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?