Joy’s Stages of Life: April 2012: Inspirational Movies

Cinema: 

Rain Man: “Stand Up For Autism” (Movie 1)

 13267692_597614710444136_1133665974689619801_nThe movie Rain Man was released in 1988. I saw it when I was a teenager after I found out about my autism. This movie is about a car salesman who discovers that he has an autistic savant brother whom he stole from the institution in order to get half of his three million dollars.  Charlie had a hard time dealing with his brother’s condition.  During the road trip, he learned life lessons and the importance of brotherhood.  The film encouraged me to stand up for my developmental disability, autism. The world should see people with autism as human beings like autism, not treat them or throw them away like trash. The autistic savant, Raymond, (played by Dustin Hoffman), is different than I am. I have Asperger’s Syndrome.  I’m more flexible and mature than he is.  His struggles were similar to mine when I was young such as communication and socialization.  We both learned new things like understanding jokes.

    Raymond learned how to count cards while I learned how to speak foreign languages and try new food items.  We both like to sing, read books, and ride on trains.  Unlike him, I am not afraid of flying on planes.  Just because planes have crashed before doesn’t mean airline travel is dangerous.  The title of the movie comes from the fact that young Charlie was trying to say “Raymond,” but it came out Rain Man.  In the film, Raymond does not realize his own emotions and how to act in the real world.  In contrast, I am aware of my own emotions and what is happening around me.  People are not one of his priorities, but they’re on my top priority list.

     The film also made me realize that there are also positive things about autism such as an impeccable memory and certain abilities and talents.  Raymond is good in math and remembering dates and phone numbers.  I excel in writing stories and blogs and petsitting other people’s pet animals. Amazingly, I remember other people’s birthdays, historical dates and events (i.e. the Civil War lasted from April 21, 1861-May 9, 1865), and most vocabulary words in foreign languages. 

     In 1989, this movie won a few Oscars such as Best Picture, Best Director-Barry Levinson, Best Actor-Dustin Hoffman, and Best Original Screenplay written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass.  Raymond likes to buy clothes from Kmart and thinks that he is an excellent driver.  He is very knowledgeable about cars.  I don’t care where I buy clothes and prefer to take the bus because driving would be too critical for me.  Besides, I do not know much about cars and I don’t care for them.  Gas is getting expensive these days.

     Therefore, Raymond is very different than the autism activists, Temple Grandin and Sean Barron.  He has lived in an institution most of his life while I have not.  An institution would not be suitable for me because I am more capable of living in society and being part of the community than he is.  If people see the movie, that would change their perspectives about autism and make a difference.  Before I was born, my parents first heard of autism when they saw the movie.  Years later, they learned more about autism after my diagnosis. I definitely turned out to be different than Rain Man.  When I was a teenager, the movie kind of changed my perspective on autism after my parents told me I had Asperger’s.  In reality, like normal people, some people with autism can do anything depending on their skills or what they’re good at. 

 

Good Will Hunting: “The Genius” (Movie 2)

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     The movie, Good Will Hunting was released in 1997. I saw it in either high school or college. This movie is about a janitor at MIT named Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon) who was abused in foster homes as a child and often gets in trouble.  He was required to visit a psychologist (played by Robin Williams) to improve his coping skills and avoid going to jail.  Will reevaluates his relationships with his best friend, Chuckie (Ben Affleck), his girlfriend, Skylar (Minnie Driver), and himself, facing the task of thinking about his future.  Even though I don’t have the same background as Will does, I took speech classes to overcome my disability. The movie’s message is about friendship, success, failure, and life.  Nobody is perfect.   The film inspired me to use my abilities and never let them go to waste.  It’s better to move on from the past and never look back.  Will and I both like to read literature and history, but he is a lot more advanced in math than I am.  I’m passionate about animals, art, films, foreign languages, music, and technology. 

     When I was young, my speech therapists helped me improve my social skills.  Since then, I became a little more of an extrovert. Actually, I’m between intro and extro.  Even though Will already has three close friends including Chuckie, the trustworthy and mature one, he develops a friendship with his psychologist who helped Will see the world in a different point of view.  Near the end of the movie, when Will told Chuckie that he wants to be a laborer for the rest of his life, Chuckie said that it would be an insult for him for Will to waste his potential. He convinced Will to leave Boston in order to pursue something great. Chuckie said, “You owe it to me.” So, Will goes to a job interview arranged by Prof. Lambeau, but he turned it down in order to reunite with Skylar in California.  When Chuckie was picking up Will, he was happy that Will left. 

      On the other hand, the therapy sessions in the movie were very touching.  In comparison, my social circle was small during primary and secondary schools. Then, it grew when I met some of my online community college classmates in person. During my youth friends, I was kind of friends with my speech therapists and my first-year preschool teacher. One of my best friends from community college thought I was smart and ambitious. I’ve always been a talented writer since middle school.  If I wasted my life doing nothing, people would be insulted. I, myself would, also be unhappy. 

