Gary North on current economic affairs and investment marketsGary North -- Specific Answers
HomeContact MeTell a FriendText SizeSearchMember Area
Gain immediate access to all of our current articles, the question-and-answer forums, dozens of free books, and article archives. Click here for details on how to join.

About This Site
Academic Gaps
Capitalism and the Bible
Christian Economics
Clichés of Protectionism
College Finances
Debt Management
Ellen Brown: Critique
Federal Reserve Charts
Gary North's Free Books
Get Published Here!
Gold Price & My Report
Keynes Project
One Lesson
Price Index (U.S.A.)
Questions for Jim Wallis
Remnant Review
Social Security/Medicare
Sustained Revival
Tea Party Economist
U.S. Debt Clock
Yield Curve
Your YouTube Channel
Gary North's Miscellany
Budgeting for Wealth
Business Start-Up
Career Advancement
Digital Tools
Education That Works
Evernote: Free Notes
Federal Reserve Policy
Fireproof Your Job
Goal-Setting for Success
Great Default
Inheritance Strategies
International Investing
Investment Basics
Job and Calling
Keynesian Economics
Marketing Case Studies
Precious Metals
Real Estate
Safe Places
State of the Economy
Stocks and Bonds
Study Habits
Video Channel Profits
Members' Free Manuals
Our Products
Contact Me
Tell a Friend
Text Size
Your Account
My 100% Guarantee
Privacy Policy
Terms of Use

This site powered by MemberGate

Cars 2 Isn't a Lemon. It's a Saab.

Gary North
Printer-Friendly Format

July 7, 2-11

I took my grandsons, ages 7 and 3, to see Cars 2. I was disappointed. But so is every adult who sees it. The 3-year-old was so bored he finally took off his 3-D glasses. He behaved himself, but he was not into the movie. The 7-year-old, who can practically recite the dialogue of Pixar movies, did not talk about the movie after it was over when we went to McDonalds (where else?) to get the obligatory happy meals (what else?). He can recite details of movies and video games with paralyzing attention to detail.

He was ready to see it again. But he did not talk about it.

Understand, these two watch Wall-E with such rapt attention that they act out each scene. They watch it over and over.

So, what went wrong with Cars 2?

It wasn't the anti-big oil plot, which is inserted only at the end, and is almost an after-thought. Yes, the writer-director is your standard knee-jerk liberal on the subject big oil and alternative energy. He jerked his knee in full public view in an interview in the Wall Street Journal. But the big oil connection has so little connection to the story line that an adult has to think through exactly what the motivation of the ultimate villain was. "Convoluted" does not begin to describe it. There is no way that a child will figure it out, or care.

The movie is not a dud. It is a B- in comparison with previous Pixar films. We had expected another A.

Why isn't it a dud? Because it stars Larry the Cable Guy and the never-ending Michael Caine, who sounds just as good as he did in Zulu in 1964.

The movie is only peripherally about Lighting McQueen. It is about Mater, the tow truck. This is reasonable. Mater dominates the short TV cartoons that are tied to the Cars franchise. He was always more interesting than Lightning.

The key to a captivating child's story is the moral benefit of overcoming some challenge. The hero has a weakness of some kind, but through moral strength and courage, which develop as the story goes on, he overcomes the challenge. In Finding Nemo, the father overcomes his paralyzing fears because of his commitment to finding his son and bringing him home. In Monsters, Inc., the monsters overcome their paralyzing fear of small children for the sake of the children. They mature.

The most successful Pixar films center on people who mature, except they aren't people. The fear of Woody and the gang is that their child owner will mature, leaving them behind. What child needs child's toys when he becomes a teenager? In Toy Story 3 one toy -- the villain -- never got over the transition. He became morally warped. The movie's plot was resolved by finding a new child for the toys to serve. This is also when the toys finally mature. It is why the film is a tear-jerker. The boy grows up. So do the toys. Childhood ends. (Well, not quite. With so much money in sequels, there will be Toy Story 4.)

The most successful Pixar stories are about service. Nemo's father serves Nemo. The toys serve Andy. The monsters wind up serving the little girl.

