Burnout is Inevitable | Lessons Animation Taught Us – Burtonmas, day 2


So back when this meme was going around on
Twitter, I wrote this one for Jack Skellington. And then I forgot that I wrote it and now
it’s too late for anyone to appreciate it. [clicks tongue] [♪ Electronic Remix – Beetlejuice Opening Title ♪]
Pee-Wee: “You don’t wanna get
mixed up with a guy like me.” “I’m a loner.” ♪ “A rebel.” ♪
Wilbur Wonka: “Let’s see what
the damage is, shall we?” [tv switches off] Jack Skellington is the extremely flawed protagonist
of Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” He is dramatic, recklessly impulsive, often oblivious to anything
outside of his own personal turmoil, hyperfocuses on ideas and emotions, forging ahead with single-minded determination
and the absolute *best* of intentions, and hearing only what he wants to hear. Basically, there was no way my ADHD
brain ever stood a chance because… [whispers]
it me. Every year, I understand Jack’s
dilemma a little more personally. I’ve gone from merely recognizing
my own double-edged attributes and identifying with the general
sense of emptiness and longing, to really understanding the pressure
he feels from being in the spotlight. Albeit a small and largely devoted
one, but a spotlight nonetheless. I’ve always liked Jack Skellington, but I can understand why other people might not. Every trait I just mentioned can
be exhausting to deal with (especially if you’re the Sally in that situation). But regardless of how you might feel about him, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” does
teach a great lesson. Not to emulate Jack, but how to navigate two of the most
common pitfalls of being an artist: fatigue and failure. It’s Jack’s public persona we’re first introduced to: the Pumpkin King, the beloved
leader of Halloweentown, and the star of the town’s
annual holiday celebration. Everyone is thrilled by this year’s festivities, with adoring
townsfolk practically falling at Jack’s feet in awe. With the exception of Ooogie Boogie [amused]
(who is not even mentioned in
the first half of this film), there is not a single person in Halloweentown
who doesn’t love and support Jack ALMOST unconditionally. They pose no threat to him. But enough
attention of any kind can be overwhelming, and it reaches a point where
Jack is clearly uncomfortable by it. He manages to slip away and when he’s alone (at least he thinks he is), the facade is peeled back. We learn that his discomfort isn’t because he’s shy,
but because he feels the praise is unearned. [Clip]
“Nice work, Bone Daddy.” [unconvinced]
“Yeah, I guess so.” He’s been doing the same Pumpkin King
routine for as long as he can remember and it’s left him miserable and unfulfilled. He knows he can do better,
that he *has* done better, and he knows there was a time when
he was not only great but complete. [“Jack’s Lament”] [forlornly]
♪ “Oh there’s an empty place in my bones” ♪ ♪ “That calls out for
something unknown” ♪ Side-note, Jack is so achingly sincere
about his emotions it’s just gut-wrenching. Danny Elfman just wrecks me
every time with this soundtrack! [emotionally frustrated groan]
UGH! What Jack is experiencing is burnout: when you work yourself too hard
or in the same way for too long. You might still be able to produce work,
but it doesn’t bring you the same joy, and you know it’s not as good
as what you’re capable of. Jack is specifically feeling creative burnout,
but it happens in all kinds of work. And the scary thing is that it’s unavoidable, especially
for those who create for the public’s consumption– regardless of how reverent that public is. Sure, you might be able to take preventative measures
sometimes, but every artist WILL burn out eventually. Maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll only happen once, [whispers] but that’s unlikely! And no amount of fame,
success, or support can stop it. But why does Jack’s burnout even matter since he
rebounds in the very next musical number? [“What’s This?”]
♪ “What’s this?” ♪ Stumbling into Christmastown, he’s bowled over
by the glittering lights and Rankin-Bass kitschiness. Everything is bright and teeming with life and spirit,
and Jack is ecstatic and fascinated by all of it. It even makes him forget
how empty he’s been feeling. He’s happy and warm and alive, (in a manner of speaking), so that must mean his burnout is cured, right? …riiiiiiight??? Burnout *is* linked to your emotional state, but just because you’re excited about something else
doesn’t mean you can’t still be burnt out creatively. [slightly amused]
People quite often feel more
than one thing at a time. For example, in regards to Christopher Lee– [ding] I would, as you say… ‘hit that,’ [whispers intensely]
pretty much anytime in his career. But I also FEEL respectful of the fact that given he and his wife
were married for more than 50 years he probably, [falters]
definitely, absolutely would’ve turned me down. And that’s okay! [whispers]
We contain multitudes. But getting back to Jack– I think Jack’s real breakthrough isn’t until
the end of “Poor Jack” when he expresses, [“Poor Jack”]
♪ “Cause I’ve got some new ideas” ♪ ♪ “That will really make them scream” ♪ So. [clap] What do we learn from that? Well, we can be flippant and say that there isn’t
anything, that this is only happening because it’s about time we get to the third act and Jack
clearly hasn’t gone through any *real* growth. I mean, come on. Just a minute ago he expressed
the childishly dramatic desire to [“Poor Jack”]
♪ “Find a deep cave to hide in” ♪ because of his mistakes. But… isn’t that what we all want to do when we fail? And none of us are going to fail
as spectacularly as Jack does… hopefully? Jack does not face minor consequences for this. He’s nearly blown to smithereens, realizes that he’s the *villain* in the
eyes of the people he was trying to help, surrounded by the flaming debris of months
of work that ultimately came to nothing, and he’s forced to confront every
bit of humiliation and despair and hopelessness that
comes with such an experience. It’s a worse place than where he started. We’re so often told that if you
just want something enough, if you try hard enough,
that you can have it. But it’s not true. Sometimes, your best isn’t enough
and it will never BE enough. [“Poor Jack”] [sorrowfully]
♪ “Everything’s” ♪ ♪ “Gone all wrong” ♪ What do you do when the weight
of your failure crushes you? We’re told to *never* give up on anything, but there is much greater value in knowing
when that’s exactly what you should do. Sometimes, ‘try, try again’ means ‘it’s okay you failed, but it’s time to move on.’ [“Poor Jack”] [defeatedly]
♪ “Poor” ♪ ♪ “Old” ♪ ♪ “Jack” ♪ That’s what Jack learns. Jack’s burnout isn’t beaten because he
leaves the cemetery with the promise to make CHRISTMAS even better next year; it’s overcome because he knows that being a good
Sandy Claws wasn’t what he needed to do, it was just a short-term
distraction from the real problem. And that’s when Jack–invigorated by the things
he’s learned from this defeat–proclaims who he is, “That’s right!” “I AM the Pumpkin King!” and promises to go back home
and give his all to his actual job. [“Poor Jack”]
♪ “I’m really going to give it all my might!” ♪ We see that not only is it possible to
survive failure, but we see *how* to do it. Chances are, your recovery from burnout or
failure won’t be as quick and efficient as Jack’s, but no one expects that of you. No one expects you to emerge from failure
unscathed and unbothered either. The lesson that Jack embodies is that, in order to be a
better artist, we have to genuinely process our failure, which means confronting
the impact of our mistakes, feeling whatever we need to feel, examining what we’ve learned, getting up, and if it’s appropriate, doing
whatever we can to set things right. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” shows us that
creative struggle exists beyond achieving acclaim. It shows us that failure and
burnout are inescapable and if you’re not prepared for it, you might find
it impossible to recover when it does hit you. We fail time and time again, and we grow tired of
every passion, no matter how much we love it. But the film reassures us that neither of
these realities *have* to permanently destroy us. That burnout isn’t forever, new places and experiences enrich us (as long as you don’t take them too far), failures can make us better, and that the people who
question us can be invaluable. So next time you fail or burn out,
or if that’s where you’re at right now, take some time to heal and watch
Jack Skellington fail one more time. You might even find yourself with some new ideas. Thanks for watching. you

