In Defense of Eagles: The Necessity of Stories That Inspire
By John Bucher (@johnkbucher)
It’s sad and shocking to me how certain types of stories get branded with pop culture terms that render them ineffective. “Inspirational” will keep certain film goers away from a theater, though there isn’t a human alive that doesn’t need and desire inspiration. “Self-help” will keep certain readers away from certain books, though there isn’t one of us that doesn’t need help. The list goes on. We have so adapted a sense of pessimism into our cultural thinking that we believe such terms are really code for other things. And to be fair, this is sometimes accurate. Unfortunately, this also keeps us from experiencing media that truly lives up to those descriptors.
Eddie the Eagle is an inspirational film and makes no apologies for that. I’m glad it doesn’t because it shouldn’t need to. The story is one of a man whose family, friends, and world around him doesn’t believe in. The film makes an extremely significant distinction between accomplishment for one’s self and achievement in the eyes of the people around us. It teaches us to value wonder over traditional ideas about success.
It has become too easy to forget that there are those around us who accomplish incredible things against all odds. It seems to have nearly been forgotten that hard work and tenacity still can make a difference in this world. In the film, Eddie’s persistence inspires the uninspirable Hugh Jackman. The efforts of one man who doesn’t even make great achievements himself but works with the passion of a thousand soldiers not only affects that man, but affects everyone around him. When there are Eddie’s around us, we all soar higher. We all look deeper within ourselves. We all search for what we might could accomplish as well.
Determine not to let your soul grow such a thick shell that you cannot still be moved, motivated, and yes, inspired by stories like Eddie the Eagle. Challenge yourself to hold a worldview large enough for The Hateful Eight and Eddie. We are complex creatures. We need stories that express our fear, our anger, even our hate. But we also need stories that celebrate the good, that demonstrate joy as being just as valid as pain. It’s become easy to romanticize difficulty, and it is true that conflict and obstacles cause us to grow and develop like nothing else. But unless there is some happiness and even a glimpse of celebration on the other side of that, what is the point of suffering?
As a storyteller, I can tell you, stories that inspire and motivate people are much more difficult to craft and tell than stories of pain and suffering. We must give credit where credit is due. We must support stories that manage to do that. Do yourself a favor, go see Eddie the Eagle, and just try not to be inspired as you leave the theater.
Eddie the Eagle is playing at theaters nationwide.