Debuting in theaters this Friday, the seemingly innocuous Disney-Pixar film 'Cars 2' has become a tool to wedge a fight against fossil fuels in favor of alternative forms of energy.
When John Lasseter moved from executive producer to executive director last year, he overhauled major portions of the plot into a good vs. evil story against big oil.
In an interview with Wall Street Journal's Ethan Smith, "Cars 2" director John Lasseter explains his transformation of the film into a story about the "bad guys" of big oil.
We revamped the whole story, the whole bad-guy arc. To me, there always needs to be a logic to our movies. No matter what subject matter it is, they have to be logical for the world we’re creating. I kept thinking about, “OK. A spy movie in the world where cars are alive. What would be a really good kind of über bad guy? Who is an über bad guy?” I kept going to big oil. This is before what happened in the Gulf of Mexico.
Why isn’t alternative fuel more… Why isn’t everybody jumping on that bandwagon? It makes so much sense: Electricity, solar, whatever. There’s ethanol. There’s all this stuff you could be doing. And so I thought, well, that could be really cool in that you could have big oil versus alternative fuel. That’s when we kind of crafted the bad guy’s story.
The greatest bad guys, you understand where they’re coming from. They believe they’re doing the right thing. Sometimes it’s for greed, sometimes it’s for other reasons, but they are what they call the center of good. They always believe they’re doing the right thing.
The movie's trailer even says "On their next big road trip, they're not only racing across the world, they're racing to save the world."
Lightning McQueen, the race car star of "Cars," goes on a worldwide Grand Prix tour, sponsored by a new green fuel called Allinol. Allinol is produced by a character named Sir Miles Axlerod, described by Disney-Pixar's website as an environmental champion:
Sir Miles Axlerod is a former oil baron who has sold off his fortune, converted himself into an electric vehicle and has devoted his life to finding the renewable, clean-burning energy source of the future—ultimately discovering what he believes is the fuel everyone should be using. Axlerod is also the car behind the World Grand Prix, a three-country race he created that attracts the world’s top athletes—but it’s really an excuse to show off his new wonder-fuel, Allinol.
This isn't the first time the studio has brushed with controversial green messages, either: 2008's "Wall-E" told the exaggerated tale of an Earth ravaged by pollution and ridiculed lazy human beings.
As Lasseter explains, "With 'An Inconvenient Truth' and alternative fuels and all the things going on, I kept thinking, well, in their world, it could be neat to have sort of big oil vs. alternative fuel. It makes logical sense for a world where cars are alive."
If you can't quell your kids' begging to see it this weekend, though, just remember to drive your SUV to the movies.