In Cars, a self-serving Lightning McQueen finds happiness by learning to serve the people of Radiator Springs. They in turn find meaning in serving him, the famous racer.

We see the same plot in Doc Hollywood (1991), a low-budget piece of fluff that is run again and again on cable TV, because it always finds an audience. The hot-shot would-be plastic surgeon winds up through a series of wrong turns in Hicksville, which is populated with real people. These people are in need. They have no money and no way to get out, but they live in a place far off the beaten path where the good life is still available. The hero dreams of getting to Hollywood and becoming a clone of George Hamilton.

There are a few traces of the service motif in Cars 2. Mater wants to serve Lighting, but Lightning thinks he is just too stupid. The story is about Mater becoming the hero through his bumbling ways, but coupled with a specialist's knowledge of his job: why engines break down. In his own field, he is a master. That is a good theme for any age group. It can make for a good story. But Cars 2 has a weak story. It spends too much time on racing.

The writers forgot the obvious: the key to the Cars franchise is not racing. Racing is only the backdrop. The key to the franchise is -- or should have been -- personal moral self-discovery. There is no moral self-discovery in Cars 2. There is discovery that Mater's homespun stupidity is offset by his specialist's insights, but this is not a moral discovery. There are good guys and bad guys battling for . . . what? Why? The story line is so convoluted that it is resolved at the end without moral insight. It is about big oil vs. humanity.

The Pixar people got close to the edge of the environmentalist abyss in Wall-E, which was why it was the weakest of the Pixar films before Cars 2. The moral development in that film had to do with non-serving overweight humanity learning to take control over their lives. It was about being too dependent on technology. But this was corporate self-discovery, not individual self-discovery, except for the captain, who is not the hero of the movie. The hero is a robot, and robots in the movie do not develop morally. That was why the movie was weak.

Wall-E is about one robot that is programmed to pile up trash and another that searches for any signs of a plant. Plants are seen as socially redemptive. This is the theme of organicism vs. mechanism -- a 200-year-old theme in Western civilization. Liberals cheer for plants. Libertarians cheer for machines. Conservatives can't make up their minds.

Fundamentalists are unaware of the debate.

This has been the underlying theme of modern philosophy ever since Kant over two centuries ago: the seemingly irreconcilable conflict between the ideal of science and the ideal of personality. Our tools give us power, yet we become dependent on our tools. Our tools begin as extensions of ourselves, yet we in some way have become extensions of our tools, which are fundamentally inhuman. They may become anti-human. The Terminator franchise has this as its theme.

The question is: How can mankind resolve this tension? The libertarian answers: "personal responsibility, lower taxes, reduced government regulation, innovation at all levels, private schools, and personal liberty." The conservative answers: "family values, lower taxes, reduced government regulation, maintaining national traditions, public school reform, a somewhat more balanced budget, and starting a war in [al-Qaida haven nation]." The liberal answers: "civic values, increased government regulation, higher taxes on the rich, political reform, deficit spending, public school reform, and backing the conservatives' war, but only because of the enemy nation's anti-democratic ideology."

The fundamentalist answers: "Who was Kant? Did he believe in Jesus?"

Every time the Pixar writers let their liberalism creep into their plot lines, they weaken the appeal of their films. When they keep their liberalism to themselves, they get Toy Story. Why? Because Toy Story is about doing good, not do-goodism.

The strength of their films is their commitment to the theme of doing good. The bane of their films is their commitment to do-goodism. Do-goodism is corporate. Doing good is personal. Do-goodism leads to self-satisfaction -- the same moral weakness that undermined the old Lightning McQueen. Doing good produces inner change.

Do-goodism fights The Uncaring System. There was no Uncaring System in Finding Nemo. There was no Uncaring System in Toy Story and Toy Story 2. There was in Toy Story 3: the bad section of the day care. But it was the extension of one toy's paranoia, not because of the day care as a system. Liberals believe in day care. When Pixar ignores Uncaring Systems, the company makes more money.

What should the folks at Pixar do? Whenever the team gathers together to work on a plot, and someone's knee jerks, sending a leg upward, the others should chant, "knee jerks never work, although tear-jerks can." Otherwise, Cars 3 will be about a greedy land developer who tries to buy up Radiator Springs to turn it into a theme park. His voice-over will be done by Alan Rickman.

