This weekend, I finally got around to watching Wreck-it Ralph. Great movie. I enjoyed watching it and the kids loved it too. However, something troubles me about it that I think gets glossed over by a lot of viewers. I would like to say something about the game Fix-it Felix Jr, that is the home of Ralph.
Fix-it Felix Jr opens up with Ralph climbing into his stump (which he lives in/on). Next a bulldozer drives by and pushes Ralph and his stump into a dump. Then construction cranes come in and build a high rise condominium on the spot where Ralph’s stump used to be. Ralph then responds by trashing the building. You can view a video of this sequence over at Youtube.
The game and the movie go to great lengths in order to paint Ralph as the bad guy, although misunderstood and sympathetic. However, it never once tries to address the source of Ralph’s frustration and his motivation to be a bad guy. That motivation being that Ralph is the victim of Eminent Domain Abuse.
You see, Ralph had a low budget home. One that suited his needs, but did not bring in enough tax revenue for the city in which it was located. Based on city zoning laws, his home was essentially taxed as an empty lot. That is not very profitable to the city. So the city used eminent domain to take Ralph’s home and property and give it to a condominium developer which resulted in a more tax rich property development for the city.
Is it any wonder that Ralph holds a grudge against the building and those who built it? Wouldn’t you feel the same way if your home was taken from you and the property given to a bunch of snooty rich people? Wouldn’t you want to trash that building and send all those people packing?
Sadly, eminent domain abuse is a very real thing. Something that the US Supreme Court allows to happen thanks to its notorious Kelo decision. Cities and states are free to take the property of anyone and give it to anyone else for any reason. There is virtually no limit to the potential for abuse. Because of this, victims of eminent domain often feel powerless to fight the taking of their property. They often want to respond in much the same way that Ralph responds in his game.
It is a shame that Disney didn’t focus more on that issue, but it better explains the relationship between Ralph and the Newlanders. They feel that Ralph is not worthy to be a part of them, not just because he wrecks their building but because he is of a lower class not fit to live in the high rise condos.