ByJonathan Sim, writer at
I'm a writer/film theorist. Check out my articles on Pixar, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, Die Hard, politics, and more!
Jonathan Sim

In Disney/Pixar's second most recent movie, Inside Out, we take a trip into the minds of many and we see their emotions: Joy, Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Disgust. For example, we take a trip inside Riley's mom and dad.

We even take a trip inside Riley's teacher's head.

And if you'll notice, all the emotions in the (female) mom and (female) teacher's head are female and all of the emotions in the (male) dad's head are male. They all even share a trait with the people they're in. In the dad's head, they all have mustaches, like the dad. In the mom's head, they all have glasses like the mom. In the teacher's head, they all have an afro and glasses like the teacher.

But let's take a look at Riley's emotions:

There are two things I notice here:

1) They look nothing like Riley.

2) Three of them are female, like Riley, but two are male.


Why are we doing this? In the credits, we go into MANY peoples' heads and they ALL match the gender and look the same as the person they're in. But why do the emotions in the main human character's head not share all of the same gender? And why don't they look like her?

Here's the answer:

According to CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg, he got to sit down and have a one-on-one interview with Inside Out director, Pete Docter. When asked about the subject, Docter said

I remember, we talked to John [Lasseter] and he said, ‘Well, I thought you did it because, as adults, we become more kind of set in our ways. As a kid, you can... anywhere is possible.’

We go into the parents' minds at a dinner scene in which they are eating Chinese food after Riley's first day of school. Docter said that they were ultimately two things that were absolutely vital to the scene: clarity and comedy. Had Riley’s parents both had multi-gendered emotions like their daughter, the scene would have been going back between 18 different characters, and it was a bit unruly unless everyone was identifiable. Not only did making the emotions gender specific in the parents make the sequence easier to follow, but it also opened up an opportunity to create a few extra laughs.

And there it is. Btw, see Disney/Pixar's The Good Dinosaur now in theaters.


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