The irony of WALL-E

Ever since I saw the first WALL-E teasers and trailers online months ago, I’ve been dying to see the movie.

I suppose that’s effective marketing, and I fell for it.

Once the initial “awwwww, how cute” factor was established (the robot WALL-E is an adorable cross between Spielberg’s ET and Short Circuit‘s Johnny 5, with a vague twist of Woody Allen), the movie’s bigger concept pulled me in.

The Pixar film gives a subversive yet playful look at what we’re doing to ourselves and our planet. Issues of sustainability, environmentalism, consumerism and humanity in general are illustrated in a thoughtful and humorous way.

*** WARNING: May contain spoilers ****

Through rampant consumerism (fueled by the WalMart-esque mega-corporation Buy N Large), humans have trashed the Earth to the point of it being uninhabitable. The Earth has been evacuated to make room for an army of WALL-E robots programmed to clean up the Earth. Probes periodically visit Earth searching for signs of life.

Our leaders originally expected it to take about five years for the Earth to once again sustain life, at which time the planet would be re-colonized. As the story goes, innumerable generations of humans have lived on cruiseship-like space stations for seven hundred years.  What was spun to be viewed as a vacation of sorts has turned to a lifestyle in itself.

During their time away, humans have been bombarded by BuyNLarge’s aggressive branding and robbed of physical activity and real personal interaction. As a result, humans have gradually become morbidly obese lumps in flying wheelchairs, devoid of all creativity and motivation. In short, humanity has lost all its humanity.

The film perfectly and cleverly illustrates America’s love affair with uncontrolled consumption, and our destruction of the planet with tons of disposable plastic crap. The film’s message is clear: we are responsible for turning the Earth into a giant rotating landfill. We need to rein ourselves in and regain our humanity.  As the captain of the Axiom (the space station) says in the film, “I don’t want to survive! I want to live!”

The tongue-in-cheek website for the fictitious BuyNLarge corporation has a scary, Big Brother feel to it. There is an exquisite irony in the products sold in the BNL Store, such as t-shirts, hats and coffee mugs all with the BuyNLarge logo. It’s difficult to tell if these products are being sold in earnest, or with intentional irony. Furthermore, the Disney-Pixar officially licensed products machine has gone into overdrive, releasing WALL-E kids’ books and lunchboxes and action figures and video games and plush dolls…

I wondered how and why a major studio would release a film that so sharply criticizes consumerism, which the movie-marketing machine so desperately depends on. I guess they just take an attitude of “Business as usual, and hope nobody catches on… and if they do, hope they think it’s intentionally ironic.”

Anyway, I loved the movie, for what it’s worth.

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1 Comment

Filed under frugal, Uncategorized

One response to “The irony of WALL-E

  1. Wall-E totally looks like the robot from “Short Circuit”… minus the cheesy 80’s style of course

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