WARNING: contains spoilers.
Last evening we saw Pixar’s latest offering of WALL.E at our local movie theatre. I had little idea what was about to play itself out on the screen before me. As the movie started, I sat in spellbound dismay at the unfortunate coincidences shown to our present-day situation here on Planet Earth. The movie takes place 700 hundred years in the future, and depicts a post-industrial Earth abandoned by humans and covered with garbage where robots are cleaning up the mess. A lone renegade robot, WALL.E, which stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth-Class, has been hoarding some leftover artifacts from what we know as modern-day Earth in a metal “bunker”. WALL-E is shown to be a conscientious robot with feelings who is affected by signs of human emotion, as he repeatedly watches movie scenes from yesteryear on a VHS tape showing humans dancing, singing, and professing their love to one another.
WALL-E also discovers another robot unlike himself, Eve, who is sent from outer space from her mother ship to search for remaining signs of life on Earth. As WALL-E attempts to connect with Eve, he is drawn into her world and eventually makes his way onto the ship (The Axiom) where he learns that humans still exist – and in a condition that is a far-cry from what he has seen from old media images in his collection back on Earth. Humans hover around day in and day out on the ship in chairs, zipping here and there, sipping their liquid meals out of “cans”, and receive constant input from media screens positioned both in front of their faces and suspended in the air. They are fat and cannot walk, and are living out their existence to be pleasured and entertained at all times. Their children sit all day and watch screens “teaching” them the alphabet and other “useful” education material. When humans want to “get away from it all”, they retire to the pool where they do more sitting in their hover-chairs and watch the water (they don’t swim). Truth be told, if they did actually attempt to swim, they’d probably all have heart failure due to their sedentary lifestyles.
Existence on The Axiom is completely engineered in a “permanent cruise” environment, where life is like a 24-hour mall constantly bombarding its inhabitants with opportunities to spend money and improve life with some material acquisition or activity. The average intelligence level of humans is shown by their capricious nature in flitting off at the drop of a hat to follow the newest trend or fad of the minute. As an example, an enthusiastic, computer-generated female voice ushers a command to “try blue, it’s the new red!”. Instantly, all ship civilians push a button on his or her console…and just like magic, everyone’s red onesies are instantly transformed to blue. Smiles come over everyone’s faces as they show their gratification of being “fulfilled”, at least for a few minutes.
What I was asking myself all during this movie was, “How is this much different than the way we live our lives now?” This illustrates perfectly the uni-mind mentality of those who become sucked into the web of media messages from television, video games, cell phones, movies, and other sources which are a part of our everyday reality here in current-day Planet Earth. As our intellect levels disintegrate, our consuming nature takes over everything we do each and every day, and our planet becomes more and more filled with garbage and waste. We are too busy to prepare healthy meals, so we purchase packaged, convenience foods which provide little to no nutrition. After work and obligations are completed, we are too tired to exercise and engage with real people so we flop down in front of the television or video game and spend hours allowing our minds to escape into some alternative reality that bears no resemblance to real life. We spend our “spare” time in movie theatres, shopping malls, and in front of computer screens while neglecting the relationships with others and beauty of nature and outdoor life.
So obsessed are we with technology, products, and activities that allow us to become more absorbed in this lifestyle, we forget why we are here. Are we here to hoard and acquire and become fatter from eating engineered materials that taste good but fill up our bodies with toxic chemicals? Dear God, I sincerely hope not. But that is what humanity has been reduced to, and it is shocking and sad. Our existences are nothing like our ancestors who had to work hard each and everyday to make clothes and put meals on the tables for their families, make sure farm animals were fed and cared for, and who sat together at meal times and gave thanks for the few important things they had.
Some of us lament that we don’t have enough, but the fact is, we have so much and it means nothing to us. All we can think about is having more and more. In the United States, the average person living in poverty today still has more than many poor people throughout history. But by today’s standard of living, still, it’s not enough. What do people believe they need to make themselves happy? A bigger car, a bigger house? More clothes, more furniture? And when people get those things, does it make them happy?
When you take a look around you at the life you have created for yourself, stop and think: really think. Is this the kind of future we want for ourselves and our children, or do we want something better? Are you making an effort to live more naturally and be concerned with things that really are important? Or are you wrapped up in a life synthetic?
WALL-E should not be viewed by the conservative set as a piece of propaganda by liberals to brainwash against capitalism or annoy with environmental-mongering expressions. No, WALL-E is tender and its sentiments are profoundly and pervasively filled with love, hope, and responsibility – all of the things the conservative right claims are of the utmost importance. This poignant film urges us to think for ourselves and not allow our decisions to be swayed by media influence; to not become passively dependent upon things and conventions that will really never bring us happiness or health. It is my hope that this movie will help some people understand what we have lost from our consuming behavior, how we can change, and make our future different and brighter than the ideas we see from the minds of futuristic storytellers such as Pixar’s writer-director Andrew Stanton.