Like a lot of people, I like Pixar’s movies. I think they’re well-written and well-directed with clever and memorable characters. Lots of good stuff there! But I wouldn’t go so far as to say as I’m a fan. I think I’ve only seen maybe half the films, and nothing more recent than Up. Nothing against them, of course; I just have a lot of things I’m interested in, and this just doesn’t quite rise to the very top for me.
But I was fully aware that Pixar has generated a large and devoted fan base. That’s hardly surprising, as they are pretty consistent in turning out good work. And it’s such good work that I wasn’t all surprised when I first discovered how some fans will watch the movies repeatedly to pick out small details almost everyone else will miss. That’s how fandoms work.
I was also unsurprised when I learned that some people had devised the notion that the characters and events from the Pixar films all share the same universe. Kind of like how all the Marvel movies tie together, except spread out over centuries. One piece of evidence offered up as proof is the Emma Jean postcard.
And, if you’re like me a few weeks ago, you’re thinking, “Huh?”
There’s a postcard that’s briefly visible in Up addressed to Carl and Ellie from someone named Emma Jean. It’s a minor background detail most people wouldn’t even notice other than perhaps a quick recognition that it’s a postcard. Why this is proof of a shared Pixar universe is that the same postcard appears in Andy’s room in Toy Story 3.
Of course, that led to an insane amount of speculation. Why would Andy have an old postcard that was sent to somebody else? How did he get it? And who is Emma Jean?
Superfan J. Carlin eventually went to Up director Pete Docter, who provided a short backstory for this unseen character when asked directly about her. Whether he had that developed in his head from before or he just made something up on the spot, I can’t say, but Carlin was thrilled and stunned to say the least.
And while it should not have been surprised me that Pixar fandom ran so deep that fans are going to the directors themselves over details like this, it still caught me off guard. Which should serve as an important lesson.
Regardless of how little you personally know about a topic, there is a group out there who is as passionate and devoted to exactly that topic as you are to your most favorite thing in the world. And that’s cool. All of our nerd flags are slightly different colors, but they still broadcast the same love and support we have for our favorite things.