It's no secret that Disney's sequel to "Wreck it Ralph" was nothing short of an extraordinary masterpiece. With it's diverse cast, clever easter eggs, countless references, and interesting story, it's no wonder that most people flocked to the theatre to see it despite it holding the aboding title of "sequel"
And it's true that most Disney sequels, albeit not all of them, do have a tendency to flop, as they already have a high bar set when it comes to living up to it's predecessor. However, that simply wasn't the case this time. While most people found the most enjoyable things about it having to do with Disney references or extreme cameo of every single Disney princess ever sitting in one room (and I will admit, I enjoyed it myself), it was actually something entirely different that made it unforgettable to me: The hard lessons in friendship.
This movie not only provides a great continuation to it's established best friend pairing, but it also puts it through such realistic situations that I couldn't help but feel personal emotion. Though it may be a biased opinion due to my own past experiences, I still believe that it provided some very difficult lessons we face when it comes to maintaining our friendships.
But before diving into those lessons, we first have to understand what caused these situations to occur. For that, we have to take a look back at the very beginning.
The predecessor, Wreck it Ralph, establishes the character dynamic we need to understand the arise of the circumstances later on. We get introduced to the title character, Ralph. The villainous character to the popular arcade game "Fix it, Felix." But despite being labeled as the "villain," Ralph is actually a gentle soul looking for acceptance from his fellow gamemates. Of course they don't offer it to him seeing as how they see him as "the bad guy." Ralph then ventures to retrieve a game medal so others will deem him a good guy and no longer feel intimidated by him. Already, we see that Ralph is suffering from severe insecurity, all thanks to his game role and label, a feat in which he had no control over. Despite this, his need for acceptance from others drives him to performing very dangerous feats. As humans, our insecurity tends to override our common sense. Our little voice in our head may tell us it's too dangerous, but then our desire to remove such insecurity may provoke us to perform anyway. It's common when being seen as a social outcast to sometimes resort to desperate measures to obtain social acceptance. Of course, in many cases, it's usually just a mind trick that's causing us to think irrationally. While the case here is justified, it's still not necessarily the smartest thing to do. But Ralph is willing to go those extra miles to obtain the acceptance he craves so much, which leads him down a very dangerous path. As we see his antics actually end up causing more harm then good, he is then left to deal with the consequences of these actions. Though consequence may be a strong word, as it actually leads him directly into the path of his true solace, in the form of one Vanellope Von Schweetz. Through more hijinks, collateral damage, and interesting plot twists, we see the dynamic go from her thieving his medal and pawning it off to saving each others lives. Though things did not go as planned, Ralph returns content with being the villain still. So long as she sees him as a hero, them maybe he isn't that bad after all.
Now that we have a foundation for their friendship, we can start to piece together what caused the chain of events that took place in the sequel. In the very beginning, we see that Ralph and Vanellope are best friends that hang out all the time, near every day. and that right there sets up the first issue.
Vanellope has become his solace. The one thing in his life that can douse his insecurity and make him content with himself. This itself is a problem as it has manifested itself into from wanting to spend time with her, to becoming an absolute necessity. As a person who suffers from mental instability, I know that this can lead to severe attachment issues, which is exactly the same case here. He has become so attached to Vanellope that he actually needs her attention in order to maintain stability from his own low self esteem. To the point that not receiving it will cause him to start having doubts among other things. While she herself, is having issues on her own, his solutions aren't necessarily what she may need, but rather what will it take to keep her around. Thus through a thoughtful gesture that went chaotic, they venture into the world wide web via the arcade web router. Here, she encounters the true solution to her issue. The issue being that her game is not fulfilling her need for speed. But the internet racing game, Slaughter Race, does. When first introduced to the game, she starts feeling that sense of danger that she was craving. Noticing this, Ralph starts to panic. If he can't get her out, she may want to stay. And thus she will leave him.
He manages to get her out at first, but not before they run into the game's main character; A rowdy speedster named Shank, whom Vanellope starts to look up for being an amazing racer. This triggers Ralph's green eyed monster to appear. Up until now, Ralph was her one and only hero. Now this woman is threatening to steal his title, or so he thinks. As mental instability tends to do, he is only seeing what his mind is fearing. Insecurity has an unfortunate tendency to omit certain pieces of information. Whereas in we tend to not hear the full story and act upon the story we do hear. What may seem like it leads to devastating revelation actually leads to unnecessary inner turmoil. And this is the start of the downward spiral that causes these two to have later confrontation; after hearing the blunt end of a call where she tells Shank she wants to stay with her in Slaughter Race. This prompts for an official return of his insecurity. Only this time, the justification is all based on irrational thinking. So, as any human under threat would do, he acts out on impulse. His desperate measures take him so far as to nearly put Vanellope's life in danger by planting a virus that looks for glitches in a program. He does so to make the environment less appealing to her so she won't want to stay, but the game containing a virus would have to be shut down, and all foreign programs would be deleted permanently. He manages to get her out, but then she discovers he planted the virus, and accuses her of irrational things based on the conversation he only heard part of. This activates the mechanism known as self-fulfilling prophecy; which states that the more we fear something happening, the more likely we are to unintentionally inevitably cause of which we fear to occur. Vanellope, in a fit of rage and anger, breaks off Ralph's hero necklace and says he is acting like a bad friend. Here we see again the "we only hear what we want to hear" trope often associated with mental instability. What he heard was that she thought of him as a bad friend. She never said that he was a bad friend, she said he was ACTING like one. It was the behavior she was not fond of, not he himself. Nevertheless, his insecurity reaches maximum, and the virus acts upon it. He becomes duplicated into multiple versions of himself that only have only goal; to keep Vanellope to themselves. This is an extreme version of the jealousy and attachment trope. While most people would not actually go to this extreme of lengths to keep their attachments at bay, it is set to highlight the true damage that having these severe attachments can cause. Only when Ralph himself comes to the realization that he can't keep her from following her heart does the virus finally subdue. As Vanellope is getting ready to leave with Shank, a heartfelt goodbye is said. Ralph apologizes for his irrational behavior, and proceeds to give her half of the broken heart necklace so they will always be connected. Final tears are shed and she departs, leaving Ralph in a state of bittersweet contentment.
