‘Inside Out’ and Edelman: Is the emotion Joy white?

There are many reasons to deride feminist, body positive, wife and mom of five Joni Edelman and her article “Pixar Fails at Body Positivity in ‘Inside Out.'” Edelman, who is the Editor in Chief of ravishly.com, something that I am not an authority on and have no interest in reading now, was outraged or upset that the emotion of Sadness was portrayed by a short and chubby female character with bad hair, a turtleneck and glasses. Yes…she doesn’t like that the character is all those things.

Now I do not know how tall Edelman and she does look white or “white-ish.” Seriously…Edelman brought the subject of race into the matter.

What’s apparently in Riley’s mind is a tall, lithe, human-looking girl with a pixie cut named Joy, obviously. Her counterpoint is a short, chunky, sad-and-blue… person (I presume) with an emo haircut, named — you guessed it — Sad.

Sad (the feeling) is often associated with the color blue. Red is often associated with anger, etc. That I get. I don’t get how that happened, and I’m not going to go searching because it’s not that important to my point. Blue is also associated with boys. Which also makes no sense. At all.

Color aside… why is she short? Why does she have emo hair? Why is she wearing glasses? Why does she have to wear a turtleneck? Why is she fat, for frack’s sake?

In fact, why have any of these characteristics been assigned to her?

Well. Probably because someone at Pixar thinks fat people are sad. Because they are fat. And how could they be fat and smile? Fat people have some nerve. Also, their poor vision is apparently causing them some distress. Joy doesn’t wear glasses. She probably had Lasik. Because she is probably also rich. Rich, white (well, white-ish) people are also joyous. And she gets to wear a cute little dress, which she probably bought at Nordstrom, while Sad is shrouded in what is probably an itchy-ass thrifted wool sweater. Maybe that’s why she’s named Sad.

Now Joy gets a race. She is rich and white. Riley, the girl in whose mind these emotions exist, is not rich, but she is white. I look at the Huffington Post photo of Edelman and she looks “white-ish.

Joy is actually yellow. I know this because I received my “Joy” glasses and saw the El Capitan performance where Joy was dressed in yellow.

Now for full disclosure. I will admit that I love Nordstrom. I admit I wear glasses. I also admit that I wear wool. sweaters and even a turtlenecks. I love sweaters and turtlenecks. I might have bought a sweater or turtleneck at Nordstrom. I do not have emo hair, whatever that is. I thought Sadness has a classic pageboy without bangs. I am not fat, but I have been overweight (as well as underweight) and  I am short. I’m not an authority, but I’m probably shorter than Edelman. Few people are under five-foot.

If one really wants to assign race to each emotion in “Inside Out” as Edelman feebly attempts in her portrayal of Joy, then there is “The Simpsons” argument which supports Edelman’s interpretations of white or white-ish. In “The Simpsons” episode “Goo Goo Gai Pan” the Chinese seem to be sort of white-ish, meaning they are the same color as the Simpsons. In the case of “Married to the Blob” where Kumiko Nakamura marries the Comic Book Guy, Jeff Albertson, the Japanese character is just a lighter tone of yellow than Jeff. If you check out scenes at the sushi bar, The Happy Sumo, the chefs seem to be the same yellow as the Simpsons making them white-ish, I guess.

And, if one were to classify my race, I am yellow. Sometimes being an ethnic East Asian does seem to be “white-ish.” I’m obviously not black. I could be Latino, but Latino isn’t a race. I can sort of be allowed into the whites only spaces as an honorary white. I get it. I’m seen as a model minority and too many people assume I’ll be quiet and stand in the corner…just like Sadness.

Being yellow, I don’t often see a good non-exploitative non-martial arts movie out of a major studio featuring the yellow face on its ad campaign unless it is practicing yellowface (e.g. “The Last Airbender”) or exploiting other stereotypes (e.g. “Memoirs of a Geisha”). I was happy that “The LEGO Movie” had a yellow face prominently displayed in its advertising. Then there was “Big Hero 6” with Hiro, a kid leading a group of adults nerds that includes another East Asian ethnic (Go Go Tomago who dresses in yellow), a black OCD dude (Wasabi) and a white female chemist (Honey Lemon who is white, but likes the color yellow).  Now Joy is quite yellow.

So if Edelman wants to think about race then just what are the other characters who are definitely not white. Is Sadness a Na’vi from the world of Pandora? Is Anger a Native American? Is Disgust green because she’s a Martian or is she a Vulcan with an ear job? What about that purple Fear?

At least they didn’t go with yellow for fear as in “yellow belly” or are you yellow. And it isn’t even mellow yellow. It’s happy yellow. In China, yellow is an imperial color. Who could be happier than those who are at the top of society?

Yet is just seems mysterious that Edelman had to assign race at all to an animated character where race was not important.


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