The real story behind Up: Spy Balloons, racist old men, and Chinese Government-Pixar collusion 

Billions have wept while watching Pixar’s award-winning film Up; about a harmless old man and his search to fulfil the dreams of his dead wife by literally flying his house to Peru, gaining friends and purpose along the way. But what people don’t know is the true story behind the hit animation, and its relevance to a major recent US-China diplomatic crisis of spy balloons and deception.  

Carl Fredrickson, a frail old man bore a great resemblance in his appearance to his Pixar counterpart, except he wasn’t animated. In mourning over his late wife, he took out all his frustration through long, all-capped Facebook rants, as well as doing his best to be a general nuisance to minorities, children, women, men, other white people, those with a tan, the disabled, the poor, glasses wearers, cyclists, diabetics, religious folk, atheists, Dr Pepper drinkers, people who exercise… pretty much everyone. Carl dreamed of going back to the old days of polio epidemics, mass racial segregation and poverty. ‘‘John Lennon ruined everything’’ he would often ramble, ‘‘he alone is responsible for the demise of western society, he is the reason for all my problems’’.  As Dickens might say ‘Bah Humbug indeed!’ 

As one can see, the personality of Carl Fredrickson was far different to the candy-cane version illustrated in the Pixar feature. It was on a visit to the local pharmacy one day when Carl, upset by the size of the queue, proclaimed a deep, sincere desire to ‘fly away from everything’, and this was overheard by a Chinese official, who having hacked into a gen Z’ers (known by Carl as ‘The Great enemy’), phone microphone using TikTok, came up with the idea that would spark a diplomatic crisis. And several memes. ‘’What if we put an old, white, man in the sky, in his house carrying hundreds of Chinese spy balloons?’’ he said to another official. ‘’America loves old, white, men. Whether right wing, centrist, progressive, everyone is voting for old, white, men. They run everything. We put a white, old, man in the sky over the white house, we can monitor all the comings and goings of the Government, and the racist cops will not do anything, and instead assume the old, white, man has dementia. Heck, they even let old, white, men storm the Capitol building!’’ 

When the plan eventually reached the desk of Xi Jingping, the Chinese president, Xi reacted with a sense of bewilderment. ‘’In China we have far too many old men, and in Japan academics are even called for an old man genocide, but in America, they are worshipped. Xi thumped his desk with his fist. It carried the power of a thousand old, white, men, which meant it came out like a light tap. ‘’I say yes to this plan. Biden is so old; he still communicates across the nation through carrier pigeon. There is no way that he will download TikTok’’. In that moment, events many miles away were put in motion, and the life of Cal Fredrickson was irreversibly changed.   

Two Chinese officials, tripping over the fascist forest of MAGA and confederate flags that littered Carl Fredrickson’s yard, knocked on Carl’s door. Carl opened the door slowly 26 minutes later. ‘’You’re lucky that I opened the door so quickly’’, said Carl.  

‘’Right’’, said the officials, visibly confused, ‘’Hello, sir, we are from the Chinese embassy, and we would like to speak with you today’’.  

‘’You travelled all the way here, and your car doesn’t have a single dent’’, Carl questioned, wistfully.   

‘’Sir, the idea that we Asians are bad drivers is actually a racist myth.” 

‘’I don’t think so’’, Carl retorted. ‘’One time a car driven by an Asian man crashed into me. Yes, a white woman got out the driver’s seat, but I’m pretty sure an Asian driver was behind it all, pulling the strings’’.  

‘’Sir’’ the officials sighed, ‘’our records show that you were caught going 80 into a 30-mph zone, and you crashed into her. The state took away your license.’’  

‘’Whoa, watch it!’’ warned Carl. ‘’How do you know all this anyway?’’ 

‘’You posted about it on Facebook.’’  

‘’Oh, I forgot’’, Carl replied, scratching his head.   

‘’Sir, we would like to recruit you for a special mission.’’  

‘’Whoa, special mission you say? Bear in mind, I am a fervent patriot and that I served in ‘Nam.’’  

