[Disclaimer: the author’s opinions do not necessarily represent the views of ThunderStone Books. The author reserves the right to change his opinion for reasons up to and including further discussion, indigestion, or abduction of a loved one.]
Everyone has been talking about the new Pixar film, Inside Out, so I’m going to add my own thoughts to this discussion. The opinions and insights are my own, and I welcome dialogue and debate regarding what you thought of the film.
Rachel and I recently saw Inside Out and though I went into the theatre expecting a few hours of fun, entertaining fluff, I came out amazed by how the film affected me.
Let me start by saying that not everything in the movie struck me like it did others (here’s looking at you, Bing Bong.) I loved most of it, thought a few things were weird, but as it ended, I kept thinking of one core idea, and probably my favorite thing about the film — how it shows depression.
We tend to think of depression as sadness. That’s not entirely inaccurate, but there’s a bit more to it. Remember, Joy and Sadness are both missing from headquarters when Riley falls into a slump. Traditional wisdom might tell us that depression occurs when Sadness is in charge, or outnumbers the other emotions somehow. But depression isn’t simply a lack of happiness, but a lack of sadness as well: the lack of emotion is exactly what makes depression so hard to escape from. As we see in the film, sadness can lead to actions that create joy. But when we quit feeling, we lose motivation to pull ourselves out. Everyone gets sad, but it’s not usually a problem when we can see a way out. But sometimes we can’t recognize an escape, and worse, don’t even care.
That’s why I love Inside Out. Sadness isn’t something to be feared or unduly avoided; it’s an essential part of the human experience. Apathy is the enemy.
It’s tough to talk about depression without feeling preachy. In our latest book, Meh, author/illustrator Deborah Malcolm avoided this issue by not using words at all—showing, not telling, a story of a journey through depression. In a similar way, Inside Out succeeds where so many other attempts fall flat, by not telling us how to fix depression, but by showing us that there is a way out, and the importance of just feeling.
Let us know what you thought of the film below!