Posts Tagged ‘video

10
Dec
09

Wall-E: Environmental Irony

Nechelmarie Fernandez Guzman

ENGL 3231 

Prof. Ellen Pratt 

Prologue

This multi genre project caused me a lot of stress at the beginning because I had no idea of what I was going to do or what theme I was going to work on. But then I saw a recent movie: Astro boy that is recreated in the future and the principal character is a boy that is really a robot. When I ended watching the movie the theme of the genre came to my mind because it remembered me the movie Wall-E which is also recreated in the future.

 I began searching for information about this excellent movie. You have to know that I love this movie because it has everything a good movie needs: great sound, beautiful images and colors, important messages and a great story. Wall-E is one of those movies that don’t make me bored when I watch them a lot of times. I specially like how the sound is used on the first 40 minutes which has no dialogue apart from the sounds that Wall-E and Eve make. 

The thing is that while I was searching for information I found a blog with a post criticizing the makers of this movie for the merchandise. As I looked and read from other sources I found a picture of a Kleenex box with the picture of Wall-E and Eve. I was very disillusioned with this because I read that Kimberly Clark devastates the Canadian forests to give us a tissue to blow our noses. I also read an article about the merchandise of the movie, especially toys, which aren’t made by eco-friendly materials. 

All this information made me thought about how this big companies like Disney and Pixar use this important message like environment to gain our hearts but then ironically sell this stuff that contradict what they present on their movies. The media, mainly films are great ways to influent people, I appreciate that their movies have these positive messages but I could appreciate them more if they promote, through their merchandise, what is said on the movie.

 So, after all this reflection, here is my work, I hope you like it and learn something from it.

 

Introduction for Multi genre 

Wall-E: environmental irony 

Wall-E, one of the most famous and blockbuster movie in the history of Pixar has moved us with the story of a little and lonely robot that lives in a post apocalyptic Earth and turns to be the hero and restorer of the environmental disaster made by humans. But the question here is: does this film pretend to give the message we all get when we see it: to be more conscious about consumerism, recycling and eco-friendly stuff because one day we’ll be lost in our own garbage?  The irony here is that the environmental message is contradicted by the merchandising of the products from the movie. When we watch the movie we become so proud of this company because of the message their spreading, but immediately after that we get bombarded by the publicity of a lot of toys and other stuff that are neither made from post consumer nor biodegradable materials.

As many people know and for those who doesn’t know, the story of the movie Wall-E takes place in an Earth full of trash with no humans at all. A little robot named Wall-e is the only sign of “life”. The film starts with a look at the universe and then it enters in an Earth with mountains and mountains of garbage. Wall-e is the one who compact that trash into little cubes. Minutes later, a propaganda about a cruise across the universe tells you, in a certain way, why there’s no human in Earth. After a night of sleep Wall-E begins another day of work, but that day will change his robotic life forever. A huge spaceship arrives on earth and inside it is whose going to become the love of his life: Eve (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator).  Eve has the mission to explore the earth and search for any living vegetation. When she gets what she wants (the plant) she gets paralyzed until the spaceship comes back and pick her up. Wall-E, desperate to follow her, jumps up the spaceship and a journey through space begins. Then they reach the space cruise where the big, fat, almost “vegetable” people are. Eve is taken to the spaceship captain because she has the plant and from that moment a problem begins between the captain and the robot that controls the entire cruise named Axiom. Axiom is completely opposed to the plan to restore the Earth. When they get to defeat Axiom they finally begin their journey back to Earth.

I am sure you are very inspired with Wall-E and its message. The first time I saw it I almost cry, but now I’m a little bit disappointed with what I found out. The dilemma is that this message is contradictory with the expressions of the director and producers, and with the merchandise they sell. You probably expect them to sell eco-friendly products and to encourage recycling because of its environmental message but according to Devin Faraci the expressions of Andrew Stanton, director of the movie, contradict the ecological message of the movie. Faraci quotes in his article “Is Wall-e environmental of hypocritical?” the words of Stanton at the Wall-E press junket: “The most I do is recycle, and sometimes I’m even pretty bad at that…I don’t have a political bent, I don’t have an ecological message to push.” Isn’t this ironic? We watch the movie and a reflection about loving and caring for the Earth come to our minds, but they say that’s not the message they want to carry out. In the same article Faraci quotes Stanton again saying that their real message is the love story between Wall-E and Eve: “Everything I wanted to do was based in the love story.” In my opinion the environmental message is there, loud and clear even when they don’t recognize it.

