The Most Adorable Film Ever Made About the Perils of Space Capitalism
"Wire Cutters" is cute, compelling, and depressing as hell.
"Wire Cutters" still. Image courtesy Jack Anderson
"Wire Cutters," is an adorable, award-winning, Pixar-styled short about a robot miner sent to another planet and the shenanigans that unfold when he bumps into another bot. It is also about the perils of exporting neoliberal extraction-based capitalism to outer space and the soul-crushing twinge of regret we all will inevitably feel when we realize that we are unable to change our ways, dooming us to greed-encrusted loneliness and, even, potentially, oblivion.
And it's very well done. "Wire Cutters" is the work of Jack Anderson, and it's been garnering plenty of acclaim; it won Vimeo's coveted "Short of the Week" award, and has picked up top honors at a host of other festivals. As you can see, it features a cute little corporate mining vehicle sent to some nameless distant planet to mine resources, where it runs into another company's robot that was sent to do the same. They compete at first, then form a strategic alliance, then greed gets the best of them, and they engage in violent conflict until only one bot is left standing; then, spoiler alert, nobody is.
"Asteroid mining was definitely something I thought a lot about while making this," Anderson told me in an email. "It's a hot topic and I thought it would be fun to play into that. I've always thought the best sci-fi is extremely relevant to the modern day so I used it as a backboard."
Right he is!
At a moment when venture capital-funded companies really are vying to be the first to get to space to harvest its asteroids and other resources—a prospect, I have argued, somewhat unpopularly, that we should approach with caution—Anderson's little film is especially resonant. And he's correct, I think; sci-fi is best when it's relevant, and even better when it imbues emotional gravity onto those relevant speculative scenarios. "Wire Cutters" does exactly that, and, like a lot of the Pixar films it takes its cues from, it's simple, funny, and ultimately, pretty depressing.