Look What You Made the Academy Do

We demanded the Oscars try to be more relevant. I don’t know that we’ve earned that right.


If you hadn’t heard, a few changes have been approved for the 2019 Academy Awards and the Oscars awards show. The show will be shorter, some of the tech awards will not be aired live, and – most significantly – the Oscars “will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film.”

Some excellent pieces have already been written about the Academy’s struggle with relevancy and ratings, and this ongoing dilemma joins recent controversies about fair representation of the work of minorities in film. The Academy is, without a doubt, flawed, and while at times popular opinion and critical consensus have smelted a little golden man which is apparently much heavier than some recipients were expecting, the Oscars has the age old problem of not being able to say no to artistic renderings of fish sex.

But it’s worth considering what part we play in this. Because, as out of touch as the Academy appears to be at times, this push for relevancy and popularity is just as much an indictment of the viewing public at large. Perhaps the Oscars is disconnected from its audience, but so too is the audience failing to connect with the Oscars.

I know this because the Oscars is that special night where everyone roots for the two films they’ve seen, scoffs at the ones they haven’t, and rolls their eyes at the Hollywood elite and artsy liberals.

And then the next week they have family movie night and no one knows what to watch as they scroll through Netflix’s confusing and poorly-curated menus. If they all agree, it’s probably on a Marvel movie or another blockbuster. If they don’t, either someone proposes a comedy which ends up being too raunchy for either the eldest or the youngest, or someone suggests a film on the recommendation of “someone” who wrote “something” “somewhere” and it turns out to be a trash film that just happens to champion a certain religious or political worldview. Anything “sad” will be vetoed. Perhaps most likely, they forego a film to watch a few more episodes of a series they know they can rely on.

It’s little wonder that younger people are drawn to TV over movies, older people will say they don’t make movies like they used to, and Hollywood will continue its land grab for bankable intellectual property (IP).

And so the public goes on to mock the indie films and awards season darlings that get Oscar noms and nods while also being dissatisfied with what qualifies as popular film outside of a select few franchises. Do you see where this might not be the Academy’s fault? Perhaps the problem with the Oscars is not that the awards show fails to cater to popular opinion, but that popular opinion is so porous and predictable that any show awarding excellence in film would implode if based in earnings over excellence or even buzz over beauty.

The perception that the Academy is out of touch with the viewing public perpetuates a lethargy when it comes to seeking out new films to watch, and this new award recognizing excellence in popular film will only make this false dichotomy worse. There are, it seems, two kinds of films in the culture’s imagination: artsy Oscars films with billboards and fish dicks and popular blockbusters with starships and superheroes (that the people complaining probably never went to go see either). Viewers become frustrated either because they don’t “get” the one kind or because they aren’t interested in the other.

But these are not the only options when it comes to movie viewing. There are dozens of truly fantastic films released every year. Only ten can get nominated for Best Picture, and only a handful of those really get much buzz, and often (though not always) they are not among the highest-earners. The zombie hordes of moviegoers who only come out to feed during Oscar season and are attracted to the smell of box office reports are bound to miss out on these, either because they spit upon their status as arty films or because they flat out don’t ever hear about them. But these movies are still there to be seen. Even if they don’t take home a trophy. Or make a splash at the box office. Or fight their way through witty comedies, cooking shows, and stand-ups to appear on the hallowed “Trending Now” of Netflix. There are quality films released all the time that we can watch, quality films that can deepen our appreciation of film and move us to seek out other films like them. But people are too lazy, it seems.

I’m not. I don’t want to give myself too much credit, but I’m really, really good at suggesting movies for family movie night, and I’ve made an absolute killing on these films that go largely unnoticed while occasionally leaning right into the arty award-winner which no one watched: Paterson, Lady Bird, The Big Sick, Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea, A Man Called Ove, Goodbye Christopher Robin – all recent films which my family thoroughly enjoyed, but might not have ever heard of, let alone sought out, if I hadn’t made the suggestion. I absolutely love that they continue to trust me, but it says something about the movie-watching culture that these movies were more or less not on their radar.

