Monday, June 30, 2008

wall-e world

If you are like me and use up 38 percent of your brain space thinking about How To Be Good (not to be confused with using 38 percent or more of your time actually being good), then perhaps you will understand the dilemma I faced Sunday.

AK and I wanted to go to church at 11:15 a.m. We also wanted to volunteer for Equality for All at 4:30 p.m., at an event that would conveniently be taking place at our church in Pasadena. Rather than drive home in between and spew extra carbons into the atmosphere, we decided to see WALL-E and grab a late lunch at the mall a block from All Saints.

WALL-E is quite possibly one of the most perfect movies I’ve ever seen. It’s funny, emotional, cute-but-not-cutesy, political—and every detail of the other-worldly world it creates is drawn with care and ingenuity. It also happens to be about a time in the “future” when Earthlings have trashed the planet so badly that they must perpetually orbit it in a cruise spaceship while robots make tiny dents in the monumental task of cleaning the place up.

So while WALL-E diligently compresses garbage cubes and collects show tunes cassettes (how could I not love him?), humans zip around the ship in hover chairs, drinking all their meals from giant plastic cups, blabbing on their video phones and never wondering why they do what they do, or don’t do what they don’t do (including: question authority and walk). Importantly, these blobby characters aren’t unlikeable, just complacent and plagued by ennui, a word the robots that run the place have undoubtedly never taught them. A good day means visiting the lido deck for a free “cupcake in a cup!”

After the movie, AK and I got sandwiches at California Crisp, boxed up our leftovers in styrofoam and stopped by Starbucks for Frappuccinos, which I don’t need to tell you are pretty much cupcakes in cups. Then we threw our cups in the trash.

So what’s a Good Girl to do?

  • We could have gone home in between and eaten slow food off our own plates, but that would have meant more spewage, more oil usage.
  • We could have taken public transportation both ways, but that would have taken so much time we wouldn’t have been able to see the good movie about saving the Earth.
  • We could have not volunteered, but that would have meant letting the Bad People (or, well, the People With Whom I Have A Strong Difference Of Opinion) do Bad Things to our civil rights.
  • We could have packed picnic lunches in reusable containers and eaten them on the church lawn, but I said I use 38 percent of my brain trying to be Good, not 90 percent.

AK said she read recently that, according to some sort of expert on these things, the three most important things you can do to help the environment are:

  • Write to your elected officials to persuade them to make environmentally-friendly policy decisions.
  • Eat vegetarian.
  • Insulate your house.

So while I’m happy that our culture is finally (belatedly, confusedly, sporadically) realizing that the planet itself is not disposable, I think that too much emphasis is put on parading around with your reusable Whole Foods shopping bag, and not enough is put on the tedious and unglamorous task of writing to your local representative.

I am going to try to allocate at least six percent of my 38 percent to getting my letter on, and I quite possibly will drink a Frappuccino while doing so.


Tracy Lynn said...

I only spend, like, 2% of my brain power being good. Which, now that I think about it, explains SO MUCH.

Cheryl said...

It explains why you are Fun. Fun and Good do not always go hand in hand. But the part of my brain devoted to Fun did think those hover chairs looked pretty awesome.

Tracy Lynn said...

Dude, I told my mom about your post and my comment and she said 2% was pretty generous as an estimate. She thinks it may be something closer to point 5%.

Peter Varvel said...

These are the kind of kicks-in-the-butt I need, so, thank you!
After reading that dolphins will eat plastic grocery bags because they look like jellyfish, I now use brown paper bags to pick up after my dogs on their walks.
You can also: Drive a scooter!
(which some people read as 'Unnecessarily risk your life on a daily basis!')

Cheryl said...

TL: My mom would say I'm 100% good, but she would be wrong, and I would have weird guilt issues, and that is why I'm in therapy.

PV: Oh no, this is not meant to be a kick in the butt! This is meant to be a commiseration and perhaps a gentle lift from the hook of environmental obligation. :-) But good for you for brown baggin' and scooterin' it! I like to think that I do my part by trying very hard not to hit scooters when I'm on the road.

Laura and the family said...

Funny thing you mentioned about Wall-E! We just saw the movie yesterday. Even it was supposed to be closed captioned movie (it mentioned on the ads), we were able to follow what was happening without understanding what Wall-E and Eve were saying. However, the sad part we had to sit IN A FRONT OF A BIG THEATER!

Have you thought about going on Home and Garden Improvement Show and ask them to go on Green for your home? :-)The show starts talking more about Green Savers: Reuse and Recycle. I should do the same thing besides buying energy saver appliances and energy saver lights. I am very much like you that I should use more than 38 percent of my brain to be Good.

I would love to use the trolley to work and home (but with two kids and getting up early to go work/school and be home late--image I might end up fighting with my kids' complaining.)

Cheryl said...

WALL-E would be a weird movie to see closed-captioned because there's so little dialogue in the first half, just a lot of beeps. But that also kind of makes it a perfect movie to see without hearing it.

I haven't seen that HGTV show, although I'm guessing that, like most home improvement shows, they probably don't revamp rentals. But I think one of the best ways to be Earth-friendly is also one of the least glamorous: Just don't consume a lot or take up a lot of space. Sometimes I'm more successful at this than others.

Veronica said...

will you please make a from letter so i can ride on the coattails of your writing prowess and 6%?

Cheryl said...

I'll see what I can do. That might mean forwarding you a form created by someone who is 83 percent good.

thelastnoel said...

I thoroughly related to Wall-E. I mean, I'm this lonely writer spitting out words in a toxic world! Bwaaahahahahhahahha.

Veronica said...

that is acceptable. i have enough on my hands with writing letters to my representatives every time i get prompted by defenders of wildlife (at least every other month).

Cheryl said...

Noel: And dancing along to show tunes, perhaps? Or is that just me?