Satire in Andrew Stanton’s “WALL-E”

Produced by Andrew Stanton in 2008, “Wall-e” features earth in the 29th century, but environmental neglect has turned the earth into a garbage filled wasteland. With the earth being uninhabitable, the mega-corporation Buy-N-Large (BnL) has evacuated the whole earth’s population to live on giant star-liners in space. Of all the robotic trash compactors left by BnL to clean up, only one remains operational: a Waste Allocation Load-Lifter (Earth Class), or WALL-E. One day, another robot called EVE comes to earth in search of plant life. WALL-E shows EVE the living plant that he found, and they eventually take it back to the mother-ship, the Axiom, and the ship brings all of the humans back to earth. During the credits, humans and robots are shown learning to farm, fish, and build, turning the planet into a paradise, and WALL-E’s plant is shown to have grown into a mighty tree.

Most of the satire that we see in “WALL-E” is exaggerated scenarios. We see the the whole earth is literally just a pile of garbage, and instead of trying to fix it humans left robots to clean it for them. Since humans have allowed robots to takeover work for them, we see all humans have all become overweight and need to be carried around instead of walking on their own. WALL-E was meant to show how our modern ways of living aren’t sustainable for our planet and that our continued laziness towards this situation will only lead to more trouble, but unfortunately as each day passes, this type of future gets more and more possible.

The Mask That We Call Comedy.

What more could Elle Woods want? Life has been nothing but easy for her, challenges are foreign to the young spunky blonde. The missing key to her perfect life is boyfriend Warner Huntington III, he just won’t propose. Woods lack of substance when it comes to her personality is the reason for this. In hopes of changing her mind she finds herself enrolled in one of the top ranked law schools, Harvard University. The experience helps her to defy the stereotype of a sorority-sister valley girl while staying true to herself although, does the film really capture the right message?

Director Robert Luketic builds off of the early 2000s stereotype of the “dumb blonde” as it fails to enhance reality to its fullest. It acts as a mask to underlying issues like gender inequality, sexual harassment and even abusive relationships. As main character Elle Woods defys the most typical form of this stereotype she doesn’t completely break through it. As much as her intelligence is presented it is also undermined just as often. For example, she won one of her court case by having intense knowledge of last year’s shoe trends, along with being an expert in post-perm hair care. Yes, she won the case but not in the traditional way which doesn’t really grasp the full effect.

Starting as early as the opening scenes gender rolls are put to use as seen in most current American films as we see arbitrary body shots of Woods. These shots also include stereotypical feminine actions such as brushing her hair, shaving her already perfect legs, engaging in Cosmopolitan, applying makeup, and (most alarming) getting catcalled by a bunch of men in a car, and smiling in their direction. What does this teach the younger generation? Elles intelligence is addressed throughout the film but that’s the only thing that separates her from the stereotype which is problematic. Not only this but unrealistic expectations makes this never ending cycle really hard to break since Woods social and economic status also played a major role in what she had to overcome.

Breaking down the comedy aspect of why women have become targets of such classification can be tied to various reasons. One perception is that humor is a tool used to facilitate work by lightening the mood, making difficult problems seem less extreme while also encouraging positive attitudes and healthy interactions. A second perception is that humor is disruptive — a distraction from the seriousness of work while demonstrating less commitment to work. Jokes including those about dumb blondes project the greater anxiety of men afraid of a threat to their social position. These fears are nothing new as losing masculine power could be traced all along the history of gender relations and numerous prejudices. Stereotypes of women include not only lower levels of achievement, but also the expectation of increased family responsibilities. Because it is so difficult to dedicate time to both work and family responsibilities, this has led to the perception that women are less dedicated to work causing society to view them in a humorous way.

In conclusion as much as we want to believe Woods represents that step in the right direction for image of women it really just masks it, like the rest of the world. Although its a step in the right direction there is still more that can be done to ensure and protect women so they are no longer the laughing stock of society.

A Lesson in Harmony

As an educator, one of the questions I get asked most frequently is “How can I play this without people thinking I’m bad?” Today I’m going to show you how to fix simple music so that you may play it without being embarrassed of yourself.

Let’s start with the classic method book melody “Ode to Joy”

Gross. Hal Leonard needs to fire whoever wrote this garbage.

But don’t worry, we’re going to fix it. Here it is again with some spice

Wait actually,

That’s better. A good rule of thumb is that any time you can do something, you should do it.  Otherwise, how will people know that you can?

Now I know what everyone is probably thinking: “The common practice period is over, wake up and smell the jazz chords”, well you’re right. So was I actually. Just because triads were good enough for Bach doesn’t mean they’re good.  Duke Ellington said it best: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got those jazz chords.”

Oh yeah, also you have to end on the sharp eleven. Every time. Now we’re getting somewhere. But anyone can modulate to the subdominant. Big deal. Sure it sounds good, but if we’re going to impress people outside the nursing home gig, we need to do something a little more hip.

That’s more like it. However, it’s not art until we break the confines of functional western harmony. And it’s not intellectual until the harmony can’t fit on the page. Let’s try something a little more nonfunctional.

Ah yes. Now were getting somewhere. But in order to truly express ourselves with total harmonic freedom (the only aspect of music that matters) we simply need more notes. We need more clusters. We need more syncopation. We need a half-swung quintupletey drum track.

We have transcended. Now this is music. The general public will be so impressed they won’t even know what to say. But their silence speaks volumes. The less people enjoy it, the more sophisticated it is.

Another classic fixed. No need to thank me. Tune in next time to hear me improve our national anthem.

Ryan Michaud (PhD) has been educating the masses online for 45 years. A brilliant author, teacher, and scholar, he is a such an intellectual that he still has less than 1,000 listens on all of his music.

