t the destroyed world of Wall-E... heck, it isn’t even an earth that humans have ever lived on! The second inconsistency is found in Monsters Inc. where an entire society is designed around puns that only make sense from a human perspective (the same can also be said for Cars). They drive “monster cars” and eat at “Ray Harryhausen’s,” a restaurant named for the famous and pioneering special effects master who is best known for his stop motion monsters from films like the Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts. Moreover, their entire society depends on harvesting fear from children for power, but those screams are needed to power the doors they use to travel to where human children are. So, how did the monsters figure out that the non-mutated humans could be used for power and then get to them if they needed that power in the first place? While these sound like significant issues to the Pixar Theory, I think we can resolve them with just a few tweaks.
Luckily for us, Quentin Tarantino has already provided us the answer for the Cars films (and maybe the Incredibles). For those who may not be all that familiar with Mr. Tarantino’s work, all of his films exist in the same universe and tie together. Some, however, are actually movies within that same shared universe. For example, Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction) is an actress in a pilot for a television show that sounds awfully similar to the character Uma Thurman also played in Kill Bill. The belief is that the pilot episode was a hit with a producer who changed it to a two-part movie known as Kill Bill vol 1 and 2, which can be seen by Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction) in an in-universe movie theatre. In the same way, the Cars films are in-universe films that Andy (Toy Story) or Boo (Monsters Inc) or Darla (Finding Nemo) could go and watch. This allows for children in a Pixar film to play with Lightning McQueen toys and wear shirts with his logo as they would just be tie-in merchandise. Also, this is why Dino Co. and BnL both can appear in the Cars films as well as the “real world” movies like Up and Toy Story. Their appearance in the Cars films would just be in-universe product placement. This might also apply to the Incredibles franchise; and while there isn’t enough evidence to be certain, I’m leaning towards Mr. Incredible being on the VUDU account used by Inside Out’s Riley.
Now we get to move on to something a bit trickier, Monsters Inc. But before we address Sully and Mike Wazowski, we need to separate the power of human emotion and human memory, as well as introduce imagination. While they are all incredibly powerful, I think they perform separate roles in this CGI universe. We should view emotions as a form of energy; and as Inside Out shows us, children have the purest expressions of those emotions (under normal situations). It would also stand to reason that the purer the emotion the more powerful it is. Memory then should be seen as celestial storage for things that have come and gone while imagination shapes and creates reality. In Coco, we see that memory allows those who have passed to live on in the Land of the Dead; but if we take a closer look, it appears as if the Land of the Dead itself is a construct of people’s collective beliefs and imaginations. Or to say it another way, in the Pixar universe humans are cosmic computers. Our imaginations affect and shape reality; memory sustains and maintains what imagination has built; while emotion fuels everything. The more pure and powerful the emotion is the more reality can be affected or shaped.
It is that last part that is essential to understanding some of Pixar’s more improbable scenarios and all of the “real world” Pixar films. Human imagination, powered by pure human emotion is why toys come to life in Toy Story but other inanimate objects do not. Let’s look at Forky from Toy Story 4, as a spork he has no life or volition, but once made into an anthropomorphic toy and played with is imbued with life. Think back to the opening of Toy Story 3, where we see Andy’s imagination on screen. I would argue that the events we see are not just in Andy’s head, but is also being experienced by the toys. This is why the toys are desperate to be played with, even if they are abandoned (like in Toy Story 4) or mutilated like they were in Sid’s room (Toy Story) .
This is also why Carl in Up is able to reach his destination, an obscure and lost South American waterfall, by pure chance. He had become determined to live out the one dream he and his beloved wife hadn’t been able to achieve while she was alive. His pure determination was literally changing the reality around him allowing the balloons to (impossibly) carry away that house and then arrive at his location (also impossibly). It’s also why life returned to the earth in Wall-E. The humans that left earth were escaping their own pollution which was due to their obsession with machines. At some point humanity just stops dreaming of a better life on earth and leaves to live on luxury liners run by BnL A.I. that has learned the power of human emotions and is using them to keep itself sentient. It is only when humans rediscover how amazing nature is that they return to earth and re-imbue it with life. Now this doesn’t mean that the earth wasn’t real, it was a real and a material thing that had to heal, but the abundant life we see through the credits is the result of human passion and imagination giving the planet what it needed for life to return. Now, you might be thinking, “Hey, passion and determination weren’t emotions in Inside Out; and, as we saw at the end of the film, adults don’t have pure emotions as their start to blend and become multilayered, more complex.” To that I’d say: you’re almost right.
