Episode 364: Inside Out: I Know Now Why You Cry, And I’m Going To Do It

The Overthinkers tackle Inside Out through the lens of Robert Plutchik’s psychoevolutionary theory of emotion and, what else, Terminator.

otip-logo-podcastonePeter Fenzel, Ben Adams, and Mark Lee discuss Inside Out through the lens of Robert Plutchik’s psychoevolutionary theory of emotion and, what else, Terminator.


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8 Comments on “Episode 364: Inside Out: I Know Now Why You Cry, And I’m Going To Do It”

  1. Jez #

    I disagree that the film was making a value statement about joy being the best emotion. She just happened to be the protagonist, as the leader emotion in the central girl. As the narrator, everything was colored through the filter of her own sense of importance, and the character arc was her realization that she didn’t have to be as overbearing as she once was.

    It still ended with her as the leader, but the conceit implied that a person’s emotional configuration is a crapshoot result of genetics and environment. Joy showed up in Riley first, but in someone else under the same circumstances of her birth it could have been Fear or Anger or any of the others.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the fact that the mother’s leader emotion was sadness and the father’s was anger. As depressing as that sounds, that the emotions have character arcs, and their performance in her parents, imply that the all mature into balanced, less extreme emotions, i.e. fear to caution, disgust to discernment, sadness to empathy, joy to contentment, and anger to a sense of justice.

    Joy was the protagonist because the audience could be expected to assume that a primarily joyful child would best. We all wondered with her why Sadness had to be around at all, and wished that she would go away. The narrative proved that she was wrong, that not only was her overbearingness detrimental to Riley, but Sadness was important to Riley as soon as she showed up (i.e. babies need to cry so they can get their needs met).


    • Falconer #

      I agree. Not only is it implied, from the parents emotions, that emotions mature and become more balanced, but that memories, as seen in the movie climax, become multicolored and more complex. As Core Memories, especially, become more complex… the islands become more complex. In other words, well developed people do not have polar primary colored islands of personality traits, rather we’re all subtle complex creatures of nuanced memories, emotions, and personality traits.


    • Howard Member #

      Yup, I agree too. It’s not blatant, but when you get the snapshots inside the other characters, different emotions are sitting in the center seat – I think the pizza girl has disgust, the popular girl has fear, etc. Joy may be the one that is most developed for Riley, but my sense was that as Riley grows up, her other emotions will grow and develop as well. It was interesting to me that the primary emotions other than Joy are ones that are generally thought of as negative, and I really loved the message that these emotions are necessary and healthy. None of the emotions is a villain, and there’s nothing wrong with Riley for having an emotionally trying time even though there’s no external force invading her mind and screwing things up.

      To Pete’s point about biology being the prime mover – I think the puberty thing wasn’t a button, it was a warning light. At some point, it’s going to go off, and the emotions are just going to have to do the best that they can.

      (Also, Pete Docter talks a little about Amy Poehler’s contributions here: http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/pixar-inside-out-pete-docter-podcast-andy-greenwald/)


  2. B #

    I’d like to add that the film seems to make a distinction between joy and happiness. Joy is an emotion, while happiness is the goal toward which the film’s team of emotions is working. The group of them states on multiple occasions that their objective Riley to be happy. As I understood it, the film takes that stance that happiness is a state inclusive of a range of mature, nuanced emotions.


  3. Appleby #

    Comment on the survey: you can’t complete it if you’re not from the USA, as it requires a zip code. I know in not alone as a listener here in the UK.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Sorry about that. WE love our non-US listeners, but it’s hard to find online advertisers who want to pay for non-US traffic.


      • Appleby #

        For some advertisers I can see that making sense (so far, several of yours have been for TV shows on channels I can’t get for instance). On the other hand, Squarespace, Audible, Mailchimp, shouldn’t give a damn where I’m based… I guess I’ll just have to buy more stuff off Amazon.

        I’ve never felt anything but love from the OTI crew for the non-American world. The Eurovision work alone puts you head and shoulders over everyone else, and then as a Brit I feel spoilt by the attention given to Skins, Misfits, Downton Abbey, Black Mirror in the past (looking at that list though, I can’t imagine you have the best impression of this country… Also, did you watch Black Mirror Season 2 yet? You really should.).

        Speaking of which, next time you’re feeling like there’s nothing to talk about, try Kingsmen. Incredibly interesting film (its relationship to class, to America, to capitalism and environmentalism, to violence and games… all very weird).

        Keep up the good work!


  4. Falconer #

    The Chronicles of Narnia could be Allegory for all things Christian. At least as it is understood by C.S. Lewis.


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