Printer-Friendly Format

 Tip of the Week
Sign up for my free
Tip of the Week
Verification Characters:    Type     S  W  B  6  1     here   

Tip of the week archives
On what this icon
means, and how it
can help you,
click here
 Q & A Forums
General Q&A Forum
Advertising and Resumés
American History Topics
Backyard Food Gardening
Banking and Politics
Blog Sites and Web Sites
Books Worth Reading
Bumper Sticker Slogans
Business Forum
Buying Smart
Christian Service Forum
College -- The Cheap Way
Education Alternatives
Food Storage
For Women Only
GNC Benefits
GNC Testimonials
Gold and Silver
Great Default Forum
Health and Diet
Health Insurance
Investments Forum
Iran War
Job, Calling, and Career
Leadership Development
Legacy Building
Less Dependent Living
Local Political Action
Non-Retirement Forum
One Good Idea
Police State
Public Speaking
Real Estate Forum
Remnant Review Forum
Safe Places Forum
Taxation Policy
Typographical Errors
Video Production Basics

Reality Check
 Discussion Forum
Search Discussion

Recent Forum Posts
• "Asset Based Long Term Care" annuities
• Buying pipelines at the next crash
• RE:Concierge Doctor
• Discover Bank 0.9% APR?
• getting out of the euro
• Amazing Dollar Strength
• Stuck in 401K. Help!
• Currency Wars
• Need Any Adjustments?
• What is the third question?
• What to do with my IRA funds?
• 529 plans
• XAU/AAU -- Your thoughts?
• Nasdaq hits 5000... finally
• Structured Settlement Annuity Investing
• location Vs. amenities
• DFW Real Estate - Bubble Economy
• Rental houses: cash flow
• RentoMeter site
• Renting individual Rooms vs. Whole house
• Are real estate agents driving this phenomenon?
• Intro to Real Estate
• best-and-worst-m arkets-for-rent al-returns
• Establishing a rental farm away from where I live
• 9 out 10 Most Expensive Cities are in California
• Moral standards and renters
• Malls Fill Vacant Stores With Server Rooms
• Refinancing
• Mentorship
• Multi owner family property
• Time to leave America while you still can ?
• Impact Fees for New Florida Residents
• New Hampshire and Florida
• Ecuador and PR
• Survivor library
• Missle Silo converted to Condos
• Does the South suck?
• Moving TO the US?
• No City for Old People
• Will you die getting to your bug out location?
• teaching English overseas - some questions
• The state with the most Liberty
• Switzerland and Firearms
• On "Zip Code Searching On The Web"
• Crash Course in becoming an Expat
• Why is this fantasy world stuff?
• One change could help saving for retirement
• Forced retirement - lump sum - legal work
• Moving Retirement Funds
• Sudden Wealth Advice
• Sudden Wealth Advice
• Question on Traditional Pensions
• advice on how do I interact with my older parents?
• Do You Sincerely Want to Be Rich? Why?
• Req. For No 401(k)/Other Pensions via Relocatio
• Cashing out 401K to pay student debt?
• SS @ 62 and still working
• Desolation or Prosperity?
• I take it Retirement Armageddon is not available
• Post Retirement Career
• Life expectancy and planning
• Levy on Bank Deposits
• Google Cloud Technology
• Robotics and Home School
• What does it say when 25% of the US is DRUGGED?
• Best Financial News Websites
• Big bad hyperinflation? Pay off mortgage?
• robot ants
• http://theunderc
• kid dies after frat party, walks across ten lane
• Another reason to homeschool for college online?
• Home schooling in hindsight
• CE in 1 Lesson Question
• CE in 1 Lesson Question
• Gold at spot, etc.
• Beginner Business Structure
• Apply 80/20
• Good Recruiting wins Championships = $$$
• Meeting with the State
• Family earns $1 Million from YouTube vids
• Customer Service and Ethics Still Rule?
• Business Loans Question
• The life value of a customer ?
• If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You know?
• Want to start a business but never go through
• Westward Ho, Chik Fil A!
• Another Chik-Fil-A good deed
• Corporate Taxation.
• deleted
• Product Pricing