September 17th, 2007

Flying Ace

"Deconstructing Buzz Lightyear" or "Toy Story Meets Fowler's Stages of Faith"

..I was reading some animation tutorials...and had the most intriguing thought pop into my head.


In Toy Story (the first one) ... the biggest character arc is obviously undergone by Buzz Lightyear.

Buzz Lightyear gets introduced to the toys and believes himself to be a fierce hero/warrior fighting the Evil Emperor Zurg.  (I CAN FLY!)  He is completely at peace with who he is, where he has come from and his mission in life.  He has ALL the answers to all the dubious questions posed to him.  In short, Buzz is at an obvious Stage 3.


Later on  the mounting evidence that the universe is he is not what he thinks it is and he is not this mighty galactic hero has reached its peak.  For the first time doubt starts to creep into his mind.  He sets himself up the ultimate test ...and has his faith/ world view forcibly ripped from him. (I can't fly and am ultimately meaningless.)  Buzz then very quickly moves into 4.  He is angry, bitter and near suicidal.  His life has no meaning, nor does anyone elses. To Buzz in Stage 4 there is simply no point to anything.  He has stared into the abyss.

Eventually after much help from the other toys Buzz finally pulls himself together to a more self accepting stage 5. ( Okay, So I can't fly but I can fall with STYLE.)
He is comfortable in his own skin and while one misses the cocksure Stage 3 Buzz, (and he might miss that as well)  this Buzz is more mature, has more depth and finds himself at peace with the universe and open to possibilities never previous considered.  He doesn't have to fight Evil Emperor Zurg...he just has to be the best toy he can be...and help all the other toys reach their potential as well.

The contrast between Buzz at 3 and Buzz at 5 is even more apparently in Toy Story 2 when our Stage 5 Buzz meets a newly awakened Stage 3 Buzz.
Rather than being sympathetic or understanding where Buzz 3 is at...Buzz 5 is irritated, dismissive and can't stand Buzz 3's company.  Kind of like people who have moved beyond 3 and can't stand people at that stage thinking them naive.  (One of my favorite notes from Stages of Faith...it doesn't matter what stage somebody is at, they think THEY are in the right one and everyone else is wrong.)  Just look at the two Buzzes and their interaction.

Obviously I am highly amused thinking about this.  I don't think John Lasseter has read Stages of Faith (who knows, he might have) but talk about a pretty nifty distillation of a process/journey that I think people inherently understand.

What do you think, sirs?
  • Current Mood
    silly, yet thoughtful