As Seen On TV: Buy N Large / Wal-Mart
By Mike Schuster Oct 14, 2009 9:35 am
From Big Box to Big Brother?
The film follows the titular robot -- the last remaining on Earth -- and his Sisyphean task of cleaning the garbage that the planet has accumulated by the year 2105. After 700 years of lonesome drudgery, WALL-E meets EVE -- a more advanced robot whose job is to find evidence of life after all humans vacated Earth for space. WALL-E is spellbound and follows her into space to ultimately save humankind.
Underpinning the robotic romance is a bleak depiction of what Earth's future might be if mass consumerism, unchecked monopolies, and abandoned environmental concerns propagate corporate policy. At the center of the futuristic wasteland is a worldwide megacorporation called Buy n Large -- an omnipresent Big Box conglomerate that eventually acquired all its competitors as well as national governments.
The Buy n Large Corporation can be seen as an amalgamation of all ubiquitous brands, but standing above all others is its real-world counterpart, Wal-Mart (WMT). Operating over 6,600 locations with over two million employees and over $400 billion in revenue, the comparison is not at all far off.
Satirical embellishment exaggerates the possibility of Wal-Mart ever turning into Buy n Large, but the real-life megastore has made some similar strides.
In a Pixar-produced short, the history of Buy n Large shows that it was once a Big Box retailer and later expanded into every conceivable aspect of a consumer's life. Sounds familiar.
Buy n Large took over gas companies. Wal-Mart introduced gas pumps at hundreds of its locations in 2005.
Buy n Large began acquiring banks. Wal-Mart currently offers money-transfer and check-cashing services, and in light of the past economic crisis, serious consideration was given to a Bank of Wal-Mart. It hasn't happened yet, but rampant branch foreclosures makes it a definite possibility.
Buy n Large became an insurmountable corporation with powerful influence, and began taking over governing bodies. Wal-Mart hasn't quite reached that point, but its influence on the government has been well established -- from last year's $1.4 million lobbying effort to telling people how to vote.
On board the space cruiser, infants are indoctrinated with brand loyalty by a robot teaching them that "Buy n Large [is] your very best friend." Any parent whose child shrieks for toys when passing the Wal-Mart billboard already knows the parallel.
What's the difference between an animated crowd ecstatic over their unitards' new color and the average yokel who considers eight hours in Wal-Mart as a day well spent?
No positions in stocks mentioned.