My husband, being generally more optimistic than I, really wanted to believe that the preachiness of Wall*E would be trumped by the general cuteness and maverick goodtimesness that Pixar is known for. His disappointment was palpable as we left the drive-in, the few initial moments of pensive silence gave way to a stunned disbelief and, eventually, an angry and disappointed rant against all that was bad about the movie.
There was much cuteness. Much adorableness. Much creativity. But what little sugar glaze was there got lost under all of the relentless message-giving. Like Oprah before them, it seems that perhaps Pixar has mistaken their relevance as entertainers for a relevance of a different kind. Like Oprah before them, people enjoyed what they had to say on a topic, and they mistook that enjoyment as a demand for a message. A demand that just isn’t there.
What bothers me most about the message isn’t even what I thought would bother me. Environmentalist doom-saying? Nah. Fat people are lazy? Nah. I’d been warned about and expected both of those. What I didn’t see coming in advance was the Big Corporate Villain. A thinly-veiled substitute for Wal-Mart, the Blocky-letter, red and blue logo of Buy And Large is splashed over everything. We learn that the corporate policies of Buy and Large have led mankind into a slothful disregard for everything around them. In and of itself the story has nothing new on other dystopian future pieces–they’ve cribbed everything from Brave New World to Planet Of The Apes and, of course, I, Robot.
What gets me, what has me seething, is the unmitigated gall of their hypocrisy.
This picture is put out by Disney. Who, as much as I love them, is the very definition of “Corporate Behemoth.” But even worse is the ancient redwood log in Pixar’s eye. Because while they can piss and moan about how Buy and Large ruined the world….
You can rest assured that Wal Mart has all of the Wall * E Merchandise you could want.
As does everyplace else. Wall*E books, toys, video games, lunch boxes. You can even get your own Wall E Robot.
Merchandising will kill us all–but please, before you hop into your one-way handbasket to the heated underworld, won’t you buy some assorted Wall*E Memorabilia?
In the final and most ironic twist there was one sole piece of merchandise from the movie that I would have purchased. And I can’t find it anywhere. The item? The plant in an old shoe.
I guess I’m not the only one who feels this way:
All this from mega-company Disney, who wants us to buy WALL-E kitsch for our kids…
Much to Disney’s chagrin, I will do my part to avoid future environmental armageddon by boycotting any and all WALL-E merchandise and I hope others join my crusade.
How paying customers will react to being told they’re porky slobs, or are headed in that direction (WALL-E is set 800 years in the future) will depend on how closely the people in the audience ignore the people on screen and concentrate on WALL-E and Eve.