While I'm not a movie critic, I think movies can teach valuable lessons about people.
For the price of a theater ticket, you may become the hero or the villain.
You have permission to attach meanings to the script and scenes that no one else would dare consider. You bought the ticket, remember?
Movies are personal journeys into your soul of experience. They allow us to imagine ourselves in scenarios that are sometimes outside of our comfort zones.
They offer us the vicarious luxury of entering into the lives and minds of the characters in the safety of a theater seat without bearing any of the risks or paying undesirable consequences.
Have you seen the movie “The Intern”?
Again, I’m not a movie critic. But, I enjoyed the movie and its humorous process of comparing and contrasting generations. The process wasn’t exactly in your face, but the movie’s director, Nancy Meyers, permitted the generational differences to always be at play in the dialogue.
Robert De Niro's 70-year-old adorable character, Ben, is a retired executive and is just outside of being in the baby boomer generation.
Anne Hathaway's charming character, Jules, is a millennial who manages an amazingly successful start-up company.
In their book titled “The Millennials: Connecting To America’s Largest Generation,” Jess and Thom Rainer chronicled the starting and ending periods of these generational groups. The boomers’ birth years spanned from 1946 to 1964, and the millennials began in 1980 with a cutoff date of 2000.
In her role as director of the movie, Meyers is quite skillful at allowing the movie to reveal how the differences in their generations affected their perceptions of life.
For example, Ben’s generation was at ease using a telephone directory.
But, millennials’ use of technology found using a telephone directory unnatural and outdated.
Without giving away the movie’s ending, Ben and Jules learned to appreciate each other despite their differences. When I left the movie, I found myself reviewing the lessons “The Intern” taught me.
When people of different generations, backgrounds, races, religions and sexual orientations earnestly put their minds together in search of common ground — despite their differences — they can find ways of working together in harmony. I’m an optimist.
However, unlike sitting in your favorite theater viewing the adventures of characters on the screen, finding common ground may take people out of their comfort zone.
Beverly Daniel Tatum, in her book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria,” discussed one of the impediments of courageous conversations, which lead to finding common ground. Under the topic, “The Paralysis of Fear” she indicated that “fear can trap words in our throats and still our tongues.”
Tatum contends that dialogue can be silenced by fear of isolation from friends and family, ostracism for speaking of things that generate discomfort, rejection by those who may be offended by what we have to say, loss of privilege or status for speaking in support of those who have been marginalized by society and being physically harmed by the irrational wrath of those who disagree.
In the real world, away from the safety of our theater seats, we must find common ground with people of different generations, backgrounds, races, religions and sexual orientation.
So, let’s get those courageous conversations started today.
Roger C. Williams Jr. is a retired principal, counselor and instrumental music teacher. He lives in Lee’s Summit. To reach him, send email to Midwest Voices, c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.