On Lust and Loss – As Seen in an Animated Story

030615The video below is an old (1989) Pixar “short” depicting, in a darkly humorous way, the sin of lust. As is often the case in Pixar movies, toys come alive and tell us more about ourselves than we might have known. You might want to view it before reading my commentary.

As the video opens, we scan the shelf of toys and spy a toy woman who seems too good to be true. Like Barbie, her figure is impossible, or, rather, possible only by way of surgery. Yes, here is the woman of Hollywood, or worse, the woman of the pornographers: surgically altered, airbrushed, and “Photoshopped.” She is meant to make normal women feel inadequate and to make men fantasize about unreality such that real women seem substandard. Yes, here is Satan’s tactic in lust: to shift normal attraction, meant to draw us to one another, into distorted attraction, which turns us inward to fantasy and away from one another and from reality.

Now we meet the snowman, cold on the outside but burning with lust on the inside. He is clearly bored with what he has, bored with his reality. Scripture says, All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing (Eccl 1:8).

And then he sees her! She’s too good to be true (and she is in fact not real, not true, as we have discussed). Now the fires of lust are kindled in him and he engages in a series of destructive actions, all to satisfy his lust.

Is this not often what lust does? Those trapped by it will often throw everything overboard to possess its object. They will endanger and inflict harm on their very selves; they will throw loved ones overboard; they will squander, use up, and destroy their wealth and all they have. Some have destroyed marriages and families, forsaken children, and brought disease and poverty on themselves, all for what lust promises: the latest voluptuous one, “Baby if you’ve got the curves, I’ve got the angles.”

Not a few of the actions of this toy snowman are of great symbolism:

1. Spying her, he fixes his eyes. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world (1 John 2:16).

2. His conscience speaks. Suddenly there is a sound from above and he looks up. Is this the voice of his conscience, or the voice of God? Thoughtful, he looks down and considers for a moment. Scripture personifies lust and the voice that our snowman must hear as he looks up and down.

My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion, and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to hell, her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others (Prov 5:2-8).

(Pardon the quote, ladies, for it lays the sin at the feet only of the woman. But remember, lust is being personified here, and it is a father speaking to his son in the passage.)

3. Lust wins. He looks up angrily and curses the glass “boundary” that prevents the fulfillment of his lustful desire. The boundary must go! The same Scripture says,  The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly (Prov 5:23-25).

4. Lust, the home wrecker. The first thing he throws away is his home. He literally hurls it at the glass boundary. With it, we can presume go his wife and family. Again, scripture says, You give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel. Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? (Prov 5:9, 15-20)

5. He goes on a reckless path of self-destruction. He literally cuts off his nose (to spite his face). We also see his face become increasingly distorted as he wreaks havoc on himself and his world. His whole world, and everything and everyone in it, is shaken. Like Jonah, who brought storms to others when he ran from God, this snowman makes the world around him shake and storm by his lust. He sows in the wind and reaps the whirlwind. And this is quite literally illustrated as a great storm swirls within his little world.

6. He descends deeper into sin. Because he has affected others, his whole world descends with him. So, too, for us, whom lust has brought low together. Our whole culture has descended and lust is a huge reason for this. Scripture says of lust personified, Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to hell (Prov 5:4-5). And so this snowman and his world slide off the shelf and descend deeper into sin while “lady lust” looks on.

7. The downward cycle continues and he is imprisoned in his lust. Quite literally drowning in his lusts, our snowman spies a buxom mermaid and lunges for her. But his prison finds him and once again he discovers the truth with which we began, The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing (Eccl 1:8). Indeed he is locked in his lusts. Again, as Scripture says,  The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast (Prov 5:22).

And so we leave our snowman locked in his lust. He has lost his home and family, disfigured himself, and fallen mighty low, taking his world and others with him. Such can be the toll of lust.