We can already see how this is going to work out in 2019: a film like First Reformed is going to be the award-season darling, and for one reason or another the masses will scoff at this little movie that no one went to see getting so much attention; Black Panther will be recognized for its excellence as a “popular” film, and many will be unmoved by another superhero movie, especially one that doesn’t speak to their….economic anxiety. But, among those ten nominated films, there will be Annihilation, a film which *nobody* watched, which will be given some credit by way of a nomination, but which will still go unwatched because the same people who reject elitist award-season films will assume it’s not worth seeing because no one has seen it. The Academy makes its mistakes, but it’s a tough crowd.

It’s no secret, of course, that the best of anything rarely gets its due credit. Comedians, authors, musicians, athletes – often times the best are not the most popular or the most awarded. Yet, if the Grammys has shown us anything, it’s that an awards show cannot be taken seriously if it completely ignores popular opinion (it’s a bad joke at this point). But, in the case of the Oscars, it’s damned if you do damned if you don’t: The Academy can’t keep nominating Room over Straight Outta Compton, but pandering to the opinion of an ill-informed viewing public will rot the institution entirely. The point of the awards will be lost, and probably without any gains in ratings.

The Oscars may be the film awards show, but it’s important to remember that it is only that: an awards show. It means something, but our film opinions and Netflix selections should not be dominated by one institution. At the same time, we should not let our opinions demand what that definitive awards show must look like.

The Oscars needs to change, for its own sake, but these proposed changes make it seem like it’s changing for our sake.

And I don’t think we’ve earned that.

Forth now, and fear no darkness.

Soli Deo Gloria



When Your Hero Isn’t Real

Critics and fans have praised the heroes of The Last Jedi, but is the Chosen One at the center of a billion-dollar franchise seriously flawed?

One of these is not like the others.


Rey, the central protagonist in the new Star Wars trilogy, is, in some respects, the perfect hero for the current moment. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing strapping young men named Chris take this role, while also finding delight in the combative exploits of men on the other side of 50 (Keanu Reeves, Liam Neeson, Tom Cruise) or getting surprisingly close (Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon).[1] To see the biggest movie of 2017 headlined by a young woman is not just refreshing, but important.[2] In America’s present moment, the old ways of pale males are revealing their toxicity on a daily basis, and so the counter-narrative provided in 2017 by Rey, Wonder Woman, and even Lady Bird is important.

Rey is tireless in her efforts to do good and help others, and she is more than capable of doing so with her abilities as a pilot, a sword-fighter, a user of the Force, and just about everything else she has tried over the course of two films. She appears to have saved both the Resistance (the Rebellion incarnate) and the Jedi Order. Without ever asking for any of it, she is now poised to be the one to clash with the de facto supervillain, Kylo Ren (Darth Vader-lite), and crumple the tyrannical First Order (the Empire incarnate). She’s a Chosen One with incredible abilities and an indomitable spirit. She’s the nobody-turned-messiah at the heart of an epic extension of one of cinema’s most vaunted mythologies.

The problem is that she is merely that.

We don’t know anything about Rey, other than she comes from nothing, given away by her nobody parents for some booze. Two films in, and we have no idea what makes this person tick, other than an innate sense of goodness, an attribute which has hardly been tested, and thus hardly proven. We don’t know what kind of love or attachment she feels for any other character – on or off screen – and we don’t know what she wants to get out of life. She comes from nothing, and that’s the problem; we have no expectations for her identity or the rules which govern her life.

She’s not even a Jedi. Not really, unless all you need to do to be a Jedi is use the Force and wield a lightsaber, but – clearly – being a Jedi is much more than that, and Rey has not gone through any of it. If she’s a Jedi, it’s only because that’s just how Star Wars outside of Rogue One works; a Jedi with a blue or green sword fights a bad guy with a red sword. Voila! A billion dollars at the box office.

