July 16, 2015


The Pixar Theory of Labor : To live is to work is to live. (James Douglas July 15, 2015, The Awl)

It is in the nature of modern capitalism that corporations, especially ones of a certain size and influence, glaze a veneer of enlightenment over a brutal, instrumental value system. This is why Facebook and Google go on worldwide fishing expeditions for new users, but frame it publicly as bringing the internet and opportunity to the developing world; it's why Whole Foods tells its customers they're helping to save the planet by buying organically farmed produce, but often neglects to specify how far that produce has been shipped. Pixar has created a stable of films for children that is founded on narratives of self-actualization--of characters branching out, embracing freedom, hitting personal goals, and living their best lives. But this self-actualization is almost exclusively expressed in terms of labor, resulting in a filmography that consistently conflates individual flourishing with the embrace of unremitting work.

Is there any other production house operating today that is more obsessed with narratives of the workplace and employment? The basic Pixar story is that of an individual seeking to establish, refine, or preserve their function as an instrument within a system of labor. The only way Pixar is able to conceptualize a protagonist is to assign them a job (or a conspicuous lack of one) and arrange the mechanisms of plot to ensure that they fulfill that job. 

Posted by at July 16, 2015 5:03 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus