Helpless but not Hopeless

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Faced with the challenge of connecting two films that have wildly diverse themes: Isolation from human interaction and digital interaction overload, I settled in for a night of movie watching and note taking. To represent the theme of isolation, the film Life of Pi was chosen. To represent the theme of interaction overload, the movie The Internship was on deck. What I experienced that night made me laugh, cry and in the end, left me with the belief that just because you are helpless, it doesn’t mean that you are hopeless.

The main character of the Life of Pi is a boy named Piscine “Pi” Patel. Pi overcame bullying and religious confusion during his primary school years, to become a young man who “just wanted to love God”.  While growing up on the family Zoo in India, he was a Hindu vegetarian who recognized parts of the Islam and Christian religions to love God in his own way. The sale of the Zoo and transport of the animals, one of which included a special Tiger named Richard Parker, and Pi’s family to Canada on a Japanese tanker, resulted in a life changing experience.

A shipwreck caused the Japanese tanker to sink. Pi found himself adrift in a lifeboat with a zebra with a broken leg, a hyena and an orangutan. Soon, the hyena attacked the other animals, as hyenas would normally do in the wild, only to be eaten by Richard Parker the Bengal Tiger, who was hiding under the lifeboat’s tarp. I wiped away tears as I watched this poignant and mesmerizing film unfold. Pi felt helpless when he realized that he was stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a man-killing Tiger. But was he hopeless? No.

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Switching gears to The Internship film, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as salesmen co-workers, I also wiped away tears, but from laughter. These two forty-something salesmen lost their sales job when the watch company they worked for went out of business. In desperate need of employment, they realized needed to be part of the new digital era. An application for an internship at Google accepted by the Google panel when the men used an “out-of-the-box” method of thinking. I thought to myself, they were employing traditional sales tactics of changing a negative into a positive with genuine enthusiasm. Funny interview and well done. They were on their way to Google.

Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) quickly finds out how complex and competitive the new digital era is with strange, new rules. What do you mean you can’t take home from work salsa, chips, pudding, sushi, ice cream and pizza? No drinking with the boss? Or dating co-workers? Very funny Green Paddle, Red Paddle scene. Predictably, the weird old guys were left out when voluntary groups were assembled, along with other (more) geeky interns. These quirky salesmen felt helpless amongst this group of young, misfit techies. But were they hopeless? No.

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In both movies, although they are grossly different, they did share a common thread: overcoming adversity. Hope, perseverance, determination and sheer will motivated the men to survive. Pi survived the shipwreck and 227 days isolated at sea. Billy and Nick survived the slow death of watch salesmen and embraced the digital era. The men may have been helpless, but not hopeless, which made them stronger people in the end.

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