You’d be right by saying adult emotions are more complex and that the emotions we meet in Inside Out are very few in number, representing a primary or base emotional assembly. But what I would argue is happening is that while the different emotions can and do layer upon each other to create a more complex experience, they also learn to work together to amalgamate into new more powerful emotions, like determination, as needed. And this allows us to finally address Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day which will shed new light on Monsters Inc., how I think it fits into the Pixar Theory, and Boo’s true relationship with Sully.
In Terminator we learn that John Connor sending Kyle Reese into the past is what allows John Connor to be born; and in Terminator 2 we learn that the CPU from the first Terminator is what allowed Skynet to be built to create the Terminators and send one back. In the same way, after being kidnapped by Sully and Mike, Boo travels back in time to meet Merida in order to create the Land of the Monsters (and the monsters themselves) so that Sully and Mike can “accidentally” kidnap her. Said another way, Boo experiences everything that happens to her and Sully keeps going back to her as she grows. Through her contact with Sully she learns about all of monster history and at some point discovers the truth: the monsters aren’t real. They and their world are, in fact, created by human imagination and powered by human emotion. Now, it does need to be noted that the doors are capable of traveling through time but the monsters themselves can’t. Space and time are part of the same continuum so to travel through one is to travel through the other, but the monsters aren’t actually real so they are limited in their ability to manipulate reality using human emotion. Boo, on the other hand, figures out that she can use the doors to manipulate time and harness human emotion to affect reality (i.e., her “magic”). It’s here where she uses her newfound emotional magic and travels into deep antiquity (and all over the world, not just Scotland mind you) where she slowly influences humanity’s belief in monsters. Witch Boo’s actions release the power of human collective imagination which creates the monster world and Boo’s memories then fill that world. Boo does this knowing that as long as the monsters have children that they can scare/entertain new memories of the monsters will be formed and allow them (at least their race and society) to live on indefinitely.
So the Jason revised SCB timeline would look something like this:
The Good Dinosaur – The comet missing the earth allows animals to evolve without the interruption of an extinction level event. So, even though the dinosaurs die-out much later, everything still turns out the same way it does on our earth save for one thing: smart animals.
Brave – The witch is a time traveling Boo who manipulates humanity into creating the monster world which Boo’s memories fill with creatures that now exist on their own timeline. This new timeline will lead to her beloved Sully being born centuries (or maybe only decades) later. It does need to be noted that just because Witch Boo appears in ancient Scotland that the monster world was created at that time. Remember, the “monster” bear was a transformed human. She may have been influencing ancient cultures, and maybe more modern cultures, across the eons to embed the human collective conscience with the idea of the monster world filled with monsters that use closets to travel to human world.
A Bug’s Life – (maybe, doesn’t really matter though)
The Toy Story films, Finding Nemo/Dory/Ratatouille/Up/Coco/Inside Out / Monsters Inc - Are really happening while Incredibles 1 and 2 as well as Cars 1,2, and 3 are released in theatres watched by Boo, Andy, Riley, and their families.
(Humans leave earth as depicted in Wall-E)
Wall-E – BnL has control over humanity until the humans return and bring life to a nearly dead world.
Okay… that’s the end of it. If you’ve made it this far, I commend you and feel that I must apologize for taking up this much of your life. But before I’m done, I would like to thank Jon Negroni and the SuperCarlinBrothers for this bit of nerd fun. It’s little weird things like the Pixar Theory that helps get my mind off of the troubles of the world, and I know it has brought joy and relief (that this article has probably destroyed) to many others as well. With that, I must bid you adieu and will catch ya’ll next time!