Masters Of Destruction
Ray Bradbury; a master of satire, from the king of symbols to, reading between the lines. What does a short story written 65 years ago have in common with a children’s movie? From the novel ‘Fahrenheit 451’ a masterwork of the twentieth-century set in an austere dystopian future, where thoughts do not exist but instead a constant titillation submerging humans deeper into materiality. Parallel to the 2008 a distant, but not so unrealistic, abandoned trash dispersed world; the movie ‘WALL-E’ our favourite garbage collecting robot left to clean up the mess us. These two stories are both critically acclaimed science fiction, and are both featured in a dystopian future. Despite their intended audiences, these two stories have much more in common than expected.
Is freedom really worth trading over for comfort, how much is one willing to give up? This is a reoccurring theme throughout dystopian science fiction, and is a key component to the stories ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘WALL-E’. Due to the rampant overconsumption pressured by Buy N Large, in the movie ‘WALL-E’ all humans were forced to evacuate from their earth because it was no longer a sustainable place to live upon. Which they then climbed aboard the Axiom, not conscious that they were about to hand over their entire life to this ship. Buy n Large takes care of their every need, but also controls every aspect of their life. With a constant TV screen in front of their faces and buttons at their fingertips for everything one could ever need. They live on a ship stocked with every possible activity and amenity, but choose to be entertained only by their screens. Brainwashed like most teens in our society now. The need to have a device at your fingertips, not realizing that you’ve just checked the time three times in a minute because there is a constant hunger for a new notification, feeding off the poison of media. Humans in our world are now suffering from anxiety due to separation from their devices. Everyone is plugged into their devices, but are apathetic to what is going on around them. Which is well illustrated in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ when Mildred begs Montag for a fourth parlour wall even though they could barely afford the third. With their specialized seashell earpieces constantly who are gnawing at their brains. Which leaves them with no time to think, let alone the manipulative rulers the firemen whom are not so philanthropic. “ Can you dance faster than the White Clown, shout louder than `Mr. Gimmick’ and the parlour `families’? If you can, you’ll win your way, Montag. In any event, you’re a fool. People are having fun”( Beatty) (pg171) Beatty is stating that people no longer care for thinking it is all just fun and games. As long as people are content, then there is no issue. Which then the movie (Wall-E) helps reinforce the idea that even even if the books were legal, people still would not read them.
In addition, the effects of technology are allowing people to constantly consume, it can lead to a form of dehumanization, which is also a central theme throughout these two stories. In the movie ‘WALL-E’ everyone commutes by sitting on their hover chairs. No one would walk anywhere, let alone stand up; the machines would do absolutely everything for them. The citizens of the Axion feel disconnected from the world, along same way Montag can’t communicate with his wife. For example, when Montag notices the moon after walking and talking with his young hearted neighbour Clarisse; and John and Mary, the citizens only notice the stars after Wall-E and Eve have distracted them from their screens. Furthermore, everyone wore the same jumpsuits everyday, much like the firemen in ‘Fahrenheit 451’. Montag came to a realization “These men were all mirror images of himself!” (p. 30) Every firemen he has ever known had all the same facial features as him. Becoming clear that there is absolutely no individuality. Everyone is the same, everyone thinks the same, everyone is programmed the same. Every day the people from both dystopian futures become more and more robotic, with less and less feelings, they have turned into mindless corps who are now just as robotic as the machines they use in their everyday lives.
Nevertheless, both stories the protagonists were seeking redemption from the corruption in their society, let alone the world. “ Many of them reminded me that we have little control over what we get from the world each day (whether people will love us, or whether we will win the lottery), but we have complete control over what we give to the world (whether we chose to be kind, charitable, and to give to others). These people reminded me that everything we take from the world dies with us, but everything we give to the world gets recycled.” ‘John Izzo’ The quote above by John Izzo from ‘The Five Secrets of Happiness’ has a parallel to the Grandfather’s philosophy “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid in factories.”(p. 157) These are both very relevant quotes which do follow the plots from both stories and even in our society now. Us as humans have become so greedy and tend to do many things subconsciously. Constantly taking and abusing instead of cherishing and making a change. Which is perfectly illustrated in the movie ‘WALL-E’ the civilization who abused everything they had until they couldn’t no more, until they had to be removed from their own land.
In both stories, events conclude to a dystopian society; possibly hoping to head back to a simpler time. The theme of rebirth is represented differently in each story. In ‘451’ the fire symbolizes destruction, but also the rebirth of Montag into his new world. In ‘WALL-E’ the small plant found by Wall-e represents the earth’s potential for regrowth, a possibility for a fresh beginning. Both protagonists, being Wall-E and Montag achieve their goals and head back to their homes by the end of the stories. Where the readers, or viewers, are left with hope that humanity could regrow back to a functioning society, symbolized by the tree of life; who exemplifies the end is also a new beginning. Whereas in our world, us humans have to stop taking everything for granted and start looking beyond this bubble that surrounds our “perfect lives” and realize one day our world will no longer look like this. Our society needs to put down these gimmicks that have taken over our lives; and slow down the over consumption before it is too late. Before me destruct this world, before we need to evacuate.
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Simon & Schuster, 2013.
Izzo, John. “The Five Secrets of Happiness”. 01/02/2008
WALL-E. Film, 06/21/2008, Andrew Stanton