Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Welcome to your post-apocalypse
So I finally saw the movie wall-E. And I've been thinking about how it fits in the lexicon of children's film and fiction. Which it so doesn't. I mean...stripped down, this is a movie about garbage, dystopia and solitude. Everything potentially familiar to children like cities, roads, houses, humans, and toys have disappeared, been covered with waste, or converted into square garbage-based-building-blocks. There is no greenery anywhere and it's pretty heavy-handedly explained that the familiar world has been destroyed by short-sighted human consumption. Human beings, meanwhile, have turned into amorphous, futuristic-wheelless-chair-bound, disconnected blobs living on a space outpost. They perpetually use Facebook and shop using the digital screens attached to their wheelfree-chairs. And drink Big Gulps. Human babies live in incubators tended to by robots. Only wall-E displays anything like a familiar "humanity" or a childlike interest in the world around him. If this were not animated, it would be the bleakest, grossest, saddest movie of the year. wall-E lives in a battered bunker, his playthings are beloved, muck-covered cast-offs, and he comforts himself by singing along to grainy videos of Hello Dolly and cuddling his pet cockroach. Then he goes to space and uncovers a plot to keep the blobs away from earth forever because the garbage problem is unsolvable. And he finds love. With another robot. Who is 800 years younger than him. So, as plots go, you know, GLARGH! When I was growing up, I remember my first glimpses of dystopian society: Logan's Run. Planet of the Apes. Westworld. What strikes me is that I was frequently drawn to dystopian film and literature because it was so completely opposite from my own childhood. The order and straightforwardness of my world made these films ludicrous and therefore enjoyable. Although my family believed in a pending religious apocalypse, it was clear there wasn't much concrete about that. Jesus rising in the East like the sun? 1000 years of war? 2 years of food will keep us safe? Oh...kay. I wonder what my kids think about this movie. It's almost impossible to chat with them about the grimmer aspects, and they both think wall-E is cute. Which he is. Scarred little freak. What do you think? Is wall-E part of the Soilent Green lexicon, or more Bugs Life? Did you see it? Did you like it?