Debate and Discussion

Wall-E - Did anyone notice...
DTilove at 1:05PM, July 9, 2008
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I have a question about the movie Wall-E. In all the scenes showing the people of the future, did anyone else notice that every single one of them was white?

I want to give Pixar the benefit of the doubt and say it was an oversight, but there are so many political messages in the film it seems unfathomable that they could have missed this something so glaring like this. In fact the movie has been criticized for its abundance of controversial themes, like the potrayal of corporations as all-controlling entities that are responsible for the destruction of the world, as well as encouraging people to become sedentary and obese. If they knew they were creating a movie that people were going to analyze, how could they have allowed such a mistake to slip by? I mean, there isn't even a hint of diversity - every human character in the movie is stark white.

Did this occur to anyone else?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:17PM
Aurora Moon at 1:40PM, July 9, 2008
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You do have a very good point there.

on one hand, let's just give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they were just drawing/creating people who were the closest to them in simlarity.

for instance, an black artist/creator might as much as likely to create an all-black cast. Not because she/he thinks that blacks are superior or something, but simply because the artist is simply drawing from what she/he is used to.Artists/creators usually draws people who are most like themselves out of habit because they want creations that they can relate to.

Then of course there's the whole PC issue… if they were to draw different ethic characters, and had that person do something bad once then it might spark some outrage by some people who assume that the artists and or creators were depicting that person of certain ethic colors to represent the whole race.

But then on the other hand… you're right. there's certainly no excuse for the lack of diversity. At least they could do is put a couple of ethic people in the backdrop…
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:10AM
Hawk at 3:20PM, July 9, 2008
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Man, I swear I saw nonwhite people in there somewhere. I could be wrong though. I've only seen the movie once. But if there are no other races, what does that say? Would the Latino community be upset because Pixar is implying that in the future Latinos don't exist? Would black people be happy because it's the white people who got fat and lazy? I don't think the omission of races (intended or not) really means anything in the context of Wall-E. The heroes AND villains are robots, and they have no race.

Some of the issues people bring up about race in entertainment media really have me spooked. I've watched design processes happen and seen people debate over what race the villain should be, and how they can include a good character of that race to offset any possible racism accusations. It seems like the safest villain is a white villain when you're worried about what people think.

I've also seen black, Mexican, Asian, and even disabled people thrown in “just for good measure”. Is a token character helping anyone? Will lack of a blind Planeteer upset blind Captain Planet viewers?

These are the kinds of issues I wish we didn't have to worry about.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
DTilove at 3:35PM, July 9, 2008
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Hawk
Some of the issues people bring up about race in entertainment media really have me spooked. I've watched design processes happen and seen people debate over what race the villain should be, and how they can include a good character of that race to offset any possible racism accusations.

I understand what you're saying, and I wonder if I would have even noticed it if the movie hadn't already had me examining its picture of the future. This particular movie was delivering political messages, and this was a message that they delivered whether it was accidental or not.

Consider the implications of what they were saying. The world went bad, and the leading corporation/government built a ship for everyone to live on. By not showing us any other races, does that mean that they only let white people on? Are there other ships out there containing different races, meaning in the future humanity subscribes to segregation? The movie put itself in a position of showing us what our future could be if we don't shape up, and there are tons of subtle hints meant to add to that overall theme. That's why this stood out to me so strongly - they were showing us a future that had only one race.

However, there is one argument that turns this in to a matter of opinion - they were on that ship for like 500-700 years or something, and after that long a period everyone on the ship would probably look pretty much the same. However, my opinion is that if that is the case, they should have at least had a tan.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:17PM
arteestx at 8:19PM, July 9, 2008
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Hawk
Some of the issues people bring up about race in entertainment media really have me spooked. I've watched design processes happen and seen people debate over what race the villain should be, and how they can include a good character of that race to offset any possible racism accusations. It seems like the safest villain is a white villain when you're worried about what people think.
I remember when The Lion King was criticized because the two main hyenas were voiced by Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin, and in the story the hyenas briefly took over the lands and the entire ecosystem went to hell. Therefore the underlying theme of the movie (from the critics) is that if you let the blacks and latinos take over, everything would go to hell.

I also remember reading an interview of Berke Breathed, who drew the comic strip Bloom County throughout the 80s, and it was a few years before he introduced any minorities into the comic. He said that he felt when you drew a minority or woman, that character automatically represented everyone in that demographic, whether you intended it or not. Perhaps he was overly sensitive, but I'm not sure he was completely wrong.

