What's the Mac-centric Message in 'Wall-E'?
If Steve Jobs and Apple, Inc. don't have any say in what Disney and Jobs'
former company PIXAR produce, explain why it's like 1984 again?



by Joe Leo, Columnist


OPINION: 6.30.08-- Last Friday, I wrote about what I thought the sociological message was that could be taken home from Disney/PIXAR's newest animated film "Wall-E" based on the premise that technology--like that from Apple, Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios--is a tool that helps, has helped, the human race advance to where they are today. (Duh, again, you say).

The problem with that is, one, I inadvertently left that point out of my story, and second, I hadn't seen the film yet to make a solid judgment. But since last night, I did, let's fix this, shall we?

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Without rehashing what I already said in my article on Friday, I was trying to make the connection between Apple and Pixar with this new movie. One of the points made was that both companies got to where they are today because they decided to change their business model. Two companies who were only in it to sell computers, and now look at them today.

Through all of that discussion, the real point I was trying to get across got lost in translation. (If you haven't read the Friday piece yet, go do so now before you really get lost in translation!).

It began with the idea of Pixar's quest to make life easier for animation artists and movie studios alike. Instead of doing things the hard way, let's use our computer system, our "Pixar boxes" to help you do your jobs and do bigger and better things than you could ever do before. Or in this case, have never seen before. This was the 1980s, remember.

Apple Computer, on the other hand, was kind of trying to get that message across with their product. Buy our computer, and because we make the hardware and the software, your whole experience will be that much better. The famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial said it all. "Think Different" (though those words weren't ever said). But let's not jump the gun here yet...

Of course, the clearest example is today's perception of Apple and their products. They're easier to use, problem free, and why would you want to deal with anything else? Throw in the "iPod halo effect" where customers who loved their iPods and its ease-of-use were behind the whole defection from PCs to Macs--and then the dawn of just "Apple, Inc."--and there you go!

So let's get to the bottom of the matter here, on the question I posed in my headline and subsequent sub-headline. If Steve Jobs is using his influence to send out messages through this new "Wall-E" film, what can he possibly be trying to say?

Important note! Don't read on if you haven't seen the film yet! Come back after you've done so. (Again, if you haven't seen the movie yet, turn back now. Bookmark this page and read later!!).

First, let me say that Dale Roe totally missed it. Well, I take it back. He had the idea, but misled me to think that the movie was going to be something all about Macs since Wall-E was supposedly a Mac with the distinct startup chime of such, upon his booting up. If Roe didn't point it out, I would never have caught the Mac startup chime.

Okay, I would have, but it's done only twice in the film! I would have said to myself, oh, that's familiar. The Mac startup sound. But I would have left it at that. Since Wall-E was a collector of junk, it might have been a spare part or something he installed in himself to keep on ticking.

Then there's the white robot EVE, who you'll agree she's more of an iMac G4 than an iPhone 3G! I hate to say it, if Peter Debruge never mentioned that Jonathan Ive had some say in her design, I still would have compared it to a Mac-- even without Wall-E's startup sound before that.

Other than those two aspects, that's it! That's the only Apple connection you will ever make in the film. Okay, there's one other you wouldn't have known unless you watched it. One of the voices used in the film is not human but of Apple origin. (Plus, end credits for Steve Jobs, Jonathan Ive, "Macintalk" as a listed star, and of course, a thanks to Apple, Inc. and Intel).

So where in heck do you get any Steve Jobs influence or sociological messages from this film?


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