Friday, March 29, 2013

Unfinished Essay

'A thrilling time is in your immediate future.' -Fortune Cookie Wisdom

Oh good, because the last few days have been so un-thrilling, just me and my cold...

So, I've been watching movies; 'Skyfall' and 'Wreck-it-Ralph', two very good (and very different!) movies.










They should call this one 'Bond Falls, Then He Gets Back Up Again', or maybe 'The Dark Bond Rises'. It's about the past and the future, but mostly about the past and the painful rebirth and resurrection of the brand, which is funny three movies into the relaunch of Bond with Daniel Craig, but there you go... It's also about saying good-bye; 'Hello, good-bye, I love you,' to paraphrase the Beatles. A psychiatrist suggests Bon has 'unresolved childhood trauma', which I submit is fully resolved, in the end.

I also think that this time around, the Bond Girl beds Bond as a notch in *her* bed-post, and not the other way around; I never had impression, before, of a female agent as someone who was an equal, and whose well-being was important in any way to Bond. The un-Bond film, you might say...

'Wreck-It-Ralph' is my favorite western animated movie. I loved 'Bolt', for instance, and Pixar does good work, but this is the first and best non-Pixar animated, non-anime, movie. Ralph is the anti-hero whose aspect is destruction, wrecking things. It's what he's good at, and according to Bujold, what you're good at is what you're meant to do.  He's the designated bad guy, but after doing the job for thirty years without the rewards which hero Felix, of their game, 'Fix-it-Felix', gets, he's understandably fed up with his lot in life. He doesn't want to be a 'Bad Guy' anymore, and who would? After a confrontation with the other residents of his game, Ralph decides he can change his life by a winning a medal. Off he goes to find a way... and in so doing, he breaks things. First his game, then, briefly, another one, and finally dooming a third game-world plus possibly the whole arcade, a one-man world-wrecking crew in search of meaning and justice, or, as Calhoun, the designated Hero of 'Heroes Duty' mutters, "The selfish man is like a mangy dog chasing a cautionary tale..."

Ralph sneaks into 'Hero's Duty', a horrifying First-Person-Shooter, to steal a medal. The writers never bother to say it out loud, they don't need to, but the old saw about how 'cheaters never win, and winners never cheat' is decidedly in play. Ralph 'wins' his medal entirely too easily and this only sets him up for further misadventures...

His 'Hero's Journey' crosses that of another rebels', just after he has unwittingly dooms her world by accidentally bringing an all-consuming virus with him into 'Sugar Rush', a saccharine race game with anime characters. 'Venelope von Sweets' is an outcast, a glitch in the code who supposedly was never meant to be, but she knows that she's a racer, 'in her code', and she doesn't give up. She steals his medal to buy her way into a race which will make her legitimate, cheating to win. Even so, she charms and blackmails Ralph into helping her win the race and win his medal back, first by breaking into the cart bakery to create and steal a cart, and then building her a racetrack and helping her learn to race... because even though she doesn't know how, she quickly learns and turns out to be a 'natural'.

The problem is that he starts to care about the kid, and then the real bad guy of the movie, 'King Candy', who runs things in 'Sugar Rush', gets to him. As a glitch, Venelope can never leave her game, even if it was to be unplugged and shut down because of, say, Venelope's glitching, which might convince the players that the game was broken and 'out of order'. She would die, and the King has just been trying to protect her from herself... "Heroes have to make the hard choices." Then, having cheated at his own game to get it, KC returns Ralph's medal as a bribe for him to do the right thing.

Ralph wrecks their cart for 'her own good' ("You really are a bad guy!"), and goes home to his game. 'Fix-It-Felix' is 'out of order' without Ralph, and without Felix, who left to find Ralph, all but abandoned except for one resident who tells Ralph what has happened. This is nothing like what Ralph had wanted and he throws away his 'medal', also throwing away his failed quest so that he can begin the one he's meant to make. The medal hits the fourth wall of the game, causing the 'out-of-order' sign to slide out of the way so that Ralph can see Venelope's picture on the side of her game, which kind of begs the question, huh? Why is a 'glitch' on the side of the game console and why is King Candy so afraid of her?

The B plot is about Ralph's 'brother', 'Fix-it-Felix', who of course sets out to fix things. He's a Goody-Two-Shoes and that could get old quickly, but he really cares about Ralph and he really cares about his job. His job is to fix whatever Ralph breaks, and by-golly, he's gonna hop into hell, or a reasonable facsimile, for a heavenly cause, putting things, all things, right.

It doesn't hurt that he's always been rewarded for doing the right thing, but the redeeming thing about Mr. G-2-S is that he keeps at it, even outside of his comfort zone. There are new rewards- He falls in love! As well as new problems- He is rebuffed in his affections! But he means it when he calls Ralph 'brother'.

The other hero out to fix what Ralph has wrecked is Calhoun, the Hero of 'Heroes Duty' (I just freudian-typed 'Her's Duty' 8-). She's got 'the most tragic back-story' about lost love and failed duty and is pretty intense. She has loved and lost and isn't having any more, but, of course, falls for the little hippity-hoppity hero despite herself- because, together, they get the job done, only it takes a bad guy to save all of their worlds...

Why am I writing over a thousand words about this instead of my own stuff? I'm sick, so humor me... but I identify with Ralph for certain obvious reasons and for one that isn't, maybe. I want to fix this broken world, and I don't have the first clue *how*. But I think that it is why I gave up on 'The Walking Dead' comic (it can't be fixed), but not the TV series, not yet, and why I *have* to write about my survivor groups. The Zombie Apocalypse is crap-tasticly simplified and survivable, if, and only if, we can fix ourselves. The hole in the human heart which can't be filled by more stuff, the separation of individuals pushing each other away so that they can't be hurt anymore.

Like I would say to Ralph, my main man, 'Brother, you are broke in a way which can not be fixed. Own it.'

(BTW, great job, Alan Tudyk, as King Candy- "You hit a guy *with* the glasses... well played!" 8-)