Just thought I'd throw out those two tidbits. And now I'll have to go watch the film and see if I can find any minorities…

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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
ozoneocean at 1:00AM, July 10, 2008
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Man it's bizarre when you think of the world in terms of “races”. That's so alien and wrong to me. …When the popular semantics of the masses define reality. o_O

That aside, yeah, it's annoying when a lot of films aren't very representative of the communities they're produced for. It's a general problem with most films, but you really notice it particularly in stuff that comes from the U.S.
It seems that they always seek to have the most homogeneous cast. The people in the films only represent a very narrow band of appearance. If you have shorter, taller, fatter, thinner people, or people with “unusual” facial features or whatever, they're not seen as the norm in movies like they are in everyday life, but as uniquely special, bizarre figures. And that's before you even GET to different nationalities or skin tones lol!
(people not in the homogeneous band are specially remembered because of that- Steve Buscemi, Danny Devito, Rhea Perlman, Jeff Goldblum…)

For Chinese people, African type people or whatever they can only either be one of two things- they look almost no different from a European with only small differences (like Hallie Berri, Denzel Washington, Chow Yun Fat, Jacki Chan), or they have to look very exotic and representative of the “idea” of their nationality or cultural stereotype (Lucy Lu, Grace Jones, Mr T). …That's changed a bit though in some ways, you've got people like Will Smith who really does look like an ordinary guy, people like that, it's good to see.

But when people are put in for the sake of tokenism it's really obvious and stupid.

It's also sad that we have to examine movies in terms of someone else's idea of so called “race” when that's not how the thing was intended. It's a given that the poor forethinking by the movie's production team provoked that discussion, but if it's not what the creative work is about then it's not really far to examine it in terms of that.

-Now, for the film I saw the other day; “Eat, For This Is My Body” those questions are CENTRAL to the theme of the thing.
But unless that's the case with the work you're talking about, it's best to stick to discussing the creative process side of it (i.e. WHY weren't they more representative?), rather than what they're trying to say…

Those are my thoughts anyway. :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
StaceyMontgomery at 6:21AM, July 11, 2008
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To be fair, I haven't seen Wall-E - I never go to the movies, my partner is terribly allergic to the toxic fragrances you all drench yourselves in, so we are stay-at-home types. But I had to comment on this:

ozoneocean
It's also sad that we have to examine movies in terms of someone else's idea of so called “race” when that's not how the thing was intended. It's a given that the poor forethinking by the movie's production team provoked that discussion, but if it's not what the creative work is about then it's not really far to examine it in terms of that.

But Oo, we do not KNOW what anyone intends by their movie, their comic, their writing, whatever. The only way I know what a creative work is about is by taking in the work and judging it on that basis. A creative work is about whatever I think it is about when i view it. My take on a book or movie can't be “wrong,” can it?


ozoneocean
But unless that's the case with the work you're talking about, it's best to stick to discussing the creative process side of it (i.e. WHY weren't they more representative?), rather than what they're trying to say…

But if this were true, than we could never really say anything about a work except in terms of it's process. If i can't judge a work by just viewing the work - then why bother? If I can only understand Wall-E if i watch the extra DVD with all the interviews and mini-documentaries (snooooze) than what's the point?

I have no idea what Leonardo wanted me to take away from The Mona Lisa, or what his process was. Isn't that wonderful?

And come to think of it, I have no idea what you REALLY want to say with Pinky TA. I only know what I get from it!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
ozoneocean at 8:37AM, July 11, 2008
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Ha! Well I approve of your “many views and perspectives” post modernist take, but I'm coming at this from the standpoint that most of these creative works are amazingly basically obvious. What they're “saying” is pretty evident because that's the way they were made. So, I say if you want to give them a critique based on “what the creators where trying to say” : do it on that basis.

There are a lot of things they're obviously NOT talking about. For instance, you could discuss the film Bambi using a feminist perspective, examining what Disney was saying about the position of women in society… But it'd be just a little silly because that wasn't what the work was about.
HOWEVER, you can still validly discuss it from a feminist perspective, just not basing that on what the film makers were “trying to communicate”. You'd be more general, talking about how the female characters are portrayed and why they are, as well as broader issues about the roles of women in society at the time, even the roles of women in the Disney corporation etc.

——
Even with the Mona Lisa you can't do that. You can't talk about Leoardo's motivation without basing it what is actually KNOWN or at least plausible -earning his commission, gaining fame, colour choices, painting method, whatever. But again, you can very validly discuss a whole host of broader issues… as long as you don't claim to be reading the secret thoughts of the creator.
That sort of criticism strikes me as faintly corrupt, fantastical and dishonest.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:31PM
Hawk at 9:44AM, July 11, 2008
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You're describing so much of my art education, Ozone. They tried to climb into the minds of dead artists and tell us what they were saying… and it was always some political or social message. Certainly these people didn't paint a bowl of fruit because they enjoyed it!

