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David Poland

By David Poland

The Media Foists Its Own View Of Middle America On Disney

I find it fascinating that the media is now having a field day – four links on the cover of MCN and more to come, I’m sure – taking the position that Wall-E’s portrayal of a future…
… in which earth has been decimated, the survivors live on corporately-controlled ships in which they are kept satisfied and simple-minded so there are no rebellious thoughts – not unlike The Matrix.… duh! –
….is all about the people being… OMFG! – FAT!!!!!
To me, the whole attitude combines two of the media’s worst traits… first, gross oversimplification… second, the tendency to look at groups in which they are not – or have been not since they dragged themselves into the media universe – reflected.
Is there anyone whose parents didn’t tell them that too much TV and junk food and laziness would make them into a miserable, brain damaged blob? I mean, really, is this idea so simple and obvious that “critics” look right past it and feel compelled to make it all about our obsession with weight?
There is a real hatred in the media, both left and right (coasts and ideologies), of the “soft” middle of America. Fox News pretends not to have this so it can bow to the right wing, which is allegedly favored by the heartland… but look at its parade of blonde, tartified women anchors and, often, “experts.” They are as image conscious as Maureen Dowd as Jessica Rabbit on her book cover.
By making this into an issue, all “we” are doing is pointing at the fat people and saying, “Why doesn’t Disney feel sorry for them? They are fat! We know… we’ve seen them in tank tops at Disneyland (while we cut in front of them with special passes that we had our producers and editors get for us from our media friends and partners at Disney)!”
Deep dark truthful mirror time, kids.
Obviously, there is a satirical thread in this film that has a Wal-Mart like corporation taking over the entire planet. There is no government… only the corporation. You know, like every smart person with an eye on a world that is becoming dominated by commerce over ideology has recognized for more than a decade.
Obviously, Wall-E is a cartoon… and bodies in jellied pods have been done before. So has a world in which young people are tricked into thinking that all is well and as soon as they hit 30, they are killed and thrown off the ship. So here we are in a generation that shops in big box stores in bulk, in a nation where obesity is epidemic not because we are an inherently lazy people but because portion control and self-control is out of control, where we spend more and more time attached to machines and not enjoying the simple activities of life, like playing in the yard, the way we once did… it all makes sense.
And might I point our, Wall-E sounds a hopeful note, that all we have to do to change is to choose to change our outlook and to make a real effort.
And while all this mewing about Wall-E is going on, media seems to endlessly look away as we and our children are endlessly told that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and the MTV Idiot Squad are what we all must look like if we are to be worthy in this world… without the slightest f-ing sense of irony or rage. You think Wall-E is insulting its audience? Compared to the cover of People or Us or any of those crap rags, it is LOVING its audience. And you can be sure that its audience will love it back.
It is stunning how stupid we are all willing to allow ourselves to be in order to make a civil discussion into A STORY.
Boo on us.

49 Responses to “The Media Foists Its Own View Of Middle America On Disney”

  1. mutinyco says:

    Can you say… “meta”…
    Complaining about corporations complaining about a movie that says people are dumb and lazy because of corporations that are making them dumb and lazy.

  2. doug r says:

    Somewhat related….my large wife and myself enjoyed the dancing sequence in Get Smart. Nice balance between making fun of and competence, like the rest of the movie.

  3. Triflic says:

    Sounds a lot like Mike Judge’s Idiocracy.

  4. swordandpen says:

    It’s once again the media’s attempt to turn a movie or a t.v. show or music into a cause for phony umbrage, in which they inform a certain group of people (in this case, overweight people) that they must be offended by a work of art and entertainment, as opposed to being offended by ugly events in real life, which the media refuses to acknowledge.
    That Wall-E has the ambition to say something, as well as entertain, makes me more excited to see it.
    When I heard about this, I thought not only of “Idiocracy” but the way Americans were portrayed in “The Triplets of Belleville”.

  5. hcat says:

    This is just like when that liberal pinko Chuck Heston advocated the use of birth control by starring in Soylent Green.

  6. jeffmcm says:

    I think that was more about ‘cannibalism bad’. Which is, agreed, a liberal position.

  7. hcat says:

    Its been years since I saw it, but I thought the end of the world scenario in Soylent Green was brought on by overpopulation.

  8. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah it is, but it doesn’t get into the whys and wherefores.

  9. Wrecktum says:

    “That Wall-E has the ambition to say something, as well as entertain, makes me more excited to see it.”
    Except for the “entertain” part, you nailed it.

  10. jeffmcm says:

    98% positive on Rottentomatoes.
    I guess Wrecktum’s a 2%er.

  11. Wrecktum says:

    There’s always one 2 percenter, isn’t there?
    This movie will not be universally beloved, by the way. The dissenters won’t be the press (who love things that are different and unique) but rather the public, especially the parents whose small children will fidget the whole film.
    This is the only Pixar movie that I’ve ever heard anyone say they “hated” it.

  12. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, but _no_ movie is universally beloved.

