Everyone hates middle school, but for many parents, Greg Heffley from the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books serves as a continual reminder of how challenging those formative years can be and how preteens’ emotions may occasionally be as mysterious as their ability to make decisions. The new animated adaptation of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” which is based on Jeff Kinney’s best-selling book series of the same name, has just debuted on Disney+. Greg, the main character, is a middle child who is frequently the target of bullying at school, which undoubtedly affects his actions as a less-than-reliable narrator. The new comedy, which stars Brady Noon from “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers,” is the most recent of Kinney’s 16 books, a spin-off series, and four live-action features.
Parents have been outspoken about their distaste for Greg as the main character since the start of the series. Greg isn’t the model of decent behaviour, to put it nicely. He is unpredictable, naughty, slothful, suspicious, conceited, dishonest, and frequently envious of people around him. Playing video games, creating comic books, and hanging out with his best friend Rowley (Ethan William Childress of “Mixed-ish”) occupy the majority of his free time. Rowley is most likely only his friend because they both reside nearby in the same neighbourhood. Rarely do antiheroes and unreliable narrators appear in children’s entertainment; some parents have even forbidden their children from watching or reading the series, branding Greg a “sociopath.”
He’s not a Sociopath, He’s a Pre-Teen Anti-Hero
Creator Jeff Kinney responded to critics in a recent interview with ScreenRant, justifying the choice to not develop Greg into an idealised representation of what parents wish their children were more like. Kinney remarked, “I simply think of Greg as being a sloppy kid. In reality, I consider him to be a kid who is accurate.
Kinney is correct, and he should know, having previously taught junior high school. The preteen years are among of the hardest because even something as simple as your friend requesting you to “play” instead of just “hang out” with them may make you the worst student in the class. Greg is a mix of irritability, melodrama, and impulsivity, which is quite understandable given that the social norms of middle school are arbitrary and frequently alter. “Greg thinks and does a lot of things. I took all those actions “Kinney said. “And those who condemn Greg for his actions? They undoubtedly carried out many of those actions, in my opinion.” Additionally, people need to stop labelling fictitious characters as “sociopaths” out of thin air since, regardless of whether they’re criticising a fictional cartoon character, ableism doesn’t look good on anyone.
Greg Is Great Representation, Actually
Children’s media is frequently created from the viewpoint of educating kids on the “right” way to think and act, with all disputes being amicably handled by the conclusion of the story and “problem children” learning a lesson and swearing never to be or act in a specific way again. While well-known troubled kids like Junie B. Jones and even Arthur frequently continue this cycle, Greg is a child whose tale doesn’t always come to a tidy conclusion. Kinney continued to argue his case by saying:
Greg is recording his life at a time when he shouldn’t be recording. It’s right when he’s not a fully formed person, and I think that people that give Greg a label are sort of missing the joke. Right off the bat, Greg says, “One day when I’m rich and famous, I won’t have time to answer people’s stupid questions.” Whatever that is I’m not sure how you label that it’s misguided. It’s a little bit cocksure. But I don’t think it’s anything worse than that.
Sometimes, children’s entertainment creates unreasonable expectations for how kids should act, how they should feel, and what constitutes a reasonable amount of response to conflict. Greg is a very real child, and the fact that he even exists might provide children who feel alienated a great deal of validation. Open a conversation with your children about what’s going on in their lives that makes them relate to Greg so intensely, and be grateful they can use “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” as a method to recognise how they’re feeling, parents, rather than worrying about whether or not Greg is a “bad influence.”