Episode 545: Ralph Breaks The Internet: A Really Proustian Movie

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle “Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

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Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, a movie engineered to make children happy and adults sad.

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3 Comments on “Episode 545: Ralph Breaks The Internet: A Really Proustian Movie”

  1. Mike #

    To talk about a broken internet you have to define what an unbroken internet is. The internet has always been about communication. To talk to anyone and everyone. The greatest harm to the internet is censorship. People are going to get passionate about movies or politics whether online or “IRL”. But to be able to talk to people all over the world, that’s internet specific.
    “Russia bots” were brought up as an issue. Spam is fine. We get spam IRL in the mail. We have government and corporate propaganda IRL as well. But the Russia bot narrative was specifically to silence people who opposed certain political groups and media during the last US election. “Don’t listen to them. They’re rednecks. They’re deplorable. They’re bros. They’re fools triggered by foreigners. They’re literally not even human. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Listen to us instead.” And it goes so far as used to justify real bot farms. “We have to fight fire with fire”. So not only are people being silenced online by dehumanization, but they’re inundated with material that drowns them out.
    The outlets to share or talk online is being concentrated, and the gate keepers are closing the door more and more. What can be said or shown is dictated by these gatekeepers. Google/youtube, twitter, facebook, are just government arms at this point. Working in cooperation with certain government groups on what can be said, which millions of users should be removed, etc. And any competitors are just shutdown/urls frozen/payments systems frozen/analytics tampered with/or just declared a potential enemy of the state.

    An internet where the CIA can have social media accounts and free rein expositing the virtues of hegemony, but nameless nobodies posting a cartoon frog or the OK hand gesture gets you censored/banned/deleted is a broken internet.


    • John C Member #

      It appears that you’re defending the various anti-democratic, authoritarian, and outright bigoted claims as “real,” while claiming that the parts standing up for equality and justice are secret manipulations rather than the explicit core values of the country. While some of the anti-establishment sentiment on the left was certainly manipulated, the rest of that idea is definitely not reflected by the evidence. It is, however, reflected in the continued attempts by certain actors to manipulate the sentiment of the right, and repeating it doesn’t reflect well on anybody except maybe the stamina of the paid provocateurs.

      In other words, no, if one displays solidarities with the white supremacists, one generally doesn’t get afforded the luxury of being surprised or offended when someone calls that person a white supremacist. And most communities have figured out that you resolve the Paradox of Tolerance by ignoring the intolerant creeps, hence banning the obvious bad actors.


  2. John C Member #

    It’s interesting to hear the discussion move from failed Internet monetization models to how certain parts of the Internet make most people unhappy, since those are very intimately connected. This might get rant-y.

    After all, the only way advertisements work well is when the audience is emotionally engaged (“sex sells,” “if it bleeds, it leads,” etc.) and it’s far easier and more cost-effective to provoke the lizard-brain into shock, fear, or anger than it is to delight us.

    So, Facebook could absolutely prioritize posts that look more like what you’ve “liked,” but they could also just show you everything your racist cousin says. YouTube could show you videos people with your behavior watched next…or insist that “Neo-Nazi in a Nice Suit Yells at Feminist and Calls It Debating” (not an actual video, but we all know who I’m talking about) is the obvious successor to whatever video you just watched. Twitter could moderate effectively, or they could ban people for pointing out racist behavior while not figuring out that liberally quoting from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in reference to a rich, Jewish man might just be anti-Semitic.

    And they’re not the only ones, of course. Cable stations with aspirations of being privatized PBS, but better, punt and run the tackiest reality shows and conspiracy theory “documentaries.” Newsrooms cut their investigation budgets in favor of politically-“balanced” opinion pieces or decide that prefacing a lie with “Politician Says…” counts as fact-checking.

    But social media does have the added wrinkle of being able to map your behavior to better trigger addictive behaviors, even while it annoys you. Gotta catch [the add impressions, hereafter referred to as]’em all. The big companies might be responsible for the Red Pill types, but they’re probably not unhappy to have them around to “drive engagement,” otherwise they’d need to produce quality content that people actually enjoy…

    Which is all to say (a) we all need to get a lot better at supporting media we want to stay healthy (cough, cough…), before it all needs to become a part of someone’s outrage feedback loop, and (b) it’s well worth checking out the non-corporate social networks (Mastodon and the related overlapping systems, Scuttlebutt, Diaspora, and so forth), to see what the Internet looks like without feudal landlords.

    Rant over…probably.

    Otherwise, Disney is an interesting company in a lot of respects. The princesses are a microcosm of that, where many of those characters are quite progressive and even transgressive, but the story around them forces them into traditional gender roles. The idea of showing them “behind the scenes” apart from their home genre conventions makes a lot of sense and reminds me of the (very) old Mickey Mouse comic strip, where Mickey was a globetrotting adventurer who happened to also have an acting job back home.

    (And, arguably, the story about them living their mundane lives was sort of ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” for all its awkward faults.)

    Oh, and I was under the impression that references to other companies in Disney movies were about destroying the competition, like their transparent Sea World analogue, rather than trying to create knock-offs, but I suppose they do have the resources to try both…


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