Posted by: pberry | January 8, 2009

The Medium is the Message

John Dunham over at Quibbling has written a nice reflection on the theology of Wall-E. I highly recommend the read as well as the movie. It was thoughtful, cute, and to a degree, silent. The character of Wall-E is not unlike having a completely non-threatening King Kong—love struck and hardly able to communicate verbally. The film was nearly flawless.


The opening scenes of this film portray earth as a giant landfill. This is primarily the work of Big-N-Save, an obvious shot at big box stores like Wal-mart. Humans have bought so much that the earth is full of trash. Wall-E’s is there to clean up the earth so that humans can inhabit it again. After 700 years, Wall-E has made some nice sculptures, but not a lot of headway.

And here lays problem number one: Wall-E wants you to believe that it has a message about consumerism. But how could it be? Its entire  existence is based on you buying Wall-E. Not just tickets or a DVD, but plush Wall-E and remote control Wall-E and Wall-E bed sheets and Wall-E shower curtains and on and on. Any part of the story that was supposed to be about consumerism is convience at best and opportunism at worst. Perhaps the writers were attempting to be subversive. Only the sales numbers of Wall-E products could tell. But after spending 180 million dollars to produce it, and approaching 700 million in sales, consumers weren’t consuming less. They were just feeling better about what they consumed. Or as Marshall McLuhan said, the medium is the message.

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