This image of Accelerated Christian Education’s arch villain, Ronny Vain, has been doing the rounds on social media after hitting the front page of Reddit (comment thread here).
The boy on the left, Ace Virtueson, is ACE’s model student. Everything he does is perfect (in ACE’s parlance, it ‘reflects the character of Christ’). Ronny, on the other hand, never does anything good. None of the ACE characters could be called three dimensional, but Ronny’s whole existence consists of (a) rejecting Jesus Christ, and (b) as a direct consequence of (a), being a total asshole. That’s everything there is to him. As I showed in my AlterNet article about ACE cartoons, Ronny is shown stealing a Christian kid’s bicycle, mocking a toddler for falling over, encouraging a friend to take up smoking, and trying to persuade a boy to play truant from school. He later causes a motorcycle accident that results in a Christian boy getting paralysed—and then mocks that same boy for needing a wheelchair.
To the writers of the PACEs, there is nothing grey about Ronny: he is pure evil, and that’s the point. ACE says Ronny and his female counterpart, Susie Selfwill, are there to “provide the humanistic, worldly aspect of life. These two personalities ‘show up’ throughout the inserts as examples of the consequences of unrighteous living.”But here’s the thing: I saw the image on Google Plus and Facebook with the caption “#ronnyforpresident”. These are current or former ACE students bigging up Ronny. Even though ACE intended him as the worst person in the world, disillusioned students have made him a hero. To students who hate ACE, he is a symbol of defiance. On the ex-Mormon subreddit, they captioned the picture “What we all should have said much earlier”.
There’s even a Ronny Vain Twitter (sadly inactive), which lists Ronny’s location as ‘inside your mom’. Susie Selfwill has a page too, but the owner has blocked me, so I’m guessing that page is run by someone who’s more of an Ace Virtueson fan.
Anyway, the existence of #ronnyforpresident gives me hope. The human spirit finds a way to cope even in oppressive circumstances, even when that involves making Ronny Vain into a symbol of liberation. The Reddit comment thread is full of people who went through ACE and hated it, but they made it out, like HandjobSally, who writes:
I attended a school that used this curriculum between 9th-12th grade. Gotta be very honest, if you care about your son avoid it like the fucking plague. The school did not provide with ether the education or the social skills to be survive outside of highschool. I had to spend several years in community college reteaching myself via community college.
Ace tried to bring us down, but now we’re free and living better lives. Ronny for President.