Movies are harder to contrive messages from than any single painting or sculpture because hundreds of people work on them. It's true that a movie like Walle-E has one director and one cinematographer and one producer, but there are dozens of designers and hundreds of modellers, texturers, animators, lighters, and renderers that the assets actually come from. For them to team up and secretly agree to embed a racist message would not be very likely.

I know that's not what you were trying to imply, DTilove. More the idea that it's a big oversight on Pixar's part.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
JillyFoo at 11:02AM, July 11, 2008
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I really thought I saw black people in the movie.

The skin color was a lighter brown though not as obvious. I do know for sure that the first captain of the ship was an Asian woman. I remember that.

One thing I particularly like about animation/comic/cartoons, it's not always easy to tell races just by looking at them. Especially in anime.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:08PM
7384395948urhfdjfrueruieieueue at 7:55AM, July 12, 2008
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It's always the white people who notice and care about these things.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:07AM
bobhhh at 8:14AM, July 12, 2008
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It's always the white people who notice and care about these things.

You're tripping, there was black and asian people in the movie I just saw it.

Granted they were light skinned, but then I'm sure there could be race mixing in the future, and the BnL nation seemed to be the US, which is predominantly white, so I can see how intermarriage produces mostly whitish people.

But if you look at the previous captains one is black and one is an asian woman.

You could complain that the three main human characters were all white, but really now isn't that just pushing it a bit?

Really people it's just a sweet little kids movie.

I wonder how how far we are going to take this PC attitude. What's next?

“I don't remember seeing any African Americans in Alice in Wonderland….WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?!?!?!”
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:30AM
lothar at 9:35AM, July 12, 2008
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yea … i dont know anything about this movie , i never even heard of it untill just now .
but if they're all living on a spaceship for 700 hundred years wouldn't they naturally turn into a bunch of pale flabby pudding pops ?

anyway , disney has always been racist , just look at those crows in dumbo
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
mapaghimagsik at 12:03PM, July 14, 2008
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I'm pretty sure there were people of different shades there. It might have been missed through all the pastiness and doughiness.

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM
7384395948urhfdjfrueruieieueue at 2:20PM, July 15, 2008
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bobhhh
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It's always the white people who notice and care about these things.

You're tripping, there was black and asian people in the movie I just saw it.

Granted they were light skinned, but then I'm sure there could be race mixing in the future, and the BnL nation seemed to be the US, which is predominantly white, so I can see how intermarriage produces mostly whitish people.

But if you look at the previous captains one is black and one is an asian woman.

You could complain that the three main human characters were all white, but really now isn't that just pushing it a bit?

Really people it's just a sweet little kids movie.

I wonder how how far we are going to take this PC attitude. What's next?

“I don't remember seeing any African Americans in Alice in Wonderland….WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?!?!?!”

I don't get why you quoted me for that one. Unless you were repeating what I said because you agree. But it looked like you were correcting me with things I already agree with.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:07AM
mapaghimagsik at 3:06PM, July 15, 2008
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If there really were only white people in Wall-E, they missed a great 2001 reference:

“My God, its filled with crackers!”
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:51PM
bobhhh at 4:06PM, July 15, 2008
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I don't get why you quoted me for that one. Unless you were repeating what I said because you agree. But it looked like you were correcting me with things I already agree with.

You're right I agree with you, and I'm sorry but you're right I mwant to respond to everyone not pick on you.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:30AM
Poke Alster at 9:51AM, July 16, 2008
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I'd give pixar the benefit of the doubt, maybe they just put them in to make it quicker and easier
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:46PM
dueeast at 1:28PM, July 16, 2008
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I think the issue of whether on not Wall-E was all-white has been addressed. I wanted to comment on past animated movies and cartoons that were racist, especially Disney movies.

No question about it, there were racist movies. Peter Pan's Native Americans were a deliberate farce and racist as can be. Dumbo's crows are another example. Quite a few old Looney Tunes cartoons and Popeye in particular had racist moments or at least overtones. It was acceptable and legal in those pre-Civil Rights era days and it wasn't socially (and legally) taboo like it is today.

At least a lot of progress has been made since then.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:18PM
HippieVan at 4:46PM, July 16, 2008
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I just got back from that movie, and I thought I should point out that the second human being you see is black, and that there remains a good amount of them in the crowds throughout the movie. This thread really shouldn't have even been started.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:48PM
sadTakara at 5:48PM, July 25, 2008
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Topics on race always grab my attention. Just because I don't think we should truly care. I don't know. I mainly draw pale skinned females, but that doesn't mean I discriminate towards any colored people. I'm even latin myself.

But I kinda have to think about the whole reason we even look the way we look. To survive and adapt to our world. I mean, if we spent 700 years on a ship, with no real sunlight, don't you think we'd all eventually just be pale. The only reason we have color is because of our melanin. And if we have artificial sunlight, like in the movie, which didn't look like super strong light, I doubt we'd gain much color.

