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The movies and films that I watched in this class have certainly influenced me to look into myself and into my feelings much deeper than I ever thought possible. The four movies which I discussed about in the last two papers, Benny and Joon, Ordinary People, Nuts, and Lenny, are incredible in that I discovered something different about myself through each one of them. In fact, I found myself relating to characters within all the movies that I watched throughout this entire course. Mental illness goes much further than what a doctor or psychiatrist says on paper. I see now that mental illnesses are simply feelings, thoughts, and/or painful stresses that a person faces in her/his life, and these problems impair that person living life to the fullest. I believe that every single person deals with emotional problems on a daily basis, therefore dealing with mental illnesses, too. The movies above, as well as all the other movies I have watched during this course, have taught me so many unique, creative ways of looking at things differently in my life.
In the movie, Benny and Joon, there is a power struggle between the brother and sister, Benny and Joon, which is one of the central themes behind the movie, control. Benny feels that Joon “needs” for him to look after her care, when actually Joon is very capable of taking care of herself. Benny believes that Sam, Joon’s free-spirited, caring, fun boyfriend, throws off Benny and Joon’s structured, scheduled life. Sam’s character shows us that it is fun to be silly sometimes, and that it is wonderful acting like someone else. Sam enjoys the present events in his life, really not worrying about the future as much, and this is something that we should all try and do. In the movie, Ordinary People, there is also a central theme of “control”. A tragic accident, killing the oldest son, tears this family apart. Conrad, the 18 year old son, tries to commit suicide because he feels guilty for not “really” trying to save his brother. Conrad’s mother is a cold-hearted woman, who does not even go to see Conrad in the hospital. She puts on this facade for everyone else around her that everything in her family is just fine, and could not be better, when actually she knows that there are deep problems and concerns dealing with her family. Conrad keeps all of his guilt and pain inside of him and does not share his feelings with anyone besides his psychiatrist. This is too unbearable for Conrad and eventually he explodes, expressing how he really feels. He searches for this balance in his life, because he goes from one extreme to the other extreme. I think it is very important for every person, including myself, to try and find this balance in our lives between our highs and lows.
Trying to believe in oneself while things around you are falling apart is a difficult task to achieve. Knowing and understanding that there are bad things that happen to people for no apparent reasons, and knowing that there will be highs and lows throughout life’s journey, is a truth that helps one to deal with those tragedies and troubles in one’s life.
In the movie, Nuts, Barbra Streisand plays the part of a prostitute who by defending herself from being raped or even murdered, kills a man. She is looked upon by almost everyone as a dangerous woman, who is incompetent to stand up for herself in her own trial. No one seems to really listen to what she says and feels. The audience finds out that her father had been “bathing” her until she turned 16 years of age, and paid her for him to be able to do these kinds of actions to her. She says later that all she wanted was for him to love her. No one is there for her until her lawyer, Aaron, speaks up for her rights and supports her for speaking up for herself. In the end, she opens the eyes of everyone to see who she really is, a responsible, sane woman, who has feelings just like everyone else. Lenny is probably one of my favorite movies that I watched during this course. It is a very extravagant movie that gets the attention of everyone from the very beginning. Lenny Bruce is a stand up comic, played by Dustin Hoffman, who uses the words and actions of society to show how truly hypocritical we are in our lives. It is a very powerful movie that attacks “labeling” people and putting certain “kinds” of people into certain categories. Lenny uses these sometimes vulgar words in his act to get his point across. Everyone who hears him speak must “examine” themselves and what labels and “untruths” she/he is living, too. By showing us all the “limitations” that the government and society puts on us as well as the “limitations” and “norms” we put on ourselves, he hopes we can be free of them and just live as we actually live and not how we “should” live. He speaks the truth about everything he believes in, and this is why he is looked upon by some as being a deviant man. This movie shows us that we do not always need limitations/norms in our lives to live happily and “correctly”. Being spontaneous, trying new things, making changes in our lives, and being who we are completely with our “goods” and “bads”, is not threatening anything or being “deviant” at all. As I have said before, it is just living life truly and to its fullest.
There are so many different things, feelings, and ideas that people take from movies and their characters. Everyone takes in different emotions and themes in different movies. I see now that everyone in this world struggles with daily problems and stresses, and that everyone suffers from emotional problems. I believe that at certain times in our lives, we all feel like we are out of control, and that things happen to people that might not be able to be prevented. What movies today try to show is that it is all right to have bad things in our lives, just do not give up living in the process of going through these problems. Being ourselves at all times is something that we must all strive to do. By knowing and believing that everyone we come into contact with is going through an emotional problem of some kind, we can learn how to reach out to those who need our help. We all need help from others, even if we do not want to admit it. By not putting labels on each other and knowing that everyone has special values in this world, we can begin the first step at becoming a less hypocritical society. The more “truths” we live, the less stress there will be, and there will be less emotional problems to deal with.
