Apple, Inc.- You Sly Fox, 'Wall-E' Coyote You
The hidden sociological message from Disney/PIXAR's newest film


by Joe Leo, Columnist


FEATURE / COMMENTARY: 6.27.08-- Disney/PIXAR's digital animated flick "Wall-E" which opens today, shows us just how far computers have taken us in this modern-day world. Yes, we know that already, you're saying to yourself. On the Mac side of things, it's kind of like a metaphor for what Apple stands for, what they've done for us, and how it's changed our lives.

And if the movie "Wall-E" itself isn't a poster child or shameless plug for Apple, Inc. the company itself, then you must read on to find out exactly what we're talking about.

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Last weekend, on the latest episode of the show TechNow! (a show produced by San Francisco-based NBC station KNTV11 in San Jose, CA), viewers who didn't know it learned that Pixar Animation Studios started out not as an animation company that would produce such famous joint venture with Disney films such as "Toy Story" or "The Incredibles" but as a?

Computer company that wanted to sell its hardware to movie studios for creating digital films.

Described by reporter Scott McGrew as a "happy accident story"--using examples such as Nokia the rubber boot company and Nintendo the taxi cab service--since their initial business venture was not what they ended up doing later on, Pixar became known as they are today because they decided to stray from their original business model.

According to McGrew, all Pixar wanted to do was sell these computers, devices called the "Pixar Box," to companies like Disney. Author David Price, a writer who chronicles the history of Pixar says in an interview, "Disney hated the idea." And this was in the early 1980s!

Disney only became interested after noticing a short film made by Pixar's John Lasseter--fired by Disney back in the 80s for suggesting computer animation was the wave of the future, later joining Pixar, and now back with Disney (who does that remind you of... at company, fired, then back again?)--wins an Oscar. Short films that were really ads to showcase Pixar's "boxes."

The company finally realized that making the movies themselves would bring in the money, rather than selling the boxes (computers) that made the movie. So they came up with a toy story, Apple CEO Steve Jobs buys Pixar, Jobs sells Pixar to Disney, and the rest is history.

So how does Pixar, Apple, and the premier or "Wall-E" figure in to all of this?

First, Pixar's story is kind of like Apple's rise to the top in recent years. Pixar, like Apple, was in the business of selling computers. We all know and like to argue that if not for the iPod, and now the iPhone and everything else up Apple's sleeves, the computer company--excuse us--Apple the incorporated company wouldn't be where it is, what it is, and who they are today.

And this is the company that only used to focus on selling its, boxes, bundled with its own operating system, hoping that people would have a better experience than that of Microsoft Windows-based PCs. Now Apple's an electronic devices / pseudo-entertainment business, with that iPod music player, its iTunes music and movie service, the iPhone, and an [Apple]TV.

Then there's the obvious connection with Steve Jobs being the former owner of the animation studio, which he bought from Lucasfilm (and named it Pixar when he did) after he was fired by Apple back in 1986. Then, 20 years later, it was bought by Disney, the company who previously hated the idea of computer-animated films.

Plus that weird connection to John Lasseter-- was there, then fired, and now back there again.


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