We all have to deal with some kind of negativity in our lives, whether it is related to our gender, our race, our sexual identity or sexual orientation, among other components that comprise us as individuals. And of course it is very easy to either depict yourself as a victim of society with no hope in climbing through whatever obstacle you may be facing, or violently react through rage and seek revenge on those who do wrong to you. Unfortunately, these methods more often than not carry negative consequences that could result in transforming you into a dark and aggressive person, a lifetime of violence or imprisonment, mistrust of those around you, harmful impulses that you could act on, or constantly isolating yourself from those you know and love. The most important thing you can do is to remind yourself that despite all the horrific occurrences and people that you will encounter, there are always good experiences and wonderful people who will not hesitate to accept and admire what you have to offer. And where will you find a lot of these wonderfully tolerant people? In some variation of the arts. But the arts is not just a place where you can meet different people with variations of quirks and unique parts of their personality, but it is also a place where you can explore yourself and release all the toxicity inside you. Imagination is perhaps the greatest weapon you can use to defend yourself, as well as others, who face hardship of some kind, especially if you create something relatable that touches upon issues that impact you directly, someone you are familiar with, or an issue that you hear about constantly through the media. What’s more incredible is that so many people have used their writing talents to call for change and their efforts have most certainly left lasting impressions. If you are someone who wishes to alter perceptions about yourself and a certain group you belong to in society, then perhaps the arts is a field that you can pursue as a career or even as a hobby.
One of the most prominent aspects of the arts that attract a horde of individuals from around the nation and even around the world is Broadway. But Broadway is more than a bunch of talented actors and actresses showcasing their amazing singing, dancing and acting abilities, it is also about embracing the parts of you that are out of your control and to let yourself shine on stage. For instance, if you are ashamed of yourself because you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, then you don’t need to feel embarrassed or sad anymore. Broadway is where many members of the LGBT community flock to as an escape from the prejudice and hate that many of them face; with shows like Rent that depict several characters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and even transgender, you may feel that you are not alone and realize that other people deal with similar circumstances. And in many interviews with Broadway actors that I have watched on YouTube, many have commented that the casts that they joined became a second family to them. Between singing catchy and powerhouse numbers, learning complex choreography, and portraying characters that are universal, along with all the consistent support from fans and cast members alike, it’s no wonder why so many people enjoy either listening to and watching Broadway shows or acting on stage. Finally, in recent years, Broadway has started to become a place that welcomes diversity, further bringing this point home with musicals like Wicked, In the Heights, The Color Purple, as well as the newest addition to the bunch, Hamilton. These shows aim to tear down stigmas towards people who may look a certain way (Wicked), stressing the importance of tolerance (Wicked/In the Heights), and highlighting the culture of a particular ethnicity or race (In the Heights). Plays can recognize a major minority group within society and the problems associated with them (The Color Purple), as well as feature a cast that boasts talented actors and actresses from all kinds of racial heritages (Hamilton). Because of these shows and the popularity and acclaim that they have gained, people are able to set aside the many contrasts between them and connect to stories and captivating music that sucks them out of the real world of strife and helps them cope with the troubles brewing around them. This same ability can be said of the Tony Awards that were televised recently after the tragic and heartbreaking Orlando shooting that happened this month. However, it’s not just musicals that can spark progression and change someone’s perspective, but movies as well.
Although Hollywood has clearly run out of ideas and needs to start producing some more original works, you cannot deny the magic that happens when a person leaps out of their skin from a chilling jump scare, pees in his or her pants from hysterical laughter when they watch a comical scene, starts throwing air punches or begins shouting with excitement on the edge of his or her seat from an exhilarating fight or chase sequence, or is reduced to tears from an emotional scene. Now I’m not saying that you will react in any of these ways for every movie you watch, but for the movies that you adore and develop an obsession with, they are great tools that you can use to build your social circle, for so many young people are able to find commonalities and share fun discussions about their favorite movies or movies that they have seen. Some of these movies may also lay the foundation for the creation of ideas of your own, whether it’s a particular theme or re-producing the same reaction you received after watching that movie and using identical or closely resembling techniques. And if you’re a female, you are part of a generation that has been blessed with several films that depict women as fierce fighters that can save the day and kick butt without the assistance of a man, and many of these strong female characters have also acquired a sizable male following, since these women have managed to earn the respect of a lot of men who are fans of action movies. In addition, because of the fact that there have been so many empowered and independent female characters on screen, women have begun to use their voices and channel their own Sarah Connor or Ellen Ripley to battle for the rights they so rightfully deserve. So as you can see, movies can be used as a tool to change your view, whether be it female stereotypes and the roles of women in society, or to spark conversation with friends about important societal issues.
Clearly, the importance of the arts is far beyond building friendships and entertainment purposes. For the arts can supply great insight into the troubles of our world and either help us escape such hardships for a while, or educate us on particular subjects so that we can work on improving our world over time. The arts is the spark that can ignite the passionate flame that many individuals have carried and continue to carry as they start applying ideas and putting them to action. So the next time you watch a film, read a book, see a Broadway show, listen to music, sit down to write a stream of consciousness, or read a novel, just remember the strength and confidence that you can obtain as you see problems that the world faces in a practical light, as you are now able to call upon not just research conducted through sociological experiments but various entertainment mediums to take your stance and state your position for various topics. So if there is one thing that I hope you take away from all of this it’s that expression is empowerment, and that the arts are an incredibly powerful form of communication.