Monday, August 4, 2008

Eve and Wall-E




I finally saw Wall-E. I hadn't really planned to see it but so many people I know really liked it and the trailer seemed so adorable... well I just couldn't resist. Before I discuss the movie I'd like to discuss the inaccessibility of feature films. I took a friend to see Wall-E and for the two of us, factoring in my student discount and not purchasing any snacks, it cost over $20! I could have purchased groceries for myself for a week with that. I guess that that is why I don't go to movies very often. I am tired of being criticized for being so out of the loop when I don't know about the recent blockbusters. Seeing movies in the theatre is a privilege that I cannot imagine very many people can afford to indulge in regularly.

Naturally, what I found most interesting about this film was the anthropomorphism and gendering of the robots. How do viewers become aware that Wall-E is supposed to be male? I guess it is never made explicit but I believe it was intended. The name Wally is male. But WALL-E is an acronym for "Waste Allocation Load Lifter- Earth Class." The other major character is Eve or as Walle-E calls her Eva. Eve is obviously a feminine name. I think that viewers are to gather that Wall-E and Eve are a nice heteronormative couple who happen to be genderless, sexless robots.

When Wall-E and Eve are aboard the Axiom we see many other robots some of which are clearly gendered, wearing make-up for example, and many that have no obvious gendered identifiers. I don't want to go into the depiction of humans in this film because many other feminist bloggers did a great job. Please read their interpretations!

Besides the rather odd signifiers of gender in seemingly genderless robots and the heteronormativity implicit in those signifiers, I think that Wall-E also challenges traditional notions of gender. If Wall-E was intended to be male, he behaves in a way that challenges hegemonic masculinity. He is obsessed with the idea of romance and companionship. He watches Hello Dolly and dances. He is very emotional. He takes care of Eve and 'falls in love' with her. He courts her tirelessly despite her seeming indifference to him. At the end he becomes very weak and she saves him! Eve is consistently depicted as the stronger and smarter of the two and at the end, she saves his life. Or as my friend Sophie puts it: Eve is badass. Indeed.

Again we are handed a complicated situation. On the one hand gendering robots so that they might fit into the accepted mold of heteronormative coupling is far from progressive. On the other hand, presenting the 'female' robot as the stronger, sleeker, smarter of the two is pretty progressive for Disney.

I really enjoyed the film, mostly because I thought that Wall-E and Eve were so adorable. I actually cried at the end!

Also, I think that Eve looks like an iPod and Wall-E looks like... a Victrola?

13 comments:

FeministGal said...

I absolutely loved WALL-E, for many of the gender-bending reasons you mentioned. The one thing i didn't like is how trigger happy they made Eve... i mean, really, every little wind blow would require her to stick her arm out and shoot the place up. Bad ass, yes, certainly, but i just wish she wasn't so trigger happy :)

Also, i agree that movies are way too expensive. That is why i always go for matinees, try it, it will save you $5 a ticket!

kat said...

I compared Wall-E to Johnny 5 from the Short Circuit movies of the '80s. Or an '80's boom box....

Cortney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kat said...

Yeah...nothing surprises me with Pixar anymore...

Dan Trachtman said...

I have to disagree. The romance was typical Disney/hollywood/TV. WallE is the standard, rough around the edges, clutsy but good intentioned male. Eve is the stereotyped female who is smarter and more refined and at first has no interest in him, but he woos and woos and eventually wins her heart. Practically every sitcom has the genders just like that and most movies have the romance that way. If you really want to stretch your brain, try to imagine it the other way around.

Shaina said...

What a great blog! It's so great to find another blogger interested in feminism and pop culture. I want to respond to so many of your posts, but the one I had the most reaction to is the Dr. Phil one, because I have slowly been realizing over the years how much he hates women. Ugh!

FeministGal said...

thought you'd enjoy this: http://katebornstein.typepad.com/kate_bornsteins_blog/2008/07/walle-a-butchfe.html?cid=127168534#comment-127168534

Cortney said...

There is actually a link to that piece in this post already. I should have made that more explicit. Bornstein's work is just fabulous!

Melissa Silverstein said...

Just checked out your site. Thanks for your comments. Wanted to introduce my site to you- it's Women & Hollywood and it covers news and commentary about women and Hollywood from a feminist perspective. I'd love to hear what you think of it.

http://www.womenandhollywood.blogspot.com/

Good luck in school. Glad I don't have to deal with that anymore.

aprilx said...

fucking gross how gendered that movie is. sad.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't get through 10 minutes WALL-E…that is after the first 1/2 hour. It’s like going to the church of liberal authoritarianism and listening to a sermon. The obviousness of gender based social commentary is border-line laughable. The social engineers that produced this film can be happy they fulfilled the media's obsession with gender role reversal. Of course, that is the mainstay of the contemporary feminism - changing society through the control of images. This is nothing new; this tactic was used throughout history. Alas, it’s BS, and artificial. The phallic-centric conspiracy is true to the extent that nature is the conspirer. To suggest that a secretive cabal of men had held “womyn” down throughout the ages separated by time and space is silly. Unfortunately, this reality is too much for contemporary special interest studies departments. That is, unless, you control the alternative reality we increasingly live in - the media. Please read "War against Boys" it was published by one of your former feministas - I think you will be more enlightened than watching Wally-E and reveling in your newly discovered sexual dominance of the species. By the way, where have you been for 29960 years? You might in fact realize the fallacy of your more extreme views and the inherent damage it is doing. Oddly elevating womyn has only been successful by bringing down, the image, of man. And you call it progress.

Wall-E SoundTrack said...

Really well written article. Every Pixar movie has an iconic moment - the first 20 minutes of Wall-E are testament to their mastery of cinema, not just animation. And UP, well again the first 20 minutes is some of the most moving cinema I've seen in years - I cried in the cinema - a first for me.

Anonymous said...

Just letting you know, as studying this film for school I was taught that in biology, square is the symbol for male (Wall*E) and oval for female (EVE). Please conduct some research before dishing out criticism. Thanks.