The purity and sheer power of her status as Chosen One does not develop through an actual character – instead, Rey is reduced to a convenient plot device. She’s the infallibly good, exceedingly talented heroine who saves the day and fights the bad guy while toppling the fascist empire, unveiling new skills just when the hyperdrive fails. At best she’s a generic Young Adult fiction protagonist and at worst she is a gimmick to sell action figures to parents who want a positive role model for their daughters.[3]Of course, if this is all as plain as I think it is, the film would not have garnered such acclaim from critics and viewers alike. Out of context, perhaps Rey does stand up to critical assessment and I am being too harsh on account of my serious dislike of The Last Jedi. But Rey is not without context. She is hardly the only young Chosen One to be a part of wildly popular modern mythologies, and she should be judged in relation to those other characters. These juxtapositions make it that much more clear how unconvincing and uninspiring this character really is.

Within the Star Wars filmography, Rey has two predecessors: her “mentor,” Luke Skywalker, and his father, Anakin Skywalker. Anakin, like Rey, was chosen by the Force to have unmatched powers. It was prophesied that this boy born into slavery on an insignificant planet outside of the Republic would bring balance to the Force. But Anakin’s tumultuous road to the Dark Side is not based on a series of convenient plot points. Rather, they are fundamentally connected to who he is. He is a young man pained by his inability to save his mother and aflame with passion for the woman he loves and wants desperately to keep safe. He is a wunderkind Jedi who struggles with the Order’s rules against attachment and the Council’s hesitancy to promote him. He sees father figures in the evil Palpatine, who heaps praise on him, and in his mentor, Obi-Wan, who is loathe to grant a simple “atta boy.” It even turns out Annie exhibits enough traits to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

We know enough about Anakin and his station in life to make his struggle with Chosen One status meaningful. And it makes his fourth quarter conversion make sense, too.

Some may argue that Rey is a successful echo of Luke, but being found by a droid mechanic wandering a desert planet and joining a force of rebels is fairly flimsy criteria. The original film does not pretend Luke is a Jedi just because he is given a lightsaber and can use the Force. Instead, he’s a bored teenager who wants to go fight the Empire. And, when given the chance, he takes it. In Empire Strikes Back, he only starts to become a Jedi when he trains with Yoda on Dagobah,[4] and he only leaves his role as rebel hero to clash with the Dark Side when he finds out his friends are in danger. By Return of the Jedi, he’s pretty much over the rebel hero thing in favor of facing Vader, but this time it’s personal – the cosmic clash in the saga’s conclusion is, as many have noted, a family drama.

While it seemed like Rey was going to have a family connection to the story, this turns out to not be so. Instead, she’s intruding on the family drama which formed the basis for the first six films.

Some writers, like Chris Ryan at the Ringer, have articulated how Star Wars is now based in its own mythology, referential unto itself. But a new character cannot be fully realized through mere reminiscence and nostalgia; Rey has to stand on her own.

Rey falls short of our other famous science-fiction and fantasy Chosen Ones, too. Consider Harry Potter, as clear-cut a Chosen One as we have, with fairly overt parallels to Jesus Christ.[5] Like Rey, Harry grows up without parents, but, unlike Rey, this continues to be the dominating fact of his life which plays out in some painfully human ways. While Harry, Hermione, and Ron don’t quite have a conventional career at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry’s journey as the ultimate hero is still fundamentally related to his station as a student at the school. It’s true that, like Rey, Harry has a tendency to figure out new powers just in time to save the day, but much of this is due to what I find to be the most compelling part of the story – his evil nemesis, Voldemort, is literally a part of him. Harry is good and is a living testament to the power of love, but he still must make the decisions to not be like Voldemort.

Luke asks Rey “Why are you here,” and we still don’t know. Harry’s inevitable clash with the dark lord is not an arbitrary plot point; it grows out of the defining traits of his identity.

