Over the Christmas period, I went to go see Wreck-It Ralph 2 known as Ralph Breaks the Internet. Generally, I enjoyed the first film. The message about being constrained by society’s expectations of you is an interesting one and all the pieces fit together cohesively. The central theme of the second film is pretty solid too and one that spoke to me. It is, in essence, a story about not being possessive of your friends as they pursue their dreams. All in all, the film is pretty harmless. However, the representation of the Internet kept throwing me for a loop. Before the film, I generally expected the cringy adoption of internet culture by the film in a skin that would feel as hollow as the Emoji movie. While I watched the movie, I got a sense that there could be a darker, more caustic movie behind the movie. However, the fact that this was a big budget Disney affair meant that they had to play it safe. So, let’s take a look at the Internet. Before heading into this piece, obviously spoilers ahead.
We, as a society, tend to give women the short end of the stick. Right now, you might be thinking ‘duh’ or crying misandry right now. If you’re in that second group, I can’t help you with this piece. Sometime last year I was listening to the Slow Burn podcast about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. I had complicated thoughts about the whole thing. As someone who grew up in the 90s, I was distantly aware of the scandals. Bill Clinton mainly figured into my worldview via re-aired episodes of the Simpsons. Episodes were he appeared as a cool saxophone-playing guy, was replaced by an alien in their attempts to take over the Earth, and uh, flirted with Marge Simpson. Generally, as I learned more, there were a few conclusions I came to. What Clinton did was wrong, regardless of whether the relationship was consensual or not. The power imbalance between the middle-aged President and his twenty-year-old White House intern was always going to be fraught. Might we view Clinton in a different light in the wake of the #MeToo movement? Absolutely. However, at the time, it was clearly a partisan hack job. Those condemning the President weren’t about moral standards. You know why I think that? One of Clinton’s detractors was a fellow named Brett Kavanagh and we know what his track record with sexual assault is. There was only one person in the whole scandal who I thought was pretty blameless in all this. Monica Lewinsky herself.
I’m tired of modern life. It feels like being caught in a loop. I want to talk about the ever-present nature of content. Content is in effect, internet stuff. Online video, online writing, social media activity. It’s all branched under content. I might classify myself as a content creator. Of course, there’s a lot of content creators in our current era. Pewdiepie is a content creator. Some of my favourite YouTube personalities (influencers?) are content creators. I am a content creator. In that comparsion, I feel like a bit of phytoplankton as compared to the whale of an influencer that Pewdiepie is. Maybe even that is an ill-served metaphor. When whales shift, the ocean isn’t hugely affected. I am a content creator. Most of us are in the digital age. We have podcasts, or social media presence, or livestreams. I don’t think everyone gets into this game to be Pewdiepie. However, I think that we there is the hope that we can scratch out a middle class living this way. We are all content creators fighting over scraps.