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A movie question

Your Humble Blogger was wondering—have any of y’all seen the movie Robots? It’s a Fox animation movie of a few years back. The plot, broadly speaking, is that a young inventor leaves his home in the small city to go to the Big City and something something the great inventor, something something big corporation. Oh, and they are all robots. That’s important, because in addition to working for the Big Company—OK, I’ll start again.

In the world of the movie, the elderly and kindly inventor Mr. Bigweld is the head of Bigweld Industries, which evidently is the sole source for robot spare parts. The robots, then, are entirely dependent on Bigweld Industries whether they work for the company or not. When Our Hero goes to the big city to try to get a job with Bigweld Industries, he discovers that (a) nobody has seen Mr. Bigweld for a long time, (2) Bigweld Industries is discontinuing spare parts so that robots who can’t afford upgrades will, effectively, die, and (iii) Bigweld industry no longer hires inventors, as new innovations are frowned on. We learn early on that Bigweld Industries has been taken over by a Bad Guy. We eventually meet Mr. Bigweld himself, who is a virtual prisoner, reduced to amusing himself with (very cool) dominoes tracks. Our Hero asks Mr. Bigweld to help him fight the Bad Guy, but Mr. Bigweld sadly refuses, saying that its no use, there’s no way to win, things aren’t like they were, the Bad Guy is in charge, etcetera etcetera.

OK, now YHB was not watching very attentively. In point of fact, I wasn’t watching at all, but half-listening, and I seem to have missed a bit where they explain how the Bad Guy got hold of Bigwell Industries, and why Mr. Bigweld thinks that the Bad Guy cannot be defeated. I mean, obviously the Bad Guy was defeated, surprisingly easily. And it’s a standard, almost a genre convention, that the Bad Guy takes control of the Corporation from the elderly, kindly founder. But usually there is some, you know, method involved. There isn’t any mention (as far as I heard) of stocks and shares; there’s no blackmail that I picked up on, there’s no chicanery or dishonesty (other than hiding his goal of sending all the obsolete robots to the chop shop, I mean, and something odd about his mother that I didn’t catch).

I mention this because the idea of the greedy corporate masters taking over the inventor’s company is an important trope in our culture, I think, and I wonder whether the filmmakers got this one wrong or I did. I mean, really, I think they did, but it’s likely that I just missed something in the movie because I wasn’t paying attention, and it’s also possible that I am missing something in the formula. But I’m curious about the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and how they relate to our ideas of work and money. I mean, I understand that the movie has a Dickensian concept of economic structural problems, that is, there are no structural problems but only the greed of cold-hearted men. The ending, where the kindly Mr. Bigwell showers the robots with presents and hope, still leaves everything in his power. The difference is that the powerful man is kindly, not greedy, so that’s ok.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

I did see Robots, but I don't remember any of the details, so I can't answer your question, alas.

I liked the movie, though.

Did you notice that Stanley Tucci is in it?


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