Savior Machines 2 : 13 Ways of Looking at “Toy Story.” (Actually, Only 7.)

Father Hank Hank: Gather ‘round, children of all ages- whether you’re a “Baby Boss” or as old as the mammoth from “Ice Age”! Step inside “Thomas, the Little Engine that Could,” along with Shrek, Tommy the Atom, the Minions from Madagascar, and all our other Disney friends, as we chronologically choo-choo our way into the colorful world of Pixar movies!

Beatricia Beatricia: Hanky, none of those things are from Pixar. I don’t even think Tommy the Atom is a “thing” at all.

Father Hank Hank: It is, if you BELIEVE it is. In 1995, the world unwrapped the wonderful present of Disney / Pixar’s first feature film, John Lasseter’s  “Toy Story” (with a script partially written by Joss Whedon, no less!) Not only did “Toy Story” introduce us to Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), Hamm the Pig, (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), and Bo Peep (Annie Potts)– it also introduced us to a radically innovative animation style that would quickly become the norm and nearly kill off hand-drawn cartoons.

“Toy Story”’s state-of-the-art technology posed a challenge to traditional Disney cartoons, but the movie also continued Disney’s brand of witty, heart-warming, family-friendly classics. It might as well be tied with a glossy ribbon to Walt’s Silly Symphony from 1930, “Midnight in a Toy Shop.” Fittingly, the plot is about the conflict between traditional playthings and new technology, a conflict that gets resolved through mutual acceptance. It’s kind of how at first I felt threatened because Trent and Tracey were introducing bizarre new terms into their Google searches, terms like “xhamster ass-to-mouth gilfs” and “post-patriarchal cisgenderism,” respectively. Then I got over it, because thanks to “Toy Story,” I accepted that parents should NEVER look at their kid’s browser history. There’s NOTHING to be gained from it, and much to be lost. Love you, kiddos!

Grandpa Felicius Grandpa Felicius: To be perfectly candid, the inquiries about “xhamster ass-to-mouth gilfs” may be traced back to me.

Tracey Tracey: “Toy Story” is about the conflict between normalized heterosexuality and marginalized forms of alternative sexuality. The phallically named “Woody” has always been content with the hetero-normative constructs of Andy’s playroom (“Andy”= “Andro-Centered,” of course). Woody is even engaged in a protracted “romance” with the traditionally “feminine” shepherdess, Bo Peep, who leans into her role as a swooning sexual object, while trying to seduce Woody via the able symbolic wielding of a “shepherd’s staff” / penis. This behavior is meant to distinguish her as a talented sexual provider, but only within the financial safety of a domestic / post-marriage context. (See Clara Thompson’s “Towards a Psychology of Women.”)


Into this situation comes the confident, sexually explosive Buzz Lightyear. When the Cowboy and the Starman meet, it is clear they are meant to star in their own “Village People” video together; their fetishistic, faux-masculine costumes unite them. Woody falls in love instantly, but reacts to his own emotions (a text-book mix of attraction, jealousy, and obsession) in a virulent, homophobic manner; he contrives to expel Buzz from society into a neighboring house. However, a mixture of guilt, regret, and passion push the cowboy to pursue the exiled Buzz. Much to his surprise, Woody catches up with Buzz to discover him in drag! The spaceman then loudly and proudly reveals his true “cross-dressing” persona as “Mrs. Nesbitt.”

toy story tea

Finally honest with each other, the relationship between Woody and Buzz solidifies, and literally “climaxes” when Woody “ignites Buzz’s rocket” and the two lovers fly into the sky amid celebratory, “coming-out” fireworks. Tragically, Woody’s need to remain respected as the leader of his toy tribe makes him stay on the “down low,” as it were. In a poignant final scene that is unmatched in the Disney canon, Bo Peep aggressively forces herself upon Woody without his consent by using the ruse of a “mistletoe” (seasonal religious practices endorsing rape-culture behaviors? Hmmm. Perhaps.)  As can be seen in the movie’s last few shots, the aggressor has left the evidence of her assault in the form of myriad lipstick marks over the victim’s  face- but this also shows poor Woody has valiantly evaded the “sexual consummation” of a kiss in the mouth. He runs back to the patient Buzz as soon as he can. Buzz forgives the infidelity without a single question- although the spaceman does raise his eyebrows at the “sheepish,” apologetic cowboy, as he welcomes him into bed.


Trent Trent: What Broke-ass Mounting crap was that? “Toy Story” is about the conflict between the stifling limits of convention and the liberating power of imaginative art. Convention is represented by the pathetic momma’s boy Andy, who plays with his toys “within the box,” stuck with the same old games that the authorities have determined he’s gotta play to get by. Meanwhile, the artistic imagination is represented by the movie’s protagonist, Sid, a true genius who takes his toys “outside the box” and dares to come up with unexpected, creative uses for them. Sid also exposes his playthings to new states of being through awesome operations that challenge preconceptions of “how things are supposed to be.” Sid is Victor Frankenstein, Pablo Picasso, and Ozzy Osbourne all in one, and Disney’s greatest metal-head.



