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What’s in your head?

Pixar’s Inside Out is an animated film about an 11-year-old girl named Riley Andersen and what goes on inside her head. Five emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust—interact with each other and drive Riley to talk and act the way she does.

Riley goes through a tough phase when her parents decide to move from small-town Minnesota to San Francisco. She has to attend a new school. She misses playing hockey. Combine all these with her precarious age. There is a control room of sorts called Headquarters, best described as Riley’s conscious mind. Outside HQ are various personality islands—friendship, family, hobby, among them.

Throughout the movie, the viewer is taken through the nooks and crannies of Riley’s inner world, which includes long-term memory, the subconscious, dream land, imagination. A long-forgotten imaginary friend, who boards the train of thought, resurfaces and helps out.

The Emotions find themselves in vain attempts to make Riley the happy child she once was. Joy and Sadness wander far from headquarters such as the remaining three—Fear, Anger, and Disgust —are forced to take control. Without Joy in her conscious mind, Riley’s relationship with her parents worsens, she is not able to make friends at her new school, and loses interest in hockey which she has loved since she was little. 

Joy and Sadness make valiant attempts to get back to headquarters but they meet obstacles along the way. The islands crumble; some memories are lost. They see Riley planning to leave home to return to Minnesota. Joy and Sadness themselves get separated, and it is here Joy realizes that some of Riley’s happiest, most poignant memories are that way because of the sadness that preceded them.

Sadness is a blue, heavy, thing that drags us down and diminishes the happiness in everything. When sadness touches our memories, it renders us incapable of experiencing optimism and joy.

Not so, the movie seems to say.

Inside Out tells children and adults alike that it is all right to feel a whole range of emotions and sometimes all at once. No such thing as pure joy—we become happy because every memory carries with it a complex web of feelings. Never wallow in sadness, of course, or allow fear or anger or disgust or other emotion to dominate our words and actions.

But never deny them, either. They are there, and they make our inner world richer. They give every event and memory particular color and significance that makes them unique. Rational beings that we are, we navigate through these emotions—our individual responses to what we sense from outside and remember from within.

Our responses make us exactly who we are.


A screening of Inside Out was held Wednesday by the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, a regional organization championing good governance through constructive engagement between citizens and government, at SM North Edsa.

The screening was done to raise awareness on the foundation’s education project: Checkmyschool. Through the project, citizen volunteers are encouraged to monitor the condition of public schools, especially in the provinces, to help improve governance in the education system.

ANSA-EAP executive director Dondon Parafina, speaking before the screening, related the film to what development workers go through. “As volunteers engage different people and encounter different situations that reflect the state of governance in the education sector, we do not only learn about happenings outside—in the schools, communities, government offices. We also learn about our inner selves—our motivations as organizers and volunteers, our combined sadness, disgust and anger when we see poor school facilities and services in impoverished areas, our fear of failing in our mission, and our joy in our accomplishments, no matter how small, no matter how slow....not to mention our realization that we can have dreams and inner longings that go beyond our self-interests.”

More information about the project may be obtained from www.checkmyschool.org or from its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/checkmyschool.


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