Newest Pixar Movie Slammed for Racist Allegory

in Movies, Pixar

Two hands from Pixar's Elemental

Credit: Disney

Elemental seems to be Pixar’s doomed-to-fail movie of 2023.

It’s already predicted to be a major box-office flop, and it’s, in part, thanks to Pixar’s poor marketing and promotion of the movie. Since the premise of Elemental was first announced, fans complained of it being yet another movie following Pixar‘s copy and paste style of the last few years. Another anthropomorphic set of characters revolving around a story about overcoming prejudice, and many were quick to draw comparisons to Zootopia’s (2016) messages and the overall design of Element City and Zootopia’s capital city.

Zootopia 2
Credit: Disney

Although Turning Red (2022) saw some success, Pixar’s other big recent film, Luca (2021) flopped commercially. It just seems as though Pixar has come to rest on its laurels and a tried-and-true method of making movies versus doing anything truly innovative. Unfortunately, what does seem innovative is Pixar’s decision to market the movie as little and as poorly as possible.

Mei Mei the Red Panda
Credit: Pixar

The film has received almost no major promotion since its announcement, and it’s released next week. In a poorly timed move, Pixar did attempt to promote the movie earlier this week, but quickly deleted their Tweet within just a few hours. They revealed a set of in-universe movie posters with a different character representing a different existing Pixar movie.

Ember and Wade stand next to each other in Elemental.
Credit: Disney Pixar

One of the posters featured Ember, the fire element main character, on a “Burning Red” poster with the caption, “Unleash your wildfire side with this Burning Red poster straight from Element City!” Fans were quick to jump on it, pointing out the poor timing with the Canadian wildfires affecting much of the Northeastern United States and the post was quickly deleted.

Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental” Wade (R) Ember (L)
Credit: Disney Pixar

Now they’ve done it again. Pixar recently released a clip of a scene in the film showing the soil element, Clod, who is presumably a younger character, flirting with Ember and trying to get her to agree to go on a date with him. Many responses on Twitter pointed out that the joke of a young boy flirting with an older woman is tired and not funny in today’s social climate. “When ppl finally get rid of the ‘kid has a crush on adult’ trope in media is the day i find peace,” stated @BUGZSNATCHER. Others were quick to draw attention to Ember’s response to the come-on. Rather than pointing out their age difference as her reason for turning him down, she simply says, “elements don’t mix.”

Many viewers took it as a metaphor for race, with the different elements effectively being different races of people, especially as many are calling the film a “tribute to immigrant parents.” “Elementals may have Zootopia beat for the worst allegory for racism in fiction,” Tweeted @LubbaSMG2. “You creatives gotta stop creating race allegories where simply interacting with someone of the other race could be fatal,” demands @ajthdonut.

Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental” Wade (L) Ember (R)
Credit: Disney/Pixar

Others pointed out that the movie could’ve worked much better as an allegory for accessibility, given Ember’s comment about the city not being made for fire people. Like @disrupthehuman suggests, “this video is wild because not only does it show how bad this type of allegory for race, but it gives a much better premise for a movie about accessibility with the comment about how city infrastructure isn’t designed with fire people in mind.”

FIRE AND WATER – Set in a city where fire-, water-, land-, and air-residents live together, Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental” introduces Ember, a tough, quick-witted and fiery young woman whose friendship with a fun, sappy, go-with-the-flow guy named Wade challenges her beliefs about the world they live in. Featuring the voices of Leah Lewis and Mamoudou Athie as Ember and Wade, respectively, “Elemental” releases on June 16, 2023. © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Disney Pixar

Honestly, @bi4birymin seems to sum up the popular opinion pretty well, “I really want to give this movie a chance but they make it so hard.” Unfortunately, between Pixar’s lack of marketing for Elemental and their apparently constant missing the mark, it doesn’t look good for Ember or the rest of those in Element City. Especially with the film competing against the already successful The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and The Little Mermaid, it’s going to be an uphill battle for Pixar this year.

What do you think about Elemental? Unfortunately neglected or just pull the plug? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

in Movies, Pixar

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