So I did the unthinkable on my own blog. A no-no for PR people. I stopped posting for almost a year! Why am I posting again and trying to revive this blog that once had potential you may ask?
Well, I watched Dead Poets Society yesterday for something like the 50th time in my life, and it once again moved me to act and think in different ways. Isn’t that the idea of an inspirational movie like this one? To “seize the day” and take action in unorthodox and unique ways?
I was feeling as though I needed to reinvigorate myself in a holistic fashion. And since it’s been nearly five years since I’ve seen it, I thought what the heck, why not? Let’s see if it makes some kind of impact again. And yes, I can definitely say it did.
For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, watch it! Robin Williams and a slew of other young actors, now a bit older after its release 22 years ago, were absolutely moving. The writing was provocative. The acting was honest and genuine.
Here’s a little taste of what the Dead Poets Society film is all about for those of you who never had the privilege of seeing it.
Neil Perry, played by Robert Sean Leonard, and a group of young, teenage friends attend a wealthy, private academy in a purist New England town set in the 1950s. All of them are awkward in their own ways, trying to fulfill their parents (mostly father’s) dreams. Such was a child’s life during that generation. These adolescents have no individuality or character of their own. That is until they meet their new English teacher, John “Oh Captain, My Captain” Keating.
He was part of a secret society called the Dead Poets when he went to the academy many years prior. He returns to the academy to bring his love of poetry and the written word to these young minds. But it’s more than just the words and how they’re assembled that intrigues him. It’s the beauty they reveal; the meaning, the way they can elicit free-thinking – battling the status quo that’s forever pounded into our brains. He teaches them to break free of the shackles of societal norms. He encourages them to write from their hearts and souls, not from some highfalutin textbook.
Neil faces the worst reality. His father has his life planned in perfect chronological order for him: high school at Welton Academy for boys, Harvard and then medical school. There’s no wavering from this plan or room for discussion. This semester Neil gets to room with the new kid, Todd Anderson, played by Ethan Hawke. They immediately becomes best friends. Todd is a shy and reserved kid who gravitates towards Neil’s leadership and passion for life. Through Neil’s friendship, and support from Mr. Keating, Todd breaks out of his rigid shell and learns more about the person and true character within.
But the movie takes a turn (as you would imagine)! Neal defies his father, takes the lead role in A Midsummer Nights Dream and receives a standing ovation. Ah, but this would be Neil’s one and only performance. His father catches him and punishes him in front of his friends and Mr. Keating. His father then enrolls him in military academy, condemning his dreams of acting as a ridiculous pipe dream that must be squashed.
Before I go any further, this is where I place the final period in my overview of this narration for you. I could go on, but it would ruin the story. Wouldn’t it?
Here’s a clip of one of the most popular scenes in the movie to give you a taste of this movie’s greatness…
The point of this is that many times we find ourselves deeply falling into the status quo in our lives – whether it’s at home or at our jobs. It happens to me all too often. It’s how you overcome that regimented world that locks you in one train of thought that defines you. It separates you from the herd.
I’m not saying that having processes and procedures is a bad thing. On the contrary, I believe it’s important to our field and our society. But we as PR professionals especially are prone to falling into ruts. Whether it’s the daily grind of pumping out press releases, or filling out that notorious budget report, it happens. I would challenge you, as I try myself to do continually do, to remember to rekindle your own voice, your own thoughts, your own character. Keep yourself unique and free of the prison of regularity.
Creating new ideas and ways of thinking is what makes our profession and the individuals within it special. I see college graduates fresh out of school with that fire in their eyes and think, “yeah, that’s exactly what many of us lose and never work or care to get back.”
Like Neal fighting his father to be his own person and change the world for the better through acting, I say let us do the same. Let us have our own individual characters that speak volumes and let us “YAWP from the rooftops of the world“ that we have an individuality no one else has!
So I’m committing to getting this blog up and running again with this movie experience as the impetus! This time with more of my own thoughts and what I’d like to think of as flavorful rhetoric. Since I shared with you a movie that inspired me, please do the same. Post some comments of your favorite, awe-inspiring movie for all to see.