  13. Wrecktum says:

    The Wizard of Oz is universally beloved. So is Saw 3.

  14. jeffmcm says:


  15. messiahcomplexio says:

    If Wells wrote this article, it would probably be titled
    “judging the jabba’s”.

  16. Rothchild says:

    No movie is universally beloved? You show me someone that doesn’t love Groundhog Day and I’ll show you a fucking son of a bitch.

  17. Wrecktum says:

    I hate Andy MacDowell in Groundhog Day. Does that count?

  18. Rothchild says:

    And you hate Wall-E? Good luck with that.

  19. Wrecktum says:

    I don’t remember saying I hated it. Did I?

  20. blkbandit says:

    its funny how people focus on the fat aspect of wall-e but completely ignores the racist and elitist aspect of it. a brown, obviously lower class, robot obsesses and pursues a white blue-eyed one. people tend to give pixar a pass to many times on issues like these.

  21. Wrecktum says:

    That’s a joke, right?

  22. jeffmcm says:

    It does remind me of the Star Wars rant in Chasing Amy.

  23. leahnz says:

    wall-e doesn’t open here until SEPTEMBER for some bizarro reason only the witches around the international distribution cauldron will ever know, bums me out

  24. Ugh, September for us too. I imagine it’s to do with school holidays and the desire to get it away from Kung Fu Panda. School holidays are a bitch when, ya know, you’re no longer in school. They did this last year with Ratatouille as well. Peeves me off like almost nothing else. I can turn into the hulk when talking about distribution. Perfectly nice and stable one minute, but mention having to wait three months for Wall-E (or a year and a half for The Painted Vel perhaps) and I turn into a crazy deranged psychopath with amazing leg muscles.
    I just thought I’d throw that last bit in there.

  25. IOIOIOI says:

    What are the holidays for exactly?

  26. …school holidays for when students don’t have to go to school for two weeks between terms (there are four terms each schooling year).
    Doesn’t America have that?

  27. hcat says:

    American kids have around two months off during the summer, then go non-stop with the occasional day off and around a week around Christmas and a week of Spring Break. That is when they can get their tubby butts to class under their own power.

  28. doug r says:

    Around here, most elementary and high schools get out in late June and come back for the next grade in September. Some places earlier in June-late August.

  29. Oh. Okay. Over here the school year starts usually in Feb and goes through to December, but the year it split into four terms. In between each term of about 8 weeks they get – usually – two weeks holidays. But, over Summer (christmas time) it’s about a month or two off. So the year is sort of split into four quarters.
    Which is why kids movies are held back a lot until school holidays, at which time we get a glut of them and some inevitably fail. School holidays are starting now in various states, which is why Kung-Fu Panda is out and Wall-E is waiting for September holidays.

  30. Rothchild says:

    Holy crap. It’s a masterpiece. The montage of Wall-E taking care of Eve in the first act is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in theaters in years.

  31. Wrecktum says:

    Different strokes and all that.

  32. sharonfranz says:

    Is it really a hatred? Or just pointing things out. When I went to Europe, I noticed that people there are, in general, thinner. It’s strange how even though the media promotes thinness, we, in general, are heading towards the other direction.
    In China, they promote roundness, but most are super thin. There, if you have a belly, you’re considered lucky and prosperous. But everyone is thin there.
    Strange that in these two countries, we become the opposite of what is promoted in the media.

  33. leahnz says:

    kam (lol the amazing leg muscles), ‘the painted veil’ just opened here a couple weeks ago. i went to see it with a girlfriend and it was sold out! hmmf. went to ‘brick lane’ instead, which was beautifully filmed, slow but lovely.
    i hate how they hoard the ‘family’ movies for the school holidays, those sadists.

  34. Cadavra says:

    “No movie is universally beloved? You show me someone that doesn’t love Groundhog Day and I’ll show you a fucking son of a bitch.”
    Hi, Rothchild, fucking son of a bitch here. Though I did very much like 12:01 P.M., the (very serious) short subject that GHD ripped off.

  35. jeffmcm says:

    I knew there had to be one, somewhere. So who’s the weirdo who doesn’t like Wizard of Oz?

  36. Tofu says:

    Lucifer doesn’t post here.

  37. Blackcloud says:

    Having seen it yesterday, I would say that aesthetically “Wall*E” is an absolute triumph, but narratively is underdeveloped.

