Editorials

Fat People Mad about 'WALL-E' and Others Upset Over Hypocrisy

G-rated animated film is stirring up controversy

First, let's get the ridiculous argument out of the way before we focus on an actual issue dealing with the picture you see to the right.

I found "New York Post" critic Kyle Smith's blog via a Defamer post titled "Everyone Who Loves 'WALL•E,' Step Forward! Not So Fast, Republicans, Fat People" and I will continue to reiterate how great WALL•E is based on the fact that fat people apparently feel offended that the film portrays future humans as fat lazy piles of goo who get their kicks chatting on cell phones, sucking down fast food while whizzing around on hover chaise lounge chairs. By the way, "fat people" may be a bit generic, the people in WALL•E are morbidly obese.

Smith tells us:

[WALL•E] supposes that the human race of the future will become a flabby mass of pea brained idiots who are literally too fat to walk. Instead they zip around in flying wheelchairs surfing the Web, chatting on phone lines and stuffing their faces with food meant to be sucked down like milkshakes while unquestioningly taking orders from the master corporation that controls all aspects of their existence. I'm trying to think of a major Disney cartoon feature that was anywhere near as dark or cynical as this. I'm coming up blank. I'm also not sure I've ever seen a major corporation spend so much money to issue an insult to its customers. Those potato-y people of the future seemed uncomfortably close to paying guests of Walt Disney World, passively absorbing entertainment in a sterile, climate-controlled, completely artificial wonderland that profits from everything they eat, see or do.

I wonder what Smith's motivations are here. Is he fat and he was offended because what is presented in WALL•E is actually a logical natural progression? Does he really think all of Disney's patrons are fat people? I am confused and wonder what he would have preferred be shown in the film given the storyline. What is his alternative? Oh, he doesn't give us one. Instead he rants and runs away like a typical Internet commenter. At least he had the nerve to put his name on the piece.

Smith also points out his co-hort Lou Lumenick (easily one of the worst critics writing nowadays) who goes on forever about how critics are unfairly treated and blah, blah, blah, but then finally gets to his point saying:

The neo-cons are also less than thrilled that the president is portrayed by Fred Willard, long Hollywood's leading expert in playing nitwits, and that the film, basically a robot love story, is also an extended, razor-sharp attack on corporate malfeasance and consumer spending run amok.

This is an argument that actually has some validity, but I am not sure where it fits in...

Devin Faraci at CHUD questions whether the film sends a good message or is really a bunch of hypocrisy.

Devin points out that at the junket for the film WALL•E Disney/Pixar were showcasing all the toys and crap people could buy that tie into the film. As any reasonable person knows, shit like this basically turns into landfill and as Devin puts it, "When I got to the Four Seasons hotel the next day, the site of the junket for the film, and saw an entire room dedicated to showing off the marketing tie-ins, I lost the sense of irony and began to think what I was seeing was flat out hypocrisy."

There is something to this argument, especially in what Devin says next:

Journalists were being given gift bags at the suite, including a large, programmable WALL•E robot toy and a copy of the WALL•E game (available on every platform. In the movie the lethargic lifestyle of gamers was tweaked in a scene where a giant fat baby of a human uses a holographic computer screen to play golf via a remote controlled golf club), provided they completed a sales pitch about all the products. I sat in on one as long as I could; the room was stuffed with what seemed like a hundred or more tie-in products ranging from WALL•E branded plastic Crocs (with tire tread patterns on the soles) to plastic WALL•E action figures to WALL•E branded clothing and bed sets and drapes. When asked which of the items were made with post-consumer recycled material or were made of biodegradable material, the PRbot giving the pitch seemed flustered. She said that they tried to use such materials whenever possible, and pointed out a post-consumer WALL•E branded Kleenex box. Every environmental group will beg you to avoid Kleenex, since they're wiping out Canada's Boreal Forest to give you a place to blow your nose, so the Kleenex connection is fucking pathetic in itself for a movie that trumpets taking care of the environment. But the fact that this was the item - the only item - the woman was able to point out made me leave the room without finishing the tour. No WALL•E toys for me.

I apologize to Devin and CHUD for snaking the entire paragraph, but I just couldn't resist, so here is another link to the entire piece, of which I urge you to read.

The video game comparison from film to tie-in products is actually quite funny. It really is hypocrisy, but that doesn't make the message any less valuable. The fat issue brought up at the beginning of this article is pretty stupid however. If fat people get offended by hearing that the world is getting fatter then there really is a disconnect in the brain of many fat people.

I think Pixar/Disney are fighting a losing battle on this one. Any company worth its salt is going to try and make as much money as they can, any way they can. However, when you spread one message on one end and feed the destructive nature on the other you are bound for trouble.

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  • Lou Lumenick

    For the record, Kyle Smith is not fat. He is, however, a conservative, which I am not.