Satire in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”

Jordan Peele’s 2017 thriller, “Get Out” features a black photographer named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), and his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), who both go up to Rose’s parents house for a weekend. Rose’s parents start acting weird as soon as they meet Chris, which is assumed to be because Rose’s family aren’t used to interracial relationships and are trying their best to get used to it. As the movie progresses, we get to see a much more shocking reality that we could’ve imagined.

Later in the film, Chris meets all of Rose’s family friends and neighbors, who ask him lots of uncomfortable questions or say things like “black is in fashion”. This is when the satire starts to become clear. Later, we learn that Rose’s family have been putting white people’s brains into black people’s bodies, keeping black consciousness buried deep within “the sunken place”. This means that when white consciousness takes over the black body, the original mind is still aware, but helpless to stop the invasion. Two people essentially live in one body as a conquered territory. Jordan Peele is not only saying that Chris’s body has been declared less valuable by White America, but now he’s literally taking away Chris’s right to control his own body.

Comedy Allows Compassion

Comedy is the easiest way to the heart of the viewer, a horror movie may need minutes of an empty hallway with suspenseful music to build up a scare, and a drama may need an hour to entice the viewer and get the excited for a climactic scene. However comedy can make its impact in a single line, getting a laugh out of the audience before even diving into the deep story that also exists. One of the main aspects of Aristotle’s definition of a comedy lies in the “hero”, or main character. This main character must be likeable to the audience, allowing them to relate things going on in their life to the character and to root for them. Aristotle also includes in his definition that the character experiences a “rise in fortune”, or happy ending. This makes sense, as a comedy provides laughs, and positive energy to the audience, while allowing the audience to connect themselves to the protagonist, therefore the main character will always end the comedy on top. 

My favorite comedy of all time is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I watched it repeatedly as a kid on days home sick from school or in long car rides. This movie is about an extremely likeable central protagonist, Ferris, who skips school and has a day of fun in the city with two of his close friends. This movie breaks the fourth wall on many occasions, with Ferris delivering monologues facing the camera as he gets ready for his day on the town. The central idea of these monologues is consistent with the theme of this movie, as he states “If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you might let life pass you by”. 

We learn this lesson through Ferris as we follow him on his day of adventure and ultimately no consequences, which breaks up the repetitive nature of our days at school or work. If you are not able to immediately picture yourself abandoning all responsibility and just having fun, Ferris’ best friend Cameron relates to you more. He at first denies all of Ferris’ requests to let him borrow his dad’s Ferrari and join him in the city, but he eventually goes with and has a great time, and gets the strength to stand up to his unloving father. Before Cameron finally agrees to go with, he sits in his room cursing and pacing, thinking of the options, this is relatable to the audience who may be anxious or just nervous about risk taking. However the audience feels like they are going along with Cameron and Ferris on their exciting day in the city, and gets to enjoy the excitement firsthand.  By allowing us to see this day from multiple perspectives, and connect ourselves to the characters, and in the end are reminded of the lesson that if you don’t take time to enjoy life, you can get caught up in the same routine. 

Bojack Horseman and Depression

The Netflix Original TV Show Bojack Horseman appears to be a funny, lighthearted comedy, like Family Guy, or The Simpsons. However, it dives into extremely deep and real subject matter such as depression, addiction, and love. The main character in this show is a former Hollywood Star, and current B-List actor, who struggles with depression, resorts to substance abuse, and feels isolated. 

The obvious irony of this show is that while it appears to be set in a completely different dimension on the surface, with talking animals and humans coexisting, the emotions and struggles of the characters are the same as ones we may all face at some point in our lives. These dramatic, realistic dilemmas that we may even relate to are offset by frequent puns or jokes that may be over the top or remind you that this is taking place in a fictional world. The main dilemma of this show is not the fact that Bojack was an A-list actor and is now taking small roles, but it is how he is facing mental illness in a way that is extremely realistic and honest. It shows him at his highest and lowest points, but always reinforces that mental health is not something that is completely reliant on success, and aspects of your childhood will shape you as an adult. 

The main lesson that I think the creator wants us to take from this show is that mental health cannot be bought, or found through drugs, alcohol, or sex. Depression, especially in the case of Bojack, is a chemical imbalance in the brain and will still be present even in times of success, love, or substance induced euphoria. We can take the main characters attempts to use unhealthy outlets to cure his unhappiness as lessons that this is not a viable solution.

SNL ¨Subsitute Teacher¨

The SNL skit ¨Subsitute Teacher¨ is about how substitute teachers always come into the classroom with the goal to be able to relate to a class of young teens. And by relating to them the teacher uses hip hop to connect to the students to understand the music of the orchestra. The plan that he comes up with does not work since there have been many teachers just like him who come into the class to build connections with he students using the exact same method that makes all the kids embrace by him resulting in him being kicked out the class.

The comedy behind the skit is that older people always treat younger people as if they are from two different worlds as if when they were there age people did not do the same towards them. The skit also shows how it combines all young teens to be interested in rap music as if we all were based on one set of styles. The skit also makes fun of the idea that any substitute teacher is trying to be the person that changes the ideology of a group of trouble kids for the better through there own likes to get them to see a bigger picture. The skit also makes a mockery of the quiet student and how they are to themselves but in the skit, the student that seemed quiet was more embarrassed by the teacher than anything else. The skit uses comedy to bring up situations that all high school students deal with but in a more comedic manner that puts a smile on the audiences face to not just make them laugh but to also show that everyone has had a similar situation in there lives as well no matter the age and makes the awkward moment of a teacher and student relationship more relatable and normal.