64 thoughts on “Burnout is Inevitable | Lessons Animation Taught Us – Burtonmas, day 2

  1. So you put everything I have ever felt about Jack Skellington and why I'm so drawn to him into words and it almost made me cry. Burtonmas is only two days old and it's already so quality.

  2. The Christopher Lee pin to bring the whole thirst sub plot through these videos is fantastic.

  3. I’m really digging Burtonmas so far! I know y’all must’ve done a ton of research for this but have u guys seen Maggie May Fish’s video on Tim burton? (Her channel is just her name) it has a really interesting take on the man and how he influences the works he is associated with & it articulated a lot of things I felt so wishy washy about him for, but didn’t quite know what to make of. Idk it’s really good, but mainly for the purpose of making my favorite youtubers aware of one of my other favorite youtubers (if y’all don’t already know her😊) so excited to see what y’all come out w next!

  4. This film terrified me as a child
    And it turns out more than fifteen years later …
    I can't watch any of it (even these small clips) with out feeling that childhood terror coming back

  5. I don’t care what anyone says, the Nightmare Before Christmas is a good Christmas movie. 😂

  6. I related to this video so hard… I shelved a creative project I’d been struggling with for eighteen months (burnout) and finished my first semester of college in a harder place than I thought I would be in (failure), right around the same time. So I’m trying to process what my next steps academically and creatively are so that I’m happier next semester. Thanks for making this video.

