How does this upcoming animated film tackle the phenomenon of online popularity?
In the dark days before we were able to surf the internet 24/7, things were a little different when it came to how we connected with one another.
We didn’t have Facebook or Instagram, we didn’t have half-listened-to conversations while swiping through emails, and we certainly didn’t need an arbitrary ratings system invented solely by social media to dictate how we felt about ourselves.
But as social media came into the public domain, things shifted and in the digital age we now define self-esteem a little differently.
It’s all down to the ‘likes’. When we post something online, we’re now no longer doing it because we want to share something, we’re doing it because we need approval from others.
Some of those people liking your selfie might be friends and family, but some of them will be internet strangers.
Inevitably, along with those who like what we put out there, there will be some that dislike it.
Emboldened by the anonymity of the internet and the ability to hide behind a screen name, users feel they have the right to comment on every aspect of you from what you’re wearing to how they perceive you as a person.
Unlike in face-to-face situations, however, these online naysayers definitely don’t hold back when it comes to saying what they think.
Studies are beginning to show that this constant online popularity contest is becoming a problem.
Dubbed social media anxiety, it’s characterised by feelings of missing out, comparing your life to others and depression.
It’s a phenomenon that Wreck-It Ralph sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet, set for release on 22nd November, touches on.
For characters Wreck-It Ralph and girl racer Vanellope, all is well in arcade game land that is, until the steering wheel on Vanellope’s game breaks, leaving her bereft and without a purpose.
As the pair figure out how to fix the issue, Ralph stumbles on a great idea: He’s going to go into the internet and look for a replacement wheel so that Vanellope can race again.
But as the pixellated duo struggle to find where they fit, they begin to realise that in this place, popularity and likes are everything when a video of them goes viral.
After getting a taste of stardom and meeting Yesss, a trend-setting computer algorithm from social media site BuzzzTube, Ralph and Vanellope start to figure out that popularity on the internet is perhaps not as important as their friendship.
As it turns out, actress Taraji P Henson, who plays Yesss, has had her fair share of social media commentators herself – and she has a great way of not letting them destroy her own self-esteem.
“I don’t like entertaining anything negative, but sometimes there’s a lesson to be taught in a negative comment,” she said in an interview.
“Instead of going in [negatively], I will flip it on its head and make it positive, but also teaching them a lesson – and most times that will result in an apology.
“That’s my message to kids today,” she added in an acceptance speech at the Women in Film awards ceremony.
“They think so little because of Instagram – everybody wants instant fame. If you listen to people and you allow people to project their fears onto you, you won’t live. You can’t give another human the responsibility of your happiness.”
Also starring: John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot and Ed O’Neill
Directed by: Phil Johnston and Rich Moore
Running time: 115 mins
WORDS Camille Hogg