On Inside Out: Pixar, Body Thetans, and Some Quick Thoughts on Free Will.

We here at Everything is Dianetics loved Disney-Pixar’s latest feature Inside Out.  Not just because Paula Poundstone plays a bit part, and not just because it made us cry in public, but because where else are children going to learn that their body is filled with different personalities vying for control and reacting negatively to past memories conjured in the mind?  Indeed that whole movie could have wrapped up in 30 minutes if Riley had just gotten some auditing.  The San Francisco Org is located at 701 Montgomery Street in the historic Transamerica building.  It’s always open to visitors, regardless of denomination!

San Fran Org

The Basic gist of the film is that Riley, a preteen girl, from Minnessotta, becomes very brooding after her family moves to San Francisco.  The Film spends the bulk of it’s time inside Riley’s mind following the characters “Happiness” (Amy Poehler),  “Sadness” (Phyllis Smith), “Fear” (Bill Hader), “Anger” (Lewis Black), and “Disgust” (Mind Kaling) try and respond appropriately  to the situations Riley encounters.

Hubbardian connections aside, Inside Out provokes questions on what consciousness is and why humans do what we do.  If you’re a parent and also a Philosophy 101 enthusiast who wants to introduce your 7 year old to the idea of free will, this film will serve as a good conversation starter.  Then see how they sleep at night.

Maybe Poehler, Smith, Black, et all aren’t Riley’s body thetans messing with her reactive mind but instead dopamine, cortisol, adrenaline, and so on and so forth.  Is Riley nothing more than a slave to chemical firings in her brain, doomed to go through life hoping (itself a chemical process?) that Amy and Phyllis can get their shit together before she gets sold into child slavery in Minnesota?  If you’re a hard core material scientist the answer is yes!  To some extent this view resonates with me.  Even as I’m writing this post, I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not consciously in control of what I’m doing, but merely consciously aware that I am doing.  “William,” the consciousness is simply along for the ride of what “William” the body does.[1]  Amy Poehler-William has the wheel (or more often Mindy Kaling-William).

Does this chemical world view seem bleak?  Maybe you prefer the sociological answer.  In this world view, Pixar got it wrong.  The important controllers are not the internal emotions (chemicals?  Body Thetans?).  Those entities might still be a factor but what’s really important are the outside factors: race, gender, nationality, religion.  You are no longer a slave to chemical processes, but instead to your station.  Here, Riley’s moodiness throughout the film isn’t her choice, and it isn’t the result of Mindy Kaling and Lewis Black, but instead it’s a byproduct of the fact that moodiness is how she must “perform” “white teenage girl” in order to preserve social order.[2]  William the body is now simply a tool in rolling forth the unspoken social agenda of “white academic gay male of a certain age.”

Once again, too bleak?  You could muddle through any variety of Christian views on free will.  We don’t have it and everything is planned by God including your salvation.  Well then, what’s the point?  Oh, we do have free will?  Better, but that God doesn’t sound very omnipotent, does he?  What’s that Islam?  We exist to glorify God?  What an insecure supreme ruler of the universe we have.

All this is to say that Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out has a charming message, with funny dialogue, and glorious animation, and is also a terrifying reminder that we are not in control.  You should see it!

Inside out

*Note* In terms of fan theories to explain Inside Out I hold to my Body Thetan theory as the use of pronouns throughout the film seems to understand that while Riley, “Happiness,” “Sadness,” “Fear,” “Anger,” and “Disgust” will collectively refer to themselves as “we” they will also refer to Riley separately as “she,” meaning that Riley is somehow a separate entity from the other characters.  Pesky Body Thetans.

[1] I seldom go by William, but when you’re talking about free will, naming myself Will can only be confusing

[2] Proposed, a Disney Film about Judith Butler.

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