A Reflection on Pixar’s Inside Out

A Reflection on Pixar’s Inside Out
Disney•Pixar's "Inside Out" takes us to the most extraordinary location yet - inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, "Inside Out" is in theaters June 19, 2015.

Courtesy Photo
Pixar’s “Inside Out” takes the audience inside the mind of Riley, a young girl. Her emotions (from left to right) Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) work together to establish Riley’s personality and memories throughout the film.

Recently, I found myself getting very overly attached to the new Disney/Pixar venture, Inside Out.

The movie itself is stellar, but it was the potential I saw for these characters to be applied in real life that got me so excited. I am terrible at talking about what is going on in my head, to this day, and most everyone on the spectrum is the same way, and here is this ready made thing telling us how to say it, and that emotions are complex.

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, Inside Out is about the emotions that give each and every one of us our life and personality. Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness all work together inside the head of a little girl named Riley. When Riley’s family moves across country, Joy has to learn that not everything has to be joyful 100 percent of the time. That it’s okay to be sad.

Inside Out’s application to actual life has endless possibilities. Already, I have friends with kids on the spectrum who have created complex emotion charts using the characters from Inside Out, because they realized the exact same thing I did; that the possibilities are endless.

One of the hardest things for spectrum kids to grasp and communicate is the complexity of emotion. For instance, it took me watching the movie multiple times to realize that Joy didn’t have to be just joy, nor did Sadness have to mean just sadness, and so on down the line. By the end, we learn that memory is only monochromatic (and therefore only ruled by one emotion) when we are kids. As we get older, just as in life, our emotions begin to be a mix of different things. Moments of joy that make us cry, or being mad at how scared you got. Or even depression.

“Sadness is driving me today,” Is such a simple thing to say compared to sitting there torturing yourself over why you’re feeling this thing and what it’s doing there and how to make it go away. It’s much easier to visualize the complexity inside your mind as a console full of brightly colored figures, much easier especially to put a name to what you’re feeling.

I don’t know if Disney has caught on yet that they may have created something that can really benefit children on the spectrum yet. I for sure haven’t seen any official, licensed feelings charts with these characters on them. But honestly, it’s only a matter of time before teachers catch on that their special needs students can identify emotion based on a favorite movie character, and we see these hanging up in guidance counselor’s offices nationwide.

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend checking out Inside Out, because it’s not just spectrum people who have difficulties talking about what’s going on inside their heads. It’s also been proven by a very precise science called “Common Sense” that everyone loves a good Pixar romp.

Categories: Commentary
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