Thursday, November 19, 2009

Into the Wild

We had to watch a movie in class and write an in-class essay. This is the one I wrote, and I figured I'd post it. :)

Chris's Values and our Culture:

As I watched Into the Wild, I almost saw myself in the film. I could see how each person in the movie is influenced by culture, and how much environment can influence their actions and decisions. Chris had many ideals and values, but his aim in life was to influence the culture of today. The primary three things that he tried to impress upon the youth culture of today was the value of happiness, the value of selflessness, and the ideal of being willing to take risks.

Happiness takes a huge role in this movie. When the movie begins, Chris believes that he can be perfectly happy on his own. He even makes the statement that you don’t need human relationships to make you happy, that God puts happiness all around us. His view of happiness slowly changes as he grows in this show. He realizes that while he might not need others happiness at first, that they need his. He realizes by the end of the movie that his view on happiness was so wrong, as seen in his journal. He writes an entry a few days before he dies, and says that “Happiness is only real when shared.” This teaches a huge lesson to the youth of today’s culture. A lot of times, today’s youth do not realize what happiness they have. They don’t realize that, even though things might be rough, they have happiness if they are just willing to accept the people around them and realize that they have faults.

Today’s youth need to learn the value of selflessness as well. From the day Chris began college, he started down a path of selflessness. He took classes in the politics of third-world countries and the food crisis in these countries. He realizes through these classes that there is a much simpler way to live. Chris does take this to the extreme by burning all his money and destroying his car, but I believe he has a message in that as well. He’s showing us that sometimes it is necessary to do something this drastic in order to get people’s attention, and to experience what real selflessness is like. He tells his former boss that things are way easier and not as fun when he has money in his pockets, which goes to show that it would be beneficial to be selfless.

We do not come from a society of risk-takers. From the moment you’re born, you’re taught to play it safe. Never touch the stove, always cross at the crosswalk, and don’t leave the yard. As you grow older, this only gets worse as you’re told to always study so you can have great grades, go to college so you can get a better job, and the list goes on. Chris defies the rule of playing it safe. He does get a college degree, but he never ends up using that degree. He instead destroys everything he has and sets off on the biggest adventure of his life. During one of his stops on the way, he tells an elderly gentleman who becomes like his grandfather that he needs to be willing to take risks, and to get off his butt to see the world. This is a concept that every person can apply to their lives.

While it is true that Chris takes things to the extreme, he has some very valuable lessons that can be taught to the youth today. He teaches them about true happiness, selflessness, and taking risks. As a youth in today’s culture, I learned a lot by watching Chris. I can only hope that he continues to reach out to others through this movie. After all, as he told the elderly grandfather figure, “People just need to change the way they look at things.”