Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sparkshorts Review: Float

(Guest Post by Ryan)

Pixar’s newest nearly wordless short, found only on Disney Plus, is relatable, allegorical, and cathartic. Float tells the story of an imperfect father and his imperfect son, who find perfection in their imperfection. Attention to detail is Pixar’s strength, and it comes through in things like the father’s crooked teeth, the son’s windswept hair, and the looks on the neighbors’ faces that simultaneously show both judgment and awe.

Float was written to tell the story of a father struggling with his son’s atypicality, reflective of director Bobby Rubio’s own struggles when his son was diagnosed with autism. But because Rubio chooses to use floating as the metaphor for autism, the short transcends pigeonholing, and can be applied to any number of divergences from what is considered normal. A boy who floats could just as easily be a girl with depression, a man with anxiety, or a woman who is an introvert.

And who can’t relate to the few spoken words in the short, which are so poignantly shouted, “Why can’t you just be normal?!”

At times heartbreaking, at times heartwarming, and at times both, Float encourages those with challenges, and their loved ones, to embrace their uniqueness. Negative challenges are present in any difference, like the boy in Float who might present differently than “the norm”. A child with depression might be chronically sad. A man with anxiety might have panic attacks. A woman who is an introvert might struggle to be a leader. These challenges are inherent, but if we focus on the negatives, they weigh us down, like so many rocks in our backpack.

But Float also teaches us that there is beauty in our challenges. When we embrace and love our whole selves, we gain perspective. Embracing our ourselves -- not in spite of our uniqueness, but because of our uniqueness -- is the key to finding self esteem and mental health. The boy in Float can do extraordinary things beyond the abilities of others. A child with depression might be more empathetic with those that need a listening ear. A man with anxiety might have more concern and care for others. A woman who is an introvert might be the best listener you’ve ever met.

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

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