     Friendships are important because you need people to support you.  Love is also important because it gives you affection and happiness.  A true friend or a soul mate is hard to come by.  Never push them away when there are bumps in the road.  In the movie, Will pushes people away before they have a chance to abandon him.  He shouldn’t be afraid to show his true potential and give people a chance to show their love for him.  In comparison, I try to show people how much I care about them and never repel them away when I’m frustrated in a situation.  It’s difficult for people with autism to initiate friendships and relationships. No one has abandoned me before.  Sometimes, I used to take things the wrong way or have misread social cues.  Then, I realized that not all people are cruel or attempt to be. I learned how to read social cues better in therapy. I shouldn’t get mad when people try to help me with work or life or something.  I learned empathy, how to put myself in their shoes (not literally!), consider their feelings, and how my actions and words affect them. 

     The movie is also important to me because it took place in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.  My mother attended Harvard as a grad student and my brother attended Harvard Business School.  I visited Boston before and actually ate at a restaurant called Au Bon Pain which was in the movie. 

    In 1998, the film won two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, Robin Williams, and Best Original Screenplay written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.  Will had lived in Boston his whole life and finally left the city at the end.  Even though I have lived in Dallas my whole life, I left the city before to travel to see the world.  He stole his therapist’s words, “I gotta go see about a girl” before he drove off to California.  If anyone watched Good Will Hunting, it would change their perspective about the importance of friendship, love, intelligence, and avoid fear of success & failure, opening up to people, leaving the past behind, and life in general.

 

Shrek: “The Greatest Story Never Told” (Movie 3)

    The movie was released in 2001. I saw this movie when I was a child. I have loved it ever since. Shrek is about an ogre and a donkey who are on a quest to rescue Princess Fiona for a villainous lord in order to gain his land back after Lord Farquaad filled it up with magical fairytale creatures. On the way to Duloc, Shrek learns about the importance of friendship and love. He falls in Fiona.

Sadly, millions of people are judged based on a simple first impression. Society is quick to pass judgements on people based on factors such as appearance, language, setting, and possessions. However, when the time is taken to get to know a person, it is proven more times than not, that the judgements taken are false. As expressed throughout the movie Shrek, sometimes things are not always as they appear. For example, in my case, some people misunderstand me. At first, they assumed I was weird and ugly because of my quirks and my appearance: oval-shaped glasses, short hair, and a few zits. Those insults made me feel insecure about myself. My mother told me that I am a beautiful, amiable girl no matter what and never listen to what other people say because they’re ignorant idiots. They never knew the real me. After my makeover, people got to know the real me and realized that they misjudged me. There is more to than my disability and looks. There is a phrase called: “Never judge a book by its cover.”

At home in his swamp, a flatulent ogre named Shrek defends his life of solitude, though deep down, it’s probably not his first choice. Due to the fact that he is a strikingly ugly ogre, he is automatically assumed to be evil and cruel, therefore labeled an outcast to society. Shrek exploits that misconception in order to protect his privacy. For example, when he was confronted by torch bearing, pitchfork wielding villagers. He describes the gruesome fates awaiting those who disturb him, in hopes of the villagers never returning. However, as the movie continues Shrek is accompanied by a talking donkey that takes no thought to Shrek’s ugliness. It is then that Shrek’s true personality begins to reveal itself. Shrek tells the donkey that ogres are like onions, they both have layers. When analyzing an onion, the outside layers are dry and flaky, a part of an onion that is regularly thrown away, referring to Shrek being thrown away from society. When an onion is pealed however, it reveals a clean ripe inside, referring back to Shrek’s inside personality. When given the chance to be himself by Donkey, and Princess Fiona later on in the movie, Shrek reveals a kind, harmless, caring ogre.

Normally, people with autism prefer to be alone. In my case, speech therapy helped me come out of my shell. I had a friend and my ex-fiancee who never judged me. They got past my looks. They knew that on the inside, I was a good girl who was misunderstood.

 

In Princess Fiona’s case, she turns into an ogre at night because Shrek never kissed her to break the spell. Fiona thought she was ugly, but she doesn’t realize how beautiful she is no matter what form she is in. Once she showed Shrek the truth at her wedding to Farquaad, he realized that explained her behavior. After they declared their love and kissed, the magic made her remain an ogre for life. Shrek told her that she was beautiful. They lived happily ever after.

The movie talks about insecurities, your personality inside and outside, and the importance of friendship and love, and people should not judge you before getting to know the real you, and there’s more to life than solitude.

In 2002, Shrek was the first movie to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

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