So based on the scenarios in the movie, there are many very important lessons that can be learned from this. These are the ones that found were the most efficient and relatable.
1. Just because someone has another best friend, does not make you any less valuable
This is mainly highlighted when Ralph starts to grow envious towards Shank, whom he fears Vanellope has started to care more about then him. A true friendship is not placed on a totem poll. A person can have multiple friends, or even multiple best friends, but it does not mean that they no longer care about you. You're in their life because they care about you. Someone that didn't care wouldn't even bother to be around you. It's true that one may have more than one person they look up to, but it doesn't make you inferior. A healthy friendship requires balance and understanding, and understanding that you are not ranked from most important to least important is a very important step.
2. Your best friend is not your possession
The idea of growing overly attached can have very dire consequences. While most of the time it is based on our own mental issues that cause the insecurities to bubble, it is still us that is indebted to paying those consequences. The movie showcased the idea that just because you want something, doesn't mean it will happen, and it certainly won't happen wilst acting out irrationally. Ralph cares very much for Vanellope, and the feeling is equally mutual, but getting to the point where you refuse to be away from that person for even a split second is a problem. Friends are not items we carry around in our pocket, and though many times we grasp onto them because we fear losing them due to our own insecurity, it's important to understand that smothering them will not make them stay. In face, it will push them away further as a need to breathe. Wanting to be around someone you care about is normal, but clinging onto them and forcing them to stay is not the answer. Ralph learned he wasn't doing her any favors by clinging onto her, and thus let her go, trusting that she is a true friend that will be by his side no matter what. Letting someone go is a huge way of showing someone how much you care by putting their needs before your own. If the friendship is meant to last, it will last no matter what. Trusting in them is a great way to maintain a healthy relationship.
3. Don't let your best friend be the only thing that keeps you mentally stable
It's important to understand that while a best friend is a great tool for pulling you out of the darkness, they can't be the only thing you rely on. Ralph clung to Vanellope because she was the only thing that kept his insecurity at bay, but by doing so, he let himself become so obsessed that the mere idea of her leaving caused him to spiral back downwards. Having your best friend be the only source of solace for you puts them in an uncompromising and unfair situation. The wrong sentence or even the wrong word can set you off, and it puts them right in the crossfire. Keep them around because you enjoy their company, not because it settles your anxiety. It's a good quality to be someone's relief, but being the only sense of relief puts pressure on them because they don't want to upset you. Showing that you can be content even when they aren't around helps to show them that they aren't just your antidepressant. You can miss them, but just remember they won't be gone forever if they care about you, and find yourself other outlets to stifle your anxieties.
4. Them being away doesn't make your friendship any less strong
In fact, it's through these long distance friendships that we grow stronger. Though being apart may be upsetting, it makes your connection much stronger when you do finally reunite again. This was one the key moments that shattered me in the movie, when Ralph talks to Vanellope via holographic videoing. This is not only establishing that they remain in touch, but that they still can see each other as they make plans to meet up towards the end of the film. I have a best friend whom I have this exact relationship with. Though it kills me we can't see each other as often as I'd like, we always make plans to see each other whenever we get the chance and we still keep in touch every single day through things such as Skype and Twitter. Having a long distance friendship can be very painful, especially if your someone like me who craves physical affection. But it doesn't make you any less friends. It shows that your friendship is strong enough to withstand the distance, which is a sign of it being meant to last for a really long time.
So those were the main key lessons I found in the movie. As you could probably tell, these are all things I have personally, and sometimes still do, struggle with when maintaining health friendships. This movie helped to show me that friendship is not always sunshine and rainbows. They are tough and can be heartbreaking, especially for someone who has clung onto that friendship in fear of losing it. Clinging on will not make everything ok again. Friendships change, but its through these changes that we grow and become stronger. A best friend that is meant to last will always find a way to last. It isn't good to force anything. Don't let your mind feed you lies. Your best friend is your best friend because they love you, faults and all. And no amount of other friends or distance from you is going to change that. I still have my own struggles and doubts. But it's thanks to this movie that I can continue towards my goal of being the best best friend I can be.