Another thing that disappointed me was that while I was searching for some information I saw an image about a Kleenex box with an illustration of Wall-e and Eve. This is ironic because the Kleenex Company is very criticized for the massive deforestation made to Canadian forests to make that soft tissue.  Devin Faraci also points this aspect in his article. He is talking about his visit to the press junket and he says that when he entered a room full of toys and marketing tie-ins of Wall-e he asked one of the ladies there which one of the articles there were made by biodegradable or post-consumer materials and she, very nervous, pointed a Kleenex box: “She said that they tried to use such materials whenever possible, and pointed out a post-consumer Wall-E branded Kleenex box. Every environmental group will beg you to avoid Kleenex, since they’re wiping out Canada’s Boreal Forest to give you a place to blow your nose…”

I believe that if you have the power to reach millions of people you have a great responsibility of giving the right message because you could be an extreme influence for those people. Is admirable to see such a well done movie like Wall-E giving this inspiring message, but it could be a lot better if they encourage people to go green not only by the movie but by their merchandise and publicity. If you give an advice you have to be sure you can follow it, otherwise you’ll be preaching moral in underwear.

First Genre: Movie Review

Wall-E Movie Review

 Wall-E is the best movie from Pixar, there’s no doubt about it. It is very well done in almost all the aspects. But the sound of the movie is what surprises me most. Almost the entire first half of the movie is a silent film. Wall-E begins with the song “Put on your Sunday clothes” from the Hello Dolly! Musical; as this enthusiastic song is playing you’re given a look at the universe and then it enters a forlorn and uninhabited Earth. The robotic movements of Wall-E are the only signs of “life” between all the trashes. But this innocent and lonely robot has a peculiarity, his vocabulary is very limited but his expressions can say more than thousands of words and the designers got to have credit for that. His binocular-like eyes and his few whistles communicate many messages throughout the film.

Surrounded by the trash that humans left on earth, Wall-E spend his days compacting garbage and collecting curious things that we can easily identify, from a Rubik’s cube to a rubber duck and a light bulb, Wall-E gets fascinated with things we usually ignore nowadays. For example, I specially like one part of the movie when he finds an engagement ring in its box and he throws the ring and keep the box. I consider this as a criticism to materialism, one of the most marked themes in the movie. Wall-E has a lot of criticism especially to consumerism. This is illustrated in the characteristics of the humans that live in the spaceship cruise. They’re all big fat people who had lost most of they’re bones because of the lack of exercise or simply movement. This people are continually bombarded with propaganda from the company Buy N Large and are easily convinced to do whatever this propaganda says. The consumerism disapproval is tied to the environmental problem of the Earth, the same reason why they had to leave it with the promise that one day it’ll be restored. And that day was very close.

One of the aspects that make this movie interesting is that it is about our potential extinction, and this theme is in everyone’s lips lately. The environmental problems that Earth is experimenting alarmed a lot of people and apparently, as some messages said; green is the new black so this new environmental wave creates awareness. Wall-E could not come at a better time; its message is consistent with this moment and this could be one of the causes of its triumph: it has a profound and actual message but also has a romantic story. Wall-E, an old-fashioned garbage collector robot, falls in love with Eve, a brand new modern robot that has the mission to find vegetable life on Earth. Here is another message: the differences are clear between these two robots but love can break any barrier, and is this love that impulse the later restoration of the Earth’s environment.

This very well done movie is a work of art in the aesthetic perspective, but it’s also full of social and environmental messages that no one can discard. The environmental awareness, the criticism to materialism and consumerism, among other themes are marked in this movie and it’s impossible to finish the movie without reflecting about present and future life on Earth. It could be great if the creators of the movie reflect on this and apply their message to their merchandise, because actions tell more than a thousand words.

 Second Genre: Collage

Wall-E Environmental Irony Collage

 This collage with the form of the principal character of the movie is filled with pictures of Wall-E’s toys and other advertisement from the movie. As you can see Wall-E has a Kleenex box with his image and the image or Eve. On the other hand he has the boot that appears on the movie with the little plant. And in top of his head is a question mark that symbolises confusion. The boot with the plant that is symbol of the environmental message of the movie. The Kleenex box symbolises the contradiction between the message of the movie and the merchandise.

 Third Genre: Video

Fourth Genre: Advertisement (I had to take a picture of it because I don’t have a scanner and I can’t upload it from Microsoft Publisher)

Wall-E Advertisement

 

Epilogue

 Writing about this movie changed my perspective on it. I’ll be clear, I still love it but I can’t now watch it and think the same I thought before this. Before I was in love with Pixar for making a work of art with a great reflection on the environment, but now I feel different, I feel disillusioned. I have to say that what I found out by this work is something that everyone should have in their heads when watching a movie: we have to go beyond of what the movie says, this is the Global Media, and unfortunately this media works by the axe of money like many things in these days. I am not saying that we should be totally suspicious of any film we see but to be less innocent in from of them and not always believe that they really mean what they said.

