I’m Bad, and that’s good, I will never be good and that’s not bad, there’s no one I’d rather be…than me. ~ Wreck-It Ralph
So, I finally got to see Hotel Transylvania and Wreck It Ralph in the local second run movie theater last night. I could really identify with the main character in Wreck It Ralph. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, there may be some spoilers in this post. If you’ve debated about seeing it, it’s actually a fun little movie and worth the time.
I think the thing I identify with most is how stuck Ralph feels in his program code to always be the guy that breaks things. 30 years of doing the exact thing he was designed to do and doing it perfectly according to his program code and designated character role while never experiencing any validation or acceptance for doing the very thing and fulfilling the role and purpose he was intended to.
He and his fellow arcade bad guys are in what appears to be a Twelve Step meeting for bad guys, Bad-Anon. It’s a great tool for telling the audience Ralph’s back-story and character motivation. However, perhaps I’m being nit picky, I was a little uncomfortable that the other bad guy characters completely broke all boundaries of sharing in a meeting by jumping in with unsolicited advice and voicing judgements. The point of Twelve Step meetings is to support people working through to overcome addictions and compulsions, not to necessarily learn to accept the status quo and who they are in the context of it. Since these meetings are integral to the movie, I think it would have been better to have them as a group therapy session as opposed to an Anonymous meeting. This is really my only complaint about the movie.
Back to Ralph. He needs validation, acceptance, and inclusion. He is designed, programmed, and built to be a bully. He’s huge, has a loud voice, a short-fuse, and lives in a dump. If he weren’t a cartoon game character, he would be the hygienically challenged, scary, and destructive homeless guy everyone avoids. He wants to have what everyone else seems to have, especially the good guy, Fix It Felix Jr., acceptance and belonging.
Acceptance and belonging are the themes of the movie, I think. Ralph believes if he can obtain one specific object, then the other people in his world will have no choice other than to include and welcome him into their midst. He thinks that his desire to be other than what he is and his quest to prove he is not who everyone knows him to be is going to be the solution to his problems.
Consequently, he makes things a whole lot worse each time he makes a decision that is about his need to change how others see him. He gets manipulated, he betrays one he cares about and, because of his single minded quest for external validation and acceptance, he nearly destroys the worlds of everyone he comes into contact with.
I have surely been Wreck It Ralph in my own life and the lives of others, despite my best intentions and strongest efforts. I suspect I am not alone in this. Actually, I know I’m not.
The thing is, that along the way, because of his journey, his mistakes, and his misguided efforts to change and fix things that were really out of his control, other characters changed, connected, and things that had been twisted and flawed by less benign characters were revealed and restored.
The self-centered journey that began because Ralph was rejected by others and he had started rejecting himself taught him things like empathy, compassion, and cooperation. Without learning those things he would not have reached a point where he could recognize the things that made him who he was were always going to be with him and could be used for good purpose.
In the end, his role to play in his world didn’t change as much as how he decided to play it.
I think this is my journey as well.
Instead of fighting against who and what I don’t want to be, instead of scrambling to alter others’ perception and attitudes about who I am, finding ways to accept and validate all of me, especially the things I dislike most about myself, is key in my internal healing and recovery process. I’m getting there.