Cars 3 is everything that’s wrong with Pixar right now. The studio that brought us the memorable moments of Toy Story and The Incredibles is now pandering to multiple sequels in a presumed attempt to keep their merchandising and theme parks going. Sure, they did good sequels with Toy Story 2 and 3 but even Cars 2, an early sequel, seemed to be nothing more than a play to expand the franchise beyond US borders. The first one was deeply, unapologetically American, and the second one was about as international as you could get.

Now, in Cars 3 Lightning McQueen looks down the barrel of middle age. I haven’t seen it and I haven’t read the reviews, but does this seem like it’s up to the quality level of Pixar’s top efforts? Or does it seem like a way to get dads to take their kids to Disneyland again?

The big problem with Cars has always been its relatively inconsistent relationship with reality. Unlike Monsters, Inc. and other Pixar fare which have deeply thought-out backstories that explain a lot about why things happen, there are disturbing questions about the Cars universe. Why do the cars have doors? People don’t have doors (keep your mind out of the gutter.) How do they reproduce? How are new cars made? Why, above all else, does everything seem to point back to humans who are nowhere to be seen? Human influence is everywhere, and the Cars-verse seems to be a pale copy of our own without much understanding of why?

Much like the vaunted Goofy/Pluto paradox (both are dogs. Why can one talk and the other can’t) why is Mater a fairly intelligent form of rusty rural equipment while the tractors are essentially cow analogues?

Too many questions, and inevitably if you’re not willing to give up and just accept that at its heart it’s only childrens’ entertainment, you have to come to one extremely creepy conclusion.

Cars are people.
I thought of this myself but Jason Torchinsky of Jalopnik really goes nuts with this theory in his essay. Cars are just the outer armored shell, each with a person inside. That’s why they have doors. The person goes in and never leaves. Maybe the air is polluted or maybe the robots have taken over or something, but inside each of these cars is an actual person who imparts personality to the car. The tractors are just people of extremely limited intelligence, or perhaps prisoners forced into this sort of labor and kept from communicating intelligently.

It doesn’t explain the little tiny VW Bugs but it gets close.

And this is an extremely disturbing theory because it makes you wonder how and why this happens, and for whose benefit. As I said if the earth is very polluted, people might not be able to exist on it. That’s not good. The more you dig into it, the more that the whole Cars planet is deeply off-kilter and it ends up being something you can’t un-see when you watch what should be light, inoffensive entertainment.

Folks this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can find all sorts of deep conspiracy theories about Pixar, like the part where Ursula from The Little Mermaid killed the parents from Frozen as they were returning from Rapunzel’s wedding or something like that. Or how the Pizza Planet truck is really a Watcher, or how Andy’s mom in Toy Story is Jessie’s original owner. Or how A113 is really a cry for help from slave laborers in Pixar’s labs.

Sorry if I’ve just ruined your weekend plans.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.