Using this medium (the multi-genre) to write was a lot of fun and more free than just writing a traditional piece. At the beginning I was a little scared about it but in the process I learned that it wasn’t that difficult. I spend a great time finding creative ways to present my point of view. I chose 4 genres: the movie review, the video, the collage and the advertisement. The movie review was the easier, the most difficult ones were the video and the advertisement because I had to find the way to share my message but using just a few words. I liked a lot to do the collage because of the symbols it has: the little plant, the Kleenex box, the question mark and all the merchandise united to give a message.

 I am very glad to have the opportunity to do this work and learn at the same time that I was having fun. I hope you enjoyed it and especially I hope you learned something or just that by reading and watching, it made you reflect about consumerism, environment and the media. Thank you for reading!

Annotated Bibliography

Allen, Charlotte. “Wall-e doesn’t say anything.” The Los Angeles Times. July 13, 2008. < http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-allen13-2008jul13,0,4353111.story&gt;.

In this article Charlotte Allen, a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute’s Minding the Campus website defends the argument that Wall-e present the argument that Wall-e is, more than anything, conservative. She affirms that Wall-e is a hard worker that defends the faithfulness to duty and the value of a humble trash collector job. She also states that Wall-e is “pro-life” because when Eve gets paralyzed he doesn’t give up, he still take care of her and never think that she has the “right to die”. However, at the end Allen claims that a work of art shows is not to preach anything and that its fair to criticize the message of a film but only if it really carries that message.

Dye, Charles. Now and all are important: a post-structural critique of humanism, Aldo Leopold’s “The land ethic,” and Disney/Pixar Wall-e. Diss. Montana State U. 2008.

The final part of this thesis for a Master degree by Charles E. Dye discusses the blockbuster Wall-e directed by Andrew Stanton from a humanistic perspective. It begins by recreating the initial part of the movie using the lyrics of the song Hello Dolly and the cinema techniques used. Dye affirms that Wall-e presents the collapse of human civilization on earth as something inevitable, but also declares that this movie use a false dystopia to create its own utopia that relies on the hope element. Even when the earth is practically destroyed a little, simple, cute, baby plant can save what we just ruined.

Earth911.com – Find Recycling Centers and Learn How To Recycle. Earth911.com – Find Recycling Centers and Learn How To Recycle. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. <http://earth911.com/&gt;.

This web site has a lot of information about recycling. It has a menu of all the materials and when you click on them appears another submenu with other categories. If you select one you’ll have information about that material and how to recycle it, also there is a section that has articles related to your search. In another part it has a search motor where you can write the material you want to recycle and your zip code and it will give you the information of the nearest recycling center.           

Faraci, Devin. “The Devin’s advocate: Is Wall-e environmental of hypocritical.” Cinematic happens under development. June 23, 2008. <http://chud.com/articles /articles/15280/1/THE-DEVIN039S-ADVOCATE-IS-WALL-E-ENVIRONMENTAL-OR-HYPOCRITICAL/Page1.html>.

In this article Devin Faraci criticizes the creators of Wall-e for being hypocritical. He argues that even when the director says that the message that they wanted to carry was the love story of two robots, the environmental message is there and everyone can see it. Faraci suggests that even when the real movie’s intentions can only be known to the director, maybe he make these declarations to the press about Wall-e being just a love story because it could scare some segments of the public. A very interesting part of the article is when he relates the day he attended the site of the junket for the film. He said that he asked one of the persons that were there promoting the merchandise, what of the toys were made out of post-consumer recycled material or biodegradable material and the promoter went nervous and pointed a post consumer Kleenex box which is very ironical, knowing that this brand is criticized for deforestation.

Wall-e. Dir. Andrew Stanton. Walt Disney Studios Distribution, 2008.

This is a movie by Disney Pixar that has a trash compactor robot as a protagonist named Wall-e.  It begins with a  apocalyptic view of an earth full of trash and the only apparent habitant of it is this cute little robot and his ironically cute little friend: a cockroach. After lonely days the earth receives a visit that will change Wall-e “life”. A huge spaceship leaves Eve on earth with a mission that will be revealed later. Wall-e falls in love with this aggressive robot that shoots everything that moves. When they met Wall-e gives her what she was looking for: a little green plant. Then the spaceship comes back and Wall-e goes on an incredible journey through space going after Eve. The spaceship arrives on a Space cruise full of that is habited by almost vegetative fat consumers that depend on machines to live. The problem begins when one machine refuses to get back to earth to restore nature.  At the end everything is solved and thanks to Wall-e they can reach the earth to start over the human civilization.