Vanellope and Ralph

I love Wreck-It Ralph. I wasn't sure why I loved it until I rewatched it a couple days ago.

I thought I loved it because of Ralph's redemtive arc, his realization that your social status is not who you are, and that seeking validation from those who fail to see your value is fruitless and dangerous.

I thought I might love it because of Ralph's sacrifice. As a parent, it doesn't take much more than self-sacrifice to break my heart these days, and throwing yourself into a volcano to save your only friend certainly qualifies.

It turns out I love Wreck-It Ralph because of one particular line of dialogue. As the climactic race begins, Ralph reminds Vanellope that she doesn't have to win, she just has to cross the finish line to reset the game and be a real racer. Vanellope responds with a casual, defiant, and almost puzzled declaration, "I'm already a real racer."

Vanellope is very much the opposite of Ralph, both in stature and in attitude. Ralph embarks on adventure so he can return with the trappings of who he wants to be seen as. Vanellope embarks on adventure because it is who she already knows herself to be. 

Racers race. Heroes are heroic. These facts are independent of success or recognition. To be a thing is not incumbent on being recognized as the thing.