“And you see, over there is where we crush the spirit of the proletariat.” disney/pixar

One fact is immediately visible: Toy Story 3 has made mad money. Its worldwide box-office gross is $1.06 billion. And its recent DVD release is making it even more mad money. Now this money is mad for reasons beyond the spectacular international business the film is doing. It's also mad because the film's message (or content) runs counter to the interests of the majority of those who have paid to see and own it. Toy Story 3 should be called Tea Party People Story. Why? Because no animation in recent history has attacked the noble principles of socialism with such determination, such ferocity.

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Let's begin our examination of this piece of anti-socialist propaganda with the toys. What do these toys do for a living? The toys have only one job, one value: the production and reproduction of a child's attention. They produce attention. Autoworkers in a Toyota factory produce cars; the monsters at Monsters, Inc. produce screams (these screams are then transformed into energy); the toys in Toy Story, like many workers in a postindustrial society (comedians, journalists, athletes) generate attention. Instead of bothering parents, the child attends to his/her toys. If the toys do not get the child's attention, then they are useless, they have no use-value.

Next, the plot of Toy Story 3. One, the toys are owned by an individual, and two, this individual is a young man who has outgrown the toys. The toys have lost their value because other things (presumably porn sites, social networking sites, gangster rappers) now produce most of the young man's attention. Only two kinds of value are left for the toys: collector's value or nostalgia value. None of the toys have the former, and just one, Woody, has the latter. The sole owner of the toys decides to keep Woody (who is happy to live on the production of nostalgia) and puts the rest in storage in the attic. Somehow things get mixed up, and the toys end up at a day-care center called Sunnyside.

Now, what happens here is very important. The toys correctly see this mix-up as fortunate: It's better to generate attention in a day care than to be entombed in the attic. Also, in the day care, they are shared toys and not owned toys. Meaning, the toys are no longer private property; they generate attention in a communal environment. Enter Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear (aka Lotso). He is the leader of the toys in this sunny socialist utopia. He welcomes the new toys and explains that the day care is a place with lots of kids and opportunities to joyfully produce attention. In every way, Lotso looks like a benevolent leader.

Then things go dark almost immediately. The socialist utopia is not even given one chance to shine. A door opens and a bunch of noisy, dirty, ugly kids run into the play space (the site of production) and mob the toys. They are pulled, thrown, crushed by the rage of the multitude. The toys then learn that Lotso is not a benevolent leader but a malevolent dictator, who maintains power by force (a secret police), camera surveillance (screens monitored by a cymbal-banging monkey), and mind control (the heartbreaking desubjectification of Buzz Lightyear). The rest of the movie is about escaping this totalitarian state and returning to the much less oppressive ownership society.

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Lotso the dictator suffers from a deep psychological wound. As a young toy, he was accidentally lost or abandoned or something like that. When he finally found his way home, found his master, he also found he had been replaced. The shock transformed him from a lovable bear to a power-hungry mad-bear. And this, I think, is the most toxic message in the whole, horrible Tea Party People Story: that those who desire to overturn the capitalist order of private ownership essentially do so because in their heart of hearts, they want to be owned, exploited, and dominated by their masters. It's virtually impossible for the proponents of capitalism to imagine a revolutionary who might actually believe in the things he/she says about market-oriented economics (it doesn't work) and society as a whole (it needs to change). For them, the revolutionary's only motive is ressentiment. And because the revolutionary begins with ressentiment (a kind of twisted envy), the type of society he/she establishes can only end in corruption and general badness.

If you are poor, if you are one check away from homelessness, if you are struggling to pay the mortgage, if bill collectors call on the phone and bother your wife when you're not home—if you are in any of the lower parts of the global economy, then Toy Story 3 is a movie that's not there to help but out to get you. What you desperately need, and what Toy Story 3 totally rejects, is a radical transformation of the society that keeps you down and constantly running out of money. The movie for you, then, is Monsters, Inc., which is about the total reconstitution of a society's mode of production—from screams to laughter. recommended