WALL-E: Queer Studies Analysis from “Oh! Industry”

7 Aug

The Oh! Industry blog has a fabulous analysis of WALL-E, from a Queer Studies perspective. A snippet:

Much has been made of Wall-e’s loneliness in reviews of the film, as well as in some of Pixar’s own trailers. He finds nightly refuge with a companion cockroach in a makeshift shelter adorned with strings of lights and other keepsakes he’s scavenged throughout the day. (While we were watching the movie, CBB observed how Wall-e’s life among the heaps could be read vis a vis the Philippines’ own Smoky Mountain garbage dump–yet another Oh! entry point to the experience). But there is something about Wall-e that never feels lonely, even in the opening scenes before Eve arrives to shake things up (very literally).

Like one in every 10 viewers, or maybe 1 out of every 100 these days, I felt hailed by the very first “Out There” that opened the movie; by Cornelius Hackl’s goofy voice; by the lyrics and dance steps I memorized when I watched my VHS tape of Hello, Dolly! over and over again in my room when I was a choir-drama-band geek at Ramona high-school. And it only took a moment–the moment Dolly’s signature ballad filled Wall-e’s special screen–for me to feel the senti tears of recognition flowing from my eyes.

Good lord, even as I was hailing the gender subversion of the film in Those Darn Cats last week, the queer undertones of the film hadn’t risen above the level of subconscious. But as I read the Oh! Industry post, it was all clear as day.

Of course, the fact that the film reads as queer doesn’t mean that this was the artist’s intention. Interpretation and intent are two entirely different things, and if they don’t match it doesn’t mean that anybody did something “wrong” (I know that as a songwriter, I’ve written lyrics about superheroes that were widely interpreted as being about suicide, which seemed a valid interpretation to me despite not being my intent). Nonetheless, Andrew Stanton’s comments on his selection of music for WALL-E, quoted in the latter part of the article are rather sweet.

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