I, like most of America apparently, recently saw Guardians of the Galaxy. For the record, I loved it. I’m not going to review it here because, let’s be honest, it’s probably been reviewed a bajillion times (I’m using ‘bajillion’ as a scientific/mathematical term). Why would my review matter?
Instead, I’m going to explain my favorite scene in the film, the part that made Rocket Raccoon a star. Or, if it hasn’t yet, it damn well should.
I’m not sure at what point in the movie this occurs, but there comes a time when the Guardians are meshing as a team. It is a messy business. The mesh isn’t perfect. Through one event or another, they are allowed some down time between galaxy guarding. Drax gambles, Star-Lord and Gamora connect, Groot groots (I guess), and Rocket gets drunk. Then Rocket fights with whoever will fight with him. There is a bubbling anger in that adorable little guy. I’m no scientist or psychologist, but it stands to reason that when an angry guy gets drunk, he gets angrier. So, you know, the fighting doesn’t come as a surprise. What comes as a surprise is Rocket’s speechifying when Star-Lord breaks up the fight.
Picture it. Rocket, fuming with anger at perceived and/or real affronts to his person is standing before Star-Lord who is trying to calm the situation.
Rocket, you’re drunk alright? No one’s laughin’ at you.
He thinks I’m some stupid thing! He does! [points at Drax] Well, I didn’t ask to get made! I didn’t ask to be torn apart and put back together over and over and turned into some little monster! [begins to cry]
The conversation continues for a few lines and even veers off into something funny. But from that moment on, Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t quite as funny. It isn’t, frankly, quite as fun. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun, but there is something somber behind that fun, something like growth . . . something like change. It’s as though in that one moment, with those few words, Rocket Raccoon forces everyone of his cohorts–and by proxy everyone in the theater–to grow up a little.
Rocket says he didn’t ask to get made. This indicates he is fully aware of his situation. He is fully aware that others think he is a monster, something different, something ‘less-than.’ He is fully aware of his place in the universe and when he’s just drunk enough, he can speak the sad, sad, truth of it. Why is this so important? Because Rocket is all of us, you guys. Deep down there are moments when we all feel unimaginably different from everyone else. We all struggle with connecting because the same great miracle that keeps us going also keeps us separate–our individuality, or rather our desire to simply be who we know we are meant to be. None of us ask to get made. None of us petition to be here on this plain of existence (as far as we know). All of us, at one time or another, suffer silently the clear loneliness Rocket offers in that one somber sentence: “I didn’t ask to get made.”
Like Rocket, there are some of us who feel that way all of the time. We hear the remarks, or, if we don’t hear them, we feel them. Or if they are not said, we can sense how others perceive us: as something so different it is to be looked down upon. To have a cartoon raccoon illustrate this empty and simultaneously disquieting feeling in pitiful, simple words, is almost too much for the lighthearted adventure, almost. But that’s the point where entertainment becomes art, that almost area. In other words, this statement alone turns a good movie into a great movie. This statement alone allows Guardians of the Galaxy to speak to us in a profound, artistic way. This statement alone indeed allows the film to call itself art.
Sure, Guardians of the Galaxy is a popcorn movie based on a sci-fi comic book about space adventurers. Sure, it’s brightly colored and bombastic. Sure, it isn’t realistic in any scientific sense. But you know what it is?
People come together, despite their differences, all the time, and they do great things when this happens. Sadly, people also silently suffer for being nothing more than who they are all the time. When a silly space raccoon can say, so perfectly, “I didn’t ask to be made,” he is saying it for all of us because none of us asked to be made. None of us asked to be who we are. When the Guardians come together as a cohesive team after Rocket’s sublimely saddening line, their coming together is more profound, it’s more epic, and from a storytelling point of view, it is surely art.
When Rocket hollers this drunken epithet we should all listen and remember it for the next time we want to make fun of someone for being nothing more than who they are, or hurt someone because he is different, or, in fact, perceive someone as ‘less than’ when actually he is only different. After all, we’re all different and none of us asked to be made.