On being the bad guy

Just have a few minutes to kill, and I’ve wanted to share some thoughts on a recent film for a while now. The film is Wreck-It Ralph, because I do video games, too. This isn’t a review, but there are a few things about the film worth mentioning, and I’m interested in hearing what others think about it.

The movie is fairly typical family fare: bad guy with a heart of gold, Ralph, wants to be a good guy, so he goes on an adventure, etc. etc. He lives in an 80s-style Rampage/Donkey Kong clone video game, but in this universe characters can move between games and interact with other characters. That’s all fine, and there are some chuckle-able moments with references to real game franchises like Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros

What I’m stuck on is what I take to be the film’s overall message, which is, effectively, “know your place.” It’s similar to Shrek in that you have this dude who’s portrayed as kind of stupid and kind of ugly and basically good but doomed forever to play a particular role, and the movie ends with a reiteration of this basic argument: you can’t change what you are, even though you may be able to slightly alter people’s perceptions of you (and perceptions are the most important thing, since they affect how people treat you). There’s another character, the sidekick–played in typically annoying fashion by the illustrious Sarah Silverman–and it’s basically the same with her. Instead of a villain, she’s a kid with a “glitch” in her programming that causes her to randomly, I dunno, phase in and out and sort of teleport around or some crap. The resolution of her situation does change her status considerably, so maybe she’s a counterpoint to Ralph’s situation; but I came away from the whole thing feeling like there are some things you just can’t change about yourself, you bum, so you’d better take what you can get.

That said, it’s a fun romp without any particularly deep messages that I can appreciate on that level. I can’t help but feel, though, that it’s weird to have a villain who has to stay a villain even though he doesn’t want to be a villain, because it’s what’s expected of him.

(Collider.com) Moral: “You can’t be a paleontologist, Timmy. You’re a minority. But you’ll have a great career in professional sports, so you can fill your room with life-sized velociraptor statues and watch Jurassic Park twelve times a day in the off-season. Consolation prize!”

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