First, let’s get the ridiculous argument out of the way before we focus on an actual issue dealing with the picture you see to the right.
I found “New York Post” critic Kyle Smith‘s blog via a Defamer post titled “Everyone Who Loves ‘WALLâ€¢E,’ Step Forward! Not So Fast, Republicans, Fat People” and I will continue to reiterate how great WALLâ€¢E is based on the fact that fat people apparently feel offended that the film portrays future humans as fat lazy piles of goo who get their kicks chatting on cell phones, sucking down fast food while whizzing around on hover chaise lounge chairs. By the way, “fat people” may be a bit generic, the people in WALLâ€¢E are morbidly obese.
Smith tells us:
[WALLâ€¢E] supposes that the human race of the future will become a flabby mass of pea brained idiots who are literally too fat to walk. Instead they zip around in flying wheelchairs surfing the Web, chatting on phone lines and stuffing their faces with food meant to be sucked down like milkshakes while unquestioningly taking orders from the master corporation that controls all aspects of their existence. I’m trying to think of a major Disney cartoon feature that was anywhere near as dark or cynical as this. I’m coming up blank. I’m also not sure I’ve ever seen a major corporation spend so much money to issue an insult to its customers. Those potato-y people of the future seemed uncomfortably close to paying guests of Walt Disney World, passively absorbing entertainment in a sterile, climate-controlled, completely artificial wonderland that profits from everything they eat, see or do.
I wonder what Smith’s motivations are here. Is he fat and he was offended because what is presented in WALLâ€¢E is actually a logical natural progression? Does he really think all of Disney’s patrons are fat people? I am confused and wonder what he would have preferred be shown in the film given the storyline. What is his alternative? Oh, he doesn’t give us one. Instead he rants and runs away like a typical Internet commenter. At least he had the nerve to put his name on the piece.
Smith also points out his co-hort Lou Lumenick (easily one of the worst critics writing nowadays) who goes on forever about how critics are unfairly treated and blah, blah, blah, but then finally gets to his point saying:
The neo-cons are also less than thrilled that the president is portrayed by Fred Willard, long Hollywood’s leading expert in playing nitwits, and that the film, basically a robot love story, is also an extended, razor-sharp attack on corporate malfeasance and consumer spending run amok.
This is an argument that actually has some validity, but I am not sure where it fits in…
Devin Faraci at CHUD questions whether the film sends a good message or is really a bunch of hypocrisy.
Devin points out that at the junket for the film WALLâ€¢E Disney/Pixar were showcasing all the toys and crap people could buy that tie into the film. As any reasonable person knows, shit like this basically turns into landfill and as Devin puts it, “When I got to the Four Seasons hotel the next day, the site of the junket for the film, and saw an entire room dedicated to showing off the marketing tie-ins, I lost the sense of irony and began to think what I was seeing was flat out hypocrisy.”
There is something to this argument, especially in what Devin says next:
Journalists were being given gift bags at the suite, including a large, programmable WALLâ€¢E robot toy and a copy of the WALLâ€¢E game (available on every platform. In the movie the lethargic lifestyle of gamers was tweaked in a scene where a giant fat baby of a human uses a holographic computer screen to play golf via a remote controlled golf club), provided they completed a sales pitch about all the products. I sat in on one as long as I could; the room was stuffed with what seemed like a hundred or more tie-in products ranging from WALLâ€¢E branded plastic Crocs (with tire tread patterns on the soles) to plastic WALLâ€¢E action figures to WALLâ€¢E branded clothing and bed sets and drapes. When asked which of the items were made with post-consumer recycled material or were made of biodegradable material, the PRbot giving the pitch seemed flustered. She said that they tried to use such materials whenever possible, and pointed out a post-consumer WALLâ€¢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, so the Kleenex connection is fucking pathetic in itself for a movie that trumpets taking care of the environment. But the fact that this was the item – the only item – the woman was able to point out made me leave the room without finishing the tour. No WALLâ€¢E toys for me.
I apologize to Devin and CHUD for snaking the entire paragraph, but I just couldn’t resist, so here is another link to the entire piece, of which I urge you to read.
The video game comparison from film to tie-in products is actually quite funny. It really is hypocrisy, but that doesn’t make the message any less valuable. The fat issue brought up at the beginning of this article is pretty stupid however. If fat people get offended by hearing that the world is getting fatter then there really is a disconnect in the brain of many fat people.
I think Pixar/Disney are fighting a losing battle on this one. Any company worth its salt is going to try and make as much money as they can, any way they can. However, when you spread one message on one end and feed the destructive nature on the other you are bound for trouble.