How Coraline Jones And Jack Skellington Are Similar

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You may have heard this already, but the Tim Burton film The Nightmare Before Christmas displays cultural appropriation and capitalist exploitation.

This is bad, but this happens from Jack's existential crisis that comes from his inability to appreciate his life after living the same way for so many years. And in a way, he’s not so different from Coraline.

You might think I’m crazy, but hear me out. 

The Doors Appear When They’re Bored.

When Coraline is bored, she explores. She meets her neighbors out of boredom instead of curiosity and interest in who they are and their lives. In the book, she does this a lot since Wybie doesn’t exist, though even when the movie occupies her time with Wybie, she tolerates him out of boredom in the beginning until the trouble is stirred up with the beldam.

When the door was first encountered, it was blocked up with bricks. However, when it became evident that Coraline was bored, the door was found slightly open leading to the other world.

It just took Coraline’s curiosity to walk through it. In fact, this was regularly done to bored children since the three ghosts say that the beldam “spied on our lives through the little doll's eyes. And saw that we weren't happy. So she lured us away with treasures. And treats.”

In The Nightmare Before Christmas, we’re introduced to the scary festivities of Halloweentown through the song “This Is Halloween.” It’s an amazing number that I love listening to during Halloween and Christmas time, but Jack Skellington is unhappy with it all.

He displays his superiority as the pumpkin king at the end of the song, but quickly shows the audience that he’s unhappy with his song “Jack Lament.”

He sings, “Year after year, it’s the same routine...and I Jack, the Pumpkin King, have grown so tired of the same old thing...somewhere deep inside of these bones, an emptiness began to grow.”  

After singing this, he walks into the forest where fog appears. Not knowing what direction to take, he waits for it to clear, but he falls asleep and wakes up surrounded by trees with doors in the shape of holiday symbols, leading to different worlds. 

Image Source: Wix
Image Source: Medium

They’re Bored Because Of Their Inability To Appreciate Their Lives.

While it’s obvious that these two characters are bored, it was weird at first for me to see and read an 11-year-old being bored since I consider 11-year-old children. However, between 11 to 13, 14, or 15, the age gap isn’t far, making her experience something in the middle. In other words, she is between being a child and a teenager and is therefore in a transitional stage.

Children are often amazed by the world and ask so many questions about it, while teenagers are excited to explore the world with friends wishing to be adults to do whatever they want when they want.

However, in between the child and the teenager, they experience a period of boredom if the parents don’t make a lot of income. So in this age range, their boredom can lead to complaints of have nots without taking into consideration their parents' struggles, which can linger into teenage years.

Coraline’s parents are emotionally distant due to their jobs, however, this isn’t Coraline’s concern. Instead, she’s concerned about her have nots. From her parents, her dad cooks, but she hates his cooking. In fact, when her dad is serving her food as he sings, she makes a face of disgust and calls it slime and poison. 

In the book, the scarcity of food is emphasized with Coraline noting only spoiled milk being in the fridge. Though, I think the movie shows her poverty more since the audience gets to see that her house is basically empty.

The kitchen has nothing but a round table with metal folding chairs with one dim light. Her room is the same with only having a bed, a nightstand, and clothing drawers. With that said, it’s visually seen that her parents don’t make a lot of income. 

Because of this, she doesn’t have much, making her bored and unappreciated. The movie emphasizes this with the beldam luring Coraline to the other world by exaggerating everything she ever wanted by providing good food, toys, and a lively house with colors, music, decorations, a big garden, and more.

Image Source: Wired
Image Source: Disney Fandom

In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington experiences an existential crisis from doing the same thing over again for years. Compared to Coraline, he has more life experience, but he gets bored since his life feels mundane to him. However, compared to the citizens who praise him, they love their lives and Jack’s festivities of Halloween. In other words, they never get bored.

While this can go into class and privilege issues, the difference of enjoyment between him and everyone else shows that he doesn’t appreciate his life. As pumpkin king, he has an effect on the people around him since he influences the citizens’ enjoyment and sentimentality of Halloween.

Instead of appreciating that and propelling his ambitions in a creative direction, he’s unsatisfied with his work and ends up appropriating another culture's religious holiday- Christmas. 

Sadly, this happens because of the newness of Christmas to Jack since he spends so much time trying to understand what Christmas is and tries replicating it to take over it. In the process, he gives a speech on what Christmas is to citizens and what he needs of them to replicate it.

In my opinion, he understands Christmas at a commercial level, which is essentially how industries display Christmas as a lot of decorations and gift-giving. This then shows how he probably views and organizes Halloween with a commercialized lens too, revealing how he never sees the deeper meaning behind the holiday or his work. 

To add on, even though he described Christmas through a commercialized lens to his citizens, they end up incorporating their spooky Halloween elements to Christmas, leaving Jack upset that they didn’t understand what he meant. This shows how the citizens love and enjoy Halloween.

In fact, they believed the purpose of the gifts was to scare the receiver in some way. This is because all they know is their Halloween culture traditions and values, but their enthusiasm of incorporating them in something different thinking with the same intention to scare people, they get happy since they love their way of life, revealing that Jack Skellington is the only one bored and unhappy. 

They Feel Entitled To Their Greediness But Learn To Appreciate Their Lives.

In Coraline, Coraline doesn’t display entitlement directly. Instead, she expresses her entitlement subtly with her enjoyment of finding the other mother, since she would have happily stayed with her if the beldam never said she needed to get button eyes. Yet I think I might be reaching with this one. 

Either way, when Caroline finally escapes the beldam, she has a new perspective on her life and begins to love and appreciate it. In the movie, this is shown with her saying she misses her parents and happily enjoys the conversation of their duties. 

Though, the book shows her appreciation more clearly. After she escapes the beldam, Coraline pays special attention to nature, “Coraline stared at the leaves on the tree, at the patterns of light and shadow on the cracked bark of the trunk of the beech tree outside the window.

Then she looked down at her lap, at the way the rich sunlight brushed every hair on the cat’s head, turning each white whisker to gold. Nothing, she thought, had ever been so interesting.”

From here, she goes up to her father and kisses him on his cheek saying she misses him. She even eats his food without disgust or hesitation and visits her neighbors to engage in conversations with interest.

These instances reveal that not only does she appreciate her parents now, but she also appreciates her life.

Coraline Jones And Jack Skellington are greedy but learn to appreciate
Image Source: Yarn 

With Jack, he had to ruin Christmas to understand he was appropriating another culture since he got undesirable reactions from the people of Christmastown with families running in horror causing Jack to be chased down by military forces.

He tries to make up for the damage by saving Santa from Oogie Boogie and apologizes to Santa. Santa is mad at him for some time, but once he forgives him, he makes it snow in Halloweentown. 

But aside from this, he learns to appreciate his own culture and role after seeing citizens’ reactions to his arrival, thinking he died in his travels. During his missing time, the town was deserted and gloomy, but once he arrived everyone went to greet him lively, making him see the effect he has on people and their lives. This is especially true with him receiving Sally’s kindness and care since his new life includes her.

Coraline Jones And Jack Skellington are greedy but appreciate their life
Image Source: Mickey Blog

With that said, one of the many themes of both of these stories is not to take our lives for granted. Though, in comparison, they show that this lesson can and should be learned at any age. Yet because Jack is older, it seems like there will be periods of times where we will throughout our life, making lessons of appreciation something we need to be taught regularly or else we could and might forget.

Hi! Hello! My pronouns are she/her, and I'm an aroace storyteller who loves tea and cats.

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