Such is the case with Frodo Baggins as well – his quest to save the day as the ringbearer is significant because he has no desire to be a Chosen One. There is nothing special about him that makes him able to bear the burden of the ring other than his disinterest in its power, a disinterest born of his identity as a Hobbit, but a role he is willing to play as a Tookish Hobbit who grew up listening to his Uncle Bilbo’s stories of adventure. He regrets the ring coming to him, and laments “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” to which Gandalf replies, “so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” His actions are further shaped by his friendship with Samwise and his willingness to have pity on Sméagol.

Frodo’s humble beginnings continue to matter throughout his quest and help us to understand the magnitude of what he goes through.

To include Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen might be unfair, given that few characters could stand up to the central figures of A Song of Ice and Fire, but I’ll include them for the sake of making perfectly clear how little we know about Rey. Jon and Dany are, despite George R.R. Martin’s tendency to subvert recognizable tropes, seemingly destined to save the day. But Martin, a fan of misinterpreted prophecies, leaves us to question how exactly these two heroes might fulfill the role of the Prince/Princess Who Was Promised. Even so, their identities outside of epic hero status fundamentally inform how they carry themselves and how we understand them. Jon, a bastard, uncertain of who he is or where he belongs, a talented, courageous, empathetic hero who has no desire to hold power. A resurrected savior with no regard for his own safety. Self-exiled to the end of the world but brought back into the Great Game.[6] And Dany, an exiled young girl, one of the last of her legendary house, sold to a foreign warlord, determined to outwit and outwill all opponents and climb her way to power but keen to care for the commoner. Every moment of triumph earned only after a hard lesson.

We know these people, and we see the ways in which their identities inform the way they grapple with the remarkable positions life has put them in as King in the North and Mother of Dragons.

The complex identities and circumstances of these heroes shape their journeys. It helps us understand how they relate to important places (Hogwarts, the Shire, Winterfell, Dragonstone), people (their friends, their mentors, their rulers), and even items (Godric’s sword,[7] the ring, dragon eggs). The remarkable things they do are made more meaningful because they become real, believable people doing them.

This is not so with Rey. To repeat: we don’t know anything about her.

Some people, including my heroes Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion, have noted Rey’s merit as another example of one of the best-loved tropes of fantasy: anyone can be the hero. But Rey’s status as a nobody from nowhere does not necessarily place her in this category. Because she is truly a nobody from nowhere who happens to have great powers and nothing more, Rey actually becomes quite the opposite; Rey forwards the notion that only people with mysteriously-granted and prodigious talents can be the Chosen One.

Because Rey is nobody, nobody has been Rey.

Other heroes work because we’ve been those people.

Some of us have been like Anakin, the talented youngster facing a weight of expectation. We’ve faced the fear of loss and the pains of attachment.

We can relate to Luke, the bored teen wanting something more. We’ve had our future plans derailed by family conflicts. We’ve been asked to make seemingly impossible choices.

Surely we’ve all felt like Frodo, facing a situation we wish we could have avoided, or taking on a task that seems beyond us, but still making the choices to do what we think is right. We’ve been that little person in a big world.

So many can relate to Jon, the gloomy outcast desperate to find their place in the world, or Dany, the empathetic and ambitious person determined to find success but wary of the pitfalls that can come with it.

Even some of us have been Harry, born with exceedingly rare gifts and the destiny that surely comes with it while also trying to navigate growing up and finding love and friendship. And more of us can understand the complex battle within ourselves between good and bad and the choices this presents us with.

I, personally, see myself in these characters, especially Jon[8] and Frodo. This means that I can see myself doing great things.

But no one can see themselves in Rey. No one can make the connection between her ascent to Chosen One and their own potential to achieve greatness.

I hope by this point I have at least convinced you that Rey is not a believable, interesting, or compelling hero, especially within her Chosen One context. But it is also important to consider what this means beyond the aesthetics of good writing. This, of course, matters, but I assume people of my ilk are more likely to care about writing in film more than most moviegoers (and I don’t mean that to necessarily esteem my viewership). What are the consequences of Rey beyond “bad” writing?

