Story and Truth

Fling93 posted this article about WALL-E: Economic Ignorance and the War on Modernity. The day after reading the article I heard
Andrew Stanton on Fresh Air

The Mises Institute article has two main points as I see it. The first is the Buy N Large Corporation would never exist. If there was a single company that did everything, it would become the government. The second point is about the end of the movie. The credit show the world starting over again from the beginning, including going back to farming. The ship has an food system that has not failed in 700 years. It would be more dangerous go back to farming and not use the food system on the ship.

Here is the text of the article.

The humans' return to Earth and attempt to "rebuild" their lives is ludicrous from any sound economic perspective. After having had a sustainable automatic food production system aboard the Axiom — which had apparently worked without fail for seven centuries — humans all of a sudden decide to resort to traditional agriculture. The one thing they have machine capital to do for them, they decide to do manually instead. Rather than devoting the precious time bought by the ready availability of food to, say, create art, repair all those broken skyscrapers, or design even better robots, the humans decide to manually dig holes in the ground and grow their food through backbreaking toil that led millions throughout history to die premature deaths. Oh, by the way, the film left that part out. Virtually no one today who romanticizes the "good old days" of traditional agriculture recognizes how nasty, brutish, and short life under such conditions had been for millennia. Once the first industrial factories opened — with their long hours, dangerous equipment, and meager pay — people flocked to them in droves, because the factory conditions (including the sanitation provided and wages paid) were greatly preferable to those of toiling virtually all day on the traditional farm.

Two days after reading this article I hear Andrew Stanton on Fresh Air. He started with the idea of telling the story of the last robot on earth. He wanted this robot to be trash compactor and the world to be a dump. He took these ideas and created a story that serve them. He created Buy N Large as a way to quickly tell the story of how the world came to be this way. He comes up with this by stretching his own life out to the extremes. He basically thought about the world he saw around him.

Thinking about this idea, how important is the truth when it comes to fiction. Is it important that Wall*e got the economics wrong building the world? Writers will tell you that their only duty is the story. They need to make a story work even if breaks the rules of the real world. The average person believes that this world would work. That is only thing that is needed for a good story.

The problem is that stories do have an affect on the real world. Seeing this movie might effect how people see corporations, the environment, and the future. Fiction often changes the way the way people see the world. Everything from To Kill A Mockingbird to 1984, Atlas Shrugged to The Jungle are works of Fiction that changed the way people saw the world.

Science Fiction is often about exaggeration. Often Science Fiction goes past what is possible to tell stories. No one worries if the Road Warrior is truly possible or not. Soylent Green is a good movie, if the world could get to that point or not. I am not sure you can fault these movies for not getting the science or economics wrong.

In his twitter fling93 said: WALL*E was great, and spoke to me in more ways than I could have imagined. But it got the econ all wrong: My guess is that Andrew Stanton did not take a moment to worry if the economics in this movie would really work. He just built a company that would serve his purposes for the story.

In the end I am not sure what Wall*e is trying to tell the world. There are messages about environmentalism, consumerism, connection to the land, taking time to look at the stars, and love. There is a very good chance that kids that see this movie will have their view of the world shaped. I just hope when they go to take action they have more facts than just the movie. If people act only knowing this movie, that is a problem.

Don't worry, People on the left are giving Wall*e a hard time for its message also.


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