  7. The nightmare before Christmas is a very close to my heart being l've been able to identify with Jack more and more every year jumping into and out of emotions off of inspiration and new ideas and feeling like the bad guy even though I'm trying to help

  8. Bookmarking this video for when I inevitably fail at my own creative pursuits. Have a feeling I’ll rewatch this a few times, haha. Thanks for this unique interpretation of Nightmare b/f Christmas!

  9. I need to watch the film again. On Twitter around Halloween, people were discussing Jack and what he did with Christmas and parallels to cultural appropriation. Others discussed how Jack reminded them of angry nerd culture.

    I haven’t watched the film enough to comment on either but they were perspectives I hadn’t considered.

    I have listened to What’s This since I was a kid, long before I watched the movie, and it remains a favorite song.

  10. For some reason I was always more into Corpse Bride than NBC, but this definitely made me think differently about Jack's character arc (particularly what you mentioned about ADHD and creative burnout).

  11. I absolutely loved this film as a kid, and really admired Jack for, I don't really know, his singing voice and his urge for new world and freedom? But then when I grew older, I could only see the failure he experienced, and was very disappointed. Now this is a beautiful way of looking at this! Thanks for this so much 🙂

  12. This will always be my favorite movie but I haven't been able to watch the whole movie for a few years last time I was watching it I miscarried my twins

  13. Digging the earrings there (did they fuel a delicate spark of hope that you might one day do some videos about the love of my life, Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Yes, yes it did.) This was very cool and I'm pumped for the rest!

  14. Nice video please check this one how to earn having smart phone https://youtu.be/ZSTP0VeNeWk

  15. Very interesting take and an important lesson to learn! As an photographer and writer, burnout is something I'm familiar with as well. For me the trick is to not set the bar too high for yourself – it is just not sustainable to work hard on the thing and improve all the time – and to forgive yourself if you lose interest for a while. It doesn't matter, it will come back sometime, or something new will come along. It should be a joy first. Loving this series, I'm looking forward to the next ones! (Corpse bride is my favorite animation)

  16. I thought this was going to be another "here's why that cherished thing you love is problematic" video. But I was wrong and very pleasantly surprised.

  17. I like this interpretation. I sometimes forget how much I love Nightmare Before Christmas. It just generally has a good lesson that yes sometimes you're just going to fail but that's OK and you can come back from that.

  18. I have just fallen in love with your videos! They are so well made and well thought! This video was such a great look at this classic movie and I just love it!

  19. I never thought about Nightmare Before Christmas as being about burnout, but when you explained it, it made total sense! I'm definitely going to watch it again with fresh eyes. Love the Christopher Lee subplot. I watched some of his movies from the 50s for my Halloween movie marathon, and they were delightfully cheesy and wonderful. And Christopher Lee as Dracula is very sexy.

  20. So basically the movie is putting Jack into his place and telling him to stay home and not try to be a better person. Just to get married and be happy with what he has. At least that's how it always felt to me. The people in Halloween town are monsters afterall and Jack tries to stop being a monster and do something good and kind. He does it selfishly and wrong, but when he fails, he doesn't think 'oh yeah I just need to employ other people or give them better instructions since really they're the ones who fucked up and this was my first time doing it, of course it wasn't great' no he decides he can never be a good person who brings joy to people. He fucked up once, so it's not worth trying again. It's literally catastrophising and while that's relatable, the conclusion he and by extension the movie draws, is that he's right, to stop trying at all. To just accept his miserable unfulfilling life as pumpkin king.
    An even darker reading is that Halloween town is representative of Jack's misery and depression, after all it's dark and creepy and mean. So going back is, giving up getting better, it's accepting that you deserve to be miserable until you die.
    I suppose my anxiety leaves me rather unsympathetic towards a town that makes people feel afraid. Don't need that thank you. But I'm also still thinking about Maggie Fish's video on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, who has a similar reading. Different experiences may be fun for a while, but ultimately the only thing that makes you happy is conformity. Integrating into society and to stop trying to change things. Things are good the way they are, you just haven't realized it yet. Just stay in your place.
    That seems to be Tim Burton's stand on outcasts and weirdos.
    It's too bad not every alienated teenager is just feeling a little rebellious and can easily reintegrate into society once they've grown up. It's almost as if there is actually something wrong with society huh Tim.
    Fuck Halloween town.

  21. I am here in the final week of uni before winter break, completely depleted.
    I am staggered by how moved I am by this video. I truly, truly needed to hear this.

    Thank you, Sarah.

  22. I'm surprised you haven't made a video about how this movie could be an allegory for cultural appropriation. Or is that idea common knowledge at this point?

