Welcome to another Entertainment Slam! blog and thank you for taking the time to read. Today I'm going to discuss five book/movies that I have watched/read that have impacted me the most. We're focusing on things that have impacted me so much that it changed who I am as a person. I find it really interesting that as writers we have the power to make people think in a different way, to enable people to see things from an outside perspective in a controlled and safe environment.
1.) Love, Simon
I recently watched this film and was blown away by the scope of emotional empowerment that all the actors managed to achieve in this film. This is honestly a film I think everyone should watch at least once in their lives. It discusses important topics surrounding the LGBT community, such as why straight is the default, why do we have to "come out" as gay and not straight, and why do we even have these silly labels.
This changed the way I think about the LGBT community!
I was always pro gay-rights and even have some LGBT subplots in my upcoming books next year, but I never really gave it much thought until I watched this movie. I just found it horrible how people couldn't be themselves because of social persecution. But this movie changed everything for me. Now, when anyone asks for my sexual orientation, I will always say human. I will always be attracted to other human beings, because that's all that matters, right? What does it matter that I find men or women attractive? Also, why should I be limited to being gay/straight/bisexual (or anything along the scale)?
What if I'm 40 years old, am happily married to the man of my dreams, and am suddenly sexually attracted to another woman for the first time in my life? Most people would say that makes me bisexual, and I would have agreed prior to watching Love, Simon. But what is we flip the scenario on its head? What if I'm 40 years old and happily married to the woman of my dreams and am suddenly attracted to a man for the first time in my life. People would say I was "normal".
Why is that normal and the other scenario not? Why do we continue to label ourselves? It's because society is easier to maintain if we can fit everyone into cute little boxes and maintain order. But guess what? We're not cute or little, we're human. We're the most mentally complex creatures on the planet. Society continues to try and fit us into claustrophobic boxes when we need room to breathe. I want to live in a world where I can find Angelina Jolie sexy one week and then not the next. I want to live in a world where no-one has to announce their sexual orientation, where being attracted to other humans is all that matters.
2.) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
This is the first real book series I read at age eight, besides from picture books. This one gets an entry for two reasons: firstly because it was what got me into reading, writing, and eventually editing, but also because the ending changed my life. (SPOILER ALERT). The ending is one of the most emotional endings to a fantasy series I have ever had the pleasure of reading. She sacrifices great love for the stability of the universe, and goes on to live a not-so-happy life because of that.
This made me realise that not everyone gets a happy ending, and that is a message I think every child should learn at some point in their life. Before this book series, I always dreamt of a prince carrying me home on a horse and making me a beautiful princess with bright pink wings (I was eight, don't judge me). After this book series, all I wanted was to be happy. It didn't matter where that was, who that was with, or how, I just wanted to live life as happy as possible. I then spent years working hard on my grades, got a degree, moved away from home, got engaged, started a business I absolutely love, and plan to become a published author (next year is sooo close!) all to aim for that happiness.
This book made me realise that happiness isn't something you should ever take for granted.
3.) Your Lie in April (GIANT SPOILER ALERT!!!)
I find this anime hard to talk about without bursting into tears. This is something you should only watch with a dozen boxes of tissues. The main character, a pianist, goes on a journey of self-discover after his semi-abusive mother passes away. He suffers from PTSD-related trauma when he plays the piano as he can no longer hear the notes and it sends him into a panic, every time. That is, until he meets an eccentric violinist who teaches him how to be himself again, how to be a great pianist. They fall in love and you think they'll live happily ever after. However, you discover at the end that she's actually VERY ill and she soon dies during a life-saving operation. She teaches him how to live life to the happiest he possibly can and how to be himself without fear of judgement. She died to give him that. She should have been recovering, but she performed on stage with him instead. It is the most beautiful anime in creation, with the stunning art, music, and story.
This taught me that life is too short to be constantly concerned about following strict rules or blending in with society. I want to be me and to hell with anyone who tries to take that individuality away from me. I am rather weird and different, but that's what makes me who I am.
4.) Harry Potter by JK Rowling
I couldn't create this list without having a HP entry. Sorry, but it was just a huge part of my generation and so many others as well. The first book came out when I was just two years old, with the first film coming out when I just six. I unfortunately never had the luxury of reading the books before watching the films, but I quickly fell in love with the characters, the world, and the level of beautiful detail. I became obsessed. Still am!
But, beyond the fantastical story and the great words of wisdom threaded throughout the book, there is a really great magic to this book series in that it teaches us to be brave. There's a quote said by Dumbledore at the end that is my favourite quote of all time: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why should that mean it's not real?" As a writer and someone who suffers greatly with living in worlds of fantasy and finding the balance between reality and fantasy difficult to manage, this quote means the world to me. It made me feel like less of a freak and more of a beautiful gift. I know that's super cheesy, but it's true.
P.S. I am a proud Ravenclaw! (Just for your information).
5.) We Bought a Zoo
This is something I went to see with my parents as the story is based on my then-local zoo, Dartmoor Zoo. So I instantly wanted to see it. I love animals and even went on to do my degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Plymouth University. So, I was bound to love this film. But, little did I know the impact one simple quote would have on my entire life and my future.
The main character is someone who follows his dreams, no matter how terrifying and absurd it might seem. He buys a zoo after his wife passes away and goes on this great grief-stricken adventure. It's a beautiful story. During this time he uses this phrase to describe to his son how he has the courage to do what he does: "Ten seconds of courage, that's all it takes." This phrase is everything in my life.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, there are days I can't face leaving the house, and days when the thought of speaking to another human being terrifies me. But this phrase makes it so I build up the courage to do these everyday things. I no longer have many of these issues, and when I do, I always refer back to it. I'm sure when I press that publish button February next year, I'll use it then, too.
Thanks for listening! I hope you also enjoy these books/movies/TV shows. If you haven't watched/read many of them, go check them out! Let me know in the comments what similar experiences you've had with other things.