Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Favorite Characters: A Lovelorn Loadlifter

This week my subject is the titular character of Disney-Pixar's Wall-E. Quickly rising to the top 10 of my favorite films and remaining there with excellent staying power on many repeat viewings, I cannot gush enough about this movie and Wall-E himself.
I have always been fascinated by fictional robots, and particularly those robots who are eccentric or broken, robots whose initial programming is not their primary focus. It's all very well to have a well-programmed machine that does exactly what its designers intended. In fact, in real life, I think that's probably for the best. Far too many robots who supersede their instructions proceed to run amok on deadly killing sprees. (I'm looking at you, Skynet)
But some robots have wormed their way into my heart by choosing different paths than those they were built to follow. A small, rusting, 700-year-old garbage mashing robot on the environmentally ravaged Earth of 2805, Wall-E is one such beloved character.
He is generally practical, efficient, methodical. He's performed his repetitive task well beyond his design limits (the other Waste Allocation Load Lifters of the Earth class have succumbed to time)
He's steadfast, even brave in his lonely job. He's uncomplaining in his mission to clear the debris of the culture who created and abandoned him. But he's long past the single-mindedness of his early centuries. Like myself, he enjoys collecting and surrounding himself with junk and trinkets. He likes musicals, as I do, or possibly just one musical, I'm not sure. Certainly he likes to dance.
And when the opportunity arises, and a sleek, young, driven new model robot, EVE, arrives in his life he pursues her with the same sense of purpose he had previously poured into his work.
I admire a robot who knows what he wants and goes after it. (again, not talking about you, Skynet).
EVE does not have eyes for WALL-E at first, she is devoted to her own directive, plant detection. But our hero is determined, he does not give up, and, as you may imagine, their purposes intertwine and robot affection is born as a new hope for the planet is kindled.
Golly gosh, oh gee. I swear to God, I'm a real sap sometimes.
Wall-E is a robot short on words, but long on matters of the heart, and I love him, just as I love his ancestors.

If our robots can be kind and loving when they break away from our programming, perhaps our world will be in good pincers when we leave it behind. Or perhaps if we continue in our douchbaggery, they'll just sing over our graves. Either way, I'm glad SOMEONE will be cheerful.
(Thanks to my wife for the picture of Number 5.)

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