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“Monsters, Inc.” and the War on Terror Critical Essay

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Updated: Jun 18th, 2019

The problem of fear in the American society can be discussed as the multidimensional concept which is directly associated with the developed idea of the War on Terror because fear is the main force to make politicians discuss terrorism as the major threat to the American society, and fear makes the public respond to the politicians’ statements about the necessity to fight terrorism effectively.

Moreover, the idea of fear can also be represented in its metaphorical form in fictional films in order to draw the public’s attention to important issues. In 2001, Pixar produced the animated film Monsters, Inc. which was focused on fear, monsters, and struggles for survival of the world, in particular, the world of monsters.

However, the fact that Monsters, Inc. is oriented to the young children and their parents means that the notions of fear and monsters are discussed in the story appropriately to the young public’s views (Brookey and Westerfelhaus 2005, 110).

Nevertheless, the vivid metaphorical context of the film provides the viewers with the opportunity to discuss the story from the large perspective and with references to the War on Terror. Thus, Monsters, Inc., as the allegorical and metaphorical presentation of the idea of the War on Terror, can reinforce the war’s discussion because the film provides two main perspectives from which it is possible to see monsters as terrorists or as the US authorities.

The focus on producing an animated film for children and their parents provides producers with more opportunities to discuss the controversial social and political issues in detail because all the provocative aspects and questions can be presented in the allegorical form, as it is in Monsters, Inc. To discuss the relation of the War on Terror to the film’s message, it is important to focus on the approaches to representing fear in the story because fear is one of the most important symbols discussed in the film.

The plot of the film is built round two scarers working for the company Monsters, Inc. Sulley and his friend Mike Wazowski are the best scarers in the company to make children feel fear and scream. The children’s fear and screams are the important source of power for the company that is why monsters work hard in order to receive more energy (“Monsters, Inc.” 2014).

As a result, fear can be discussed as the source of power, as it is mentioned in the film. It is possible to understand this statement in two contexts. On the one hand, fear and screams as the source of power are metaphors to discuss the significance of oil in the modern world as the source of energy. On the other hand, fear is the real source of power, but this power is political because it means the control over the public.

Nevertheless, discussing the conceptions of Self and Other in relation to the notion of fear, it is important to state that fear is typical for all the parties fighting in the war. Monsters come to children at night in order to gather their fear and screams, but not only children are afraid of monsters. Monsters are frightened to meet and touch children because they are discussed as toxic and harmful for monsters (“Monsters, Inc.” 2014).

As a result, the feeling of fear is known to both monsters and children, and the warrior and the opponent are expected to feel extremely strong emotions while fighting for their idea. Different types of fear are discussed in Monsters, Inc., and these fears influence the process of decision-making differently. Thus, Waternoose, as the company’s chairman, fears to loose sources of energy because he is not able to find the alternative sources of power.

That is why, Waternoose makes scarers feel the fear of unknown because children are discussed as toxic and dangerous. This opinion is advantageous for Waternoose because he can receive the desired energy, but the leader experiences a lot of associated problems because it becomes difficult to scare children, and the company suffers from the energy shortage. Moreover, monsters and children feel the fear of unknown because they do not know the truth about each other (“Monsters, Inc.” 2014).

From this point, they are manipulated to provide the company with the necessary power. It is unknown that laughter makes more power, children are not toxic, and monsters should tend to care instead of scare. Thus, this disinformation is necessary for the authorities because it affects the people’s decision-making process.

Replacing the characters depicted in Monsters, Inc. with the real characters played on the political arena of the United States, it is possible to observe the details pointing at the War on Terror and to state that children are the embodiments of terrorists who have the energy, but they scare the nation.

The problem is in the fact that the comparison of children with terrorists and the US authorities with monsters is more controversial than the direct analogy related to the monsters as terrorists and children as victims. That is why, it is important to discuss the other vision of the film’s allegory in order to conclude about the apparent truths associated with the aspects of the War on Terror.

While speaking about the association of monsters with terrorists, the viewer can focus on the fact that terrorists are scarers for the American population because they are threatening to the peaceful life. These monsters make people fear and scream while using their energy for powering their terrorist organizations.

However, referring to Monsters, Inc., it is possible to note that fears of children are the results of the lack of knowledge about monsters and their intentions as well as the monsters’ attitude to children is also the result of the company’s policy (“Monsters, Inc.” 2014). Thus, the US population can re-think the aspects of the War on Terror if the truth about Muslims and terrorists become available for them.

Furthermore, the Muslims and terrorists’ intentions can also be distinguished as a result of changes in the views on the US politicians and the states’ strategy. From this perspective, Monsters, Inc. can leave the viewers convinced about the complex nature of the War of Terror as the multidimensional concept which should be discussed from two or more opposite sides.

Focusing on the idea that the Monsters Inc. is the allegory to represent the US authorities, it is possible to become convinced that the War on Terror is closely associated with the politicians’ struggle for energy (Croft 2006, 21). In this case, the energy of fear can be discussed as the metaphor for oil and as the real reference to the public’s fears while speaking about the tool for influencing the nations.

Focusing on the above-mentioned discussion, it is possible to state that Monsters Inc. raise many important questions about the perspectives from which it is possible to discuss the War and Terror and to interpret its causes and possible consequences. On the one hand, the film presents the allegorical depiction of the US authorities as the corporation where kind monsters have to scare children because they need more energy for the development of their company.

The fear and screams are their energy. However, if monsters do not know all the truth about children, is it possible that the US authorities do not know all the truth about Muslims and their intentions as terrorists? Moreover, if the monsters rely on fear as the power, is it possible that the US authorities develop the War on Terror based on the public’s fear to receive some power?

Nevertheless, if the monsters are the embodiments of terrorists, is it possible that terrorists misunderstand the Americans’ ‘toxic’ intentions? These questions are important to be answered, but it is difficult to predict possible responses before the logical end of the War on Terror.

In spite of the fact that Monsters Inc. is the animated film produced for the young public, the film makes the viewer think a lot about the allegorical connections between the film’s plot and observed War on Terror because many hints associated with the issues can be found in Monsters Inc.

The film does not provide the viewer with the strict opinion on the problem because it is possible to discuss the film’s content and message from many perspectives, but it is interesting to encourage the viewers’ discussion of the problem and to raise a lot of questions.

Reference List

Brookey, Robert Alan, and Robert Westerfelhaus. “The Digital Auteur: Branding Identity on the Monsters, Inc. DVD”. Western Journal of Communication 69, no. 2 (2005): 109-128.

Croft, Stuart. Culture, Crisis and America’s War on Terror. USA: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

“Monsters, Inc”. IMBD. Last modified February 04, 2014.

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