Perhaps first and foremost is a distorted sense of what it means to be a hero at all. The antiseptic, perfect hero which Rey represents suggests that heroism is something that happens to people who discover latent gifts and would only ever use those gifts to do the right thing. This describes zero real human beings. Conversely, we have gotten much better at constructing villains who feel real, prizing the complex baddie over the irredeemably or cartoonishly evil figures.

If our choices for protagonists bifurcate into pure heroes like Rey and anti-heroes like Walter White, we will be left without characters who exhibit goodness and virtue while also being real people. Should characters like Rey continue to be the heroes of blockbusters, the only real people we will be left rooting for will be morally ambiguous anti-heroes. I love – love – a good antihero, but thousands of years of literature suggest that we have a fundamental need for more virtuous heroes as well.

As it stands, our contemporary blockbuster heroes are more complex and realistic than Rey, and perhaps her time in the spotlight will be a blip. But, given the success of The Last Jedi and the praise of the character, it appears that more bland archetypes may be on the way unless we examine these characters more critically and demand more from the writers of our new mythologies. We need our heroes. We want to feel like heroes.

It’s just important that they feel like us.

Forth now, and fear no darkness.

Soli Deo Gloria

– Peter


1 Subversive as Daisy Ridley might be, there’s still a decided whiteness among these blockbuster stars. All the more reason that Black Panther is such an important upcoming work.
2 A separate discussion, but it’s worth noting that Daisy Ridley is a “real” woman, as opposed to the sort of unrealistically sexy characters which sometimes take this role.
3 I would also say that Neo from The Matrix is a pretty fair comparison for Rey.
4 Rey’s training with Luke is not nearly as developed or thoughtful. The scene in which she goes into the dark place is a total hack, relying on its relation to Luke’s confrontation with his Vader-self rather than actually doing anything to explore her character.
5 Why, yes – Jesus is also a more developed character. Easy answer is that his status as a Galilean Jew is super important. Complex answer is that the entire Bible is about him. So, yeah.
6 We learn more about Jon in one conversation with Tyrion than we do about Rey in two films: “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
7 It’s convenient that this shows up when Harry needs it, but that’s at least explained by Harry’s membership in Gryffindor House. Why does Anakin’s lightsaber call out to Rey? Because it was convenient for the plot ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
8 Fun fact: I am an INFJ, and so is Jon.

The Shawshank Redemption and the Hypocrisy of Incarceration Nation


I would bet against me avoiding political commentary in the coming weeks and months. For now, we’ll focus in on an issue that – surprise surprise – has not  managed to hold much place in the ongoing political dialogue. Dialogue is, I suppose, much too kind a word for the bloviating that dominates political rhetoric and disscourse (extra ‘s’ intentional).

The justice system in this country is in need of major fixes and some total overhauls. Among the necessary changes to the justice system is prison reform. The current prison system is a bloated panacea that has become a supplier of neo-slave labor. Additionally, it has disproportionately contributed to the plight of many black communities and created a warped sense of reality that frustrates statistical interpretation and projection. White-collar criminals have unfairly avoided prison sentences or bought their way into nicer detainment centers. There are numerous incidents of prison guards grievously abusing inmates. The current system emphasizes punishment rather than rehabilitation, and life after prison is a really tough go for ex-cons – creating such a high re-incarceration rate.

Despite all the wrongs of the prison system, it seems that Americans, in general, don’t care about their incarcerated compatriots. There’s not a lot of sympathy going around for people locked behind bars. Of course – of course – there are some individuals in prison who are dangerous and deranged and should be kept in prison for the well-being of society. But even the psychopaths should be treated humanely. For the most part, people just tend to not think about the millions of people in prison.

