Rod Dreher’s review of WALL-E has me ready to run out and see it a third time. Or write a book about it. Or something.
The following contains SPOILERS, so don’t say I didn’t warn you…
What I found especially interesting about this epilogue is how it showed the robots from the Axiom helping humans rebuild civilization. See, “Wall-E” is not a Luddite film. It doesn’t demonize technology. It only argues that technology is properly used to help humans cultivate their true nature — that it must be subordinate to human flourishing, and help move that along. Where humanity got into trouble was allowing technology to exacerbate its own internal disorder — to alienate people from their labor, from each other, and ultimately from themselves. The film is wise enough to know that we can’t go back to a pre-technology state, so it says the best thing to do is to put technology in its proper place — which we can only do when our own souls and communities are rightly ordered.
“Wall-E” says that humans have within themselves the freedom to rebel, to overthrow that which dominates and alienates us from our true selves, and our own nature. But you have to question the prime directive; that is, you have to become conscious of how they way you’re living is destroying your body and killing your soul, and choose to resist. “Wall-E” contends that real life is hard, real life is struggle, and that we live most meaningfully not by avoiding pain and struggle, but by engaging it creatively, and sharing that struggle in community. It argues that rampant consumerism, technopoly and the exaltation of comfort is causing us to weaken our souls and bodies, and sell out our birthright of political freedom. Nobody is doing this to us; we’re doing it to ourselves. It is the endgame of modernity, which began in part with the idea that Nature is the enemy to be subdued — that man stands outside of Nature, and has nothing to learn about himself from Nature’s deep logic.
If Wendell Berry made a sci-fi movie for kids, it would be “Wall-E.” I’m very eager to hear what the rest of you have to say about it. I notice Julie and I are already starting to critique our own daily behavior and choices by saying, “That’s like on the Axiom.” Saying, “We’re on the Axiom!” is our way of taking note of our own mindless consumerism.