Up@dawn 2.0

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Philosophy of Toy Story Post 1 (Kailey McDonald H1G2)

Let's start out with the most important theme seen in Toy Story: Friendship.
Alexander Nehamas from our Philosophy Bites book had a lot to say on the topic. Let's make a quick list of his beliefs about friendship:

  • preference should be given to your friends and you should treat them better than you would treat strangers
  • friendship and morality are not always aligned
  • values of friendship are based on our differences from one another
  • it takes time to develop a strong friendship
  • we don't really have complete control over who our friends are
  • not all friendships are good
  • sometimes people change and fall out of friendships with each other
  • you should be able to rely on one another

First, I'm going to talk about the relationship between friendship and morality. Two philosophers that come to mind are Socrates and Kant. Socrates asked the question whether or not it was morally right to steal your friend's knife if he was about to kill himself with it, and Kant discussed if it was okay to lie to a murderer if he was searching for your friend who was hiding in your house. Obviously if you did not steal or lie in these situations, you would not be a very good friend. A much less extreme case is seen in the first Toy Story movie. Rex, a friendly tyrannosaurus, is practicing being scary when Woody walks in:

Rex: ROAR!
Woody: Hey, how ya doin', Rex.
Rex: [stops roaring] Were you scared? Tell me honestly.
Woody: I was close to being scared that time.
Rex: I'm going for fearsome here, but I just don't feel it! I'm think I'm just coming off as annoying.

Woody, who is obviously not scared, tells Rex that he was almost scared. He didn't straight up lie, but he also didn't quite tell the truth. Is it okay to stretch the truth to make our friends feel better? It won't hurt Rex to lie to him and say that he's getting scarier, but it might hurt his feelings if Woody told him that he wasn't scary at all, even after all of his hard work and practice.

Now I'm going to talk briefly about how differences are what makes a friendship strong. Buzz and Woody couldn't be more different. One is an intergalactic space ranger, and the other is a rootin' tootin' cowboy from the Wild West. However, these guys are two of the best friends in the world. However, their friendship was not always this strong. This points to Nehamas' idea that it takes time to develop a friendship. At the beginning, Woody hates Buzz. He feels like he has been replaced when Andy puts Buzz in Woody's place on the bed and chooses to take Buzz over Woody on a family outing. He even fights Buzz, accidentally knocking him out the window. Later he and Buzz get lost and must work together to get home to Andy. During this journey, Woody and Buzz become friends. This shows that friendship is process of learning about each other through experiencing life together. If you never spend time with someone, you never know if you will like them or not. Woody and Buzz also did not have complete control over their friendship. Buzz was placed into Woody's life by Andy. He did not choose for Buzz to become part of their group, but it happened because of something that was out of his control. The same thing happens in real life. People's friendships are based partially on who they are put around. For example, if I had never received the Buchanan Scholarship, I would not have met half of the people in my class. But because I have been around these people, we have become great friends. And in the words of the aliens from Pizza Planet, I am eternally grateful.

Nehamas also mentions that not all friendships are beneficial. In Toy Story 2, Woody becomes friends with a toy named Stinky Pete, or the Prospector. Prospector is selfish and only wants Woody to be part of their group for his own gain. Woody was “toyknapped” by a collector who wanted to sell Woody, Jessie, Bullseye, and the Prospector to a toy museum in Japan. After spending years in storage, this would be a great thing to the Prospector who has never even been taken out of the box. He tries to convince Woody that Andy does not love him anymore and that it would be better for him to be on display. In the end, Woody realizes the importance of true friendship and goes home to be with Andy, Buzz and the rest of the gang. He also brings home his new friends, Jessie and Bullseye. The Prospector is also sent off with a young girl to learn what it means to be loved by a human.

One of the most important aspects of friendship is the ability to rely on one another. The toys depend on each other throughout all of the movies. They work together in everything. They all must jump at the same time to open automatic doors. Slinky is used as a ladder in the elevator for the other toys to climb up when they are trying to save Woody. They even work together to drive a car! In the third movie, there is an entire escape scene dependent on everyone doing their part. The toys relied on each other with their lives. As best friends, they owed it to each other to do everything they could to help.

Buzz: Woody once risked his life to save mine, and I couldn’t call myself his friend if I wasn’t willing to do the same. Now who’s with me?

I think we can learn a lot about what it means to be a true friend from these toys. Now I'm going to end with what I think is basically the theme song for the movie. It's the intro song for the first movie, and it's called “You've Got a Friend in Me.”

You've got a friend in me
When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said
Boy you've got a friend in me
Yeah you've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
You got troubles and I got 'em too
There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
We stick together, we can see it through
'Cause you've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me

Some other folks might be a little bit smarter than I am
Bigger and stronger too
But none of them
Will ever love you the way I do
It's me and you boy

And as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You're gonna see it's our destiny
You've got a friend in me

Word Count: 1013


  1. I love how you applied the philosophers' ideas into Toy Story! These movies are some of my favorites! I never even thought about how strongly the ideas of Nehamas on friendship is related to Toy Story! You found the hidden gem to this! I really liked how you analyzed major points in the story in order to relate it to his ideas! Overall, well done! You've got a friend in me!

  2. Thanks Evan! Friends to infinity and beyond! hahah