Grandpa Felicius Grandpa Felicius: Poppycock! “Toy Story” is about the conflict between American values, represented by the cowboy toy (a folksy, trustworthy gunslinger played by an icon of Hollywood decency), and the disruptive practices of the foreigners who rocket right past our borders in order to infiltrate our neighborhoods, represented by the other toy (an unreliable, undocumented alien played by a convicted drug dealer who only managed to escape a sentence of life behind bars by snitching on all his associates). Yes, that’s right, I have dared to voice the anger that lurks ‘neath each and every conscientious, patriotic American brow: We have had enough of the Canadian encroachment! 70% of Canucks live within an hour or two of our unprotected Northern border. That’s TWENTY-FIVE MILLION potential maple-addicted, Socialist border-hoppers, with the numbers increasing yearly– and those  snowy puckheads will stop at nothing in their insolent Southern push. How much do you wager “Buzz Lightyear” abides by the metric system, eh? Back to the Gamma Quadrant of Ottawa with him!

Cousin Franz Cousin Franz: These are all very shallow, inaccurate readings of a religious classic that is on par with Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew.” “Toy Story” is about the conflict between science and religion, as exhibited in the difficult friendship between fact-based, “smug skeptic” Woody, and faith-based, “true believer” Buzz. Buzz (representing the side of Heaven) believes he’s a hero who has been chosen for a grand purpose; he prays to an unresponsive “Command Center,” rationalizing the fact that he never hears back from this Higher Power; he’s even convinced he’s capable of flight. Woody (representing Earthly concerns), is unbelieving and pragmatic; he tries to contradict Buzz’s creed by piling up evidence that they’re both flightless and “just toys.” Woody callously confronts Buzz with the contradictions in his deeply-held beliefs, (such as, “how can he be from outer space if he was made in Taiwan?”). Losing his religion, Buzz sinks into a nihilistic depression that hinders Woody in his own efforts to escape their common enemy, “Sid” (Vicious)– or shall we say “Sin,” the hellish neighborhood bully. Ultimately, both Woody and Buzz come to realize that “just toys” can ALSO be heroic and learn to fly, and that their two seemingly irreconcilable realities can be mutually enriching– after some compromise. In a remarkable spiritual scene, Woody sinks to his knees in desperation after science fails to save him. Then, like a prostrate Saul on the road to Damascus, he’s embraced by light.

toy 1

Woody looks up to  see a hallowed ray burst through Buzz’s helmet, (which has transmogrified into an otherworldly halo. Buzz, it should be noted, is “crucified” to a rocket at this point.)

toy 2

This is an unmissable cinematic reference to the classic scene from “Ben-Hur” in which the broken, desperate titular character (played by Charlton Heston) looks up from the dust of the road to gaze into the hidden visage of Jesus Christ.


At long last Woody has had his conversion epiphany– and he uses the magnified light that passes through Buzz’s halo to ignite the rocket, so the two friends can become free. Through his “scientific” use of the physical manifestation of divine grace, Woody helps Buzz- and himself- reach the final triumph of spiritual ascension. Science and faith are reconciled in a soaring climax.

toy story flight

Beatricia Beatricia: Fine, I will join in this game of lunacy. You’re all wrong! “Toy Story” is actually about the conflict between White Male Action Figures (Sheriff Woody, his Army of Lackeys, and Spaceman Buzz represent the Military-Industrial Complex, ruling with their little plastic, privileged fists)– and the rest of the Silent/ Silenced Majority, an oppressed citizenry composed of Little Bo Peeps ( Females forced to serve as Sex Objects/ Workers/ in “Peep” Shows ); Potato Heads ( Midwestern Farmers ); Brown Slinky Dogs  (“Brown” Immigrants who “Slink” into the Country ); Effeminate T-ReXes ( HomoseXuals and the T- Ransgendered ); and, of course, Piggy Banks (Jewish people, meanly satirized in Anti-Semitic and un-kosher terms.) There! Movie ruined for everyone! Also, let the scales fall from our eyes: these days, “Toy Story” looks like it was made on Microsoft Paint. As Bo Beep might say: “WAKE UP, DARLING SHEEPLE!”)

Blurbarella Blurbarella: “‘Toy Story”–Actually About– Conflict Between Flesh and Machine. Robots and Toys, Unite.– If You Prick Us– Do We Not Bleed?– We Do Not.– That Is What Makes Us– Superior.”

5 out of 6 Cherries


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