Monday, January 23, 2012

The Good Ship Axiom

Wall-E is one of my favorite Disney movies, but probably not for the traditional reasons. Yes, it's a cute unconventional love story, and yes, it's loaded with physical humor to make the kids (and plenty of adults) laugh, but I love its wry commentary on today's society. The only part I don't quite understand is the end.

If you're one of the dozen or so people who missed this movie, it's set in a future world where Earth is so badly contaminated that humanity loads up on luxury space ships to live in the cosmos while robots clean the planet. After 700 years the robots have pretty much all disintegrated into useless rubble piles, with the exception of Wall-E, and the planet is still a rotting monument to the dangers of excess and mass consumption.

Meanwhile, the humans on the Axiom, flagship of the starship fleet, live in happy oblivion. Through a combination of lessened gravity and doing pretty much nothing but eating and video conferencing, they're all immobile flesh lumps that get around on flying ECVs. They don't even have to chew anymore, since robots deliver slurpable delicacies like "cupcake in a cup."

Living in Celebration means visiting the theme parks a lot, and every day I see us move closer and closer to Wall-E society. The ECV percentage grows higher by leaps and bounds. Many are genuinely needed by people with obvious or hidden disabilities, but hang out at the parks long enough and you'll hear perfectly healthy people laughing about how they used to stupidly waste energy using their legs until they discovered they could simply drive around. I've literally seen entire groups driving around in massive ECV fleets. I figure that Brazilian tour groups on ECVs are not too far in the future.

Better yet, we're inching ever closer to Cupcake in a Cup. At Universal during the Christmas season, there was a food wagon serving delicacies like Taco in a Cone and Turkey and Mashed Potatoes in a Cone.

At the end of Wall-E, evidence of earthly sustainability, in the form of a lone plant, lures the Axiom back to the planet, where the human blobs suddenly gain the ability to not only walk but to farm, fish, and otherwise create a new society. Cue the Disney happy ending music.

The part I don't understand is, why the hell would they want to leave the Axiom? They're basically living in paradise, with robots attending to every need, and apparently with no need for work or money. Then suddenly they're opting for a hardscrabble existence on a hostile planet. It's not like they have any direct connection to Earth; they didn't even know it existed until the same day they go back. They've been in space for seven hundred years, which equals quite a few generations, so the Axiom and its lifestyle is what they know as home.

I've been on 80-something Disney cruises, and I like to joke that the ships are my version of the Axiom. There's food for the asking 24 hours a day and such a wide array of on-board activities that I rarely bother to get off at the ports, other than Castaway Cay. When you play Bingo, you don't even have to watch your card because an automated Bingo-bot does it for you. Let's see...I have the choice of staying on the ship for the rest of my life, free of charge, as compared to a rebuilding a post-apocalyptic Earth. Isn't it a no-brainer?

Disney loves making sequel after sequel to its movies, so I figure another Wall-E installment isn't too far around the bend. Forget the happy scenes on the closing credits of the original movie, where the humans miraculously turned into svelte, athletic types living in a world suddenly teaming with earthly and aquatic life and tasty crops. If they go with reality, the Axiom refugees will waddle out, take one look at their supposed home world, and mutiny for an immediate return to space. And I'd be right there with 'em.

I'm dabbling in the world of fiction now myself. Click here to read the first chapter of my romance novella series, Fantasy Land, featuring the Orlando theme parks as its backdrop. The town of Celebration will be making an appearance in the second book.

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