Lost In Mystery Boxes / Finding Nemo’s Story

J.J. Abrams and Andrew Stanton are two names that should definitely be added to our “Interesting People; Science Fiction Writers” category.  They aren’t science fiction writers in the purist sense but in a modern sense. Both Abrams and Stanton write science fiction, except instead of publishing their work on paperback they publish their work upon the big screen. I’m going to extrapolate and say that the reason science fiction writers were of interest in the first place is because of their uncanny ability to predict where technology may or may not lead us in the future. Stanton fits this bill, so to speak, his credentials being the creator of Pixar’s WALL-E. Abrams on the other hand has not made any wild predictions about the future when he dips his toe into the science fiction pool, however he is enamored with what technology makes possible as well as being another “Apple Fanatic”.

J.J. Abrams is an artistically and commercially successful writer, producer, and director of science fiction television shows such as Lost and movies such as Star Trek and Super 8. I’d like to start by saying I think he’d be a very successful speaker at Bucknell. His humor, charisma, and wit keep the viewer captivated throughout his speech. J.J. is obsessed with technology and has been since an early age; Out of curiosity, he and his grandfather would take apart widgets and machines and put them back together again. J.J. is so passionate and candid about his curiosity for technology that he can even make the technology behind manufacturing a Kleenex box sound fascinating. He uses technology to enhance story telling in the realest way. J.J. isn’t a director who uses technology in post-production to make his films 3D compatible, but rather he uses technology to innovate within his stories. His piece about reusing his old “Super-8” special effect techniques in an effort to avoid hurting Tom Cruise’s nose is especially entertaining. One possible pitfall that may arise from bringing J.J. to campus is that, although his name is surely household for those interested in entertainment, he might not have the same name recognition amongst Bucknell students.

Andrew Stanton is as well an artistic and commercial success in Hollywood but for writing and directing almost exclusively animated films, such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo. I believe Andrew as well would be a huge hit at Bucknell University. Andrew was the first to write and direct a fully computer-generated full-length feature film (Toy Story). His monologue focuses not as much on technology but instead about telling stories. He is humorous but also addresses serious and relevant human issues. Again, Andrew Stanton probably doesn’t ring a bell with most Bucknell students but hopefully the name Toy Story catches their attention.

*Just an update.
JJ Abrams is most likely going to be directing the new Disney owned Star Wars feature  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2488496/


8 thoughts on “Lost In Mystery Boxes / Finding Nemo’s Story

  1. Very interesting choice of people. I agree students would be interested in these people if they focused on the future of technology. The technology industry is growing at an exponential rate and constantly becomes more and more part of our lives. Students would be extreamly interested to see what these professionals actually think the future will hold. Will it be flying cars? Will robots be one every corner? What ever is its, these people can give a realistic represention of what they think the future potentially will hold.

  2. I think J.J. Abrams and Andrew Stanton would be great speakers for Bucknell. I really enjoyed listening to their monologues for TED. I was a huge LOST fan. My roommate and I watched all 6 seasons one semester last year. I like what he said “mystery is the catalyst for imagination.” That show was one HUGE mystery that continued to develop questions that took seasons to answer. I think Bucknell students might recognize his name but if not they definitely know his work as well as Stanton’s work. Everyone knows Toy Story. I loved what Stanton said about the creative process for developing Toy Story. Everyone wanted them to have songs, a love story, a villain and all the other typical things in a Disney animated film. They stuck to what they wanted and created a successful animated film without any of those things. I would love to hear either of these two speak at Bucknell. However, if I had to chose one I would pick J.J.Abrams because I love LOST and I loved listening to him talk about his story writing process and his fascination with mystery.

  3. Do you want J.J. Abrams and Andrew Stanton to speak at the same time? Do you think that they parallel off each other well or do you think they have contrasting views relating to the production of science fiction?

    • I feel that they have complementary views relating to science fiction. JJ is all about big mysteries and big payoffs, while Stanton’s style is more about the smaller mysteries that help audiences buy in and go along for the ride. JJ elicits shock and awe, while Stanton elicits emotional investment in character. As guest speakers, their diversity in style but similarity in overall beliefs could be a very effective one-two punch.

  4. Excellent choice to promote these two speakers! We would be lucky to get either of them to come speak at Bucknell. Both of them talk about fairly different subject matter, so they would definitely have to be brought in independently of one another. I personally would love to hear Andrew Stanton talk about the art of storytelling. His TED talk was very engaging and easy to listen to. My favorite animated movie of all time is Finding Nemo so it would be amazing to even be in the same room as one of its creators. I also had no idea about his influence in changing the face of animation. He introduced the type of movie that can be enjoyed by all ages and genders, not just the classic Disney Princess movie. I don’t think it would be hard to get people to attend a talk by Stanton.

  5. Great thoughts for potential speakers. Like you said, these names did not ring a bell with me when I first read them, but their stories were certainly compelling.

    J.J. Abrams was especially interesting. I liked how you said he “doesn’t make any wild claims into the future…”, while also acknowledging the fact that he is a science fiction writer. This almost seems like a huge oxymoron to be a realistic science fiction writer, but J.J. certainly has something special about him. His life-long love for technology is clear and his passion for the complexities of technology is impressive.

    While I found J.J. to maybe be a more interesting person, I feel that Stanton would be a better speaker to bring to campus. First off, Toy Story and Finding Nemo are two of my favorite animated movies of all time, and I always wondered who had the mind to come up with them. After hearing Stanton’s TED talk, it makes perfect sense. This guy is a story-telling legend. I can only imagine that he would be equally entertaining if he spoke at Bucknell.

  6. You set up that science fic ton can imagine or predict the future. But what in Abrams work its like that? Philip k Dick, whose story was the basis of Minority Report, for example, imagined a government “pre arresting” people for crime. Abrams stuff is pure fantasy. It may be good, but it is mute on any real future. Agree?

    • I mention: “Abrams on the other hand has not made any wild predictions about the future … however he is enamored with what technology makes possible…” I believe that Abrams’ work doesn’t make any specific statements about the future, however it effectively creates strange worlds that we are somehow able to embrace. It is so difficult to dream a world with planes falling out of the sky, or aliens, ect. and enable empathy within your audience; J.J. is a modern master at just that.


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