- Post-apocalyptic wasteland
- Consumerism run amok in a world ran by a corporation
- dull color palette and virtually no dialog for the first half hour
Sounds like the spawn of Children of Men and Mad Max. But certainly not the stuff of a Pixar film for children.
Surprisingly, it works. Like Pixar has done over the last few years, they've proven that they can combine the most incredible animation around with real stories and real messages and both adults and children will get something out of it.
Wall-E follows a small robot, named Wall-E, on an abandoned earth overrun with consumer waste. His job is to clean up, compact, and make some kind of order out of it. His only companion, a cockroach. Everywhere are the signs of the government/corporation B-n-L (Buy and Large, which, amusingly, has its own website) which runs Earth. Similarities to Wal-Mart are coincidental. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.
All humans are now located on a cruise ship in space and have been for 700 years. They are awaiting the opportunity to re-colonize earth after it becomes habitable again. Their lives are spent consuming, watching advertising and not lifting their fingers to do anything.
Fred Willard, in a turn as CEO/President of BnL/Earth at the time that the humans leave Earth, is amusing in his role as the captain of a sinking ship, even exclaiming "Stay the course". Similarities to George Bush are coincidental. Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge.
I won't ruin the movie by giving the plot, but suffice to say there is a love interest for Wall-E and their is a mission for him to save both himself and, hopefully the human race. Grade: A
As often happens in my life, subject matter always seems to come in bunches. A couple days earlier, I had just watched the great documentary, The Corporation.
It explains the early beginnings of the corporation, an entity largely created for the common good. And the subsequent perversion of it and granting of "person" status by our courts. A person entitled to many protections but without the obligations that normal people have. A FBI expert on psychopaths analyzes the various things that describe a psychopath and how they eerily mirror what a corporation does:
- callous unconcern for the feelings of others
- incapacity to maintain enduring relationships
- reckless disregard for the safety of others
- deceitfulness (repeated lying to and deceiving of others for profit)
- incapacity to experience guilt
- failure to conform to the social norms with respect to lawful behaviors
There are a bunch of great interviews with people like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Howard Zinn but, by far, the most damning evidence of what is wrong with corporations are by the very people that try to protect their existence, Milton Friedman and the heads of several conservative think tanks. They freely admit that the corporation should have no responsibility beyond making a profit.
Lastly, I want to mention a couple of great articles on the glorification of consumerism that I recently read:
Dedicated to the Pursuit of ‘Stuff’ by Michael T. Dolan
... We’ve been duped and deceived by the culture of capitalism. Through sheer greed and an arrogant sense of entitlement, we think we should have as much stuff as we want. Not only do we feel entitled to it, but even sadder, we feel it is essential to our happiness ...
... That stimulus check from the Treasury is like the dime glued into the mailer from a charity organization trying to guilt us into sending them some money right back. Here’s a grand or two; do your patriotic duty and install that home theater system ...
The Gospel of Consumption by Jeffrey Kaplan
... concern that led Charles Kettering, director of General Motors Research, to write a 1929 magazine article called “Keep the Consumer Dissatisfied.” He wasn’t suggesting that manufacturers produce shoddy products. Along with many of his corporate cohorts, he was defining a strategic shift for American industry-from fulfilling basic human needs to creating new ones.
“... By advertising and other promotional devices . . . a measurable pull on production has been created which releases capital otherwise tied up.” They celebrated the conceptual breakthrough: “Economically we have a boundless field before us; that there are new wants which will make way endlessly for newer wants, as fast as they are satisfied.”
... If we want to save the Earth, we must also save ourselves from ourselves. We can start by sharing the work and the wealth. We may just find that there is plenty of both to go around.
"The two big mistakes were the belief in a sky god -- that there's a man in the sky with 10 things he doesn't want you to do and you'll burn for a long time if you do them -- and private property, which I think is at the core of our failure as a species." -- George Carlin in NPR interview