"There's nothing wrong with the film's anti-corporatism, which is just a variation of the anti-totalitarianism that's requisite to the genre. More troublesome is the film's complicity in the commodified culture it ostensibly critiques. This isn't about Disney, whose external merchandise and marketing are extraneous to the film's artistic vision. Within the movie itself, WALL-E betrays its true corporate overlord, and it isn't Mickey. It's Apple."
He goes on to suggest that the prevalence of references to Apple's products in the film are more than merely a collection of inside jokes, aspiring instead to "the small rebellions of a foster child longing for a former parent." The new parents being Disney, of course, and the old Steve Jobs of Apple. For Crair, these references compromise the film's anti-corporatist message.
But do they compromise the film? Is it anti-corporatist?
The comments section is blighted by the "lighten up, it's just a movie" syndrome, where various posters employ various versions of the above refrain in defense of WALL-E. Though not surprising, it is disheartening to see so many of TNR's readers resort to the "art is frivolous and not worthy of serious consideration" argument, often closely paired with the "I liked it and let's just leave it at that" perspective. This unfortunately limits one of the more perceptive commentators from following up his or her own point. "jdk" asks, in the fifth post:
"What about Eve's hair-trigger destructo response? She blasts away at anything that surprises her. Is that a comment on Apple the corporation?
Sadly, this insightful question was quickly followed by the "relax" variation, the fourth version of the "it's only a movie" refrain in five posts. Nevertheless, I think it's clear the answer to the question is "Yes, it is a comment on Apple the corporation." Moreover, it's a clever rebuttal to Crair's criticism. All jdk needed to do was consider the ramifications of those three sentences to make it.
Rebuttal or no, Crair's criticism is interesting in it's exploration of the film's premise, which according to Andrew Stanton, WALL-E's writer and director, is "that irrational love defeats life's programming, and that the most robotic beings I've met are us." Crair ends his article by saying suggesting that WALL-E is a symptom of a future dystopia, rather than a description of one. While I agree with Crair that the references to Apple in the film rise to the level of subtext, I don't agree with his view of it, and reject the idea that those references constitute a compromise in the film's anti-corporatist position. In fact, I'm not really sure it is anti-corporatist.
I readily believe, however, that the popular appeal of the "it's just a movie" defense is indeed a symptom of a future dystopia.
(I have added a follow up to jdk's comments which should appears in TNR's Talkback section, at comment 16.)