A rather serious post, I suppose, especially given the rather light fare of the video. But I hope you can see that the humor within it has a dark side, and that this little movie goes a long way in giving a poignant portrait of lust. “Enjoy” the video.

11 Replies to “On Lust and Loss – As Seen in an Animated Story”

  1. You write about sex all the time. Odd. You write far more about sex than poverty, non-violence, and peace.

    Our own clergy are as obsessed with sex as the culture they bemoan.

    1. Why do you say this? Have you read my blog for long? Do you have statistics to back up your claim about the clergy. Many Catholics tell me just the opposite, that their clergy almost never mention sex, marriage and life issues. What are your statistics?

      As for me this week I wrote on Cosmology, in two posts, on faith in another, death and night prayer, triumph being born of struggle in another, and on suffering in yet another. So why do you say I write about “sex all the time?” Is there something about the topic that vexes you. It looks to me like I write about sex less than 2% of the time as look back over the last six months.

      Why are you troubled and vexed in spirit?

      1. Yes William why do you say such disrespectful and mean spirited things. Indeed, as Msgr. Pope has said, how long have you been reading his blog? If you had been reading it you would see how many positive comments people make about how they hunger to be told the truth more often, sin, evil, cohabitation, abortion, homosexual activity, and for our own good. I know so many people who want this, long for this, hunger for this because, I believe, since we are ALL sinner’s it is our responsibility to take this to heart. Don’t just look at this blog and make a snap decision. If you really want to hear what Msgr. Pope has to say why not listen to his podcasts, attend some of his Masses, see where he is giving talks. Knowledge isn’t going to just walk into your lap.

    2. Msgr Pope writes about sin and the effects of sin. Have you noticed what is happening in society, the media, and all of the tragic consequences of it? Family life is suffering greatly. Human beings can barley relate to one another in a nonsexual way. Crudeness and dysfunctional relationships are paraded about as normal. I would agree that 8:26 am was too early to watch this video.

    3. As I often say when I encounter the “obsessed with sex” objection: if there is ever a Thieves’ Pride Parade or courts of law recognizing a person’s “alternative property-rights orientation”, I assure you priests will start preaching more on the wrongness of stealing.

    4. Maybe you only click on posts that have something about sex in the title? Then who is obsessed?
      When the secular media report on Pope, though the speech be lengthy and the topics varied, the report only covers what he said about sex. So who is obsessed?

  2. Dear William, I have been reading Father Pope’s very balanced and varied blog for approx. two years and cannot agree with you on your comment your accusation is unfounded and therefore untrue.

    I’m guessing that your post might have been made in an attempt to annoy Msgr Pope and the people that read his blog especially as it is lent.

  3. William’s purpose was not to offer constructive criticism of the Msgr’s blog. No, William is trying to quiet him by hurling a baseless accusation at him designed to make him think twice about his subject matter. He is hoping that the subject will come up even less often than it already does, thereby depriving us of a message we are meant to recieve.

    Based on the Sunday blog, I would say William failed.

    Msgr, please continue to allow the Holy Spirit guide your writings, do not let the rantings of demons hinder your message. We appreciate your wisdom and are grateful for it. Thank you.

  4. Odd I’ve read you for several years and sex is rarely a topic. Clearly it’s just and excuse to hurl an undeserved insult.

  5. Thank you Msgr. and also William for pointing out an important fact. Far too many times we hear about how we are good people and are somehow above the ways of the culture we bemoan. The culture and even some in the Church convey another focus away from man’s sinful nature, a misdirect towards helping others. However noble and necessary our concern for the poor and for causes, we are sinners and our salvation is a personal battle of choices. The better we do with this battle the better we are able to help others in a genuine way. We need more good men like you Msgr. Pope in an age where catholic divorce and adultery meet or exceed the cultural average.
    I don’t feel we are above it, and it would be sad to have a Shepard see so many sheep dragged off by the wolves and say or do nothing.

    God Bless you both

  6. William’s post told us more about who William is, not Msgr.’s writing topics. Pray for him.

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