  • http://www.moviefreak.com SaraMichelle

    Every great film, no matter what it is or when it was made, always will have its detractors, and most often they'll come up with every flimsy "reason" or "excuse" in the book to explain why such and such motion picture is, in fact, terrible and - sometimes even more so - offense. It's the rules of the game and the law of the jungle. It's why Oscar frontrunners now do all they can NOT to be labled frontrunners, thus all the downplaying the month before the ceremony that either "dark" and "complicated" films like The Departed or No Country for Old Men could ever actually win the Academy Award's top prize.

    In the case of WALL-E, I fully anticipated this even as I was walking out of the theater. In fact, I almost regret that my whole review ended up being more of a column about the taste of moviegoers today than it was an actual critique of the movie itself. It floors me how many people I've met who claim they were bored by the film, that there wasn't enough humor for them, that it wasn't kid-friendly enough, that they - and this one just kills me - wanted more actual dialogue and that it was too "silent" for them. This both freaks me out and depresses me, and while I hope beyond hope that they movie will achieve the type of success it totally deserves a part of me thinks this is going to have a second week drop akin to the ones suffered by The Happening and The Incredible Hulk.

    That said, the "fat" argument annoys me. WALL-E isn't even remotely against fat people. If anything, it uses the concept of obesity as a metaphor representing that, in this future, the robots we have entrusted our care to have become more intimate, more emotional, more inquisitive and, yes, more human than the virtually robotic slobs we in turn have allowed ourselves to become. Considering that obesity is on the rise, that we entrust more and more of our simple day-to-day acitvites to electronic devices designed to make our lives "easier" and that we spend more hours playing video games then we doing going outside and running around (let along taking an old fashioned walk), this doesn't exactly seem all that far-fetched to me.

    Great job, Brad.

    On a completely off-topic side note, I definitely have to give you props Mr. Lumenick. As much as Brad bashes you I find it really impressive that you keep coming back reading the site and voicing your opinion. That's very cool.

    Personally, I don't think you're even close to the worst critic working today (but, admittedly, I do think that whole Shyamalan thing was a little weird - I'm just saying) and anyone who can agree with me pretty much exactly on both The Visitot and Alvin and the Chipmunks can't be all bad. (You're totally wrong about Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, though. I'm just sayin'. ;) )

  • ravidlaz

    I'm fat. I don't want to see this movie anymore. I don't want to walk out crying.

  • Kyra

    WALL-E is a great movie with a great message, and I don't see any prejudice against overweight people in it. It's merely saying (to me, anyway), "THIS is what could happen if humans don't change the way they live. THIS is what we could all be reduced to if we continue polluting our world." I view it as a warning against carelessness and overindulgence as well as excessive consumerism.

  • M. Wang

    I'm currently doing a paper on Obesity and the culture around it and I can say after my research I can definitely empathize with the obese and you're simply proving their point. You might not think it's a big deal but then again it's obvious from your reaction that you do not understand why they dislike this portrayal to begin with.

    After the movie everyone thought at least once about the obese people in their chairs. I certainly thought "Wow it sucks to be overweight" and that it's amazing that the person enabled himself to stand despite his being overweight. See this statement? He overcame his horrendous disease, which is being overweight.

    Forget whether about obesity is a societal rather than medically based agenda, people just think it's bad regardless. Medical science just backs up how "right" they are to begin with, even though diabetes is caused by lack of exercise and being sedentary is a greater health risk than simply being overweight alone.

    If I might be so bold, I think organizations such as NAAFA are trying to say Fat shouldn't be made to be a debilitating disease or something to be shunned or blamed on lack of control or ignorance, as this movie implies, but simply accepted. Some people are fat some people are thin. We shouldn't all reach for some weight ideal backed by science that doesn't even address the true cause of death, which is lack of exercise and poor diets. Also if they didn't associate bone degeneration with being overweight I think that's better. but of course some would argue that's NOT realistic.... Well if we're talking about realism, wouldn't it make more sense for people to have greater bone density to support the weight that would otherwise be CRUSHING their organs? But I digress.

  • wendy

    Give me a break,its a great movie with an even greater message.Some people love to over thnk the issue. Wall-E rocked and I loved it.

  • PeterB

    Wall-E hits a nerve because it is a mirror held up to a society that concentrates only on thoughtless consumption.

    Being accused of being fat, ignorant and lazy slides off, if it is not true.

    Being true it invites indignant denial, which does nothing to fix the problem.

  • BillB

    I don't hear stupid people bitching about Mike Judge's Idiocracy.

    Same message delivery but on a different subject matter. Consider all of this for just a moment. Then go to lunch by yourself and just look around you; eavesdrop in on a conversation or two. What you might find could utterly astound you. Pay special attention to children and their parents. Move up through the older generations around you...

    Both of these movies accurately perdict the future of Americans. We need not worry about radical Muslims, or a Chinese economic take over. We are slowly and quite deliberatly destroying the American population all by ourselves.