A Blast From the Past: Wall-E, Fact or Fiction?
In 2008, the film industry was hit with a revolutionary film known as Wall-E. The movie takes place in 2805, on an abandoned, garbage-ridden Earth. It revolves around a rusty robot, determined to clean up the planet as part of a governmental program before the humans can return to reinhabit the Earth. He falls in love with another robot named EVE who was sent to Earth to look for signs of vegetation and any possibility of sustaining life. As I saw this movie for the first time as a college student, I saw more in the plot than it being just another wholesome family flick.
After years of garbage piling up in dumps and industrialization taking the world by storm, the government issued a declaration that all humans are to be sent out to space on a 5-year cruise while the Earth is rehabilitated. However, due to the extreme toxicity of the planet, the “vacation” was extended indefinitely and 700 years had passed since the 5-year directive was declared. On the cruise, present-day humans live on flying chairs with a built in monitor that distracts them from the others around them. They live in a paradise with a set schedule, entirely catered to by robots, and are thus unaware of the struggle occurring on Earth and possess almost no socialization skills. From a modern standpoint, many of these scenes correspond with our present generation--countless numbers of people are hiding behind their electronic devices, and verbal communication has found its way into history books. In another scene, the captain of the ship was instructed to read a manual that would direct him to the recolonization of Earth. Since he grew up with a centralized automaton tending to all of his needs, he never had to pick up a book and physically read from it; all he needed to do was say a command, and everything would be done for him. Today, because engineers and innovators are continuously finding new ways for common tasks to be automatized, essential skills are slowly fading away. Audiobooks have replaced traditional reading, take-out and delivery deter many from creating a home-cooked meal, and even cars are finding ways to drive themselves. As the captain was transported everywhere on his flying, motorized seat, he didn’t even know what dancing was. Generations and generations have passed for those aboard the ship, and the culture and history of what we know as Earth was slowly lost over time.
In the eight years that have elapsed since Wall-E was released, there isn't any direct evidence that determines that our planet and species will end up as portrayed in the movie. However, the themes tucked away in this film do present concerns for our future. Corporatism and consumerism are on the rise as well as human waste and disposal, and if these practices are not alleviated, Wall-E may be closer to reality than we know.