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“Toy Story 3” as a Socialist Parable, Take 2

“Toy Story 3” as a Socialist Parable, Take 2 (photo)

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A month ago, novelist Andrew Klavan wrote a wild-eyed editorial at the LA Times claiming that “Toy Story 3” was a “rebuke, not perhaps to the Obama White House specifically but to its underlying ideas.” A major foundation of his argument was the point that Sunnyside Daycare Center stood in for a socialist society.

At the time, I wrote that “you’d be hard pressed to find another human being, American or otherwise, with any kind of interpretation of the film in the same ballpark as the one offered by Klavan.” Well, allow me to eat those words, as The Stranger‘s Charles Mudede (who, incidentally, co-wrote the films “Zoo” and “Police Beat”) offers a similar read on the film, this time as a complaint:

Things go dark almost immediately. The socialist utopia is not even given one chance to shine. A door opens and a bunch of noisy, dirty, ugly kids run into the play space (the site of production) and mob the toys. They are pulled, thrown, crushed by the rage of the multitude. The toys then learn that Lotso is not a benevolent leader but a malevolent dictator, who maintains power by force (a secret police), camera surveillance (screens monitored by a cymbal-banging monkey), and mind control (the heartbreaking desubjectification of Buzz Lightyear). The rest of the movie is about escaping this totalitarian state and returning to the much less oppressive ownership society.

As evidenced by his suggestion that “Toy Story 3” would more accurately be titled “Tea Party People Story,” Mudede’s take is more tongue-in-cheek than Klavan’s (as is basically everything in the world — Klavan’s absolute humorlessness is his article’s most impressive quality), but also thoroughly reasoned. To a point. If I may play along: The daycare is depicted as becoming a socialist utopia once Lotso is ousted. The toys that stay there come up with a system in which they share the labor of having to be played with by the toddlers. If Sunnyside is a metaphor for a socialist society, it’s meant to be a corrupt one in which a dictatorial leader has used the language of socialism to enforce a system in which privileges are saved for those in his cadre.

Anyway, enough! Only literal interpretations from here on out for me. A cigar? Just a cigar. But I do recommend, for further reading, Mudede’s very enjoyable Marxist take on tapas.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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