By ALAN SCHERSTUHL
New and old liberal symbols?
Nice to finally meet you. Long time, first time and all that. Recently, I've enjoyed your blog posts, reviews, and message board postings and editorials about how Wall-E is an anti-corporate, environmental polemic crafted by Hollywood elitists to indoctrinate our kids.
Like you, I don’t care for entertainment that gets too pushy with its political agenda-- Lord knows I'll never shove my way through a second Orson Scott Card novel. But, really, you're reaching here. The key “political” elements of Wall-E are so over-the-top satirical that they have little to do with the politics of 2008. Worse, when you assume that they do somehow reflect the current political garbagescape, you betray a self-image problem far more horrific than any binge-and-purger's.
Spoilers follow after the jump:
1. Your first bitch is that Wall-E imagines an earth covered with litter after centuries of rule and abandonment by a monopolistic corporation. Now, honestly, conservatives, can’t we all agree that dumping trash everywhere is, like, a bad thing? What exactly is liberal about this standard-issue sci-fi apocalypse? Do you want your movies and candidates to support littering? Or monopolies? Imagine if McCain were to promise tax incentives for great heaping trash cities too toxic for human habitation. Would that finally win you over to him?
2. The second complaint is that the humans in Wall-E have, after centuries in space, tubbed up into helpless, obese cartoons. They're certainly intended to suggest the fat grown-ups with the jumbo soft drinks in the movie chairs around us. But please, conservatives, how is it liberal to suggest that people should not be unthinking gluttons? These humans place all their trust in a corporatist government that meets their every need even as it takes their every freedom. Whether you focus on the “corporatist” or focus on the “government,” there’s plenty here that’s anathema to liberals and conservatives alike.
3. Finally, you all point out that future space president/CEO Fred Willard's promise “to stage the course” in the face of obvious disaster is a cheap Bush joke. I concede that this wasn’t sharp, funny, or revealing enough to have made the cut. (And that it’s disingenuous for Pixar or anyone else to pretend it wasn’t intended to suggest Bush.) Still, that line aims for grown-ups, not kids, and to act as if every joke about the president is somehow an assault on our values is to take selective offense. Every president of the modern era has been lampooned in the culture of his reign. Christ, "The Simpsons" had Clinton bragging that he'd slept with a pig.
Please, I truly want to know: When you quail at a cartoon like this, are you just touchy, or do you truly consider it a grave affront against all that Americans hold dear?
PS: Good luck with the war, the crumbling economy, and getting those pasties on strippers.