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Toy Story 4 As Anti-Waste Meditation: A Theory

Have you seen the new Toy Story trailer? It looks fun!

The summer 2019 movie sees the whole toy crew back together with the addition of a new character: Forky, a sentient spork that seems to be the result of a craft project that has…made him a toy. This is a funny character conceit that has many absurdist observers wondering: how will this impact the universe of these toys? Are we entering a Cars-esque philosophical debate?

I will let io9 explain what I’m talking about.

Forky is a recent Bonnie creation who wants nothing to do with Woody, Buzz, or their adventures. Apparently, his reason why is going to be a plot point for the film. It could mean he’s the first arts project-turned-sentient being in all toy existence—which would present Bonnie as some kind of toy god among humans.

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I don’t think my mind can wrap around this. This means, in the world of the film, that every crappy art project I made in class could have actually been a living, sentient being, with thoughts, feelings, and self-determination. It was bad enough thinking that all my toys secretly came to life when I wasn’t looking, leaving me to feel guilty as hell whenever I donated them back to Goodwill. But every shitty hand turkey I crafted for Thanksgiving? The countless reindeers I made out of popsicle sticks? Those were real?

This is interesting, particularly when looking at how the things we make – arguable trash like Forky – are given a life, a value, something that will ostensibly “last forever.”

Because Pixar isn’t one to toss around political statements lightly, this got me thinking: perhaps the addition of Forky is to make us question consumption and waste, to question how disposability and destruction is embedded in the psyche of American children. Like skewing how Americans lean toward laziness in WALL•E, it’s very easy to see Pixar coming for arguably the most pressing political matter of our time with the new Toy Story: the environment, the planet, the world we inhabit.

This view of Forky-as-waste metaphor isn’t that far fetched because, like WALL•E‘s taking on waste on our cluttered planet and the Pixar’s interconnected universe theory, a character like Bonnie valuing waste and keeping things out of the trash fits right in: she is a new thinker, the type of person who acquires and loves pre-used toys (Woody, Buzz, etc.) while keeping an eye on making sure her own toys don’t become waste themselves. She’s a future zero waste enthusiast, the type of person we all should consider becoming.

So who is Forky? Likely a subtle political comment on waste and consuming which, yes, is ironic given the thought is delivered by an entity that is talking out the other side of the mouth, while producing things (toys) that will likely become waste in time. Nevertheless, this is a good philosophy to instill into the world: you make trash – and you should try to produce as little of it as possible.

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