In trying to be myself, should I turn inward or look externally? Pinocchio presents a vision of the self as something we strive for by turning to our conscience, which points us outward at morality.
Moana explores three sources of identity: a role, a calling, and an inner voice. The movie internalizes the two external sources of identity by subordinating them to the voice inside, but this raises the question of what precisely the inner voice is.
Elsa’s story in Frozen involves both the expression of what is inside her as well as the harm she brings on others. How do these two threads fit together? The song “Let It Go” encapsulates the ambiguous advice offered by Frozen regarding the question of whether we should listen to our inner voice or to something external.
In Frozen 2 Elsa hears a voice calling her to follow it. Should we understand this call as something that expands her identity by connecting her with something transcendent, or as something that points her inward and brings out what she already was? By combining both ideas, the movie’s answer is ambiguous.
How could there be a morality that lies outside of my inner voice, and how would it relate to my identity? An answer to this question comes from the movie Toy Story, by recognizing that my essence determines both who I am and what I should do.
Ratatouille does not like arbitrary prohibitions, such as sexist rules preventing women from occupations they are suited for. It makes this point, however, by means of discussing identity and the inner voice, and in doing so it makes essence look arbitrary. It is worth asking whether this way of making the point is fair.