Relationship Is Character

In order to truly test a character, one must put them in external situations that reflect inward; all characters who relate to the protagonist must in some way push them forward.

Toy Story again becomes a good example when Buzz directly represents what Woody had and lost: Andy’s Love (which in this case is represented by Andy’s Preference; Woody does not understand love and has confused it for Status, for the most attention). Ham, Slinky, Rex, Mr Potato Head, Bo Peep and many others then serve the collective function of endowing the status Woody craves. They look up to him and reflect what Woody sees in himself, but when Buzz comes in, everything they say or do pokes at Woody’s fears or insecurities. They assume Woody is up on the bed (where the favourite toy is located) and then represent his fear and concern when they ask “Woody, what are you doing under the bed?” “Have you been replaced??” When Woody is jealous of Buzz, they provoke him simply by being more interested in Buzz than Woody and encouraging Buzz’s delusions of being a space ranger “laser envy” anytime Woody attempts to shoot him down. Even Bo Peep, who is indicated as Woody’s love interest, reacts to Buzz’s skills with the phrase “I found my moving buddy”. On the one time she attempts to reassure Woody, “I know Andy is excited about Buzz, but you know, he’ll always have a special place for you” the writers then use it as a line to set up Mr Potato Head’s retort “Yeah, like the attic” and the all of Woody’s fears end up reassured instead. In this way, by the time Woody knocks Buzz out of the window and has to return him, he has not learnt his lesson yet, and so what keeps the stakes and conflict permanent is that he “Can’t show {his} face in that room without Buzz” because he has lost favour with not only Andy but with everyone.

Buzz then has the biggest job of all as a character; the story almost has two antagonists, but Buzz mirrors Woody and Sid mirrors Andy. While Sid represents the ultimate doom for toys, Andy represents the ultimate love. Andy is everything Woody wants, Sid is everything Woody fears. Goal and stakes, represented through relationships. Buzz however, mirrors what Woody wants to be and resents. Woody has a delusion around being the best toy, Buzz has a delusion around not being a toy at all. Note then, that this keeps them in conflict for the entire story; the side characters reactions to Woody’s actions maintain the stakes, conflict and goal “I can’t show my face in that room without Buzz” and they then mirror once more by their simultaneous downfall when Buzz says “Andy’s house, Sids house, whats the difference? Why would Andy want me?” and Woody confesses he is jealous “What chance does a toy like me have against a buzz lightyear action figure?” and it is only when Woody accepts that he doesn’t need status and Buzz reflect on Woody’s and come to the conclusion that being a toy is okay do they reach a mutual conclusion “Over in that house is a kid who needs us”, and only then does Buzz attempt to rescue Woody and then Woody attempt to rescue Buzz. They challenge each other, with the background characters provoking them and edging them along, until they hit a revelation and they either sacrifice their goal or achieve “we’re not aiming for the truck” “oh great you found them”, and that creates character arc.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s