by cameron huntley
Hopefully, by now, everyone and their mom has seen Andrew Stanton’s Wall-E (2008) (you know, that Pixar movie about the hoarding little robot who is more human than the rest of us?) Some of you probably noticed that there is something a little creepy about Wall-E. I know it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what that something is, but it probably has to do with the fact that the film is a POST-APOCALYPTIC, HORROR MASTERPIECE. Ok, maybe Wall-E doesn’t have a built-in M1 and I don’t remember him slashing anyone up with a lawn mower blade, but what’s horrific about this movie is the way it presents the future, preying precisely on our innate, psychological fears regarding our planet, our power, and our human weaknesses.
#3. The Earth Has Gone to Shit
The first 20-or-so minutes of Wall-E are both a parody of a silent comedy and a disturbing prediction of the future environment of Earth. (Get used to these disturbing predictions.) Apparently there has been some sort of environmental disaster. The atmosphere is dusty and bleak. Giant trash spires — which you have to admire for their efficiency — have replaced and greatly outnumbered the monolithic skyscrapers of our own age. There is no life, except for a leaf and a cockroach, the latter of which shouldn’t be too surprising. Even the sepia tone and shot composition that Stanton employs here borrow from other post-apocalyptic films; an orange, dull tone, with lighter-than-black blacks and generally more empty space than not. Only one robot still works: Wall-E doomed to his Sisyphean task of building more trash spires. (Because they’re so cool, right?) When he’s not on the job, Wall-E wanders the earth, essentially cannibalizing similar robots, i.e. looting them for parts to sustain his own life. Nothing is built to last, nothing.
“Hey Kids, I’m damned for all eternity. Cute, right?”
#2: Robots Are in Charge (And We Don’t Even Know)
We humans love our power, don’t we? That’s why, after we put all our remaining humans in a giant spaceship, we handed over complete power over to the evil robot from 2001: A Space Odyssey (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1968). Wait, what? Ok, it’s not exactly the same computer, but still.
“I’m digging your grave, Dave.”
That’s right: this robot, Otto the Autopilot, controls the direction of the entire human race. Literally. In 2001, it was just a few people, but now it’s all of us. Damn it.
What’s more, robots are developing feelings. Wall-E himself isn’t the only one beginning to turn faulty programming into a robust (pardon the pun) personality. Remember that little one who can’t decide whether to stay on the required path or get off it and do his ‘objective?’ He is but one of many. And these aren’t even basic greed or bloodlust feelings typical of robots in horror movies; these are complex, deep emotions that are even difficult for real people to describe. The creepiest sentiment, besides robot love (ew!), is Wall-E’s discontent with the status quo on Earth at the beginning of the film. Wall-E is ostensibly looking for something that we all are. Meaning. This is a classic case of existential angst. (But it’s a robot!) We don’t know why this is happening. But it doesn’t seem like the robots were programmed to feel. Maybe at a certain level, extensive programming morphs into intelligence upon the realization of an infinite number of possible actions, with the additional drive to still choose one of them. (Figure it out, you lazy scientists!)
Wall-E’s love interest, Eve, too falls in line with the pace Wall-E sets at developing emotions. And after his super lame attempts of courting her, she succumbs to his roguish charms. This can only mean one thing: IT’S SPREADING! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
#1 The Future of the Human Race is an Affirmative Answer to our Current Anxieties
Ok, you begin to ask, so maybe everything else is pretty messed up in the future, but the people are still fine right, I mean, they are alive aren’t they? Yes, reader, they are alive, but to quote my great uncle Reginald Archibald Marigold Huntley: “Shut up and let me finish, you damn kids!” This is what we all look like in the future:
Future-breakfast is a cup full of hickory-smoked horse buttholes
In the future, (1) we are OBESE. We have evolved to mostly fat, with a little muscle and barely any bone structure, and can barely move (toe wiggling is indeed moving according to top scientists.) (2) We are PAMPERED, everything is taken care of by machines. There is no manual labor. (Yay?) Food, movement, and poolside games are all automated. (3) All SPIRITUALITY HAS BEEN REPLACED by a monopolistic corporation called Buy N’ Large, which provides everything from food to instant fashion trends and is “your very best friend.” (4) It’s just as we thought, we are all SCREEN OBSESSED in the future. (Even more than we are now? Yep.) People are so immersed in video chatting and their computer screens that they rarely make eye contact, apart from the kind where a camera is the middleman.
If you were thinking that these are all concerns that we, at least some of us, have now, then you win a medal. (Oh we can’t give medals out anymore for legal reasons? Never mind.) But you’re right, this future projection of the human race is totally capitalizing on our current fears as we advance into a post-post-industrial, techno age. That is what is so deeply unsettling about Wall-E and what makes it so obscenely interesting at the same time.
I think the lesson is that even if we do turn into a race of fat turds, we can depend on little quirky robots to think and feel for us. Hell, that even sounds kind of appealing. Bring on the cupped meals!
At least we will eventually put all our prejudices aside. Kind of.
- truthcinema posted this