Ready Player One

I guess the modern phenomenon of “binge watching” shows and movies has more of an effect on my media consumption habits than I would like to admit. Often, my movie going experience has more in common with stuffing myself at a buffet than savoring every bite of a gourmet meal.

This past weekend, I left my house with my twelve-year old son thinking I was going to the Golden Corral. What I received was a creative five-course meal prepared by one of the best “chefs” of our generation.

The previews for “Ready Player One” didn’t inspire me to pull out my phone and order tickets from Fandango. After all, who needs another dystopian story, highlighting the dark places our current dependence on technology might take us. Little did I know, what I would actually get is a glimpse inside the soul of one of the greatest creative geniuses of our time.

Steven Spielberg is a master at taking an audience along on an emotional journey. Think about the way “Jaws” highlights our fear of the unknown or how “ET”, defined a generation by tapping into a longing for connectedness.

My theory is “Ready Player One” flips the script. Rather than Steven Spielberg getting you to experience YOUR emotions, he gives the audience permission to participate in HIS journey through aging and transitions (I realize this could be shaped by my own current journey…see my last blog post). As we are allowed access to his inner world, we come to the realization that even the most gifted people must turn their creation over for others to steward.

In the movie, the creator of a virtual reality universe dies. Everything he has built during his entire life will be turned over to someone else. In order to decide who gets the authority to rule his creation, he plants an “Easter Egg” in the game. Whoever finds it will be awarded the ½ trillion dollars that his company is worth and the right to do with the universe as they see fit.

We follow the battle between a giant corporation (that wants to rule his creation as a means to make money) and a renegade bunch of individuals (who grow to realize they need each other).

In the middle of a ton of great 80’s music, as well as references to many of his own movies, we gain an understanding of what it must be like to be a creative genius like Steven Spielberg.

I experienced three revelations through this story.

My first observation is there is an inherent loneliness in transitions. No matter the field, leaders often experience isolation and rejection. This reality can feel even more heightened as you let go and move into a different season.

The second principle is transitions bring us face to face with regret. None of us skate through life doing everything perfectly. A sign of maturity is freely admitting what we wished we had done differently.

Finally, taking the time to hand off leadership well can bring peace. By realizing our significance isn’t found in a role, we have the opportunity to return to the simplest version of ourselves. We can rest in the fact that we are loved because of who we are, not because of what we do.

I wonder if Steven Spielberg would agree with my assessment of his journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

Three Weird Documentaries Worth Watching

I remember a time in the distant past when there was only one shot at seeing a show. If you weren’t sitting in front of your T.V. during that time, you had to wait an entire WEEK to see another episode! Heck, during my senior year in college, my roomates and I intentionally planned our schedules around “The Price is Right”.

Now, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, the “T.V. Guide” is a relic from the stone age. What were we back then? Neanderthals?!!

With all of the options, however, can come paralyzation. It’s not uncommon for me to waste an entire half hour scrolling through my options on Amazon Prime. Next time you find yourself in that situation, here are 3 rather obscure documentaries that are fun and thought provoking.

Sriracha 

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I love Sriracha hot sauce! It is as versatile as it is tasty. Yet, I never stopped to think “Where does this stuff come from?”

“Sriracha” is the story of how the recipe of a man from Vietnam changed the culinary world. It is informational, heartwarming and inspiring. Whether you like to spice up your food with the dark red concoction or not, you will probably finish the documentary believing that a great idea can come from anywhere.

 

Mission to Lars

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What does it mean to be a person with value? For many years, a man with special needs had been largely neglected by his siblings. Then one day, his sister (a reporter) and his brother (a documentary maker) decided to make his ultimate dream come true…meeting the drummer from Metallica!

You don’t need to love the Heavy Metal band for this documentary to hit home (although it doesn’t hurt). More than anything it is a story of love, persistence and the worth of every human being.

 

 

Chicken People

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You’ve probably heard of the Westminster Dog Show, but did you know there is a similar event for…Chickens?!! There are people who dedicate their lives to creating the perfect chicken.

At first I felt crazy for even watching this documentary but about mid way through, I started to see the world through the eyes of these “Chicken People”. Scary, I know!

It made me realize there are areas of my life that people would probably call insane if they hung around me for long enough. After watching this movie, you might start to realize we all try to distract ourselves in one way or another. Some of our diversions are just more socially acceptable.