This morning I took my seven year-old son to the movie “Wreck-It Ralph.” He coped very well with the experience, and we both enjoyed the movie in its own right. But there was something extra wonderful about this movie that deserves recognition and praise, and allowed me to enjoy it on a whole other level.
Since the movie is still running at the theatres, I won’t include any spoilers in this post. I will only share the themes that I found very attractive, and leave it to you to discover the way they are expressed when you watch it yourself. I will provide a brief summary though of the plot, which reveals nothing you wouldn’t find in the trailer anyway.
The movie is about a “bad guy” in the video game (Ralph) who wants to break free of his role; he doesn’t want to be treated like the bad guy anymore even though that’s his job. So he breaks free into other video games, hilarity and disaster ensue.
The morals in this story apply nicely to the autism world, as should become clear as I go through them.
The first moral of this story is a simple but important one about not treating people like single dimensional characters (all the more eloquently expressed by the use of characters in a video game). It’s about recognising that we may play certain roles at particular times in our lives, or be viewed in a particular way because of what has to get done, but that we are actually complex people with complex needs, and that it is in no one’s best interests to simplify people into a simple, single-dimensional package.
This is also related to the second moral that comes through the film: Not to let others define you. When we fixate on what others think of us and see ourselves through their eyes all the time, we give them a lot of power over us. We need to be ready to define ourselves and break free of imposed stereotypes.
Third there is the value of breaking out of our comfort zone. That it is too easy to get used to the way we do things and get things done. That there is much to be learned and gained from trying a new way to achieve our objectives, even though that new way and those new experiences may scare us at first. There are amazing people with huge diversity out there, get out and discover it.
Finally, the moral of accepting and celebrating difference. The idea that just because someone doesn’t conform, doesn’t mean they are a threat “to the system.” Sometimes, their different perspectives and experiences are exactly what we need to make everyone’s lives better, and to reveal truths we were otherwise blind to – about ourselves and about the world around us.
There are other nice morals in the film too, like being careful when you think you’re doing something for someone else’s own good, and recognising the value of other people’s life experience. It’s also simply a lovely, funny, clever film. The story-line will overwhelm some kids, and it’s a very busy movie, but all the car antics and the constant action kept my son very happy, and a happy son is a happy mother.
I’d love to hear what you thought of it too (spoiler-free though please!)
Here’s the trailer for those unfamiliar with the movie: