June 18, 2010

Toy Story, PIXAR, and Triumph of American Originality

15 years ago, when Toy Story came out, the world was literally a different place. Clinton was President, Apple was floundering with the Powermac, and my age was still in the single digits. Now we have a new President, Apple is poised to take over the planet, and I'm in the double digits. But Woody and Buzza are still here and remain landmark cultural figures. Woody, a distinctly American cowboy, noble and true, exemplifies the American frontier spirit.  Buzz, a beacon of technology and innovation reminds us where our country and ourselves should always be headed: to infinity and beyond.

Of course, all credit here goes to PIXAR. Founded as small special effects house in 1979, the company has become a breeding ground for some of the most imaginative people on the planet. Starting with "Toy Story" every film they have put out has been original, heartfelt and enjoyable. Sure, lots of PIXAR haters will tell you that "Cars" is a weak spot, don't believe the hype, it's still great

But wait, TPG, what about the fact that Toy Story 3 is a sequel? Well there is a difference between a sequel to a film that wasn't original in the first place and one where a new story and characters need to be invented from scratch. It's not like people were complaining when J.K. Rowling made a sequel to her first Harry Potter book. And make no mistake, Pixar's story telling is on par with those great literary giants.

And that is what really counts, in a world of oil spills, wars, and cultural confusion, Pixar is exporting a crucial American product: stories. In a sea of remakes and reboots they are one of the only companies producing critically praised original content for the world. So welcome back Woody and Buzz, and props to Pixar for keeping the American storytelling spirit alive.

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