Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wall-e and MAD magazine, issue #1

Wall-e is the movie of the year. It's a charming animation from Pixar with depth and humor. You might even read into it some criticism of American militarism (along the lines of Chalmers Johnson or Andrew Bacevich), and American apathy, and our return from the American detour, maybe... I happened to have recently read the first issue of MAD magazine (Oct-Nov 1952). There's a connection. In part, Wall-e's a takeoff on the cover story Blobs, a more hopeful version. Most any afficionado of MAD magazine would recognize the historic cover of that first issue. The characters on that cover are frightened by something. In fact what they're reacting to is one of the blobs, who are futuristic human beings powering around in reclining chairs, just like in Wall-e. There's also the science-fiction short story The Machine Stops (1909) by E. M. Forster, which I haven't read yet, but from which it appears Blobs was adapted.

Version 1.1 - Jun 29 2008

Update (Jun 29, 2008): I listened to a recording by Jenna Lee (Part 1) and Erin Tivano (Parts 2 and 3) (sp?) of E. M. Forster's The Machine Stops (1909), a powerful story for a denizen of the next century, this century. It's a parable of language untethered. It's a warning to us, uncanny for its prescient description of the internet, not to rely solely on words built on words, drifting about abstractly, uncontested by "direct experience." Only by grounding our language in meaning, our economics in choice, our politics in rights, our government in transparency, our news with facts, can we hope. It's the story of something deep in our makeup which survives, which surmounts the nonsense we are born into.

Impressed, I've bought E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel (1927).

Update (Jun 30, 2008): Here's an adaptation of The Machine Stops from 1966 on BBC -


Anonymous said...

I just saw Wall-E today and I was instantly reminded of "BLOBS!" when I saw the humans riding around on their hovercliners. The fact that they were dependent on the robots for everything from waking up to going to bed was pretty close to the comic. At least in the movie the main computer didn't break.

Casey Bowman said...

Glad to hear I wasn't the only one to know about that MAD masterpiece!!!

ltux said...

I noticed today that one of the robots in The Blobs even looks like Wall-E. Check the lower-left hand panel on Page 5 (if you've got a copy).