Perspective: The Rolling Stone, Wet Js and Laughing at Death

Life, Movies, Sports

This past week kicked off my winter break, which means I had down time to catch up on movies (I am really behind on movies). So far I’ve gotten through Anchorman, Almost Famous, He Got Game and Harold and Maude. I started with Anchorman because of ESPN and because Ron Burgundy’s face is everywhere I go. After watching the first one I realized I’ve been missing out on a cultural phenomenon, and I’ll be sure to catch the second one very soon.

Now that I’ve addressed the awesomeness of Will Ferrell, I’m going to attempt to analyze and relate the other three movies in relation to each other — hang with me.

The Inspiration 

As a little background to this crazy blog post idea, this is the tweet that sparked it:

Aside from my film watching spree, I’ve watched NBA games all night every night. And I follow amazing guys like Ethan Strauss, so I’m also exposed to great commentary. This tweet stuck out to me because of one word: perspective. Perspective can take you far in life.

Films for Days

I watched Almost Famous because Michael Hastings mentioned it in his book, The Operators. I’m a sucker for anything journalism or sports related. The movie released in 2000, and it’s about a 16-year-old boy named William who manages to snag an assignment to cover a rock band called Stillwater for the Rolling Stone. It follows his journey on tour with the band, the madness that ensues and the backlash William receives from the band after he writes about them truthfully rather than with a rosy tint. It’s loosely what happened to Hastings when he wrote his Rolling Stone piece about General Stanley McChrystal.

The entire film revolves around a theme of morals and ethics. William deals a lot with deciding whether he should act in a manner that’s true to himself or a manner that will up his popularity. Ultimately, he follows the advice of his mentor: “Be honest and listen.” He nobly chooses integrity and gains perspective. Being away from home and immersed in the world of rock and roll, William is exposed to drugs, sex and alcohol. He sees how the band members betray each other, and deciphers between what is right and wrong.

Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) Screenshot

Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) Screenshot

Next, I watched Spike Lee’s He Got Game (1998), inspired by Ray Allen’s cold-blooded dagger against the Indiana Pacers. Ever since the Heat’s Game 6 win over the Spurs, I’ve noticed the Jesus Shuttlesworth comments spike, and I wanted in on the jokes. The movie is about a highly recruited high school basketball player named Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), and his relationship with his father, Jake (Denzel Washington). Jake is imprisoned for killing his wife, yet he’s released under a special condition. The story tracks the flexing tension between Jesus and Jake. Jesus is forced to gain perspective in learning how to forgive people and how to forget people.

Lastly, the strangest and oldest movie was Harold and Maude — the “cult classic” story of a young boy named Harold and a 79-year-old woman named Maude. Harold is obsessed with death, and so is Maude. However, unlike Harold, Maude has perfected how to live a care-free life. And Harold becomes attracted to that. It’s a twisted love story slash comedy. The outcome is that Harold’s perspective changes as Maude allows him to see the light in life.

What’s the Perspective?

As shown through the three films, oftentimes perspective is only acquired by means of a jolt. For William, it’s diving into the uncensored world of rock; for Jesus, it’s facing his father; and for Harold, it’s embracing life. But once that fresh viewpoint is realized, everything changes.

I think that’s what Ethan Strauss was getting at too. Popovich coaches each season as a marathon, while many of the other coaches treat the NBA season as sets of sprints. Popovich has the learned experience that in the scheme of things, the playoffs take precedence over the regular season. He sits his key players and hones the bench play early on, and he maps out his wins. You won’t see him battling the Bucks to the bitter end in December (cough, cough, Knicks).

In addition, I’ve noticed this lately in my own life as well. Whenever there’s a shift — good or bad — my frame of mind shifts with it. It could be a death, a location move or a new job. Regardless, every time I learn something unique and alter myself accordingly.

What I’ve established, after observing my surrounding environments, is that if you look back five years and compare yourself then until now, there should be growth and change. Pain and joy alter perspectives. There’s always a silver lining. It’s a good thing.

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