And this neglect, apathy, and outright disdain persists despite the fact that prison is – what’s the word? – I honestly can’t think of the right word. It is a horrific, dangerous place to be. At its most basic level, prison is a box that holds people that need to be kept away from society for a while. But prison so often becomes a cruel and unusual punishment. Taking away life’s luxuries is one thing – subjecting people to physical, sexual, and psychological trauma is another. If you can stand it, listen to a few seconds of what solitary confinement sounds like (hint: it’s not quiet).

But here’s the disjointed and hypocritical part of Incarceration Nation that I want to get at: sometimes we really like prisoners. Sometimes we empathize with them. In fact, I think it’s our natural inclination to have pity on the prisoner.

Because you realize that arguably the most-loved American film of all-time is about prisoners, right? Yes, The Shawshank Redemption has a wrongly-convicted man as its main character, but it takes almost no effort for the filmmakers to get the audience to love all the prisoners, with the obvious exception of the men who repeatedly rape Andy. We’re thrilled, as an audience, to see the prisoners gain some nice things like the library, and everyone has a few notes played on the heart strings in the famous “Opera Scene.”

Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, has to be one of the most beloved characters Freeman has ever played – and he’s a black prisoner who readily admits to murdering someone!

Shawshank isn’t the only example of this either – Cool Hand Luke is another iconic film about prisoners – albeit in a setting that’s a little less “maximum security,” given that we’re supposed to believe most of the prisoners aren’t there for the long haul. Still, this film also manages to make the audience love the convicts and celebrate their happiness and mourn their hardships.

So what the heck is up with that? Why do we like these prisoners but hate the ones in real life?

Is it because of the sadistic wardens and guards? It shouldn’t be – there’s plenty of those in real life too.

Is it because of the vibrant characters? Shouldn’t be that either – there’s some interesting people locked away right now.

Is it because the prison life doesn’t seem as bad as in real life? Well, maybe, but if it was worse in the movies, wouldn’t that make us pity them all the more?

I think we just have to accept this as disjointed and hypocritical. We like the fictional characters that are safely locked away on the big screen, but we ignore and even hate the real life convicts that once walked among us. Watching those films, we can let our desire for freedom and our touting of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness dictate how we feel. We set aside our prejudices and embrace empathy as we see humans locked away in a place none of us want to be.

But when does this disjointedness reveal an unnatural mindset: when we watch the fiction or when we consider the real life prisoners? In other words, are we fooling ourselves when we pity the dangerous criminals on screen or are we dishonest when our empathy withers as the detainees become very real?

I don’t know. I am pretty sure, despite our acceptance of Morgan Freeman’s character, that there’s a racial component to it (and, besides, could we really be scared of Morgan Freeman?). It is worth noting that Red is, if my memory serves, the only non-white character in either film (and in Stephen King’s story, Red is not black).

But racial factors probably compound what might be the real underlying hypocrisy – we can get invested in fiction because it’s fiction. It’s easy to watch a movie and then feel inspired to make a difference, but actually acting on real life problems is so much tougher. Obviously.

What remains clear is a dissonance between our love of freedom and our sympathy for fictional inmates and the way we treat prisoners in real life. Prisoners are people too. Yes, many are dangerous, and many should be behind bars for the safety of others, but the Chateau D’if that we’ve made of  the American prison system needs some major reworking

Forth now, and fear no darkness.

Soli Deo Gloria

– Peter

Be That Friend

A friend sent this to me. And because he is, for me, “that friend,” I’m putting it on a blog on which only one other guest has ever posted. It also makes sense since I just wrote about “Real Friends” last week. The “Bearded Brawler,” as he calls himself, takes a look at friendship and brotherhood, two of my most favorite things. Using four characters, he encourages us to seek friendships based on unconditional loyalty.

good will hunting

In today’s modernized society, men are lost trying to figure out how their friendships with other men are supposed to work. Manly relationships aren’t understood by many, because these friendships are not solely based in words said, but rather in deeds done. A man’s best friend may not ever text him, but you can bet he will be next to him when shit hits the fan.  Their friendships are based in a moral code for each other, what is sometimes referred to loosely as the “Bro-code.” I’m going to explain this manly code using characters from movies and literature to show what kind of a friend a man should be for another. Keep in mind, at the end of the day your friends are not those who say happy birthday to you on Facebook, they are the ones standing next to you when you are in need of friend.

