Tag Archives: queer studies

The Gender Politics of WALL-E

23 Feb

Yes indeed, my son and I whooped with joy and relief last night when WALL-E was awarded the Academy Award for Best Animated Film (beating the Annie winner, Kung Fu Panda), and sighed a bit when it didn’t take home any others. I do believe the merits of this film will hold up over time, and are of interest not only to students of animation, but also to those who study sexual orientation and gender. The Oh! Industry blog has a great queer studies analysis I’ve linked to before, and now I’ve added my own two cents in last week’s Jentasmic! column at Studios Central. Here’s just one of the many reasons why this old crusty feminist loves WALL-E:

Shared parenting supports women’s full participation in society, and WALL-E is a great dad. Think back to the moment that EVE takes the plant into her body, and then shuts herself off from the world, focusing only on protection of the life within her. Sound familiar to any of you who’ve been pregnant, or whose partners have been? While WALL-E is heartbroken by her withdrawal, he protects her carefully, lovingly, with great dedication. Lightning strikes his umbrella? No problem, he’s got another. (And yes, it’s also borderline creepy when he takes her for the romantic canoe ride…but comedy returns when he tries to hold her hand watching the sunset.)

The current episode of the Those Darn Cats Podcast also has some discussion of WALL-E, and the Oscars in general….including some super-fun red-carpet commentary from Lisa. And for those of you who aren’t already subscribed to the podcast, we’ve got a handy-dandy past shows archive page, from which you can download shows on topics ranging from remembering Eartha Kitt (podcast), to feminist analysis of Minnie’s Country Home (podcast), to Disney Cruise Line (podcasts part one and two). You can also check us out on iTunes.

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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