Structural Functionalism In The Animated Film 'Inside Out'

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The 2015 Disney-Pixar animated film “Inside Out” is the story of an 11-year-old girl named Riley and the personified emotions that shape and control her personality. The movie is a wonderful example of the functional analysis theoretical perspective of sociology, also known as structural functionalism or, simply, functionalism, in that it illustrates a society (in this case, the young girl Riley) can maintain equilibrium only when its component parts (the emotions/characters of Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger) are each present and fulfilling their assigned functions. At the beginning of the film, Riley and her parents live in Minnesota, where she has friends, enjoys her school, is a valued member of an ice hockey team, and has an all-around happy life. The movie’s introduction depicts a typical day of Riley’s life in Minnesota, during which all five of the emotion characters properly fulfill their functions and leave Riley in a normal state. Joy provides happiness for the young girl. Sadness provides Riley moments of comfort from her parents and emotional bonding between Riley and her parents. Fear keeps her from hurting herself by prompting a cautionary response. Likewise, Disgust and Anger fulfill their intended, beneficial roles, thereby fulfilling their manifest functions. At the end of the day, Joy congratulates her counterparts, telling them, “Nice job, everybody. Another perfect day.” As the story progresses, Riley and her family move from Minnesota to San Francisco, where Riley experiences culture shock. She and her family find their home to be more than a bit worn and dismal. To make matters worse, their furniture has become lost in the cross-country move, and Riley’s father is experiencing stress and anxiety in his job at a startup firm. Riley is uncomfortable at her new school and in her new social environment as a whole. Riley’s mother urges her to keep smiling, stay happy, and be there for her father. At first the emotions are able work together, keeping Riley in harmony. However, Sadness begins to cloud Riley’s memories and feelings and override her balanced personality. She tells Joy, “Something’s wrong with me. I think I’m having a breakdown.” Joy attempts to take Sadness out of

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