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Paper Planes, Paperman, and the Side Effects of Art in Action

paper airplane oscarsAt some point in the past few weeks my boys have developed an avid interest in paper airplanes. They have always found the process to be fun and interesting, but suddenly they are obsessed. No paper is safe, from the Sunday Times to store receipts and every sheet between, they fold and throw, fold and throw, and sometimes they pause to take it all in. They are like the Wright brothers of origami.

Our house is a tarmac of untaxied litter.

 

The minute I met Kristina Reed I could tell she was trouble. We were in a theater at Walt Disney Studios and she was discussing her work on the animated short Paperman, of which she was the producer. She was excited and passionate, too much so for a person that was supposed to be working, and I decided then and there that she was someone to keep an eye on.

Reed must have been beside herself when Paperman was nominated, deservedly so, for an Oscar. It was just the kind of thing that would encourage her commitment to fun and quality, two things that Hollywood, apparently, does not care for in a setting so serious as the Academy Awards.

From that moment Reed and the Academy were on a collision course, and like all things showbiz, it would end in glory and a heavy dose of overreacting. The glory was Reed’s part.

Paperman, one of the best movies of any length to open last year, is not only a technical breakthrough in the world of animation, but also charmingly sweet. It is a classic tale of boy meets girl, then the loss, the finding, and lots of paper airplanes. Lots of paper airplanes.

When Paperman won the Oscar the crowd went wild, where the crowd equals Reed, and her lovely celebration in which she let a few lip-stained paper airplanes fly from her too high seat in the mezzanine down upon the masses sitting below. It was perfect.

Security, however, did not agree.

Reed was kicked out of the Dolby Theatre for her actions, an exile that lasted up to ten minutes while the facts unfolded like so many planes beneath the weight of crass humor and self-righteousness that is the Academy Awards—a delay that seems far too grounding for a wonderfully indulgent flight of fancy. She returned to her seat and the captain turned on the fasten seatbelt sign.

 

My boys didn’t watch the Academy Awards. There were too many teddy bears talking about orgies for it to meet our criteria of family entertainment. Therefor my boys had to wait until the next day to hear about Ms. Reed and her paper airplanes.

“How did her planes fly?” they asked.

“I don’t think they went very far,” I answered.

“That’s okay. Throwing paper airplanes off a balcony sounds awesome.”

“Yes,” I said. “It certainly does.”

“Can we do that?” they asked.

“You can do anything,” I answered. “The sky’s the limit.”

They chuckled politely, befitting little boys that like a roof over their heads, and then they went back to work on the pile of scrap paper in front of them. They looked downright inspired.

Fold and throw, boys. Fold and throw.

Disney Paperman

 

Photos by Whit Honea/Disney

Whit HoneaRead more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).

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