Season 1: Deconstructing Disney (for Adults) Or… Rationalizing Disney Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Alternative Themes Found in Disney Films That Provide Lessons and Parallels for Adults.
Ep 3: Monsters, Inc.
Disney Pixar’s Monsters, Inc has the smoothest jazz number to enter a film. Most would agree with that. Though hardly none would agree, Monsters, Inc is one of the more darker films in the rolodex, it’s just too damn sweet with Mike, Sulley, Boo, and everyone else in Monstropolis. Downplayed with overwhelming orchestral assembly and well timed comedic timing to cover up the horror. Its glossed over yet is a tasty morsel to gnaw on as the memorable story plays out and beloved monsters pop on screen. By crafting a “fear” based work philosophy aimed at the torture of children, Waternoose is easily one of the purely dark villains in Disney’s filmography.
Waternoose shows his hand early in the film. After the failed simulation exercise, Waternoose perfectly interjects to establish the Modus Operandi; Children are a disease. The level of energy Waternoose has during this rant crosses absurdity at various points but the employees listen as if it’s daily rhetoric. Fear preaching propaganda based on prejudice to achieve a majority compliance? Where have we heard this before? Waternoose insists scaring Children is a life or death duty. An honor and a duty to serve as a scarer, in fact. A lot of innuendo for things we can trace to our own history.
By following the Waternoose premise, the once fun scare board montage, takes on a grim undertone. If generating a living based on screams is akin to sharecropping, to lightly phrase, then the scarers are the willful competitors. With Sulley and Randall as the top “sharecroppers”, the montage now shows an intense chase to gather materials. The monsters that can’t get their scares off are an odd reminder that not all who commit can contribute. We root for the monster scaring the child. Prejudice has been boiled down to a sport. A practice we have also seen time and time again backed by those that talk, and probably look, like Waternoose.
As we all know, a consequence of living in a society thick with propaganda, is the ignorance that is bred. Later into the film, after Sulley’s first encounter with Boo, he panics and runs to meet his go-to pal, Mike Wazowski. Upon crashing Mike’s date with Celia, Boo is set free in Monstropolis and a can of worms are, literally, opened. In a complete execution of, “this is what happens when people’s fears are realized”, the patrons of Harry Hausen’s send the city in hysteria. It should be noted that Boo touches at least one monster during this madness. According to the hate spewer, Waternoose, Children are toxic and a touch will kill you. We know no monsters were killed by Human hands in that scene. Furthermore, Boo touch Sulley and Mike earlier in the film with no signs of death. Goes without saying the damage stemming from prejudice can do to us. Stereotypes built and destroyed all before the third act here in Monsters, Inc.
It isn’t until the escalating climax that Waternoose’s true colors show. Sulley’s daring rescue to spring Mike out of Randall’s scream machine, leads to a one on one meet with Waternoose. The truly loyal employee, Sulley, goes to his boss to rightly handle the Boo situation and bring her home safely only to be deceived by the man himself. Waternoose shockingly turns on our heroes and attempts to banish them. With the cat out of the bag, the final encounter with Waternoose is all we, and Sulley, needed to know actions are justified. If Waternoose is willing to kidnap children, what else is he willing to do? Early in the first act, loose lippy Waternoose says he would do anything to prevent the loss of his family’s business. The real question here is, what has Waternoose done that we don’t know about? It’s steep enough if Roz and the CDA were undercover at least two years up until the arrest of Waternoose.
So what does Mr. Waternoose teach us? What value does Monsters, Inc have for adults? Believe it or not, the film uses monsters and Humans to juxtapose uncomfortable moments in life. Setting this story in a corporate world carries weight as business can often carry tired, old typecasted perceptions about its practices, employees, and customers. Sulley and Mike are seen as heroes not only for getting Boo home but they also did a key thing that depends on the progression of the film, they broke the chain. Fought against what they had learned about Humans first hand versus the philosophy they were fed. Waternoose and Sulley exist on opposite ends of a spectrum representing prejudice. One seeks to perpetuate, one seeks to transcend. When revisiting Monsters, Inc., once you see for yourself, why not break a chain or two?
**In a fleeting life, the best moments are often the smallest.