Faculty Advisor

Buescher, Derek

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2013


This research examines three movies released after the events of 9/11: Toy Story 3, The Incredibles, and Cars. In Toy Story 3, the antagonist of the film poses a threat not only to the physical wellbeing of Woody and his friends, but also to the democratic values they represent. The Incredibles follows an exceptional American family of superheroes-in-hiding that eventually learns using their powers is important for saving themselves and others. Cars concentrates on a famous racecar that finds a connection to a small town and discovers the value of learning from the great American past. Each of these animated films has a different plot but a similar theme in which characters are positioned as the protagonist based on their “American-ness”, whether it is conveyed through democracy or exceptionalism. It is not to say that these movies directly reflect a narrative about 9/11, but rather that they are powerful indicators of important topics in our society following it. The topics suggest a crisis of national identity, and a desire for exceptionalism and democracy that leak through even in arenas as unexpected as animated film.


University of Puget Sound