This was a great blog by author Kate Bornstein (of My Gender Workbook fame) on this summer’s animated blockbuster, Wall-E.
Her blog post, cleverly entitled WALL•E: A Butch/Femme Love Story… or Silly Rabbit! Robots Have No Gender:
I’m completely smitten with WALL•E, this summer’s Pixar/Disney offering. But the last thing I expected to see in my friendly, heterosexual upper east side Manhattan neighborhood movie theater was a feature length cartoon about a pair of lesbian robots who fall madly in love with each other. WALL•E is nothing short of hot, dyke Sci Fi action romance, some seven hundred years in the future! Woo-hoo!
I had similar thoughts while watching the movie about how they were obviously attempting to gender the robots–this is a children’s movie for godsake! But similar to the political subtext of the film, there was an interesting subtext about gender and romance that Bornstein explains in her post.
The film makers take a great deal of care in pointing out that WALL•E and EVE’s notion of butch/femme romance is based in the world and culture of Hello, Dolly. Hello_dolly_3That’s supposed to be a cue for the audience to believe they’re a “healthy” heterosexual male and female couple. But it’s not proof that they are male or female. And anyway, how camp is Hello, Dolly!?
Is it that simply by looking at the robots, we can tell that WALL•E’s a boy and EVE is a girl? What was it up on that screen that defined the robots’ gender? Both robots were naked, so we could see their entire anatomy, right? Neither of those robots had a vagina or a penis. Did you see one or the other? Neither robot was sporting an Adam’s apple. Neither EVE nor WALL•E flashed any tit that I could see. So, we’ve got no way to spot those robots as male or female by using secondary sex characteristics. But still, most of us would swear on a stack of holy bibles or holy Gender Trouble that those robots are male and female. How did we most of us come to agree on that?