Blog By: Ellice Soliven
The other day, I was watching the film Ghost World for the millionth time. It’s one of those movies I’ll never ever get tired of, one of my all-time favorites. Written and directed by Terry Zwigoff, this 2001 dark comedy stars Thora Birch, Steve Buscemi, and Scarlett Johansson. Birch and Johansson play Enid and Rebecca, respectively- two social outcasts who just graduated high school and are living in that grey area between graduation and the real world (i.e. college, finding a job, moving out).
Enid and Rebecca are the two quirky, eccentric, I-Don’t-Care-What-You-Think characters in high school. They don’t plan on going to college, follow strange people around for fun, and make “friends” with the older, endearing oddity that is Seymour (played by the ever-awesome Steve Buscemi). Enid wears graphic tees and short colorful skirts with clunky lace-up boots, changes her hair color within days, listens to everything from blues to ‘70s punk to Indian music, and wears various fake glasses depending on her mood. She is who she is, and with Rebecca they are the self-proclaimed “freaks and weirdos”.
I watched this movie countless times in high school. As a quirky girl with eccentric qualities myself, it comforted and inspired me, as movies often do. As a teenager, I had many friends and involved myself in sports, Yearbook, and other extracurriculars. I wasn’t a popular kid, but I wasn’t the least popular either. I didn’t want to wear what everyone else was wearing; I watched musicals and ‘80s movies when none of my other friends did; I acted silly, made funny faces, and talked in accents all the time. Though I knew a lot of people, I still never really felt like I could be my complete self around them.
Then I watched Ghost World and fell in love with Enid’s character. She inspired me to be who I was and let my true colors shine through to the world around me. Watching Ghost World led me to falling in love with other films about girls who don’t quite fit in with their surroundings.
It’s common for people to feel out of touch with society’s norms. This is where movies and music come in, giving men and women young and old alike a chance to discover that there are others out there like them. You don’t have to be like everyone else; You can be yourself, let your personality shine and screw what everyone else thinks. As long as you’re happy and not hurting anyone, why should it matter to anyone else the kinds of clothes you wear, the music you listen to, what you do for fun?
Along with Ghost World, here are a few of my other favorite films about characters who don’t quite fit in. And to be totally honest (and a little cheesy), these films have shaped my life and encouraged me to be true to myself, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Another film starring Scarlett Johansson, directed by Sofia Coppola. Newly married and trying to find her place in life, her husband leaves Johansson in Tokyo while he goes off to work. The neglected newlywed befriends a famous American actor played by Bill Murray, and the two hit it off. Bored and numb in their own lives, they roam around Japan together, eventually making a soul connection.
Not having been accepted into any colleges, Bartleby (played by Justin Long) creates his own fictitious school, The South Harmon Institute of Technology. By accident, he allows every other college reject in his vicinity to apply to the fake college. While it starts off as ploy to keep his parents off his back about college, Bartleby soon realizes that it’s his duty to give his friends and students the education and chance at a future that they deserve.
HEY HEY IT’S ESTHER BLUEBERGER
This is one of the smartest, sweetest, funniest coming-of-age movies I’ve ever seen. Esther Blueberger is a 13-year-old Jewish girl dying to fit in. She secretly leaves her posh private school to attend her new hipper, liberal friend Sunni’s public school. Esther sheds the boring uniform for a shorter skirt, cooler friends and a chance to be herself. She goes through ups and downs, but ultimately she ends up being truly the outsider’s hero.
Audrey Tautou plays Amelie Poulain, a charming, imaginative young woman living in Paris. Upon discovering a box of old love letters, she is inspired to go about doing random acts of kindness to cheer up those around her. Completely alone, she finds creative ways to change her friends’ lives, and in doing so, she changes her own life for the better. Amelie finds love in a mysterious man who is quite a lot like herself. The film is colorful, whimsical and inspiring, a tale about a woman who overcomes a lifetime of loneliness and ends up bringing joy not only to others, but herself as well.
BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY
Renee Zellweger put on 20 pounds and a British accent to play Bridget Jones. Jones smokes too much, drinks too much, and can’t find a good man. In her nightmares, she dies fat, drunk, lonely and eaten by dogs. She goes through excruciatingly embarrassing ordeals in front of her family and friends, and falls in love with a man who is no good for her. Bridget Jones’s Diary is so relatable to so many women who just can’t seem to make their life right no matter how hard they try. Should they wallow in their self pity, or fight through to make their lives worth something more than a series of agonizing situations? Bridget Jones conquers her own demons and becomes a true-to-life heroine – MY heroine, in fact.
Angus has to be one of the most underrated films I’ve ever seen. Angus Bethune (played by Charlie Talbert) is the unpopular, smart, heavyset kid in his high school. We all knew a guy like this when we were teenagers. His only friend is a scrawny redheaded dork, he gets picked on by jock bullies (namely so, a very young James Van Der Beek), and the most popular girl in high school doesn’t know he exists. He ends up being voted Winter Ball King, a joke played on him by the whole school. But through some embarrassing trials and tribulations, Angus finds the courage to stand up for himself, against the haters, and not only gets the girl, but humiliates the football hero too. Angus is every fat kid’s, lonely kid’s, unpopular kid’s hero.
Watch these films and absorb their messages. I know I did, and I ended up feeling a whole lot better about myself. So here’s to you, fellow outsiders. Smile, and let your freak flag fly!