This is the second post in a two-part series in which Shea expresses his sensitive side. For those of you missing the snarky Shea, rest assured that he will return next week taking on obnoxious uses of color. Thank you, IBD Management.
This piece of writing is going to hurt my street cred.
I’m not the guy who normally cries at movies (Old Yeller is an exception), but twice recently I have found myself with tears running down my face at the end of a movie. This is where it gets strange. The first film was Notorious (a true story of the rise and fall of the rapper Notorious B.I.G.) and the second was The Blind Side (a true story of success of a homeless boy who became a professional football player). I highly recommend both of these movies. (For the record, my tears in The Blind Side had nothing to do with Sandra Bullock’s attempt at a Southern accent.)
So what’s going on with me? I immediately realized that these two movies are not on the same list as Life is Beautiful, Million Dollar Baby, Deep Impact, The Pianist, Glory, Philadelphia, The Notebook or Dumbo. So what’s going on with me? Being the analytical guy that I am and filled with a sudden concern for the strange salty substance flowing from my eyes, I had to learn more about why these movies touched me.
I’m also borderline (and by borderline I mean completely) paranoid, so one of the first things I did was check my collection of personal hygiene products to make sure that I wasn’t using something that was specifically for girls (that’s right, I am a man). To make a very long story short, I once had an incident that involved a really bad sunburn, glitter lotion, and a lasting sparkling effect that was fodder at work for a very long time. Who puts glitter in lotion? To some, I’m still known as “Sparkles.” Based on the amount of estrogen in the house where I live, ingestion by osmosis also had to be considered. After careful research, those possibilities were quickly ruled out.
Now back to the analytical element of reaching a sensible solution to my emotional response. There had to be an explanation. What was it about these two movies that touched me so? I was pretty sure that it was not the topical connection to the rise and fall of a gangsta rapper or a talented football player. My mother wouldn’t let me try out for the football team and though I have stepped up to the mic on several occasions, my Southern suburban upbringing keeps me from really connecting to the strength of street knowledge. Now if was street knowledge of J. Crew catalogs, I have that covered.
I started to break it down like I was critiquing an interpretive program. Both movies had similar themes. I love underdogs and both of these movies carried an underlying theme of people overcoming obstacles to make it to the top—though each ended differently. I love that the success of these two individuals was directly related to key persons in their lives. I can relate to that. There are people who have been a part of my life who have helped me become the person I am today. For that I am grateful. So regardless of the movie’s setting—or well as my athletic ability or rhyming skills—I could still relate. The interpretive themes were a success.
Now on to the interpreters themselves. Both movies offered emotionally charged performances to which I was able to connect. I’m a sucker for passion. The two lead characters—Christopher Wallace (Notorious) and Michael Oher (The Blind Side)—were portrayed in a light that anyone can appreciate. These performances also served as the conduit for connecting the tangible to the intangible. The actors helped me connect the tangible elements of the story (sports, music, facts, information, description of the events that took place) to the intangible elements with inherent meanings. The interpreters were successful at conveying the theme passionately.
When it comes down to it, the universal concepts are what did it to me. Both movies were about relationships and when it comes down to it, relationships are our legacy. The films touched on the same universal concepts that most people can relate to. In Alan Leftridge’s book Interpretive Writing, he provides a list of universal concepts that include “fear, love, peace, change, life, wonder, family, history, trade, and death.” Between these two movies, all of these concepts were included along with the inherent meanings of forgiveness, determination, transformation, self-discovery, authenticity, and personal growth that spoke to me.
As interpretive designers, this is what we should strive to create. A theme-driven product presented by a passionate interpreter, creating an emotional response, regardless of the topic, that people can relate to and be moved enough to provoke a response. Now that I have this all figured out, I am going to limit myself to movies that are about typefaces like Helvetica. The only person who emotionally connects to that movie and would cry over the tangibles of stroke width and letter spacing is Paul.
I have to get back to improving my street cred.