“You need me to be happy, but I want my old friends... I wanna go home,” says Riley, main character in Pixar’s Inside Out. This quote was stated in a verbal argument between Riley and her parents in the aftermath of a big move. The plotline of Inside Out focuses on the relationship between Riley’s five emotions, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, as they help Riley transition through this big event. Though it is easy to be indulged in the comedic nature of the film, I decided to take some time to identify the ideology of the movie. Giannetti, author of Understanding Movies, explains that the ideology within a movie can be “neutral, implicit or explicit” (449). After watching Inside Out it seems clear that the producer, Rivera, takes an explicit, left wing stance. He does this by creating a plotline that highlights the similarities among all people. This film successfully teaches children to embrace all of their emotions in order to deal with difficult situations in a healthy way.
Rivera uses the characters Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, to teach children that all of our emotions exist for a purpose. It is a common technique for humans to try to emotionally suppress any feeling that we do not like. While this tactic may work temporarily, it ends up causing more harm than good because we are never able to filly deal with the problem at hand. Inside Out shows viewers that it is healthy and important to acknowledge both positive and negative emotions. In one specific scene, Joy tries to keep Sadness away from Riley. Though Riley seems happy at first, it ends up causing her to feel numb and make poor decisions. Eventually she realizes that she must accept all of her emotions and she talks to her parents about the sadness she feels. Children will see this scene and gain a better understanding of the consequences of ignoring tough emotions. In addition, viewers will see Riley speaking openly to her parents about her emotions and they will feel encouraged to reach out for support when they are feeling upset. Rivera uses scenes like this to show readers that emotions are a normal part of life because everyone experiences them.
While the overall theme within Inside Out is positive and strong, some viewers may be negatively influenced by certain elements in the film. It is easy to notice the difference in body characteristics between each of the “emotion characters”. For example, Joy is very thin, tall, human like, and dressed in stylish clothes. She is always happy and it is easy to admire her character. On the other hand, Sadness is short, chubby, and dressed in a big, blue, unflattering sweater. Viewers could be turned away from Sadness’s character when they note her negative and unattractive demeanor. Giannetti addresses how a film can change a viewer’s perception and states, “Movies present us with role models, ideal ways of behaving, negative traits, and an implied morality” (448). The physical appearance of these role models may cause viewers to apply negative traits to anyone shaped round and think positively of those who are thinner. This sends a negative ideology to viewers and may lead to body judgments.
The analysis of this movie has truly made me feel all types of emotions (hint TITLE OF THE BLOG!!). As a Psychology major, I am really excited that the media is trying to teach children about the importance of acknowledging their emotions. I think that adults and children will leave this movie with a better understanding of their feelings because of the producer’s appeal to pathos in emotional scenes. While I do enjoy the overall message, I am worried that some children will subconsciously take note of the character’s stereotypical body types. I have decided to give this movie 4/5 nachos because I think that the positive messages far outweigh the negative ones. It seems near impossible to leave this movie unaffected. Statistics show that this movie grossed over 3.5 million on opening weekend alone, which shows that the argument was impactful and appreciated (IMDb.com). Audience members of all ages and backgrounds can take the themes from this movie and apply them to their lives!