The recent Pixar movie Wall-E is a highly enjoyable movie. The storytelling is simple, fresh, and compelling, shown more than told. It’s nearly a non-talking film, with perhaps one fifth the dialogue of most movies.
I know that Andrew Stanton, associated with the creation of the film, said that it’s really a love story, and that the anti-consumerism message is really just a backdrop for the story, but I can’t resist addressing the messages of the film.
Many would look at Wall-E’s anti-consumerism bent and say that surely this is an attack on those greedy capitalists, who love nothing better than to exploit and swindle the masses into buying products they don’t want or need, destroying humanity and nature in general in the process. I agree that some may see it this way. Thus, the movie is seen by some as an attack against capitalism, laissez-faire economic policy, and perhaps even the free market in general.
My perspective is different. I see the mega-company Buy N’ Large as spawned from corporatism, or the merger between company and state. We are seeing this very merging today in the resisted-but-still-accepted bailouts and accompanying nationalization.
The heroes of Wall-E are, yes, corporate creations, but they are fundamentally divorced from this unquestioning, tow-the-line mentality that seems to describe the rest of the characters encountered in the film.
In other words, the heroes of Wall-E represent the fundamental libertarian (American) hero: individuals acting freely. Not that they are acting without restraint, as they are indeed constrained and restrained countless times by various forces or characters throughout the movie. Their actions, even when unrestrained by outside characters, obviously have limits, often self-imposed, or imposed by the environment. But they work together, independently striving for liberty and freedom in this context of authoritarian nannyism / corporatism.
This is a very simple message that is nearly universal in both time and place, and certainly has Gospel roots: individuals acting freely, in a united fashion, can accomplish almost anything.