Self-image, the long view and archaeological engagement with film: an animated case study
Academic engagement with popular constructions of archaeology in film is often in the style of analysing the self-image of archaeologists and archaeology. Two distinctive types of this narcissistic approach are identified in the current literature: a negative and defensive approach and a positive and forgiving approach. Both of these approaches have yielded substantial insights about the public perception of archaeology and will undoubtedly continue to be fruitful avenues of inquiry. In this paper a third mode of engagement is outlined that is motivated by the unique ability of archaeology to provide a long-term view on things that matter to us now. The 2008 Pixar film Wall-E is used as a case study to show how this long-term view can relate to films that are not directly about archaeology. The case study of Wall-E shows that a counter-narcissistic approach can be an insightful and non-judgmental method of media analysis by decoding the popular appeal of an artwork and revealing new opportunities for archaeology to engage more productively with the film-watching public.