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Pixar got it wrong — Headlights are the eyes of a car

Dec 28, 2011 By Abraham

From the article “How Pixar Screwed Up Cartoon Cars for a Generation of Kids” at Jalopnik…

The eyes of anthropomorphized cars are the headlights, not the windshield.

And there’s no exceptions here. Having a cartoon car with the eyes in the windshield is wrong, just wrong. And that includes you, too, Pixar.

The author is willing to grant one rare exception…

I’ll reluctantly give a pass to some very early cartoons about cars — like Tex Avery’s One Cab’s Family — because at that time not all cars had headlights. But that’s it. Everything after that that places eyes in the windshield when there’s a perfectly good pair of headlight eyes there is just doing it wrong.

What do you think? Did Pixar get it wrong?

(via The Presurfer)


    1. John Tiller says:

      They are two small, symmetrical orbs on the car’s “face”. How one can look at a giant see-through rectangle in the place where the car’s “hat” would go and see eyes, and not see eyes in the very eye-like headlights?

  1. Ben says:

    Yeah, Pixar is right. Having the eyes in the windshield gives you way more opportunities for different expressions. The headlight’s are so small everything would look deadpan. The eyes are the most expressive part of the face so to make them small wouldn’t work, IMO.

  2. Jon says:

    Pixar is totally wrong. Yes, there’s a precendent for both, but it was a foolish decision for them to put eyes on the car’s foreheads. The headlights still look like eyes to me. All they succeeded in doing was making cars with four eyes.

  3. Daniel says:

    Lightning McQueen has no headlights, so if headlights were the lights, either he would have been an exception to the other cars or he would have been blind.

  4. Joey says:

    I think the windshield allows for a lot more expression from the characters. Big blank windshields would just take up space and for animation as detailed as Pixar’s, that would be more difficult to accomplish effectively.

    1. John Tiller says:

      Yes, and if the windshield was clear, they’d have to animate the entire interior, which would raise questions about why there is an interior with seats and steering wheels given there are no people in cars world.

  5. Kandi says:

    Although I thought about this when I first saw “Cars,” I guess it didn’t scar me emotionally as it did the writer of the article. And that’s saying something, as I am the wife of a muscle car guy (read: fanatic).
    Now, here’s something to think about: in the movie “Barnyard,” why does Otis (voiced by Kevin James) have mammary glands and udders? He’s a male bovine, which, unless I missed something, is a bull. Did the creators of that movie not want to stray into forbidden territory? Was it better to confuse children this way?

  6. John Gardner says:

    Pixar totally missed out on the opportunity to use the “You have really great headlights” pickup line. In the world of vehicular romance, that one’s automatic.

  7. John T. Meche III says:

    Windshield eyes really are the best. It actually makes the car more anthropomorphic by providing a “cheek” area (the headlight/front fender area). Also, the windshield is where the driver would see out of the car. Makes sense that the car would see from that point as well.

  8. Sean Nufer says:

    I think headlights as eyes create too large of forehead areas (look at that yellow car up there), and the eyes are way too small and with too large a distance between then. The windshield eyes create a much more caricature-like effect with many more options for expressions, as Ben mentioned. Headlights really limit the amount of artistic creativity in animation.

  9. Greg says:

    if the headlights were eyes then they wouldn’t be able to see at night. eyes absorb lite, they don’t emit it. Imagine the pile-up carnage.

    1. PhilA says:

      if eyes aren’t headlights, what happens in Ghostbusters 2 when Dr Poha leaves Dana’s apartment and his eyes glow so he can see?

  10. bonez565 says:

    Here is a point no one has brought up yet, there does exist a car in the Cars universe that has the headlights as eyes, Chevron the Paris headlight vendor from Cars 2 http://worldofcarsdrivein.wikia.com/wiki/Chevron

    Now take one look at that picture and it’s immediately apparent that having the windshield as eyes is the right choice. With how the rest of the design looks, her look is just wrong and kinda creepy, even to the in universe characters.

  11. royassure says:

    guess I commented late, but anyway ..

    if we base on the function of the normal eye, then using headlights as eyes wouldn’t be correct either. We see the world outside through our windows (eyes), not through headlights.

  12. John in Missouri says:

    Using the logic of the original author, wouldn’t talking Cars have to speak out of their tailpipe?

  13. Sarah says:

    Well, maybe it has to do, too, with the fact that there are no HUMANS getting into the cars in “Cars.” Therefore leaving the windshield as just a window is pointless. Does a car that nobody drives have a steering wheel? Seats? Does it look like a real car on the inside? If it did, that would look silly in the movie – space for a human to sit, but with no humans. ANd it would look silly to have nothing inside the windows. Plus, the eyes on the windshield DO have great expressions.

  14. Shaun says:

    Utterly hilarious that it matters so much to certain people, its not that big a deal people seriously. Come on now if you really want to be pedantic about this then cars could not possible evolve anyway, even if a biological equivalent of the wheel existed they lack the opposable thumbs so how could they build the technology required to mine the oil that they need to run?! basically it’s a kids film with the occasional adult joke in to make us chuckle while watching with the kids and really not that important what pixar did? if you want to know if pixar did it right or wrong look at the gross generated by each film, any film that generates that much revenue at the box office is generally considered a success so I guess most people didn’t feel that the wind shield eyes ruined it!

  15. The patty snatcher says:

    I like how they made the eyes on the windshield but the cars in brave little toaster are cute with the headlight eyes :)

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