Does WALL-E demonize fat people?
July 10, 2008 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Does WALL-E demonize fat people?
posted by jjg (20 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Kind of covered already in the thread from last week. -- cortex

this will not wendell.
posted by macmac at 3:42 PM on July 10, 2008

No. It demonizes actions that make people fat. Which isn't hard.
posted by hifiparasol at 3:44 PM on July 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Might this Salon article have been better posted in the recent Wall-E thread which also contains a discussion of obesity/fat, as depicted in the animated film?

Example comment:
"Fat people didn't like it, either...."
posted by ericb at 3:45 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen it, but from the reviews and numerous scenes I've seen it seems like a simplistic, but unfortunately very accurate, depiction of one facet of how the future might play out. I mean, right now bariatric surgery really isn't even all that successful at reversing obesity (going from 400 to 195 is still obese). So unless someone can come up with a scenario whereby we reverse cultural and instinctive forces I'm not sure how the obesity rate doesn't continue its climb toward 100%.
posted by docpops at 3:47 PM on July 10, 2008

does anyone actually give a fuck?
posted by quonsar at 3:47 PM on July 10, 2008 [3 favorites]

does anyone actually give a fuck?
posted by quonsar at 3:47 PM on July 10 [+] [!]

That's really what I was trying to say.
posted by docpops at 3:48 PM on July 10, 2008

posted by kyrademon at 3:49 PM on July 10, 2008

It ought to go without saying that this stereotype of the "obese lifestyle" is simply false. How fat you are has a lot more to do with your genes than with your behavior. As much as 80 percent of the variation in human body weight can be explained by differences in our DNA. (Your height is similarly heritable.) That is to say, it may not matter that much whether you eat salads or drink "cupcakes-in-a-cup," whether you bike everywhere or fly around in a Barcalounger. If you have a propensity to become obese, there's only so much that can be done about it.
Let me be the first to say it......Although I have longed most of my life to hear someone make the above statement it is SIMPLY NOT TRUE.
posted by HappyHippo at 3:50 PM on July 10, 2008

In the future, speculative fiction is flabby.
posted by humannaire at 3:51 PM on July 10, 2008

No. It demonizes living a sheltered and pampered existence where ambition is no longer encouraged or necessary, where artificial interpersonal relationships are more fruitful than actual and where every mundane whim is indulged simply because it can be, not because it brings joy or fulfillment. In other words, it is very anti-sedentary, anti-complacence and anti-ignorance.

Now, if being sedentary, complacent, ignorant, well-fed, catered-to and pushed-around-on-a-little-hover-car make humans soft and practically amoebic after seven centuries -- as portrayed in the film -- and you want to call that extreme situation being merely "fat," ignoring
all of the contributing factors altogether, then go right along.

(Though that does seem a little ignorant ...)
posted by grabbingsand at 3:52 PM on July 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Does WALL-E demonize fat people?

No, it depicts (and holds up for ridicule) lazy people who refuse to get out of their chairs or stop watching their video screens for anything, while slurping down high-calorie concoctions relentlessly marketed to them by a giant corporation. That they are fat is a function of their lifestyle, not the reason they're held up to ridicule.

And anyway, it doesn't demonize those people; they're redeemed-- EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE STILL FAT. WALL-E does demonize the greedy, profits-at-all-costs corporate fuckheads who sold them that lifestyle in the first place (and in so doing destroyed the majority of earth-as-we-know-it) and more power to the movie for doing so.
posted by dersins at 3:55 PM on July 10, 2008

Speaking as an overweight 230lb man, I have one thing to say :


Why do we, as people, feel the need to never have anything in our lives that might make us feel bad?

Yes, WALL-E shows a lot of lazy fat people. Well, guess what? I am fat, but not lazy. If every fat person in the movie was named "(insert my name here)" and looked exactly like me, perhaps I'd feel personally insulted.

But god forbid you imply that fat people aren't as mobile as skinny people, or that Asian people sometimes talk differently than others, or that Canadians are overly polite (I am Canadian, and obviously this is not true, right? Ya bastards!)

We've become such a society of sheep that we expect our news to be full of soft stories about things that make us "feel good", we expect any mention of our physical characteristics or gender or race to be enthusiastically positive.

In the meantime, while we all worry about whether fat people are being portrayed in a negative light, our government keeps slowly and steadily infringing upon our freedoms...

Priorities, please!

