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Steamboat Mouse Animation ([personal profile] steamboatmouse) wrote2009-08-23 10:36 pm

on Pixar's WALL-E

THE fact that Wall-E has taken the Oscar for best animated feature probably isn't too surprising for most people, even if you aren't a huge animation aficionado. It's no easy task to get your audience interested in an inorganic box of metal, and to grow sympathy for him at the same time. But Pixar has yet to disappoint us after nearly fifteen years, and they've certainly escalated to new heights making us think that this metal box is, simply, adorable.

What intrigued me most, though, was beyond this cute robot named Wall-E and his determination to stay with Eve. What I find even more intriguing is that no person brings this subject up when I'm talking about Wall-E with them: the fact that humans have completely trashed the Earth and must now live in a spaceship where they don't even notice their own surroundings.

It's a bit of a foreboding message, and certainly one under much heated discussion these days. The film starts with a pan past the satellites cluttered around the Earth and swoops into a dusty brown landscape, showing a result that may not be too far from our own future. There are more buildings made of trash than actual buildings left standing, and, of course, cockroaches remain superior.

But exactly what caused the Earth to turn into this barren dustbowl is probably why many viewers are focusing more on Wall-E and less on the scenery. It's never directly said, but the presence of the mega-corporation called Buy 'n Large is difficult to ignore. We see quite a lot of it in the film, from the huge store left standing on Earth, to the glowing ad structured on the moon, to how children on the spaceship are being taught their ABCs using words that only relate to BnL. Everything revolves around the company, and from its name, it's safe to say that their policy is to make things big and sell in large bulk for an extra-low price.

It's a bit uncomfortable because many large corporations in our modern day share this policy, and many of us have participated in it. Consumerism and mass production is a right we have, but its effects are starting to catch up to us. Cheap means easily disposable, but not everything that gets thrown away can just disappear.

With selling lots for as little as possible, you also have monopolies, and Buy 'n Large is definitely the only business left in this future world. Some may think that a single company poses no danger, but that single dominating company possesses quite a lot of power, to the point of brainwashing. They set the trends and there's no alternative to say otherwise and give some variety. It's not too surprising to see that all the remaining humans on the ship are wearing the exact same outfit.

There is where we get to the second critical point. Wall-E knocks off a woman's screen by accident, and only when that's gone does she notice all the lights and displays around her. She sees a pool and the outside stars for the first time now that she's no longer fixated on talking to a screen. This could certainly point out how we're spending an awful lot of time on technology these days, but I think it goes much deeper than that. In the film's world, technology makes all the decisions. The cleverly-named Auto-Pilot takes on most of the Captain's responsibilities, until the Captain finally makes the decision to do what he thinks is right, not what the technology thinks is right. Perhaps it's ironic that it takes an inhuman object to make the humans realize this, though Wall-E's desires are much simpler than those of the newer robots.

Of course, these implications on what we could become are a bit shocking, especially for seeing them in what appears to be an animated film. It does question our way of life. Still, it's a message that we can't ignore forever, and there's no guarantee that a spaceship will take us away from all our problems. But, there is still hope. A small green sprig has lived through it all, so perhaps there will always be a chance to make things right again.

Thus, the message: only our honest, human decisions in what we do will determine the future of the Earth. And a cute little robot can be a big help, too.