Wall-E Review: From a Feminist’s perspective

Despite the names Wall-E and Eva (the female protagonist) these two characters are predominantly genderless, and one has to question why Pixar decided to go with a male name, especially when Wall-E’s character could be seen as the more stereotypically effeminate of the two, (watching musicals, dancing, yearning for a hand to hold) and Eve was a little trigger happy for the first 45 minutes… Perhaps it was an attempt at gender fluidity? or perhaps the time has still not come for a female protagonist cartoon, and not one starring a princess in a far away kingdom needing to be rescued by a handsome prince!

Despite that, I thought that Wall-E and Eva stood on completely equal footing. Wall-E, again the more effeminate character longed for companionship until Eva was sent from outer space to seek out “life” and return it to the Axiom ship, where grotesquely obese humans suck meals from slurpy cups and ride around on hovering lounge chairs while high paced media is superimposed over their natural surroundings.

I’m not going to comment on the consumerism angle, cuz everyone else already has, but for me, the Eve symbolism was pretty awesome. Eva (which is the Latin form for Eve, first woman) comes from some heavenly source, and is kind of a bad ass chick robot femme fatale on a mission. When that mission is completed, and “life” is found, it is placed inside her “womb” she falls silent, having fulfilled her reproductive duties… After Eva brings life back to the Axiom, a new plan is revealed, and the pinnacle moment of the movie, I thought, was when her programming ordered her to report to the Captain’s deck with the plant and she deliberately said no. System Override. Free Will in action, baby!

Eva’s physical form is actually pretty womby. Completely footless, she could easily be seen as a giant hovering egg, with pretty blue LED eyes. In the Greek myth Pandora, we know that the original translation for pythosis not a box, but a large olive jar used to store foods for the winter. ‘Box’ has the obvious genital slang, but a roomy, womby jar has quite a different sense of symbolism. When Pandora opened the jar/box, the evils of the world were let loose, only elpis, or hope remained. Or, from within the vagina only comes trouble for man, except hope (life) clinging to the jar the way a fertilized embryo clings to the uterine wall. It is in this sense that Eva is the bringer of hope to Wall-E.

It’s not a perfect retelling of the classic first woman narrative: For one thing, Eva is not sent be Wall-E’s helpmate, nor is she created from Wall-E’s spare parts, AND she comes pre-named! I’m not sure if there’s some fancy schmancy name for womb imagery, like yonic is for the vagina, but Wall-E was rife with roomy womby visuals, and I thought it kicked ass.

2 responses to “Wall-E Review: From a Feminist’s perspective

  1. Fascinating! I agree that Eva is much like the biblical Eve, not only because of the name and the uterine imagery and the act of rebellion, but because of the way in which her search for plant life stands as a symbol of humanity’s exile from their intended lives in tune with nature, much in the same way that the apple and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden meant for the biblical Eve. I suppose she could also be Marian in that her womb brought forth that symbol of hope to humanity. Meanwhile, Wall-E can be seen as more of a Christ figure than an Adam figure, in that his primary mission was to clean up the “sins” of the humans, he consorted with the marginalized robots, he brought “sight” to the humans he managed to rescue from their technological self-involvement, and his act of self-sacrifice “saves” humanity in the end. I will have to think about this some more…

  2. great points. this film is so very layered. Not only does it provide this religious allegory, it provides more contemporary visions of gender roles. Even though eve and wall-e are defined as female and male, respectively, they defy the norms of those genders in obvious ways.

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