Justin Li

Ginny Ryerson


I watched Rocket Science this Sunday, at a free showing hosted by Northwestern. It was a different kind of comedy drama, as it doesn't have the happy ending. Partially because it was about debate, partially because it was about hermetic nerds, I enjoyed the movie. What lingered on my mind afterwards, however, was the question of what motivated Ginny Ryerson.

Movie spoilers ahead.

Let me give a short recap of what I remember of the movie. Ginny wanted the first place trophy for the state tournament, but didn't get it because her partner (Ben Wekselbaum) just stopped speaking in the middle of his speech. So next year, she goes and recruits Hal Hefner (among other similarly "disfigured" students) to the debate team. She makes out with him at least once, and makes him do a whole bunch of work before transferring to a competing school and joining their team. She also makes out with her new partner. Hal then finds Ben to try and win, without success. When Hal confronts Ginny in the middle of her speech, she justifies her actions as giving him the strength to stand up for himself and fight.

I have thought about several incomplete theories which would explain her actions:

I just noticed that none of the theories portray Ginny motives in a positive light. I wonder if her motives are really as she said, that she wanted people who are "disfigured" to learn to stand up and fight, that she was doing what what Ben had done (by leaving her alone at the finals). That's a very cold way to teach someone though - it reminds of the training school in Ender's Game.

There are several more loose ends about her too. Ginny has a gold pendant of her and Ben that she likes, and tries hard to find. This would imply that they were somehow in a relationship, or at least that she had a crush on him. Since Ben didn't seem to care about Ginny loosing, the latter would seem more likely.

Part of me hopes that, although her motivation for much of the film is negative, she changed at the end. Hal showing up at her school probably surprised her, and not accepting the trophy could signal a change in what she thinks, although she still doesn't want to talk to Hal.

Either way, it is debatable whether Hal or Ginny is the one we should pity more.