When the first teaser trailer for Toy Story 4 arrived, we were introduced to Forky, the latest addition to the roster of characters in the franchise from Pixar Animation. However, unlike the rest of the toys that Bonnie inherited from Andy at the end of Toy Story 3, Forky wasn’t really a toy. He’s a spork that Bonnie made into a toy by adding some googly eyes, wonky pipe cleaner arms, eyebrows and a mouth made from clay, and feet made from a popsicle stick split in two.
At first, the introduction of Forky seemed like an interesting concept that allowed the Toy Story franchise to dive into thought-provoking areas regarding existentialism and identity. But when the new Toy Story 4 trailer actually showed Bonnie making Forky while at daycare, I realized that this introduces a horrifying new concept into the Toy Story franchise that could make this world as terrifying and perplexing as that of Cars.
Before we dive into this, I’d like to acknowledge that we’re well-aware that Toy Story is a movie. So if you want to just take the easy way out and say, “Well, Toy Story isn’t real, so maybe don’t worry about all this,” then, well, this isn’t for you. But for those of you who treat fictional universes as fully formed worlds that have parameters and rules of their own that deserve to be addressed and adhered to, let’s get down to it.
Anything Can Be a Toy?
Even though children can be nightmarish hellions, you can’t deny that the imagination of children is an incredible thing. Kids create their own little worlds to play in with their toys, so much that they can turn anything into a toy. A cardboard box can become a spaceship, a broomstick can become a sword, and apparently a spork can become an action figure. But the idea of a spork becoming an action figure that comes alive with the rest of the toys when humans aren’t paying attention is something else entirely.
The Toy Story 4 trailer shows us that Bonnie physically makes Forky. It’s not something she finds around the daycare center. He’s like a Frankenstein monster made during arts and crafts time. And Bonnie basically becomes a god by giving life to the toy she names Forky. Simply because she believes he’s a toy, suddenly Forky is alive and interacts with Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the toys in her room. How is that possible?
This is Terrifying
Toy Story has now introduced the idea that a child can turn anything into a toy, and suddenly that toy is alive. Not only is the toy alive, but it’s self-aware of the world around it. Furthemore, Forky himself is aware that he’s not a toy. It freaks him out, and it makes him feel like he doesn’t belong. Beyond that, Forky is also aware that he serves another purpose. A line of dialogue from a panicked Forky in the new trailer says, “I am not a toy. I was made for soup, salad, maybe chili, and then the trash.”
Hang on a second. If Forky didn’t come alive until Bonnie turned a spork into a toy, how is he aware of what his purpose in the world is supposed to be? Was the spork sentient before it was given eyes and a mouth? Are all inanimate objects in the Toy Story universe self-aware but unable to address their existence until a human gives them the ability to speak? Do you see how the creation of Forky unleashes a whole slew of questions and concerns?
What Determines a Toy’s Capabilities?
We’ve seen in the Toy Story universe that there are toys who aren’t explicitly characters so-to-speak, but they still have a self-awareness and the ability to interact with other toys. For example, Etch-a-Sketch still walks around on its corners like they’re feet and uses the face of itself to communicate with Woody and the other toys.
In the first Toy Story, we’ve seen that Andy’s next door neighbor Sid takes toys apart and turns them into scary hybrid creations. Those toys are alive even after being taken apart. But for some reason, none of those toys spoke. The baby with the crab-like Erector set body, the legs with the fishing reel, the wind-up frog, and the duck Pez dispenser with body builder arms are sentient, but they don’t speak. One could argue that it’s because none of the toys talked to begin with, but Mr. Potato Head isn’t a toy that has a voicebox activated by a string or the push of a button, but that toy is a sarcastic chatterbox. He chats as much as anyone.
Yet somehow, Forky, who is given a mouth by way of clay, is suddenly sentient, completely able to speak and awkwardly waddle, and has plenty of knowledge of the world around him. Why don’t any of the other toys with mouths have the ability to talk when a human isn’t in the room? What determines how a toy is able to interact with the world around it? Where does a toy’s knowledge come from when it wakes up for the first time? Buzz Lightyear thought he was really a space ranger until he learned he was a toy. So how is Forky so self-aware when he was only just created by Bonnie?
That’s not even the most perplexing aspect of the creation of Forky.
Are There Limitations to What “Toys” Come Alive?
So Forky comes alive with the rest of Andy’s toys simply because Bonnie turns him into a toy. Does that mean anything that a child plays with and adds their imagination can suddenly come alive when the child goes away? Let’s say there’s a little model skeleton in a doctor’s office and a child plays with that model skeleton. When that child gets called into the doctor and no one is in the waiting room, can that skeleton come alive as a toy now?
Let’s take this to a darker place. What if a child wanders away from a family picnic near a lake? They stumble upon a corpse dumped in the water by the mafia. The kid doesn’t know any better, so they start to play with the body like it’s a big toy. Don’t worry, it’s a more fresh corpse, so the flesh isn’t falling off or water-logged or anything like that. But the kid gets bored and walks back to the picnic. When the kid walks away, does the corpse suddenly come back to life?
How is it determined what gives a “toy” the ability to come alive as if it were a toy created specifically for being played with? We’re hoping that the creation of Forky and his sudden life is explained somehow, but considering how Pixar actively avoids answering the question of where Cars come from, we’re betting it’s not a question they’re fully prepared to answer.
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