Pixar has inspired and entranced children and parents alike for more than 20 years. I think a large part of the appeal is that their movies often teach some of the darkest lessons you'll ever learn as a child, and that takes an enormous amount of pressure off of mom and dad's backs. See, parents understand that it's their job to make their children feel special. The world's job is to crush that shit into a fine powder and then snort it off of the naked corpses that used to be their dreams. And nobody is better at teaching those lessons than Pixar. For instance ...
8Toy Story: Everything You Know About The World Is A Lie
Pixar's first feature-length film, Toy Story, sees the likable cowboy doll Woody all but replaced by Buzz Lightyear, a Space Ranger toy who thinks he is an actual Space Ranger with the ability to fly, sent on a secret mission to defeat the evil Emperor Zurg.
It takes a fall from the second floor of their sadistic neighbor's house and the loss of an arm before Buzz finally realizes that he cannot fly because he is only a mass-produced (albeit sentient) toy. His entire life has been one massive delusion.
It's just like when someone finally told me what they really thought of my guitar playing.
The Horrifying Truth:
Whatever your worldview, it's wrong. Your place in the universe is infinitely less important than your tiny child brain can possibly grasp. The Powers That Be (aka your parents) are hiding a whole lot of terrifying crap about the real world that would pop your brain like a festering boil if you found out. So until you're mentally capable of handling the world's filth, it's mom and dad's job to delude you into thinking you're special and important. You are Buzz Lightyear, and your job is to be awesome and loved.
Of course, adults don't do this to be manipulative butt-asses. They do it because it takes an immense amount of confidence and self-worth to handle the world as it actually is. Had Buzz entered the world thinking, "I am a faceless chunk of worthless plastic," he wouldn't have even tried to be anything more. He simply would have resigned himself to the toy box while the world went to shit around him. And that, kids, is the first step to a hardcore meth addiction.
"Mommy, why is that other Buzz Lightyear really thin and covered in tattoos?"
Don't worry, though; one day you too will take a fall, lose an arm, and see the world for what it really is: a preteen boy, laughing maniacally and exploding your friends with firecrackers while he makes you watch. Speaking of which ...
7Finding Nemo: The World Is Trying To Kill You
Right off the bat in Finding Nemo, Marlin and his wife, Coral, are taking a tour of their new digs, putting the babies to sleep and generally enjoying how none of them have been eaten yet. Then a pike comes and eats everyone except the dad and Nemo. Welcome to the world, kids.
Shortly after, Nemo is taken by a diver, and Marlin spends the rest of the film thwarting death while looking for him. He has to either outsmart or outrun sharks, angler fish, jellyfish, gulls, pelicans, crabs, whales, and humans to rescue his only son. At every turn he is almost eaten, or killed, or eat-killed.
The original title, Finding Out That Everything Is Out To Get You Just Like You Feared,
So Stay Inside Forever And Force Death To Come To You, didn't test well.
Nemo himself spends the entire film staring Death in the face. The seemingly safe fish tank that the dentist puts him in is basically a cell on death row: The fish are counting the days until the dentist's evil niece turns up to execute them all. You can tell from their tone and actions that they've seen it happen dozens of times.
The Horrifying Truth:
Death is coming for us all. Every second of every day, it stalks us. Nowhere is safe -- not even your own home. On the rare occasion that you must venture out into the open world, everyone is an enemy. And the ones who aren't will likely be extremely stupid and unreliable.
My version of Finding Dory ends after 30 seconds of no one missing her.
Your No. 1 priority in life is to survive, and often that means finding a few people you trust and sticking together. Find a good hiding place, and do everything in your power to stay there. If you ever have to venture out of your comfort zone, you must always be on your guard, because everyone everywhere is out to eat your entire goddamn face clean off of your stupid, frail little body.
Metaphorically. Most of the time.