Disclaimer: I’m a man. I’m writing this from a man’s point of view. That being said, I am not being sexist in writing this. I am simply trying to help guide men who think are not sure just how they are meant to act with their friends, or who their friends are. I never, nor will I ever understand the relationships women have with each other, which is why I’ve stuck with just writing to and about men. Lastly, even though this is aimed at helping men, it may indeed help women to understand the men that they relationships with.

Doc Holliday, Tombstone: Doc Holliday, sick as a dog, saddles up to face a gunfighter that would test him when he was in perfect health. Why? Because Wyatt Earp is on his way to fight this man, and has no chance. When Turkey Creek Jack Johnson asks him why he’s doing this, Doc answers “Wyatt Earp is my friend.” Turkey responds, “Hell I got lots of friends.” Doc then simply states, “I don’t.” There are two takeaways from this. One, there need not be a long, complicated reason why we do something for our friends, even if it means risking our lives. We can, and should, do it simply because they are our friends. Also, Doc Holliday chose quality over quantity when it came to his friends. It’s better to have one or two really good, trustworthy friends than a hundred shallow friends. Be like Doc.

Chuckie Sullivan, Good Will Hunting: Chuckie would “Take a fucking bat to [Gerald’s] head” if Will asked him to. Be the friend that Will could count on to do that. But there is another aspect of Chuckie that makes him a friend to be like. Chuckie makes two statements in the movie that show how much he cares for Will and that he wants him to succeed. One, “Every day I come by your house and I pick you up. And we go out. We have a few drinks, and a few laughs, and it’s great. But you know what the best part of my day is? For about ten seconds, from when I pull up to the curb and when I get to your door, ’cause I think, maybe I’ll get up there and I’ll knock on the door and you won’t be there. No goodbye. No see you later. No nothing. You just left. I don’t know much, but I know that.” And the second, “Look, you’re my best friend, so don’t take this the wrong way but, in 20 years if you’re still livin’ here, comin’ over to my house, watchin’ the Patriots games, workin’ construction, I’ll fuckin’ kill ya. That’s not a threat, that’s a fact, I’ll fuckin’ kill ya.” These two quotes show us that Chuckie knows his friend has the talent and skill to make it out of the slums, and that he needs to make it out for all of his friends who aren’t able to. Have the loyalty of Chuckie to take a bat to somebody for your friend, and be the friend who can motivate a friend by recognizing their potential and showing it to them.

James Coughlin, The Town: Ultimately James is not the type of man you want to emulate and some may argue that he ends up not being the kind of friend one would want. But there is one sequence of the movie where his friendship is something we should all strive for. His best friend Doug, whom he did jail time for, simply says to him, “I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we’re gonna hurt some people.” James’ response? “Whose car are we gonna take?” Be that friend. Be the friend that another friend can come to with any request, and be willing to do anything for your best friends.

Wiglaf, Beowulf: Wiglaf is the definition of loyal. When Beowulf fights the dragon he leaves all his men behind and goes to face the dragon solo. However, Wiglaf follows his king to help him face the beast. Wiglaf puts his life on the line for Beowulf when nobody else will, simply because Beowulf is his king and he is fiercely loyal. Eventually the two are able to slay the dragon, though it burns Wiglaf badly and its poisonous bite turns fatal for Beowulf. Be like Wiglaf. Have his loyalty to your best friend(s).

For a man, actions speak louder than words. The way we function in a friendship is no exception. Best friends never have to tell each other that they are best friends, or even really acknowledge to each other that they are friends. What is unspoken by the lips is clearly broadcast through actions.

– The Bearded Brawler