This post written by Editor and Co-Founder Amber Leab was originally published at Bitch Flicks on April 13, 2009.
While the beginning of WALL-E is a lovely silent film (and would've been a fantastic short film), when you brush away the artifice and the adorable little robots, all you have is standard Disney fare: a male protagonist and a female helper, told from his perspective. Why the robots are gendered at all isn't clear; the movie could've been about their friendship--and far more progressive than the heteronormative romance that ensues.
|WALL-E "dating" EVE|
EVE is sleek and lovely, and is physically able to do things WALL-E cannot, but she's part of an army of task-oriented robots. The mere push of a button shuts her down, and she lacks the self-protectionist drive that WALL-E exhibits when his power reserve drains. He is, of course, beholden to no one since the humans left Earth; he is autonomous and self-sufficient. EVE, on the other hand, is fully robotic: she's a badass, complete with gun, and she's more intelligent and cunning than WALL-E, but she's been programmed to be that way. She's an advanced form of technology, but she needs WALL-E to liberate her.
WALL-E, it seems, has developed human qualities on his own. He is also capable of keeping up with a robot approximately 700 years newer (read: younger) than he is--an impressive age gap in any relationship. EVE worries over WALL-E and caters to his physical limitations (he is, after all, an old man--with childlike curiosity), acting as nursemaid in addition to all-around badass. Who says we can't be everything, ladies? While EVE doesn't have any of the conventional trappings of femininity, she's a lovely modern contraption with clean lines, while WALL-E is clunky, schlubby, and falling apart (not to mention he's a clean rip-off of Short Circuit's Johnny 5)--reinforcing the (male) appreciation of a certain kind of female aesthetic, while reminding girls that they should look good and not worry too much about the appearance of their male love-interest.
More contrary opinions about WALL-E--including the troubling way it portrays obesity--on:
If you know of some other good discussions on the film, leave your links in the comments.