I don’t know what I was initially expecting when I clicked on the thumbnail for ‘Purl’ in my recommended videos list. I was curious to see what Pixar’s latest release was, unapologetically still indulging in any animation they release. But wow, did this story suprise me.
For 8 minutes and 34 seconds, I sat in bemused silence, watching this story unfold. Amazed at the unflinchingly clear stance of the piece; and charmed by the adorable main character.
The story follows Purl, a ball of yarn, on her first day in a new office. She is greeted warmly as a more than qualified candidate to the job until her identity as a ball is revealed. From there she is treated as an outsider, a spectator of the boys’ club around her, unable to be taken seriously in any capacity, despite multiple attempts.
Whilst, considering leaving the business for good, Purl takes note that all her coworkers are white males wearing suits, and thus begins her transformation.
Purl is forced to change her appearance in order to fit in with her coworkers. Soon she’s joining in on the jokes, being listened to in meetings and being invited along to after work drinks. Finally, she feels as though she is making progress in the business.
It’s only when Lacey, another ball gets a job, that Purl realises the error of her ways. Ignored by all their coworkers, Purl, after making a snide remark, eventually greets Lacey openly and makes her feel welcome, including her in after work drinks despite the scepticism of everyone else.
The next shot shows Purl giving the latest employee a tour, the elevator opening up to reveal a wonderfully diverse and happy environment.
The message of the short is clear, and provides viewers with a multitude of takeaways.
Firstly, that you can have all the qualifications for the job, but where there is discrimination, there are roadblocks. Purl is miserable in her new job because she can’t find respect from any of her coworkers despite submitting a resumé that was ‘by far the strongest.’ There is only so far you can get on your own, but if you want to succeed, you need the backing of a team.
The boys’ club is an intimidating place to be around. You’re an outcast, and in a new environment, you already feel vulnerable, the added pressure of proving your worth can be mentally draining.
Secondly, there are often cases where a woman’s response to a situation isn’t taken seriously because it’s considered as “being too soft”.
Yes, men and women tend to think problems through differently. There have been multiple studies to demonstrate these differences. And yet, would it not be wiser to combine these thought processes to achieve the optimum solution?
Assumptions can’t be made on somebody’s leadership strategies based on their gender, simply because of stereotypes either. I might do things very differently than the next woman, everyone functions in their own way.
Lastly, the story shows that instead of alienating minorities, we should be building them up. Especially if you are the minority within that group as well! Purl realises that she was once in Lacey’s shoes, and so, Lacey’s job is made a lot more welcoming with Purl’s show of kindness.
In the last scene, we see characters from all backgrounds, black, white and balls, smiling and laughing. Diversity spreads, and we all benefit from it.
It’s so encouraging to see Pixar examining the issue for themselves in this short, witty cartoon. It’s heart warming to think that this could be an eventual reality across all types of business.