Movie Maker's Intent

The movie makers intended to address the prevalent issue of hate speech on the Internet and their effects on vulnerable individuals. This was evident in the scene where Ralph became viral because of his popular online videos, but received many harmful comments which degraded his appearance, personality, and worth. Phil Johnson, the co-director of the movie, outlines their philosophy when portraying the Internet:

“Our belief is that we’re in a moment where the technology has outpaced our ability to understand it and to relate it in a civil way… I think we’re in a moment with social media and how rapidly information is transferred, and how little regard there is for civility… it’s gross. There is a lot out there that’s just hateful and not doing anything to make the world better” [1].

Johnson’s statement highlights how expressing hateful speech on the Internet can feel inconsequential due to the size of the web and its granted anonymity. This facilitates the neglect of civility and inevitably harms the recipient of hateful speech. As a result, the movie makers refrained from portraying the Internet as an utopia and felt responsible for sparking conversations on this problem:

"Over those four years [we've worked on the film], yes, the internet has become a more hostile place, and that's what really inspired that comments room scene that you [saw]. Because we felt like we can't do a movie about the internet and paint it as if it's all roses and sunshine, you know? We have to give due to the darker side of it." [1]

Specifically, those who are the most vulnerable against hate speech are children and even insecure adults. A co-director, Rich Moore, expresses these concerns:

“Social media can be a place where insecure adults could end up getting their feelings hurt… And I could see where this could be something bad for children… But it does need to be a place where you can feel safe to let a young person use it. [The Internet] is a great tool that should be open to anyone… I think like any invention, we will see it regulated in some way, so we don’t have to worry about young people, or even very sensitive adults, being hurt like they are now.” [2]
Ralph reads massive screens of comments, some of which are very insulting to him.
Yesss encourages Ralph not to worry about the comments, and tells him the internet isn't all bad.

In an interview, writer Dani Fernandez was asked the question “If you had to give Ralph a word of advice what would that be?”, she responded with:

“Don’t read the comments. Don’t read the comments. Seriously. Or hire someone who will just read the good ones to you… my friends have assistants that do that…” [3]

As a result of these harms, the crew for Wreck-It Ralph urge the audience to be considerate of their online speech and image. Story artist Natalie Nourigat effectively expresses this:

“We played around with an idea that I think is still in the movie that’s like, who you are online matters… It’s real. It’s not like a video game. And you see the impact on Ralph in real time.” [1]

While the concerns regarding online hate speech were made loud and clear, the crew is still hopeful of a more peaceful Internet. In an interview, Johnson concludes with:

“My hope - and I hope I’m not being naive -- is that in the next, I don’t know, let’s hope 10 years, we figure out how to deal with each other better as the Internet becomes part of the fabric of our life the way that television did, or the radio did before that.” [1]

While the Internet has its flaws, the film makers also highlight its benefits through their animations. They illustrate the Internet as a colorful and exciting world that is populated with tall skyscrapers and crowded areas. There are vehicles that zoom through futuristic roads, spotlighting the interconnectivity of this vast network. Avatars with different physical features bustle in the streets, emphasizing diverse ideas and people from all walks of life mingling and interacting with each other. Producer Clark Spencer reinforces these intentions:

"As easy as it is to demonize the internet, I think the thing that Yesss says is true, which is that it's also a place where people can connect, they can find things… It's easy to just focus on the hard, negative, dark part of it, but at the end of the day it really is something that has connected people in a way that didn't exist before" [1].

In the movie, Vanellope was gradually becoming bored with the games at the arcade and wished for more exciting adventures. She finally stumbled into Slaughter Race on the Internet, exposing her to a lifestyle she has always desired. Moore, a co-director, shines light on the intent behind this plot point:

“We didn’t want to paint the Internet as one thing, black or white. We didn’t want to say that the Internet is a utopian palace or a horrible dystopia, either… Not only does it have some bad areas we explored with Ralph, but for Vanellope, it becomes a place that actually really opens her eyes to what it is that she’d always dreamed of, and what she’d always wanted...Had she not gone to the Internet, Vanellope would not have learned about her future and where she really belonged. I think the real Internet is something that can open up a young person’s eyes to what it is they want to do” [2].
Ralph and Vanellope stare in wonder at the internet.

Sources

[1] Rougeau, Michael. "Wreck-It Ralph 2 Won't Shy Away from the Internet's Dark Side." Gamespot, 14 Nov. 2018,
https://www.gamespot.com/articles/wreck-it-ralph-2-wont-shy-away-from-the-internets-/1100-6461930/. Accessed 2 May 2021.

[2] Shah, S. "How the Creators of 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' Showed Two Sides to Life Online." Engadget, 12 Feb. 2019,
https://www.engadget.com/2019-02-12-ralph-breaks-the-internet-interview.html. Accessed 2 May 2021.

[3] Deckelmeier, Joe. "Ralph Breaks The Internet Interview: New York Comic Con 2018." Screen Rant, 25 Oct. 2018,
https://screenrant.com/ralph-breaks-internet-nycc-2018-interview/. Accessed 2 May 2021.