But I'm pretty sure I saw some colored people, or non-white people.

I just don't think we should analyze movies for race. It's how the person sees it in their head. And how it comes out. The fact that we have to add different looking people, just to please every single person in the world, seems really sad to me. Not to mention impossible.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:17PM
Aussie_kid at 12:59AM, July 27, 2008
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I just saw the movie today and, while there were a lot of white people, I did see some other people of different nationalities.

Personally, I was just fixed on the adorable little robot trying to win the affections of a superior model. No one else can deny it was a cute movie
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:11AM
Croi Dhubh at 4:07PM, July 27, 2008
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Or maybe, you know, the movie was based around a certain clique of people and not anyone else. If a movie was made about me and my area, it'd have 98% white people, too. Doesn't mean no other people live in Colorado, it's just who the movie is around.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:54AM
Jellomix at 7:47PM, July 28, 2008
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Yeah, it was kind of weird. The movie made us assume that the population of the whole world was in the ship… and if that was so, statistically/logically, there should've been a big chunk of Asians. I mean, every 2 out of 6 should be Asian. (Out of a world population of 6 billion, 1 billion= Oriental, 1 billion= Indian or brown in general)
That is, if we assume the ship held the whole world. But remember how the President of the United States gave the order to the autopilot of the ship? My guess is the ship holds the population of the US- and maybe Canada or something. Wooo Canada. Lol.

Or, the animators used “copy+paste” for the unimportant characters, which would make a random crowd of people all look the same colour, being copied+pasted from each other an' all. :|

Good movie though.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 1:07PM
Hawk at 10:29PM, July 28, 2008
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Jellomix
Or, the animators used “copy+paste” for the unimportant characters, which would make a random crowd of people all look the same colour, being copied+pasted from each other an' all. :|

Copy+Paste is actually pretty close to how they did it. Every human in the movie uses nearly the same assets, and they coded the rendering software to randomize hair and skin shades. While this is an easy to see process in Wall-E where the humans are all so similar, they actually used the same process in The Incredibles for crowd scenes and in Cars for the scenes with spectator cars in the stadium. The people you see are the same exact body with various sliders moved around to create differences.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
lothar at 1:51AM, July 29, 2008
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Jellomix
That is, if we assume the ship held the whole world. But remember how the President of the United States gave the order to the autopilot of the ship? My guess is the ship holds the population of the US- and maybe Canada or something. Wooo Canada. Lol.


a common mistake american filmmakers continue to make ; america = the world
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
korosu at 10:57AM, Aug. 1, 2008
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I know I at least saw a couple of African American people in the bunch, but yeah, but seeing as the entire population of Earth is supposed to be on the ship, you'd think there'd be a wider selection. Where's the Asians and Latinos? And I think it was just oh-so convenient that in the future, everyone speaks English. ;) But oh, well; I still loved the movie.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:21PM
Faliat at 5:48PM, Aug. 1, 2008
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About the whole “everybody being white” thing:

They might not all be white, y'know. We're all supposed to mix together in the future, and since all these people are so fat their features probably don't show as much so I don't think we really know exactly WHAT race they are. And in my opinion it shouldn't matter. Being too PC causes more divides than closes them. Complaining that there's too many black people in something or not enough is pretty damn ridiculous. Take the criticism of Resident Evil 5 for example. Most of the people complaining that it's racist on youtube are white people. The black members putting up videos regarding he issue either don't care about there being black zombies, or angry that people think it's racist to be in Africa and have black zombies chasing after you that you have to kill unless you die. There are white people that disagree with these overly PC people. Myself for one. And that's because I've SEEN real racism. And I've experienced it.

And anyway. Wall-E is an American movie. It'd be quite odd if there was a Japanese/Chinese/Indian/etc movie with a lot of random white people chucked in because they didn't want complaints about there not being any white people in it.


And before I finish, i'd just like to say that it's pretty ironic.
Pixar making a movie about the negative side of corporations when it's a Disney controlled company.

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bobhhh at 9:34PM, Aug. 1, 2008
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lothar
a common mistake american filmmakers continue to make ; america = the world

Every country does that dude. Ever see a Godzilla movie made by a Japanese director that wasn't set in Japan?

korosu
Where's the Asians and Latinos? And I think it was just oh-so convenient that in the future, everyone speaks English. ;) But oh, well; I still loved the movie.

Obviously you have never seen Star Trek lol!, people speak english in an American movie because it's easier that way.

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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:30AM
korosu at 9:58PM, Aug. 1, 2008
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bobhhh
Obviously you have never seen Star Trek lol!
You would be correct. -_-; Although now that I think about it, it's the same thing with the human characters in Star Wars as well…
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:21PM

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