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Pixar: Soulless, corporate robots?

I was kind of intrigued earlier this week, while reading some of the pre-release hype around Pixar’s new, highly acclaimed CGI flick WALL-E. For those of you that have managed to miss it all, the film is set in a future where humans have been forced to abandon Earth due to pollution and environmental breakdown.

I was intrigued, because in a couple of interviews I read director/writer Andrew Stanton seemed to be going out of his way to play down any environmental message the film might have:

The most I do is recycle, and sometimes I’m even pretty bad at that…I don’t have a political bent, I don’t have an ecological message to push….I’m not stupid, I started to notice as this film was getting closer to being done the sort of issues that were out in the zeitgeist, but they were certainly not my intention. The last thing I’m gonna do is try to make a message movie.

At first I guessed (like Devin over at CHUD) it was just the Disney/Pixar spin machine whiring into action; while a kids film with an environmental message would actually attract audiences in Europe and Japan, in the neo-conservative US it’s a big no-no, where suspicion about the pinko liberal-media is rife, and most people seemingly still believe global warming is some kind of hippy propaganda.

But then, as I was walking to work this morning, I passed a massive billboard that made things a little bit clearer….


(I couldn’t find an image of the billboard…the above is a screen-grab from the Suzuki website)

Yep, that’s right – Disney/Pixar have signed an deal to use WALL-E in advertising for auto-manufacturers and CO2 enthusiasts Suzuki.

For fuck’s sake.

I’m a little lost for words, and hugely disappointed. I’m still looking forward to seeing the movie, but this has left a slightly nasty, petroleum flavoured taste in my mouth. At least Ghibli, who don’t shy from corporate sponsorship in Japan, and whom Pixar staff always point to as one of their main inspirations, would never try and play down the environmental messages that are apparent in pretty much every single film they make.


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