If you saw Wreck-It Ralph in theaters (assuming you didn't arrive late), you probably saw Paperman, a black-and-white short from Walt Disney Animated Studios. If you dwell on the Internet and have a tumblr or Facebook account, someone on one of your lists has probably mentioned the short film; you might have seen the full short when it was available for free on YouTube. (Apparently it's a $1.99 download now, but you can watch the trailer here.) And if you didn't see it in theaters or on YouTube and haven't heard it mentioned via social media, I'm still reasonably sure that Paperman has somehow crossed your radar, since it's garnered heaps of critical acclaim and several award nominations because it's just so goddamned adorable. Seriously, everybody loves this short film.
If you haven't seen the short and don't know the slightest thing about it, here's the summary: a goofy jackass blows an opportunity to chat up a hottie at the train station and then spends the rest of his morning risking his job and life to rectify his error. When he spies the woman again in a skyscraper opposite the one in which he works, he tries to get her attention by throwing paper airplanes across the gap between the buildings -- presumably hoping that she'll be thrilled to have her job interview interrupted by an aerodynamic paper shiv gliding in through the open window and stabbing her in her pretty face. When that plan fails, and literally results in the guy tossing stacks of paperwork and hundreds of paper airplanes out the window, the man runs out of his office and across busy streets in an attempt to chase her down on the sidewalks of New York. He loses her, but -- magically -- the wind picks up those paper airplanes and slams them into the dude!!! And they push him around town like a minifigure in an oversized Spawn Alley playset until they all but shove him into the lap of the pretty chick. CUE LOVE.
Yeah, I know, even my cynical description makes it sound kinda cute. It is -- and when I first saw it, I "awwed" and sighed and fist-pumped with the rest of the crowd as the goofy protagonist of the story did his protagonisty airplane-tossin' crazed street-stalkin' thing. But then, after I saw Wreck-It Ralph (Paperman aired before it) and in the following days, I started thinking. And the more I thought about it, the more I hated Paperman.
Personal admission: in my life, I have never once gotten the girl. No amount of kindness or scrubbing up has caused a woman to cast even the slightest interested eye in my direction, and at this point I don't expect it -- given my spectacularly grim track record with women, it's more likely that Israel will posthumously name Hitler a national hero and President Obama will deliver all future speeches in the traditional royal Canterlot voice than that I'll meet a woman who doesn't think I'm actively plotting to rape and torture her, let alone one who values me as a trusted partner and friend. (In fairness, according to the feministy articles on the 'net about the toxic rape culture in which we live, women have these fearful feelings about all men... but in my case women have consistently filed premature accusations in Minority Report fashion.)
Of course, none of this means that I don't often root for fictional characters to get the girl or to rise in the esteem of their would-be loves. I do, and I nod approvingly when lovesick vampires are permitted to cross thresholds and green shapeshifting teens go on amusement park dates with skinny blondes in goggles (before said dates are crashed by one-eyed supervillain assassins). But I don't like it when the characters who have everything else get the girl too -- and, in this respect, one of the worst offenders in recent memory is actually Wreck-It Ralph. In the movie, Wreck-It Ralph (the character) gets treated like utter shit for much of the film (and, presumably, has been receiving this treatment on a daily basis for the last thirty years). In the end, true, the residents of Niceland come to value his contributions to the community and treat him like an actual human being... but it's Fix-It Felix, who's been the recipient of the Nicelanders' heartfelt praises and delicious pixelated apple pies (again for the last thirty years), who gets the girl. Yes, Ralph does become besties with Sarah Silverman (Vanellope von Schweetz), and Sarah Silverman is pretty cute. But this incarnation of Sarah Silverman is nine years old and will presumably never grow up, so in some respects that's even worse. Wreck-It Ralph is a grown fucking man.
Anyway, it didn't initially occur to me when I first watched the short, but now I see that the protagonist of Paperman is precisely one of those characters who has everything (or is at least doing pretty well) and then ends up with the girl on top of it. Note that, in the beginning of the short, George (that's his name, according to the credits) actually misses his train -- or does presumably, since his destination and that of Meg (the pretty chick he's chasing) end up being directly opposite each other. (By the way, Meg kinda sucks, too. If you and I were having an interaction and you looked away, I wouldn't disappear onto the train without getting your attention, if only because I'd assume that you might possibly need to board the same train. For her to leave him standing there on the platform without a word -- and completely alone, which in NYC does suggest that that was his train -- well, that's just bloody inconsiderate.) So, given that George presumably misses his train, he probably arrives to work late.
He then proceeds to throw a big freaking stack of documents out the window, over a lengthy period of time and despite his boss's disapproving glances, before running helter-skelter from the office without so much as a word. Never mind that those were possibly important documents. Never mind that some elderly gentleman is losing his home or that some working-class single mother is being denied breast cancer treatment because the signed papers that might have prevented those outcomes are currently gliding around NYC folded into fucking airplanes. That George would have the audacity to show up late, literally toss his responsibilities out the window, and then bolt from the office in pursuit of a girl he doesn't even know -- and without the slightest regard for his continued and/or future employment -- says to me one thing: he can't be fired. This is supported by the fact that George isn't fired on the spot when the boss first catches George tossing documents out of the window, which is what would happen to you or me if we were working in an office and suddenly started sending assignmnents sailing o'er the windowsill. So if George can't be fired, he's probably the son of the company owner or a major shareholder or something, which suggests that he was given the job as a favor to dear old Dad. Would that all of us could find gainful employment so easily in this economy! (The more I think about it, the more insulting it seems that Disney chose to produce this short during such tough times.)
Okay, so we've established that George has the establishment on his side when it comes to all things professional. Then -- as if he didn't already have enough people holding him up -- the freaking wind itself takes up the task of getting George laid. That, friends, is just unbelievable. The wind never did shit for me, and there are many talented homeless musicians playing it up in the subway terminals of NYC into whose coffers the wind might have blown some cash for a month at the YMCA. Instead, it's shoving stupid George around with the papers he threw out the window just so he can make nice with a pretty girl who, by the way, apparently does have to interview for her jobs. And the wind does this despite the fact that George is a horrible litterbug. It doesn't matter how terrible this guy is or what offenses he commits; the world is totally on his side.
So, yes, I hate Paperman now. It is indeed cute at a glance, but the more one thinks about it the more apparent it becomes that George deserves none of the rewards life consistently heaps upon him and should, like those important folded documents, be tossed from that skyscraper window into a mud puddle far below with no delicious cake there to greet him. Instead, at this moment, he's probably staring into Meg's eyes from the opposite side of a table with a red cloth and a single candle while I sit here typing this stupid article and drinking chocolate wine alone. (It's delicious, by the way.)-- Wes --
P.S. If you intend to leave a comment, please keep in mind that I am (at least sometimes) an Internet humorist. Not everything I say on Scary-Crayon is meant to be taken seriously, and one of the primary methods of humor I employ on the site is hyperbole. That said, I have genuinely come to dislike Paperman, and for the reasons -- if not with the intensity -- communicated above. That gangly girl-getting goofus can go to Gehenna.