/end rant

// time for ice cream

/// 3 bowls. Fuck it!
posted by newfers at 3:57 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Time for another choice Metacritic user review:

Conrad B. gave it a 5:
I saw the movie with my 12-year-old son the day it opened. Like most, I love Pixar's movies and we couldn't wait to go see it. My own reaction and that of my son both are negative.

When the fat people plot was revealed, my son leaned over and whispered, "That is so wrong." Of course, he's grown up in a size-positive environment, but he is quite capable of deciding himself what he feels is good old-fashioned fun, what is clever speculation, and what is just a cheap grab for laughs at the cost of fat people. Both he and I felt it was the latter.

I mean, what with exhaustion of renewable resources, our ability to nuke ourselves into oblivion, global warming and whatever, the worst that can happen to our planet is that we drown in garbage and then become hugely fat and lazy? Ha ha ha. I am sure one can construct some sort of justification into this movie, but in a society where fat people (and no, fat people are not a majority of the population, only statistically fat people are) are ridiculed, discriminated against, and exploited, is it really necessary for the next big Pixar megamovie to equate garbage, eating, fat, and lazy? Is it necessary to gleefully portray a ship full of obese people plop around, unable to walk or reach or anything?

In my opinion, with Wall-E, Pixar is so far off, it's off the scale. Sure, some of the Pixar folks may be fat themselves, but that just makes them apologists. They did our children and the fat people in this nation and anywhere a huge disservice with this movie. More, really; a cruel slap in the face.

posted by Rhaomi at 3:58 PM on July 10, 2008

Oh for fuck's sake, what bullshit that article was. It's not like a large percentage of the modern American/UK/etc populace mutated between this generation and their 1900's ancestors so that the "differences in their DNA" caused them to be fat. It's that they eat poorly and don't exercise. Just like the people in the Wall-E movie's spaceship.

In general, fat people should be demonized. It sets the right tone.
posted by Spacelegoman at 3:59 PM on July 10, 2008

The bad guy in Toy Story 2 has a bit of a tummy. Just sayin'
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:59 PM on July 10, 2008

I sincerely don't understand where, for lack of a better term, fat pride comes from. It's a manifestation of identity politics that is at best insane, at worst suicidal. Criticism of morbid obesity isn't a judgment of character, it's merely addressing an increasingly universal condition that is absolutely physiologically destructive. And we're supposed to ignore it out of respect for people's feelings?
posted by inoculatedcities at 4:00 PM on July 10, 2008

After all, obesity is most prevalent among the poorest Americans, who almost by definition consume less than the skinny elite.

OK, who gave this joker a forum? Slate? "Almost by definition" != "actually", if you're talking about raw calorie consumption. Nutrition is a different matter.
posted by gurple at 4:02 PM on July 10, 2008

Short version of article: "I don't understand symbolism."

The point Wall-E is making has nothing to do with actual obesity. It is using fatness to symbolize overconsumption (gee, I wonder how they could possibly have come up with that connection???), which can be perpetrated by a skinny runt driving a Hummer as easily as by an overweight person. Anyone who walked out of the movie thinking that it's message was "if we all shed a few pounds then the future of the planet is secure" will need to run through several fire extinguishers to find their way back to the point.
posted by yoink at 4:02 PM on July 10, 2008

As much as 80 percent of the variation in human body weight can be explained by differences in our DNA

Has our DNA changed in the last 20 years?

If you have a propensity to become obese, there's only so much that can be done about it.

Especially if you're lazy. Here's the trick, eat better, move around more.
posted by Tenuki at 4:03 PM on July 10, 2008

I'd avoided seeing Wall-E, as I'd heard everyone hated it, but I'll give it a shot if it demonizes fat people. : "The difference I see between a movie like Idiocracy (or classics like Player Piano, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984) is that these stories are grounded in very real and tangible conflicts, like class conflicts, rapidly advancing technology, the distribution of power, and/or threats to the social and cultural orders. No one group of people are made to blame - it’s a collective human downfall."

Aside from the authors complete inability to comprehend the use of parentheses, I'd like to draw attention to the fact that this is utter bullshit; those stories quite definitely blame specific segments of the population, usually authoritarians.

Sure I am tempted to accept that authoritarians are intrinsically evil while lazy people are just innocent victims, mostly because I am lazy but not an authoritarian, but this is just not true. Both conditions are damaging to society, period.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:03 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

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