I can utilize these influences effectively in relating to others by actually reaching out to others. I can show a caring heart and spirit in my work and in my family/friends relationships. I am so involved in so many different activities and organizations in my life, I find myself not having enough time to simply “breathe” sometimes. I definitely need to slow down the pace at which I am living, by giving and allowing more time for those whom I love and care about. I believe by sorting out what things I really need in my life from the excess, materialistic things, I will live a much happier, content life. By not passing up opportunities, like taking a picnic, dancing in the rain, or rolling down a tall, grassy hill just for kicks, I can learn to enjoy what is all around me and not take anything for granted. Also, by giving time to those I care about, I am directly showing them how much I love them, and this creates positive self esteems, loving environments, and lessens the stress in lives. We are all very unique human beings, but also need similar things to survive happily and “completely”, like having love in one’s life.
I can take a more proactive role in changing society for the better in the way society and Hollywood views mental illness by supporting these films, as well as many other ways. Being a healthy human being, one needs a nutritious diet with exercise and healthy foods. Also, by giving time to one another and loving one another, we can live happier and healthier lives with less stress and less emotional problems. We need to get rid of all the materialistic “stuff” that cramps up our lives, and focus on what is important to us, like our friends, our family, and the people that we care about. Also, putting great effort at working somewhere that one feels important and happy at, is a way to live a life of contentment.
All of these movies are so wonderful and show me so many things that I do want to change about my life. Films and movies encourage people to make changes in their own lives. They make us see how different people, or characters, deal with happiness and sadness, and how we react to their decisions in the films is what we take from the films out into our daily lives. We keep these messages, themes, and characters in our hearts and minds, and can use what they say or do in our own decision making and in our own living. I always need to look for those “magics” in life, where something or someone just brings a smile to one’s face. These magics are everywhere, such as a flower, a butterfly, or a storm just about to happen. One just has to be looking for them, and she/he will find them. Things that are structured, like classes, one’s work, and society, are not all bad, but too much “structure” and not enough spontaniousness in one’s life is where I believe many problems begin. Some of the exciting parts of life are the changes one goes through. Changing might be scary to people because they are not used to it, and because it is all so new and different. I believe this is the point where one can choose to look at a situation/ opportunity in a negative way or in a more positive way. It is almost in our control to see what we want to see. For example, some people see a storm and think that it is terrible, destructive, and dangerous. Even though those adjectives can certainly be true, I see a storm as powerful, beautiful, and absolutely amazing! It is all how one “looks” at certain things and situations. I want to be able to take in every single thing, every single smell, every single person’s smile, and every single shout, molding them all together inside of me and just being content about that. Something that I have learned from these movies is that time goes by way too fast, and that one’s life can pass before her/him in a split second. I am proud to say that I believe that I have a few qualities of Maude within myself. I do not steal cars or anything of that nature, but I do enjoy art and creating things of all kinds. She brings out the best in us all and I want to strive to be more like her everyday. I want to be more spontaneous and lay in a field full of flowers, and I want to feel passionate about everything I do and see. Now, I know that some of these things are not too realistic, but they are just merely goals of mine that I think of often. I do not want to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of a day, “day in and day out”. I have learned that I also have some characteristics of Conrad, in that I do not always like to share my sad feelings with everyone. I enjoy sharing pleasant things and feelings, but I feel selfish when I start talking about sad or depressing topics in my life. Why should I complain when there are so many more horrible problems that I am not facing at all in my life? I know that it is healthy to talk about everything and not to be afraid of expressing how one truly feels, with no limitations or boundaries, but I am still working on this and will certainly keep trying to express myself freely with no guilt afterwards. I understand now that sometimes a person has to step over boundaries and norms created by society to do great things in her/his life. Sometimes a person has to be looked upon as “deviant” to be able to reach people with her/his truthful message, and I believe that it is totally worth it all. I believe that my first step, my “smashing of my own guitar”, is seeing that my personal feelings of sadness and/or happiness are neither “right” nor “wrong”. Feelings are simply what a person feels, and what a person feels is that person’s private thoughts about something. We are given so many wonderful gifts everyday in life if we could just open our eyes and hearts, and there they will be, right in front of us. I do not want to take anything or any person for granted. I also know and completely believe that one can never “love” too much. One should give hugs and kisses to those whom she/he loves and never stop loving. I have learned so much from this course, and it has certainly been an eye-opener for me and has shown me some new, fresh ways of looking at living my life that I have never felt/done before. All of the web sites were also very helpful in seeing all the different types of “mental illnesses”, ranging from very severe to the least severe. The web sites also were great resources in finding out more about a character or film that one really enjoyed or that one related to. I have found this course to be an exceptional one, where I can express whatever I feel with no consequences at all, and where we all learn from each other equally through our own discussions in class.
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