Robot Love

I spent a large part of yesterday at the local Indooroopilly Shopping myself.  I desperately needed to expand my summer wardrobe.  After spending way too much at Myer, I headed over to Target (which isn't the same as the American store) to find some really cheap clothes.  I found a nice display of $25 denim jeans that were sorted by metric size.  My iPhone's unit converter rescued me here, but I was then horrified to see that these jeans didn't independently vary in length.  That is, they are designed for some "average" man's body where the waist and length perfectly correlate.  I happen to be an outlier on this little regression line, so I had to go for a slightly smaller waist in order to get some pants that were slightly too long.  Everything was fine in the changing booth, but I discovered this morning that I couldn't put anything in my pockets because the jeans were too tight! (Wasn't there a "Seinfeld" episode like this?) Awwwww!

So, after several hours of agony in this rather limited 
Australian retail scene, I was really missing all those huge stores back in America.  Do you know the kind--where you have to drive across a giant parking lot just to get to the next store over? And then you have to consult a map near the store's entrance to locate the specific items you're seeking?  And everything always seems to be on sale.  Well, due to the melancholy brought on by these memories of gluttony, I decided to take a break and watch "WALL-E," which opened up in Australia just a few weeks ago.  I spend a lot of time watching Pixar films (over and over) with Will, so it was a pleasure to get the chance to see a new one.  I think it's another masterpiece.  And, interestingly, it really is another example of the speculative fiction genre that I wrote about earlier.  Briefly, the future of the Earth depicted here is one in which there has been so much pollution that the population has had to leave the planet (around 2100) while robots are left behind to clean up the mess.  The story in the movie begins 700 years later, in which WALL-E appears to be the only robot still working on the mess.  The descendants of the original humans who left the planet on a gigantic cruise ship are now all rolly-polly and incapable of getting out of their floating lounge chairs.  They just eat and drink and lay about all day long.  Meanwhile, back on Earth, we see many shots of enormous mountains of trash interspersed with views of vacant humongous box retailers where the trash was originally purchased.  Yes, exactly the same stores that I was missing back in the States just moments before I went into the theatre were now shown as one of the causes of an apocalyptic future.  The message about rampant consumerism leading to our eventual demise is abundantly clear in this movie, and I soon felt guilty about my own wasteful ways.

What is also interesting about the movie, however, is how America-centric it is.  That is, the film suggests that Americans single-handedly destroyed the Earth with their pollution, and it was only Americans who fled in their cruise ships.  Moreover, it's an American captain 700 years later who comes to realise that "the humans" need to go back and take care of the planet. In fact, the later re-habitation of the planet starts in New York with a bunch of Americans.  Not one other nationality is ever mentioned in the film.  Now that I live abroad, I am particularly sensitive to this American-centrism, so maybe I am over-analysing things here.  Indeed, another blog I found talks about the gender, racial, and anti-fat aspects of the film, but neither the original post nor the comments that follow it mention anything about the Americanism of this film. But, perhaps it is intentional.  Maybe the film's creators were trying to speak directly to Americans because they are such huge polluters compared to everyone else.  Then again, it does seem like the future of our planet shouldn't be determined by one country in particular, although many films, including "Independence Day," have depicted America saving the day.  Often we Americans get to play both the villain and the hero in these narcissistic fantasies.  It's pretty easy then to understand why some people elsewhere in the world might resent us--they only get to play the extras.