I think one of the greatest things that a movie can do for society is to educate the future generations of the world about important issues. Inside Out does this by exploring the role of various emotions and the impact that having too much of a certain emotion, like sadness, can have on the overall functioning of an individual.
I saw Inside Out when it was still in theaters and it was one of the best Disney films I have seen since my own childhood. The concept for the film is genius. What better way to teach children about complicated emotions such as anger and sadness than to show them a captivating movie?
When I was a kid, the expression of negative emotions such as anger and sadness was highly criticized. Looking back, I don’t think my parents realized how damaging it would be for me to spend the majority of my life thinking that feeling such emotions was a flaw within myself. I wasn’t allowed to feel angry and crying was something that I would be fiercely reprimanded for. As a result, I turned what should have been outward anger into inward anger and directed these negative emotions at myself. I couldn’t stop myself from feeling these emotions altogether, so instead I changed the way that the emotions manifested themselves. Years down the road my internal suffering became too much to handle so I turned to self-injury to cope.
Due to my own experiences of not knowing how to express and handle negative emotions, I have a strong appreciation for the film Inside Out. I believe that this film will help children understand that it’s okay to speak up when they are feeling sad, angry, lonely, or otherwise feeling unhappy. It’s important to teach kids that they do not have to suffer in silence when they’re going through a tough time. Doing so could really mean the difference between life or death later in life.
Obviously there are a whole host of contributing factors when one is looking at things that could cause depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses, but not knowing how to cope with negative feelings can certainly be a trigger. Accordingly, teaching kids how to express negative emotions in a productive and healthy way could help reduce the occurrences of such illnesses in individuals who otherwise might never develop these mal-adaptive coping habits or illnesses.
Again, I realize that mental illnesses are complex issues and I’m not claiming that a movie is enough to prevent these issues from occurring in the future, but having a mainstream media product address this issue is definitely a positive step. One tiny step forward is better than making no progress at all.