Wall E is not Walt D

One of the most important qualities Walt Disney’s movies,television programs, and theme parks imparted to me as a child, and to children everywhere, was a feeling of reassurance. I’m referring to the works of Walt Disney himself when he was alive, and of his studio the first few years after his death.

Even if the story is about things going wrong in one character’s life, it is clear that there is a larger world out there of sensible people and a system and world that makes sense, that there is something called normalcy, and the goal of the characters is to get back to normalcy or better, to improve their lives and live happily ever after.

The Banks family in Mary Poppins is at first somewhat unhappy, but there is hope and magical delight in the world outside, and there is a policeman and there are friendly neighbors who bring runaway children home. The home of (1961’s)101 Dalmations’ owners is a happy, sane, home, and once the dalmations fight off the bad guys, they return to a state of eccentric yet happy normalcy. The world is expected to be filled with reasonable people who can get along and solve problems.

Even the satirical post-Walt movie The Barefoot Executive indicates that the larger world may be a little silly, but still okay at its core.

To a child, the sense of a system and society that is dependable and rational is extremely important to his feeling secure and optimistic, to his feeling free and motivated to learn and grow and become ambitious within that society.

The new Disney-Pixar movie Wall E is not at all in the spirit of Walt Disney’s movies. The characters of Wall E, Eve and The Captain are Disney-esque and very charming and funny. But the universe they inhabit is the opposite of Walt’s universe.

We are expected to believe and accept that in the future human beings (A) allowed a corporate monopoly to replace the U.S. Constitution (and all other governments) and become a dictator and (B) that no one noticed a problem with garbage disposal until it got so bad, the entire species had to leave the planet. In this dystopian vision of the future, the technology to build extraordinary robots and a spaceship that holds and takes care of the needs of the entire human population exists, but not the technology to get rid of garbage and plant trees or grass. Human beings are intelligent yet immensely moronic simultaneously.

Above all, the problem with this film — and the fact that busy parents, or their child care providers,will one day buy the DVD and play it over and over for their children without watching it —is the message that the universe makes no sense and the future is dark and adults are incapable of dealing with their problems until long past catastrophe. This is not a reassuring message to children who love life and can’t wait to grow up and flourish. It is harmful.

As my 5-year-old son said, “That’s a Garbage Planet. That’s not Earth. Why are they calling it Earth?” He understands that Earth makes sense. People are rational beings.

I explained it’s a make-believe silly story abou tEarth in the future where, as my wife said, “people become stupid” and can’t get rid of garbage. I reassured him and his sister that it’s ridiculous and that this is not going to happen in real life.

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4 thoughts on “Wall E is not Walt D

  1. Artifex

    Exactly right! For all the visual beauty and charm of Wall-E, the world we’re presented with is complete nonsense. BnL can build a massive spaceship with seemingly inexhaustible energy supply, human level artificial intelligence, what must be near-total recycling of resources (although strangely enough they seem to be ejecting a lot of trash into space – where does all that matter come from?), and the ability to hyperjump into another galaxy (!) in a matter of seconds … but they can’t figure out trash disposal? Why doesn’t earth-that-was just fill the Axiom with garbage and hyperjump THAT into another galaxy? Why don’t they use the same recycling technology that must be present on the Axiom to solve the same problems on earth?

    Completely insane. It’s a shame – I really wanted to love this one.

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  2. zigory

    Thanks for your comments. I should have expected it, considering all the rave reviews by the liberal critics who historically have dark views of mankind and capitalism. Whenever too many critics heap too much praise on a movie, I get supicious that it’s due to a political or philosophical connection.

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  3. Raymond

    One of Ayn Rand’s major tenants is that mankind must not consume more that it produces. Atlas Shrugged showed that the US could consume itself to suicide. And it is a fact that the US is now in a state of disavings, that the average US citizen spends more than he or she makes. Why would any rational person want to exacerbate this situation?

    Certainly Wall-E shows a radical and fantastic view of the future (what children’s cartoon isn’t fantastic?) but the basis behind the story isn’t completely impossible. Can we at least consider that reducing pollution and waste could be good for us? An electric powered car can use natural resources more efficiently than one powered by a combustion engine. Why should we deny this logical progression?

    Wall-E saving the human race from meaningless consumption, and hopefully mature children will be inspired to do the same.

    I am an Objectivist and an Environmentalist, because I refuse to bring meaningless harm to what is mine: the Earth. I find that only rational.

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