Tim Burton was born and raised in Burbank, California.

The (Oppressive) American Dream

He grew up in a cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood filled with picket-fence Protestants. Conformity was expected and praised in his childhood home. And Burton was not impressed.

Nobody did anything. No one would ever say he was an atheist, they’d say they were Protestants. You’d never do anything to reveal yourself.1

Burton’s parents weren’t dedicated Christians despite their church attendance, and their insincerity added to Burton’s distaste of his childhood home.

I remember being forced to go to Sunday school for a number of years, even though my parents were not religious. No one was really religious; it was just the framework. There was no passion for it. No passion for anything. Just a quiet, kind of floaty, kind of semioppressive, blank palette that you’re living in.2

The only influence this WASP-y background had on him was to turn him away from it. He doesn’t speak much of religion or spirituality in his adulthood. But, the fantastic worlds in which his movies take place suggest a love of the supernatural, even if not a belief in it.

He received some backlash from the conservative Christian community for his movie Corpse Bride. One site had this scathing warning for any parents who might show the film to their children:

[The movie has a] very strong, mixed pagan worldview with strong occult content where dead beings walk the earth, and spells are conducted, and . . . earthly life is better than eternal life, as well as very strong anti-biblical message with a mean priest.3

Tim Burton joins many of his Hollywood colleagues in support of the Democratic party and the Obama administration. Burton even helped throw an Alice In Wonderland-themed Halloween party at the White House.4

Like his religion, he doesn’t talk too much about his politics, so it’s tough to know what he thinks about particular issues. But he does seem to be a little disenchanted with the current political landscape. In response to the oft-repeated phrase, “traditional family values,” a common theme of the Republican party, Burton appears disgusted.

[I]t’s completely frightening, because they don’t understand. . . . America to me always seems like a country that’s based on a movie. Here you’ve got presidents spouting lines from Clint Eastwood movies, and it’s getting more and more that way. . . . This level of success that’s thrust upon you – you’ve got to be successful, and you’ve got to be a certain way – nobody is what they are, because of this dream. And it’s great to have a dream, and none of that should be taken away from people, because that’s all people have, but not this materialistic dream. That’s the problem, and everybody is fucked up from it.5

Tim Burton’s childhood, by being the antithesis of a supportive environment for a creative little boy, helped foster this director’s love of the grotesque and fantastic–and his rejection of mainstream religion and politics. Unless, of course, it’s Halloween at the White House.

  1. The religion of director Tim Burton. Adherents. []
  2. Tim Burton: The Rolling Stone Interview. The Tim Burton Collective. []
  3. TIM BURTON’S CORPSE BRIDE. Movie Guide. []
  4. Obama’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ White House Party With Tim Burton.Huffington Post. []
  5. Tim Burton: The Rolling Stone Interview. The Tim Burton Collective. []