We're not a culture that tolerates much preaching. In WALL*E, a combination of strong characterization, pacing, and plot permitted the storyteller to proclaim a strong message without making us resent either him or the film. Overstreet asked Stanton how he pulled off that miracle:
Overstreet: How do you approach the challenge of being meaningful in entertainment without preaching?Caring for the planet is the culture's current cause célèbre, but I'm convinced that even pave-it-all-drill-everywhere advocates have enjoyed the movie thoroughly, and been affected by it. Know of any stellar novels written from an "honest place," with a story and theme strong enough for the writer to advocate his or her passion? Maybe the book even proclaimed a message that you reject, but because of the storyteller's mastery, you were unable to resent it and perhaps able to hear it for the first time.
Stanton: I knew I was playing with fire by having elements that could [make people] accuse me of preaching, but frankly I figured that if I was always doing it from an honest place, that I was only using things in order to make the story clear and make the love story and the theme of the movie as rock-solid as I could, then the smart people would get it. So… that’s my only defense. I hate going to a movie and being preached to. If it emotionally gets to somebody, then I’ll take credit for it, because I was trying to go for as much emotional punch as possible.