Toy Story 4 explores what it means to be alive

You’ve got a friend in me: The first Toy Story was released in 1995, almost 25 years ago.

Why are we alive? This is the surprisingly serious question posed by a new character in Toy Story 4, which is released today. The film tells the story of a spork that comes to life.

What’s happening

“I am not a toy,” insists a spork named Forky in the new movie, Toy Story 4. “I was made for soup, salad, maybe chilli, and then the trash.” Instead, a little girl gave Forky a face and pipecleaner arms. In that moment, he gained consciousness. Now, he must wrestle with the question: “Why am I alive?”

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Forky is not the first to ponder such deep questions, although he may be the first to do so in a children’s movie.

“The world of Toy Story is built upon the idea that everything in the world has a purpose,” director Josh Cooley told E! News. Forky “wants to fulfill his purpose as a spork, but now has a new toy purpose thrust upon him”.

Philosophers have been debating why we exist for centuries.

For Plato, the purpose of life was the pursuit of knowledge. For Aristotle, it was goodness. Friedrich Nietzsche argued that life had no meaning at all. Humanist thinkers argue that each person must find their own purpose in life.

For Woody in Toy Story, a toy’s purpose is to make children happy. What do you think the purpose of life is?

Some say…

Woody is right. We all have a responsibility to make the world a better place. That could mean trying to make the world fairer, or learning how to be a good person. It might simply mean playing with children to help them form happy memories. The point is, we get the most meaning out of life when we do things for other people.

Others think…

We cannot spend our whole lives trying to make other people happy. Humanists are right: we each have our own purpose in life, and we will be happiest when we find it. Perhaps we were born to make music, climb mountains, or travel to Mars. It does not matter, as long as we are being true to ourselves. That is why we are alive.

You Decide

  1. Is life about making other people — or ourselves — happy?

Activities

  1. Write a short scene from an imaginary Toy Story movie, set in your own bedroom. What do you think your toys talk about when you are not there?

Some People Say...

“Being there for a child is the most noble thing a toy can do.”

Woody, Toy Story 4

What do you think?

Word Watch

Consciousness
Being alive and aware of your surroundings.
Ponder
Think about.
Philosophers
People who think about life’s most difficult questions.
Plato
An ancient Greek philosopher.
Pursuit
Search for, or attempt to achieve something.
Aristotle
Another ancient Greek philosopher who was taught by Plato.
Humanist
Someone who believes in humanism. This is a non-religious belief in science, reason and concern for other human beings.

Subjects

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