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  • Understanding Art Case Study: Inside Out

  • Western culture has a long history of emotional anxiety,

  • by which I mean anxiety about emotions.

  • Thinkers from the Classical period to the Modern

  • have pitted emotion against reason

  • as opposing forces vying for the mind's control.

  • An emotional person was seen as weak giving in

  • to the path of least resistance to base desires

  • ruled by capricious feelings.

  • Yoda: "Fear is the path to the Dark Side."

  • The strong on the other hand would rule their emotions with reason.

  • "Everyone feels pressure; the point is don't let it show."

  • Disney personified this struggle in a short 8-minute cartoon

  • from 1933 called, aptly, 'Reason and Emotion'.

  • "Within the mind of each of us, these two wage a ceaseless battle for mastering."

  • The short is a lightly disguised propaganda piece

  • hardening Americans against fear tactics

  • used by the Axis powers in World War 2.

  • But it was nonetheless a point of reference for

  • the Pixar team led by director Pete Docter,

  • responsible for the film 'Inside Out'.

  • Docter's film is a far more nuanced take on the

  • inner workings of the mind,

  • appropriate for a post-40 and post-culture evolution age

  • when we're encouraged, ostensibly at least,

  • to embrace emotions

  • rather than urged to master them.

  • The film tells the story of the eleven year old Riley

  • as she navigates a move across the country

  • and, more centrally, how five emotions

  • Joy, the leader,

  • Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger

  • balance the control of her mind

  • from a mission control-like headquarters

  • In this model, each day consists of discrete moments

  • colored by one of the five emotions

  • which are sent during sleep to a vast archive

  • of long-term memories

  • Very rarely, an experience is so formative

  • that it creates a core memory which

  • goes on to form the basis of Riley's personality

  • imagined as theme park islands

  • When Joy and Sadness are accidentally ejected

  • from Headquarters, the film chronicles

  • their cathartic journey through several other mental regions

  • including Imagination Land,

  • a Dream Production company

  • that looks like the Paramount lab,

  • Abstract Thought,

  • and a Subconscious Jail.

  • The catharsis comes when Joy realises that

  • Sadness is not only useful,

  • but essential, perhaps even more essential than she is

  • to Riley's harmonious mental functioning

  • and overall happiness.

  • The film itself and its message to embrace

  • sadness, to feel what needs feeling

  • is surely a token of progress against

  • our long standing emotional anxiety

  • But is this model of the mind and its emotions

  • an accurate one ?

  • 'Inside Out' bases its theory of emotions

  • in large part on the work of Paul Ekman,

  • an influential scientist in the psychology of emotion

  • Ekman posits that there are seven basic emotions

  • with universal facial signals,

  • the ones featured in the film, plus two

  • that were cut: surprise and contempt.

  • These basic emotions are ubiquitous,

  • the world over, Ekman says, and can be read

  • on the faces of anyone,

  • whether that's by an astute listener

  • or facial recognition software like those

  • Ekman has helped develop controversially

  • for security and marketing uses.

  • Ekman and other consultants on the film

  • have praised Inside Out for providing a model

  • for kids that is engaging

  • as well as scientifically sound.

  • But though Ekman's model may be

  • the dominant one in the psychology of emotion

  • right now, it's by no means the only.

  • Indeed, the field is a far more fractious one

  • than the film scientific consultants let on.

  • 'Inside Out' seems to suggest that

  • a child's experiences will be defined by

  • whichever emotion is at the helm.

  • What's more of that overall personality

  • determined by colored core memories

  • has an emotional driver.

  • This model stands opposite to the key insights

  • of psychoanalysis for example, which holds that

  • emotions can be transferred, transformed

  • or distorted expressions of unconscious ideas

  • and repressed experiences.

  • In other words, feelings of sadness or joy

  • or fear, are frequently far removed

  • from their causes.

  • Understanding them as specific entities is

  • troublesome because they are often not

  • what they seem to be,

  • which is to say that understanding emotion

  • as the driver and not the expression of ideas

  • and experience may ignore underlying causes.

  • Indeed, the idea that emotions or memories can be

  • separate or discrete in any way is a dubious one.

  • The film itself begins to challenge this

  • at the end when the control panel in Headquarters

  • is expanded to fit all the emotions

  • and when the memory orbs start to reflect

  • mixed experience.

