Given Pixar’s initial standardization of computer-animated feature films, this article examines the studio’s relation to digital modernization and to animation’s legacy of subversion through an analysis of WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008). The film exemplifies themes of modernization and subversion, and it demonstrates how a playful alienation of naturalized norms can distract from the narrative’s perpetuation of specific cultural values and practices. The narrative of WALL-E gives essentialist status to liberal desire and heterosexuality through robot characters presented in juxtaposition to consumerist, infantile, human characters. The portrayal of these sociocultural norms within the fictional space of the film (both on Earth and in outer space) is compounded by the playful space of animation itself. Pixar’s computer animation, if represented by WALL-E, presents itself as free for the essence of technology and the human to emerge but simultaneously functions as a space for precise control that is a corollary to the proliferation of programmed, algorithmic media.


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pp. 53-75
Launched on MUSE
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