“They’re alive, they’re awake
While the rest of the world is asleep
Below the mine shaft roads
It will all unfold
There’s a world going on
Tom Waits, “Underground” (1983).
Robots is a 2005 American computer-animated science fiction comedy film produced by Blue Sky Studios and directed by Chris Wedge. The film is set in a futuristic world where robots live, work and follow their own set of rules and customs. The story follows the journey of Rodney Copperbottom, a young inventor who travels to the big city to meet Bigweld, his childhood hero and the inventor of robots. However, upon reaching the city, he discovers that Bigweld’s company has been taken over by the evil corporate tyrant Ratchet, who intends to stop the production of spare parts for older robots and replace them with newer ones. With the help of a group of misfit robots, Rodney sets out to save the future of the robots and stop Ratchet.
In the world of Robots (2005), capitalism is portrayed as a system where large corporations control the production and distribution of goods and services, with the goal of maximizing profits. The film’s main antagonist, Ratchet, is the CEO of a corporation that has taken over the company founded by Rodney’s hero, Bigweld. Ratchet represents the negative aspects of capitalism, as he exploits older robots by discontinuing the production of spare parts, forcing them to upgrade to newer models, and increasing his profits. The film also depicts a class divide between the older and newer robots, with the older robots being seen as outdated and inferior. Overall, the portrayal of capitalism in Robots is a commentary on the negative consequences that can arise when corporations prioritize profit over the well-being of society and the environment.
Ratchet wants to discontinue old robots because he believes that they are outdated and no longer profitable. He views the older robots as a hindrance to his company’s profits and a liability in the production of new and improved robots. Ratchet’s main goal is to maximize profits and maintain his dominant position in the market, and he sees discontinuing the production of spare parts for old robots as a way to do this. By forcing the older robots to upgrade to newer models, Ratchet hopes to increase his company’s revenue and maintain his control over the robot industry. In short, Ratchet’s desire to discontinue old robots stems from his greedy and selfish pursuit of profit and power.
The old robots react with shock and disbelief to the news that spare parts for their models will no longer be produced. This leads to widespread poverty and unemployment among the older robots, who can no longer maintain themselves and are relegated to the fringes of society. Many robots, especially the “main” ones that Rodney hangs around with are now forced to scrounge for spare parts in order to continue functioning in their society.
In the film, being a “new and improved” robot means having the latest technology, being sleek and stylish, and being able to perform complex tasks with ease. New and improved robots are seen as more desirable and valued by society, while older robots are viewed as outdated and inferior. The distinction between old and new robots is used to create a class divide, with the newer robots enjoying greater wealth and privilege, and the older robots struggling to make ends meet. The message of the film is that this kind of divide is unjust and that all robots, regardless of age or appearance, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
Robots (2005) serves as a warning to contemporary society in several ways.
First, when it comes to capitalism, the film highlights the dangers of corporate greed and the negative impact that corporations can have on society when they prioritize profit over the well-being of individuals and the environment. The characters Ratchet and Gasket represent this kind of greed and exploitation, and serves as a warning against the unchecked power of corporations.
Second, the film serves as a warning about modernism and the tendency to view new things as inherently better and older things as inferior. The distinction between old and new robots in the film highlights the dangers of this kind of thinking and shows how it can lead to a class divide, with older robots being marginalized and left behind.
Third, the film serves as a warning about the consequences of technology becoming obsolete. The older robots in the film represent the human tendency to discard things that are no longer useful or trendy, and the impact this can have on individuals and society as a whole.
Overall, Robots serves as a cautionary tale about the negative effects of capitalism, modernism, and technological obsolescence, and a reminder to treat all individuals, whether robots or humans, with dignity and respect.
There are several real-life corporations that represent greed and the exploitation of individuals for the sake of profits. Some examples include:
- Enron – The energy company was known for its unethical business practices and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
- Goldman Sachs – The investment bank has been criticized for its role in the 2008 financial crisis and for its focus on maximizing profits at the expense of its clients.
- Monsanto – The agriculture company has been criticized for its aggressive marketing of genetically modified seeds and for its impact on small farmers.
- Amazon – The online retailer has been criticized for its labor practices, including low wages and poor working conditions for its employees.
- Big Pharma – The pharmaceutical industry has been criticized for its focus on profits over public health, including the high prices of prescription drugs and the influence it wields over the regulatory process.
These are just a few examples of corporations that have been criticized for their focus on profits at the expense of individuals and society, and can be seen as analogous to the Ratchet’s character.
Overall, I consider this film to be a warning as it is a blatant commentary on modern-day consumerism and corporate greed, while at the same time conveying this message towards children. I’m sure that there are many children out there (including myself when I first saw this movie), who were confused as to why exactly Ratchet and Gasket were so gung ho on replacing the “outdated” robots – but as I grew older I realized that this mindset is all encompassing. When Apple comes out with the latest iPhone, people flock to buy it despite their current phones having no issues.
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