Pixar Creates Its First Black Character-Led Animated Movie
Sat, April 10, 2021

Pixar Creates Its First Black Character-Led Animated Movie

Pixar Animation Studios has gotten the reputation of creating blockbuster animation movies such as “Toy Story,” “Coco,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” and a host of others / Photo by: Coolcaesar via Wikimedia Commons

 

Pixar Animation Studios has gotten the reputation of creating blockbuster animation movies such as “Toy Story,” “Coco,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” and a host of others. It’s also known for creating short animated films that usually accompany their full-length movies when released in cinemas, and they too receive much accolades for being very good story- and animation-wise. These short animations usually tackle stories about breaking stereotypes and giving representation to minority people.

A new teaser trailer was released recently for Pixar’s upcoming animation feature called “Soul.” The beginning of the trailer makes one question the meaning of your life and how you can contribute something in this world even right before you die. Pixar fans might also notice how similar it is to “Inside Out,” a movie that lets viewers realize that even our emotions have emotions too. 

In an article published by CNET, an American media website that publishes reviews, news, articles, blogs, podcasts, and videos on technology and consumer electronics globally, it was mentioned that the trailer features the movie’s main character, a musician named Joe Gardener, who is voiced by Jamie Foxx. Gardener poetically yaps about how humans have a short time on Earth and how they can maximize their time by doing the things they love instead of wasting it on meaningless and dull activities. 

Soul Plot 

As people get older, they tend to reflect on the time they have spent on Earth. “Soul” tells about the story of an artist and how he obsessively chases down success in the world of creative arts. It features a middle school teacher who aspires to be a jazz musician in New York City. 

Joe Gardener lives a predictable life on Earth and chases his true passion for playing a musical instrument. He believes that he’s meant something more than playing music for a living. When he finally gets his first huge gig, Joe accidentally falls through an open manhole and he ends up confused and alone in a black hole as a soul. Suddenly, he discovers that he’s not alone, as another soul called 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), who has been at hypnotherapy seminars for hundreds of years. 

Together, 22 and Joe embarks on an adventure to get back to the world of the living, despite 22’s aversion to humans and actually wants to avoid going back to Earth. Along the way, she teaches Joe what it truly means to have a soul. “We went in a completely different direction than any of the other films that Pete’s (Docter, the movie’s director) done,” said Kemp Powers, Pixar writer, in an interview. 

Joe Gardener who was voiced by actor Jaime Foxx lives a predictable life on Earth and chases his true passion for playing a musical instrument. He believes that he’s meant something more than playing music for a living / Photo by: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

 

First Black-Led Animation

Pixar is known to be pushing boundaries when it comes to diversity. CNN, an American news-based pay television channel, reported that Pixar had award-winning short animation like “Bao,” which explored empty nest syndrome within a Chinese-Canadian family. The company also created “Sanjay’s Super Team,” another animated short, which talked about the experiences of a first-generation Indian-American boy and his passions that caused a conflict with his father’s traditions. 

“Soul,” which will be released in 2020, offers inclusivity into the Black community. The movie also stars Daveed Digs, Questlove, and Phylicia Rashad. It is also proud to feature music by Jon Batiste and an original score from Oscar winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. 

Since Jazz plays an important role in the movie, a lot of people are hoping to see jazz artists in the soundtrack of the film. In an article by Hypefresh, a news, gossip, and entertainment platform, it was mentioned shared that someone tweeted, “I was wondering myself how much of this film would the black character spend not looking like a black character.”

Diversity in Films

According to a study conducted by film industry marketing and data firm Movio, box-office hit movies tend to succeed when they feature more diversity on screen. The study titled “The Diversity Demand: Securing the Future of Moviegoing” showed that there is a correlation between a minority group’s representation on screen and that group’s audience turnout, with some groups attending in numbers at more than twice the usual rate. 

For example, when Pixar’s animated feature “Coco” was released, there were nearly 75% more Latinx in the audience compared to the company’s other hit, “Incredibles 2.” Jordan Peele’s horror movie, “Us,” also had a lot more black people in the audience than those in John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place.”

“Today’s consumer has countless entertainment options, making it easier than ever for diverse audiences to find content that speaks to their tastes and experiences,” said Craig Jones, chief commercial officer and president of Movio Media as he explained why diverse audience contributes to the success of filmmakers and marketers. 

Diversity in the film industry is an important factor that producers today should always consider when making a new movie. It causes a positive impact on the younger generation especially on minority children, and even young girls who are told that they are not good enough to fulfill their dreams. Diversity remains an important ingredient that increases the confidence in people who never had true representation in the film industry before.

Pixar is known to be pushing boundaries when it comes to diversity / Photo by: Nicolas Genin via Wikimedia Commons