I was about to touch the knife to the surface of the pineapple before me, when I couldn’t go through with it anymore. I paused, to allow the shard of thought that had hit me to settle. What I was about to do, I realized, was, in essence, impale someone’s home.
The yellow-fleshed fruit is the residence of SpongeBob SquarePants, a yellow cartoon character, who’s very dear to my heart. I see him as a living, clear-souled, little boy, in a pair of angular pants that reminds me of a brown matchbox, with slits.
Slicing up the spiny, edible oval on the table would render him homeless—and in the cruelest possible way. I pictured myself heartlessly driving a sword through his leafy roof as he and his pet snail, Gary, lolled in their living room.
This mental action of mine, in turn, triggered an inexplicable wave of remorse, a cold sadness. Because I anthropomorphize “things,” I develop attached to them.
A pedestal fan becomes livelier than a device that just churns still air; a laptop cushion becomes more than a mere support; a soft toy becomes as large as life. So, I see the pineapple as something beyond than what it is. Why do emotional cars, ambulatory trees, cordon-blue rats, clarinet-playing squids, sentient toys, angry gods, make me happy?
People, as they are, are not very likeable and dealing with them can be a social drudgery. Animation characters, however, though they mimic human behavior, embody traits, in their unadulterated forms, which make them uncomplicated creatures, easy to read and get along with.
I’m in complete agreement with Paul Davies, chair of the SETI Post-Detection Task Force, who, in an interview with The Guardian, said that he doesn’t trust people, but he does have great faith in aliens. (SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.)
Before Disney’s mission statement became obfuscated by abstruse corporate jargon, it was very simple and very clear: “to make people happy.” Its media productions do indeed, make us happy. Ever wonder why? They’re not about people as they really are.