For this last blog post, I thought it might be relevant to talk about a movie I saw this weekend for my last blog post. Wreck-It Ralph is about a video game villain who doesn’t want to be the bad guy anymore. This is a movie about the negative effects of procedural rhetoric. Because Ralph has to knock down the building, its residents hate him. He doesn’t want to be hated, but the procedure forces him to continue knocking down the building every time. In the end, he doesn’t find a way to break the procedure; instead he makes peace with the fact that he has a role (albeit an unpleasant one) in his community.
Shift to another game in the movie: a rebel video game character from a defunct game succeeds in changing the procedure in game that doesn’t belong to him. In changing the procedure, he makes himself the leader of the game and relegates the true leader to the status of “glitch.” He defies the procedure, but doing so makes him wretched. He constantly struggles to prevent others from realizing what he’s done, and the deception marginalizes the true leader. He incites the other game characters to discriminate against her, and he prevents her from participating in the game.
Since she is unable to participate in the game, she is miserable. Ralph figures out the big secret, and helps to restore the girl to her rightful place, while eliminating the rogue character. All is right with the world again. And the amazing thing to me in all this is how protective the movie is of the procedural rhetoric. Any deviation from the procedure causes chaos, unhappiness, and possibly death. Why can’t the characters in the games/movie break the procedures? Because that’s how they were written. The procedures know better than the characters, and more importantly, the creator of the game is using the procedure to make an argument.
I view media very differently now. My kids were upset because Ralph isn’t allowed to be good. I was pleased that Ralph realized the important role he has to play in the game creator’s rhetoric.