  • But a sense that experience can be quantified,

  • pervades the film.

  • And, like anything, that may reflect more about

  • our culture at the moment than the science itself.

  • For Joy and Sadness, the scariest place in the film

  • isn't the subconscious prison

  • that houses Riley's worst fears,

  • but a giant pit in the centre of Riley's mind

  • where memories are forgotten forever

  • without any hope of recall.

  • In an increasingly data-driven culture

  • where more data equals more truth,

  • the greatest anxiety of all,

  • is the loss of information.

  • And the headquarters of Riley's mind

  • does feel a bit manajurial

  • with its control panel and user manuals,

  • and Riley a bit like an automaton,

  • controlled by a highly sophisticated

  • technocratic operation.

  • The decision-making process is a bit wonky too,

  • since the latest neuroscience tells us

  • that the frontal lobe enacts a kind of executive function

  • that mediates between the emotions

  • in the limbic system, and higher cognitive functions

  • like reflection and critical thinking,

  • obviously not always in favour of the latter.

  • Maybe at this point you're saying the same thing

  • as the voice in my own head:

  • it's a kid's movie, it's a comedy!

  • and that's very true.

  • And the director, Pete Docter,

  • has never held this film up as an academic

  • or therapeutic tool.

  • He admits the need for poetic and comedic licence,

  • adding an executive function like

  • the kind I just mentioned for example,

  • would no doubt made the film too complex

  • as would any number of other things,

  • like the two basic emotions he left out,

  • or any other emotion.

  • I don't think his dramatic instincts

  • can be questioned here

  • Under the premises of the emotional model

  • that 'Inside Out' presents,

  • the narrative unfolds with grace, subtlety,

  • and intense pointiancy.

  • I'll leave the formal critique to someone else,

  • but there's no doubt that this is masterful filmmaking.

  • I had the tears to prove it.

  • But it does raise questions about the effect

  • of popular models of the mind.

  • Pixar tells stories so mythic and archetypal,

  • and so well, that it's all but impossible

  • not to internalise some of their elements,

  • especially for kids.

  • If the result is that kids learn earlier and better

  • why it's important to accept and expect

  • sadness, then I think it's unquestionably a good thing.

  • But Sadness and Joy and Fear and Disgust and Anger,

  • are not discreet things, or self-contained,

  • or even fully internal.

  • Neither are personality traits, or, for that matter,

  • personalities.

  • Any model of emotion is going to reflect a split

  • between biology and culture,

  • between neuroscience and theoretical psychoanalysis.

  • Don't let anyone tell you that that debate has been decided

  • one way or the other.

  • There are as many emotional theories

  • as there are emotional psychologists.

  • What's interesting and ironic about 'Inside Out',

  • is that Riley may come of as a bit robotic,

  • but a more complex and complete framework

  • for the inner workings of the mind

  • can be found in Joy herself:

  • a character who questions and reflects,

  • who turns inward, not to another smaller headquarters,

  • but a cauldron of indistinct compounds of feeling,

  • influenced by chemistry, situation, and other people.

  • 'Inside Out' may not be perfectly accurate,

  • but the film inspires something more important

  • than that, something that doesn't require

  • scientific exactness.

  • Emotional intelligence.

  • It is a sunny day outside right now, hey everybody!

  • Thanks for watching! Uhm, I love Pixar generally but I love this movie just cause it gives you so much

  • to dig into and explore and I had a lot of fun making this and putting this together.

  • Uhm, if you think that the Nerdwriter and what I'm doing here is something that you're not seeing elsewhere

  • on youtube, you can pledge to my channel by clicking here and going to my Patrion

  • it's what funds this project and helps me improve the quality, there's so much more I want to do,

  • there's more series that i'm going to be introducing soon, uhm, and the funding is what makes it possible

  • I mean, that's the unique relationship between you and me, there's nothing in between us

  • and what you give me, the money you give me, helps me to make this project better and more in-depth

  • and I hope that you trust that I will do that by, you know, by the quality of the content that I've made so far.

  • So thank you so much again for watching and I'll see you next Wednesday.

Understanding Art Case Study: Inside Out

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インサイド・アウト感情論が生きてくる (Inside Out: Emotional Theory Comes Alive)

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    irene Hu に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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