6 December 2015

Toy Story Changes Meaning The Older You Get?

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Last night I finished watching the Toy Story Trilogy for the first time since the third installment was first released at the cinema. Obviously the whole experience was fucking amazing. I laughed, I cried, and I felt guilty as hell about some of the things that my toys would have seen happen in my room during my teenage years. This morning when I got into work however my boss had brought his six year old grandson with him and by shear coincidence the kid was playing with his figurines from the film. Either that kid has a seriously decent taste in pop-culture or it's about time that I grew the fuck up. As I was trying to crack on with my job, I could hear the little scamp playing out his own stories with Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and Rex, and I was genuinely impressed. Beyond anything, I had no idea that kids still played with toys if I'm honest. I just assumed that the youth of today had thrown away their love of figures and imagination after being seduced by the charms of computer games, crack-cocaine, and violent pornography. Admittedly he was wrapping the characters up in sellotape and suffocating them as though trial-running the future murder of his fucking pets but still... until a cat turns up dead, it seemed sweet to me. 

I was about six years old when Toy Story came out and, like an African warlord, it managed to get into my mushy child brain to turn me into a life-long devotee. I mean, kids are pretty stupid at the best of times and so what wouldn't I enjoy about a film that had bright colours and music? Up the contrast, throw in some shite music, and I'm sure the average child would sit in a zombie-like state of blissful transfixion to an ISIS recruitment video. I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure that the only thing that can distract a kid from the alluring glow of the TV is the eventual need to take a dump... it's a life we all aspire to. What Toy Story had to take it to that next level was simply the most genius concept of any family film ever. As a child, my figures really would come to life in front of me and, for the time that I was playing with them, they were essentially like friends. Except better than friends because these pricks didn't stink, have their own opinions, or understand the concept of free-will. The idea that not only were my toys actually alive but that they literally lived for an only child like myself to play with is such a genuinely lovely thought. It also meant that not only were they my toys but they were my tiny plastic slaves that worshipped me like a fucking God.   

However, as the years began to fly by, I left my childhood behind and become one of those spot-faced, wank-obsessed teenagers. In which case, Toy Story become freshly relevant for its probably unintentional message of sexual anxiety. So, the first film depicts a rivalry between two characters called Woody And Buzz whose names are clearly euphemisms for a boner and a dildo. I know that the characters were originally a Cowboy and a Spaceman because back in the day, the latter superseded the former as a child's favourite play thing. The fifties was all about brave sheriffs casually acting out a racially motivated genocide against the Native Americans whereas in the sixties it was the space-race that captured imaginations. There's nothing a kid loves more than being sucked into a decade of cold-war propaganda. However for a teenager who'd never had sex and was paranoid about if he'd be any good, there can be no greater rival than a plastic, battery operated cock. As the film continued however, the message seemed to be that, like Woody and Buzz, the modern man actually doesn't need to compete with his futuristic counterpart and should instead see him as a partner in crime. By the end of the movie, Andy, the toys' owner, has made it obvious that although he probably slightly prefers Woody, he'll never have more fun than when playing with both at the same time. What a dirty little slut. 

At this point I've almost reached the end of my natural life having found myself at the grand old age of twenty-seven. I've had one friend for two full-fucking-decades and have another that was born in the late nineties. I mean what monkey's dick of a world do we live in, in which people born in the late nineties are basically sentient adults now? Toy Story no longer means friends or dildos to me. Depressingly it now means nostalgia, and as we all know, nostalgia is fucking pitiful. I once went to see the old British stand-up comic Tom O'Connor to find that me and my two friends had brought his audiences average age down by about fifty years. I swear to god that one of his lines was “Who remembers their first pencil sharpener?” I waited for the punchline only to discover that that was genuinely all he had to say as the living dead around us simply smiled fondly and defecated. Well if that's what our coffin dodgers think of to remember their better days then Toy Story is what does the job for me. I remember owning all of the real life versions of Andy's toys and I remember playing with my own Woody and Buzz due to the film conveniently and unavoidably being an advert for its own merchandise. Most importantly though, seeing a film that's as good as this means that not only can I enjoy it at any age but whenever I do there'll always be a bit of me that's transported back to the experience of seeing it as a child. As we all know, being alive is pretty much the worst thing that any of us will go through and so briefly taking us back to those better times essentially makes this movie the perfect cross between heroin and denial. 

What's also interesting is that after twenty-seven years of life and with the Toy Story Trilogy now complete, I finally understand what this franchise is about. I mean, it's probably obvious to most people considering that Randy Newman has the subtlety of a fat ninja that's been kicked in the balls but essentially “Strange things are happening to me”. Toy Story is about the crushing reality that nothing lasts forever and that life will definitely force you to say goodbye to every single thing that you love. You know that partner that you dote on? Eventually one of you will die and leave the other to perish in lonely isolation. You know that child you have? Eventually they're going to piss off until your tumours get so bad that they worry about their inheritance. In Toy Story, Woody realises that his position as Andy's favourite toy isn't set stone with Toy Story 2 having Jessie's backstory provide concrete proof that eventually he'll be ditched. In Toy Story 3 we see Woody and Andy's relationship come to an end after our favourite sheriff has quite literally gone through hell as the inevitable creeps up. So on the bright-side, Toy Story will never lose its relevance and will mean something different as you watch it at the various stages of your life. The down-side is that each time you watch it, it's going to get grimmer and fucking grimmer. If I survive into my nineties, stick this film on and then hear the lyrics “I had friends, I had lots of friends, and now all my friends are gone” I think I'll pop that final blue pill, stick my head through the noose and then wank myself into the afterlife.  

So with these three films you have the realisation that nothing is permanent, then you attempt to come to terms with it, and then you have to deal with it. Not only is the final shot of the final film heartbreaking and melancholic but it's also the most perfect way to close an undeniably flawless franchise. Think of all the great trilogies and I bet you can think of something that tainted them.. a shite performance from Sophia Coppola, the death of Heath Ledger, the fucking ewoks! Well, as far as I can see, the Toy Story series lacks a single weak link and so may well be the greatest trilogy of all time. Not only that but I will physically assault anybody that disagrees so long as they're conveniently smaller than I am. Having said that, it might understandably seem a bit fucking mad for Pixar to announce a fourth installment is on its way. If I've survived death three times in a row then it'd be a bit stupid for me to hold a metal stick during a lightning storm, whilst taking a piss on a railway and ingesting bath salts.  

However I propose that we all huddle together and have faith like we did during the blitz. If this trilogy is about letting go then surely a new saga about moving on after the inevitable could be brilliant? It could be about letting the past become the past whilst trying to find your new place in the future. I can roll with that. It's a logical continuation of the current themes and, to be fair, if they've avoided fucking up after this long then maybe they really do know what they're doing. Let's not forget too that I only watched these films last night and then found a fresh new human playing with the figures when I got into work today. As much as we all like the neatness of three perfect films, perhaps they do have further stories to tell- they're confident that it won't taint their legacy and there are kids that would love to see further adventures of these characters. In fact, if the grim message of the original three is that everything you love will die, then perhaps we need this fourth one to provide some optimism of how to continue past that. Failing that, we could push further down that rabbit hole and open it with the toys all struck by grief and swinging from the rafters. Consider me easy but curious. Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next time.   

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