  38. Triple Option says:

    Many of the negative comments I’ve been reading about the movie’s message have come against it supposedly advancing a liberal-biased, environmentalist campaign. Maybe an existing one world order being a corporation has a stronger cautionary element on the left but what I didn’t so much see was moralizing about waste or pollution, so much as the film seeming to point to society’s inability to get off its collective ass. Virtual games, buying in bulk, and if you look a little harder, self gratification, e.g. retail therapy, as a means to fulfillment that ultimately leaves one empty.
    Plenty of sci fi flix portray a post apocalyptic world. Most use nuclear annihilation, I thought it was cool they’d used over consumption. My problem was I just wasn’t totally engaged. I really wanted to get on board with Wall-e, but truth is I wasn’t attached. I liked all the elements, a life of Sisyphus existence, romantic desires to sing and dance with someone special, and yearning for someone you’re willing to open up to in hopes of that being being able understand you. I just wasn’t too connected. And that made the movie a disappointment to me.
    Maybe because it didn’t take me anywhere I didn’t expect it to go. Maybe I needed a greater sense of sacrifice. I also thought that it may’ve been missing a sense of awe and wonderment that happens in other sci fi and even Pixar films, like asking the question of what does that once special toy feel after its owner has outgrown her.
    I needed to feel Wall-e’s pain and joy but somehow I was left as neutral as the robots that served them.

  39. IOIOIOI says:

    Wall-E gave everything for love and humanity. Everything. What brought him back? Love.
    If this does not connect with you. What exactly does connect with you? Is a kiss not good enough for you? Holding hands?
    The love this movie has for humanity is off the charts. The movie loves humanity even if we sit in chairs, forget how to walk, and stay like babies all of our lives. This story never ever forgets that humans can overcome no matter what stands in our way. It believes in people and machines.
    Again… how does that not work for you? Your response makes absolutely no sense to me. It’s just mind-boggling, stupifying, and comes across as being soulless.

  40. Wrecktum says:

    Don’t be an asshole, IO. Soulless my ass. Some people (me, for example) didn’t connect with the character and, consequently, couldn’t give a rat’s ass about any of the sacrifice at the end.
    Too me the whole character felt contrived and manipulative. I could feel the filmmakers’ heavy hand on every movement and chirp. Just because you were moved doesn’t mean everyone else has to be. Why is always my-way-or-the-highway with all of the arrogant numbnuts on this board?

  41. IOIOIOI says:

    Wrecktum: you are the one who hates humanity. If you actually liked people. You might have connected with a tiny robot who found an appreciation for this world thanks to everything humanity left behind.
    It has nothing to do with being an asshole. It has to do with you. If you do not connect with this beautiful movie that loves robot and humanity alike. Well… really… what good are you?

  42. Wrecktum says:

    You’re obviously troubled. Reconsider your life, I beg you.

  43. IOIOIOI says:

    No, I think you are the one who is troubled and has a detachment from people. Seriously, your Tim Russert responses demonstrated how whacked out of your goard that you are, and this only adds to your cake of SPECIAL. So go get the proper help, and try to get in contact with a person in real-life. You sorry fucking sod.

  44. Wrecktum says:

    Notice you’re the only one lashing out here. If you read my analytical discussion of Russert in total, you’d obviously not be so irrational. The point is: your opinion of WALL-E means as much as anyone else’s. I’d be happy to discuss the film in a sensible manner, but if you’re just going to insult and ridicule, then I’m out.

  45. Lota says:

    Goodness me. This thread has become “Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce”
    Maybe I better not say my thoughts on Wall-e.

  46. IOIOIOI says:

    Wrec: a sensible matter? There’s nothing to discuss with you. The little robot with a heart of gold did not connect with you. So really, there’s not thing do here, but state the obvious between you and I. These things matter. It’s tacky, but they do. If you are not down, then you are not down, and there’s nothing left to post.

  47. jeffmcm says:

    Okay, now that I’ve seen it, I can say that I liked it, but I’m going to predict a US gross in the range of $250-275, aka the same territory as Monsters/Incredibles. It didn’t feel like it had the same things going for it that Finding Nemo did to push it well over $300m.

  48. THX5334 says:

    I saw it today at AMC century city here in LA.
    Quick aside, I asked how Hancock was selling, the ticket guy said not as well as he expected..
    Anyways, my girl and I am just disgusted and done with the adult audience’s manners in what is supposed to be the worlds “film “capital. Constant texting and smartphone bullshit out of every corner of my eye throughout the whole movie. The theatre was crowded and hot with no AC for the whole movie.
    I really dont mind if kids are loud and talk at the screen at a film like this; in fact I kinda like it, but I cant deal with their parents not even attempting to try to quiet them, and teaching them manners or to be considerate of others around them. If the kid is just too into the movie and cant stop asking questions about the story, Im down with that. but if they’re uncomfortable or upset, handle your shit and get them the fuck out of the theatre.
    The whole experience made me and the girl decide we’re going to pull the trigger on a 1080p Projector and 100″ screen for the apartment, even though money is tight. We’re going to opt for waiting on that oh so shortening home video release window and have a “theatre” experience under our own conditions. We’ll hit the real theatre for big event movies like Dark Knight when we can select our seats and find a show where the audience isn’t lame.
    But Wall-E wasn’t playing anywhere with that option.
    However, until then; it’s going to be home theatre for most of the time from now on.
    As for Wall-E; it was awesome, but I still feel The Incredibles deserves the title of Masterpiece, more so than this. Though I was very impressed and think it’s probably my second favorite Pixar flick.

  49. jeffmcm says:

    Your first mistake was going to Century City.

The Hot Blog

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin