Lessons from Wall*E

Normally, I would not do movie reviews on this site. I would generally use aaronbrazell.com which is much more of a personal site than this. However, there are quite a lot of lessons and hidden agenda items (good and bad) in Wall*E that I think are applicable.

If you’re afraid of spoilers, you might not want to read further, however I will do my best not to offer spoilers, per se and instead talk about the principles behind the messages because that is where I feel the importance is.

From the get go, it was apparent to me that Wall*E was an environmentally oriented flick. We’re introduced to a desolate earth that struck me as very much similar to the one we saw in I am Legend. Bonus points to the astute viewers that catch the I am Legend hat tip in the movie.

To me, it was apparent that the desolation of earth was a result of human irresponsibility and that Al Gore probably was lurking somewhere ready to hand out carbon credits. While that message certainly existed, it was the message of personal responsibility that struck me much more direct between the eyeballs.

In the movie, we get the sense that a pseudo-governmental organization has morphed humanity into a dependent culture that is given everything. It is pampered, fed, smothered and by and large turned into a welfare culture where the human race has lost the ability to care for itself or even see any problem with their state. They have been turned into automatons, beholden to the whims of the BnL Corporation.

The heroics of the movie revolve around, among other things, the ability of the human race to take responsibilities for their own actions and rise above the societal norms inbred into them, challenging the status quo and ultimately their race.

Without getting too political, the metaphor I saw was comparative, in many ways, to current western culture that is increasingly liberalized, and increasingly fed the doctrine of government dependence. Rely on government-subsidized social security. We need to pass a law that does blah. The Constitution is a living document requiring federal judges to tell us what it means for us today. Get my riff?

Another strong metaphor I saw, is applicable for those of us in social media – and really any kind of new media, whether it’s politics, science or sports. Those that follow the dotted lines are doomed to exist in a narrow and unproductive world that never changes!

Throughout the movie, robots followed the dictates of lines painted on the ground. They never left those lines because those lines provided guidance. Those lines provides meaning. Those lines provided safety.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have more rambos that challenged the status quo, said what they meant and meant what they said? They didn’t follow the dictates of Techmeme or those perceived as A-listers? I mentioned yesterday that confidence is a sexy attribute and stepping outside the lines demonstrates confidence that will take you somewhere.

As a sidenote, yet related issue, this mommy blogger needs to quit worrying about a so-called A-list blogger and be confident in herself. Those that are considered A-list, including myself, often are not (also including myself). No one can do your job better than you. Own it and forget about the rest.

I highly encourage people to see this movie. Besides the fact that Pixar always makes great movies, it’s a wonderful movie for kids and adults alike and if you go with an open mind, you’re going to be challenged.

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

2 thoughts on “Lessons from Wall*E”

  1. Interesting. I haven’t seen the movie, and I can already play it all out in my head, thanks Aaron! /kidding

    But seriously, at the very least 85% of the people that watch this won’t even realize what they’re watching, in these terms, anyhow. They’re going to walk away with “that movie was so cute” blah blah – etc, and simply ignore anything that can be associated to their own selves.

    The non-fiction of reality projected in a fiction stage often removes people from the scenario all-together in their minds and they simply concentrate on movie-as-movie… Weirdly enough, this contributes to the desensitization of people/sheeple, whatever you wanna call’m :P — and they neutralize their need to be responsible for their actions as a result… weird, huh? Unless of course they’re an activist, intelligent, or make a habit of thinking for themselves, in which-case, they’re in the minority, for the most part.

    Losing battle we are in, yes?

  2. I liked WALL-E, though it was a slow start, it was beautiful, clever and well thought out. For a movie with not much dialogue it had very emotive feelings

    You made some very good points – the people living on the spaceship by and large were spoiled into submissiveness and did not even realize it, and with little human contact. Social media tools have allowed us to interact online, without actual human contact. We have become a very narcissistic culture indeed, and this film had the idea of making us aware of the consequences of our actions.

    Leave it up to the fat captain to go against the status-quo….there was a really funny moment in the movie when the people had to use their feet for the first time in…Years!

    Yes what a funny movie….and after the show while walking out I saw some rather overweight people walking in with super-sized confectionery I wonder if they will think about those consequences after watching WALL-E.

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