The Machine starts and stops

Wall-E is, as you’ve undoubtedly heard, charming… Pixar has the most enviable winning streak of any movie studio… yet another group that should have been entrusted to do Star Wars prequel.  It’s also a wicked satire of American life (a lot harder-edged and wittier than, say, the recent New Yorker cover on the politics of fear).

What’s curious is that this is at least the third appearance of this particular satirical trope: people becoming the fat, spoiled slaves of their machines.  Apparently this is what our civilization worries that it looks like or might become.  Before this was “Blobs!” in the very first issue of Mad (1952); and that in turn was based on “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster (1928), whose first paragraph describes the protagonist as “a swaddled lump of flesh”.