Life is going along just fine, but then a virus begins spreading, threatening everything and everyone. That is a scary prospect. How is someone supposed to respond to such a crisis? That’s a problem raised in Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet. So, as we continue our own struggle with a threatening virus, perhaps we can learn something from this animated tale.
This film is a sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, and focuses on the same two main characters, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), a somewhat dim video game character who destroys things, and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a cute, but sassy video game racecar driver, who happens to be a princess. In the first film they bond into a great friendship. In this film, when Ralph tries to make Vanellope’s game more challenging for her, he unintentionally causes the game to be broken. Without a new part (only available from eBay) the game will be sent off to salvage. In an effort to save the game, Ralph and Vanellope set off into the unknown world of the internet.
The film is a delightful look at this virtual world we so often tap into (as you have to read this). Of course, Ralph and Vanellope have no idea how any of that works, so their trip becomes a bit complicated. Along the way things like YouTube, search engines, and Twitter are gently teased. One of the most fun subplots deals with Vanellope encountering all the Disney princesses. The film shows that the Disney studio has enough of a sense of humor to parody itself.
But Ralph and Vanellope’s friendship is put to the test when Vanellope wants to stay in an exciting, violent driving game. Ralph, wanting to save their friendship, takes a virus to the game. But because he has ruined Vanellope’s chance for enjoyment, this may be the end of their friendship.
The key part of the film I’d like to focus on for these days of COVID-19 is the last 1/3 of the film. It is then that the virus escapes the driving game and is at large in the internet. The virus finds insecurity and begins copying that. And since Ralph is so insecure in his relationship with Vanellope, soon there are zombie-like Ralph clones everywhere, threatening to overwhelm the entire internet.
This film isn’t about the disease that has us self-isolating in our homes; it is about the other virus that has attacked our culture: the virus of insecurity and fear. Why are the store shelves empty in the toilet paper aisles? The virus hit us. The virus that made people afraid of what was coming. And when others heard that people were buying up the toilet paper, they made sure they’d have enough for the rest of their lives. And it grew and grew, like the viral Ralphs, until things started to fall apart.
We are reliant on the scientific community to help us deal with the Corona Virus, but we need to look within ourselves and our community to overcome the secondary virus. There will be toilet paper again. There will be eggs, and soup, and hand sanitizer. So, don’t let insecurity deprive others of their needs. Share. Care. Those are the cures for this secondary virus.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is currently streaming on Netflix and Disney+