  23. 0:03

    If he;
    – Doesn't listen to your misgivings
    – Is consumed by his work
    – Makes impulsive decisions because he doesn't feel like his old bony self burnout
    – Orchestrates the kidnapping of St Nicholas

    He's not your man. He's Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King

  24. For me, TNBC is a glorious lament to Disappointment. A very grownup emotion for kids to witness early.

    Jack’s career and sense of purpose have stagnated even though others adore him.

    Sally is experiencing unrequited love for Jack, who clearly admires her but never listens to her. She truly believes they are not meant to be, but she still keeps doing sensible and kind things to support him, without being a doormat.

    The mayor is “only an elected official” who has no confidence to “make decisions by himself.”

    The doctor who created Sally brought to life an absolutely unique, compassionate, clever being… but is unsatisfied because she doesn’t want to stay and care for him willingly.

    Etc… etc… this story is peopled by adults who “should be” rationally and emotionally fulfilled, but are not.

  25. What makes Jack's emotional story so resonant and compelling is that Danny Elfman was going through a similar journey when he was writing the songs for Nightmare. Oingo Boingo was still active, but Elfman's film music career was really taking off, so he was pulled in two directions and must have been incredibly overworked in that period. Elfman was dedicated to his band, but was also burned out on it, so Jack's story is essentially his story. It's very personal. He put a lot of himself into Jack, and that comes through especially in Jack's Lament and Poor Jack.

    Side note, I've seen him perform it live twice, and my god he's an incredible performer. That voice. I don't understand why Elfman isn't more acclaimed as a vocalist; he's got range, power, precision, and deep emotion. Ken Page also absolutely kills it as Oogie Boogie – he practically doesn't need a microphone.

  26. I love this. I've seen a lot of different lenses of critique applied to this movie, and this is a new one- and reminds me of why I did feel so deeply for Jack, and like the movie despite its flaws. Even if what he did was terrible – like you said, he became the villain of Christmas – he realizes his own strengths, moves back into his lane, and can do something better. Failure and burnout are inevitable, but you can learn from them, and make it through them. Thanks for that message.
    As an ADD creative person, who can easily go off on tangents, and be burnt out by my day job or a certain project, I relate sooo mucchhhh. And this past year, I've been picking up a lot of old projects or hobbies again, with new vigor, and it's been pretty cool. It's definitely not as dramatic as Jack's failure and rebound, but it's a real feeling, and I hope anyone reading this can take some solace in the fact that I was able to take up old failures and burnt-out ideas, and come back to them renewed. If my derp self can do it, so can you. <3

  27. So, Burton basicly wrote a story about his future self?
    An artist that feels stuck in his own nish tries to 'steal christmas' (make remakes), is shot down by his audience but still gets a gift from 'Santa' (Disney).

  28. …Holy crap Jack has ADHD

    LIKE, HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT

    IS THAT PART OF WHY I'VE ALWAYS LOVED THIS MOVIE SO MUCH

  29. My husband always described Sally’s affection for Jack as “fangirl” but I never considered that she is in fact the only one in halloweentown who questions him, who tries to advise in a constructive way and is actually looking in his best interest- he just doesn’t realise that because he was so headstrong in pursuing what he wanted then when he was shot down he realised he needed “to set things right”

  30. 4:32 "I would as you say 'hit that'." Exactly what I'm thinking when watching your videos.

  31. It occurs to me that both this and Edward scissorhands have the message that we're better off when we stay in our place and don't try to disrupt things… Do you think that's accurate or that at there are similar ideas in other films of his?

  32. Awww — some positive Burton stuff! As someone who's suffered burnout before with my writing, I can definitely identify with Jack's struggle. Sometimes, you just get SICK of the stuff you love. Using him as an example of bad and good ways to deal with burnout is pretty awesome — and gets you some fun musical numbers in the bargain. :p

  33. I feel the exact same way about Sir Ian McKellan. The duplicity of man. This is a good analysis, I'd never thought of it that way, and this has been my favourite movie my entire life.

  34. I am of the unpopular opinion that Nightmare Before Christmas is overrated. Oogy Boogie adds NOTHING to the story, his inclusion is entirely pointless. Jack and Sally's relationship was not very well established, they hardly have any direct interaction with each other and half the time Sally is on screen is spent trying to escape from/pull one over on the Doctor. The message of the film unintentionally comes off as "know your place, trying to do something new will backfire horribly".

  35. Just hit burnout from work and school. Taking a step back, and thank you so, so very much for validating that decision

  36. When i failed last time? or next time? probably the current failure, oh by the way my name is Christopher Lee.

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