The movie WALL-E is an animated story about a robot named WALL-E who is endowed with irrational feeling despite its programmed nature. The robot falls in love with another advanced robot called EVE regardless the impossibility of robotic love. The story, therefore, uncovers the eternal confrontation between science and nature, reason and emotion, consumerism and environmentalism.
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More importantly, the film focuses on the current trends in consumption, as well as degradation of humans who are confined to ‘programmed’ means of existence. The protagonist of the story is a robot that should clean up the Earth after it was abandoned by humans.
One the one hand, the story is a science-fiction environmentalist film; on the other hand, the picture is a dystopian narrative revealing the consequences of consumerist culture developed at the present times.
Despite the initial messages that the director intended to deliver, the film can also be recognized as an environmental precautionary tale about the negative consequences of consumption habits of humans. The author focuses on environmental pollution and obesity problems as the leading ones in posing threats to the future of our planet.
In particular, Howey argues, “WALL-E…is implicated within its own critique; its science-fiction conventions…raise questions about the way humans are “programmed” through education and consumer directives” (45). Moreover, the movie also embraces such important topics as ecological situation and attitude of younger viewers to the current environmental situation.
The dystopian narrative and genre of the film underlines these topics and provides both a fiction and realistic account for what might happen to humanity in the nearest future. In addition, genre conventions, along with the rules of science fiction, promote the engagement of the movie with the issues of programming and consumption.
In particular, the contemporary concerns with garbage disposal are highlighted to create a vivid image of the world future.
To emphasize the consumption patterns of the contemporary society, the movie refers to two types of consumerism. The first one – the consumption of object – results in towers of garbage that human left on Earth.
The second type – the consumption of narratives – is also represented in the movie, particularly in the scene when WALL-E watches Hello Dolly! and interprets the acts. As a result, the director relies to the cultural and social issues of youth, as well as compares current consumers with robotic creatures who are under the influence of media culture and programming.
Although the movie is oriented on youth audience, it still explores such urgent issues as garboard disposal, consumerism, and obesity problems. In this respect, Poore considers the movie as an interpretation of a new reality, the Semantic Web that contains piles of unnecessary information distorting the real world.
By creating the new semantic environments, humans become dependent on machines that are able to navigate the world. In addition, Poore argues, “A critical approach to ontology could take some of the same pathways that critical GIS has taken…but a most effective direction would be to combine ontologies with an examination of the local practices of users as they struggle with the technology” (116).
To enlarge on this issue, humans can also be represented as passive users who are confined to the existing patterns of consumption and who are reluctant to follow new lifestyles that could save the planet.
At the end of the movie, the robots call humans for action and make them believe that the Earth should be rescued from the technological expansion, despite the fact that they are representative of technological progress. Both active humans and machines start working on the Earth’s natural and environmental restoration.
The dystopian features of the movie are also highlighted in the way the directors describes the information realm within robots are working. Humans, therefore, have become too dependent on the information space introduced by the World Wide Web.
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In the story, the director emphasizes the virtual expansion, as well as its consequences for humans. Despite the criticism of technological progress, the movie proves that the world can be saved in case both the machines and humans are involved in collaborative work.
The movie is not only a representation of confrontation between human and machines, but an attempt to demonstrate humans that they can also become part of the computerized system. In this respect, the director describes WALL-E as the robot that is endowed with human characteristics.
He is capable of love and compassion and, therefore, he feels extreme anxiety about the future of the planet. In this respect, it is logical that the hero is described as a “intellectual, emotional, or spiritual” being (Beck 92).
The focus on psychological characteristics provides a sufficient explanation for outcomes of human-machine interaction. In the movie, “people are there as a sub-plot, a secondary issue that reflects the dangers of some machines and the generosity and benevolence of our heroes” (Beck 92).
Their aspirations and goals are not oriented on preserving the nature and environment. Lack of awareness of the ecological disaster makes them passive participants in the rescuing activities.
Apart from environmentalist and consumerist issues, the story reveals the themes of loneliness of the protagonist who has to perform his job regardless of his personal goals and aspirations. WALL-E strives to make sense of his actions and escape from solitary existence.
In this respect, Bakes accentuates, “this little robot has the desire to understand what living is all about while people who truly have the gift of being alive have lost it” (93). Humans gave up saving the environment because of the prevalence of commercialism and consumerism dictating future behavioral patterns.
More importantly, the movie emphasizes the inevitability of the destruction until humans become more aware of the consequences of their passive existence. In addition, lack of dialogues makes the movie more focused on the passiveness and reluctance of the humanity to introduce changes.
In conclusion, the movie WALL-E exposes dystopian trends of the contemporary society that is engaged into the technological and scientific progress. In particular, the picture incorporates consumerist and environmentalist issues and compares humans with programmed being who are under the influence of consumption culture.
Within this context, the director refers to the machines as to humanized creatures that are still fighting for the welfare of the Earth. Although the movie presents a science-fiction story, it still calls people for actions to preserve the planet for future generation and contribute to the development of new trends of technological and scientific development.
In particular, both machines and humans should fight for the recovery of the Earth from ecological and social destruction. Society, therefore, should get rid of consumerist patterns and become more aware of the consequences of their stereotypic thinking.
Baker, Frank. W. “The Future According To Pixar: A Wall-E Study Guide”. Screen Education, 51 (2008): 92-97. Web. EBSCOhost.
Beck, Bernard. “Don’t Make Me Laugh: People Are Funny In WALL-E and Tropic Thunder.” Multicultural Perspectives 11.2 (2009): 90-93. Web. EBSCOhost.
Howey, Ann. “Going Beyond Our Directive: Wall-E and the Limits of Social Commentary.” Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures 2.1 (2010): 45-70. Web. EBSCOhost.
Poore, Barbara S. “WALL-E and the “Many, Many” Maps: Toward User-Centred Ontologies For The National Map.” Cartographica 45.2 (2010): 113-120. Web. EBSCOhost.