‘’Sir, we are… umm… working for the Donald Trump MAGA campaign, and we would like for you to spy on President Biden for us.’’  

‘’You work for the Donald Trump MAGA campaign you say, how can I help get rid of Sleepy Joe, huh?’’   

‘’Well, Sir, how would you like to travel somewhere in which there are few people around, surrounded by mainly white things.’’  

‘’This sound like my ultimate fantasy!’’ Carl exclaimed.  

‘’Sir we are not even talking about Vermont. We want to set you and your house into the sky, using special balloons that will be controlled remotely by us, steering you straight a couple miles above the capitol buildings. As you know through experience, Mr Fredriksson, the US Cops and Army are humanity’s friends. They have never even harmed a fly.’’ ‘’Well, you Japanese sure are ingenious.’’  

‘’For the last time we are Chinese!’’, said one of the agents, growing particularly heated, so much so that his partner pulled him back.   

And so, the plan was put in motion. It took 5 minutes for the Chinese Government to modify Carl Fredriksson’s house and get him up in the air.  Unfortunately for the Chinese, Carl’s bathroom was right in the camera feed, and many officials were traumatised by what they saw. Despite Carl’s initial scepticism over Asian driving skills within a few hours they had travelled from middle America to Washington D.C faster than Carl normally walked up the stairs, and in just a few days they had reached their destination. The Chinese even provided Carl a prototype talking robot dog as a companion, a part of this story which was at least partly brought onto the big screen. Unfortunately, Carl failed to see that the Robodog was placed to indoctrinate him into Chinese state ideology and was spouting Chinese propaganda, worshipping Xi Jingping by the time Washington loomed in the distance. ‘’You Chinese are the greatest drivers in the entire world!’’, cheered Carl.  

Eventually the house rocked to a holt, and Carl would have been able to make out the white dome of the white house if his age had not rendered him legally blind. Robodog excitedly barked and yelped ‘’We’re here master! Now it is time to serve the interests of the great Chinese state and help take down those pesky American imperialists!’’  

‘’Right on’’, replied Carl. Suddenly, a blip could be seen in the distance, looming closer and closer, until the sound of a missile enveloped the entire house.    

‘’It’s the US military, yippee! The time to martyr ourselves for the great Chinese state has come!’’ barked Robodog, 

‘’I’m gonna go a step further with that one bucko!’’, said Carl suddenly clutching a knife. ‘’I’ll storm the capital just like my sex offender uncle before me’’.   

‘’But you have no parachute, master!’’. But Carl was blinded by right wing, and now also Communist, ideology.  Before Robodog could chant his favourite Chinese propaganda tune, Carl had jumped and would never be seen alive again, eventually decorating the dome of the white house like a red Jackson Pollock painting. The Chinese saw this as a great propaganda victory, ‘turning the white house red’, and Carl Fredriksson became a great Chinese patriarch, eventually inspiring the Up film we know and love today (Pixar wanted to increase their Chinese viewership).  

So, Carl died. He was a horrific, racist man that offended many and helped none. The way that we know him now, as a harmless old man fighting for the tenets of adventure exists amongst the great Pixar falsehoods. Like Lightning McQueen’s steroid abuse, the real Carl Fredriksson was conveniently cast out of the Pixar limelight.  

During the formation of this article, I questioned my intentions. Up is a film that is beloved by many, and like us all, the opening sequence devastated my soul, leaving shards of Carl’s pain like shrapnel inside of me, possibly forever. If society knew the real Carl, would they still feel the same about the film which exists as an ode towards him? Is it my responsibility to destroy the image of a film embedded within the hearts of so many?  It was at this point that I was reminded of my journalistic integrity, which guided me like a heavenly light, leading me to the realisation that society deserves to know the truth. If I am assassinated by the Chinese Government then so help me God, as I have not been to synagogue in a long time, and I’m pretty sure God would have heard me declare myself as an atheist in an argument with ChristSoc members recently.    

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