Leadership In The Theaters: "Don't Breathe"

Leadership In The Theaters: "Don't Breathe"

Taking leadership classes has forced me to look for leadership everywhere I go.
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As a student taking leadership classes at the University of Richmond, my brain has been engrained to find leadership qualities in every scenario, situation, movie, theatre production, etc. Therefore, when I saw the movie Don't Breathe at the movie theater the other day, I couldn't help but analyze leadership within the film: Did the leader exhibit successful or failed leadership? Why are the leaders in the movie seen as leaders?

Don't Breathe is about three thieves from Detroit, Rocky, Alex, and Money, who decide to break in to a house that is sitting on thousands of dollars. The owner of this house happens to be a blind veteran. Despite the guilt that the three characters should have been feeling about robbing a blind man that fought for their country, they agreed to carry out the burglary, assuming he was an easy target. To their surprise, their victim successfully locks them in the house and kills two of the thieves, even with no vision at all. Throughout the panic, two forms of leadership ensue.

Money, performed by Daniel Zovatto, is your typical rebellious young adult. He has tattoos, piercings, and wears baggy clothing. Whenever the camera rests on him, the lighting is typically dark and dusky. He fits the criteria of a modern leader with bad intentions, directing his followers into wrong. As their leader, Money is responsible for reporting back to their overall “boss” that pays the three thieves for the items that they steal in their robberies.

The boss tells Money of the blind man and his fortune, encouraging him to gather his team to rob the veteran while also promising him a small stipend. Leading Alex and Rocky into the house, they split up to search for the money and later reconvene because the fortune is no where to be found. While they are together, the blind man appears having heard ruckus from the comfort of his bed. As the leader, Money decides to come clean and, being the rebellious, no-good man he is, pulls a gun on the blind man. Out of annoyance for the intrusion and in defense, the blind man wrestles Money for the gun, succeeds, and shoots Money dead. In recent movies, I have found that main characters, especially heroes and supposed leaders, are not destined with a happy ending. Hollywood attracts audiences with unexpected plot twists such as this.

After seeing this movie, I pondered on why we consider characters like Money to be leaders. I assume due to his fearlessness, his bold manner, and his recklessness. Sure, we look to fearless leaders to guide us through struggle and strife, but is it right to look to these leaders if the path that they lay for us is the path to evil or wrongdoing? Be that as it may, when the initial leader dies, resigns, or disappears in a production, a new leader is bound to step forward. In this case, our arising leader is Alex.

Alex, performed by Dylan Minnette, is shy and conservative. As in any typical Hollywood production, the quieter character always overcomes the obnoxious one, therefore it was clear that Alex would eventually overthrow Money. Alex loves Rocky, the female lead played by Jane Levy, from afar, being too nervous to ever admit his feelings for her. Therefore, when their leader is killed and they are trapped in the blind man’s house, Alex knows it is up to him to stand up to the challenge and lead himself and Rocky to safety. The two are faced with endless struggle: physical attacks by the blind man, falling through floorboards, getting tied up, being shot. They begin to question whether or not they will make it out of the house alive. Alas, being a leader comes with responsibilities, and in this case it is risking your life for the sake of others. Alex devises a plan to get Rocky out of the house unharmed, but he will have to endanger his own life in order to do so. As a result, Alex is killed, and Rocky eventually escapes, all according to plan.

Alex is an example of a leader that viewers enjoy surveying. He has good intentions, puts others before himself, and when faced with right and wrong, always chooses right. When Alex is seen on camera, his outfit is always very put together, even during the grapples he endures. He also seems very clean throughout the movie until the very end when he is shot and bleeds to death. These aspects of being put together along with uniform cleanliness make it clear that the director of the movie truly wants the audience to idolize Alex.

When analyzing the leadership tactics between Money and Alex, Alex is undeniably a more respected and superior leader. Money leads his followers into danger out of greed, risking their lives for his own wealth. He also treats Alex and Rocky with disrespect. In the Leadership Studies classes I have taken at the University of Richmond, I have been taught over and over again that a leader truly cares for the people and puts their needs before his or her own. If you are elected to represent an organization or group of people, they are your responsibility and come first. Jeopardizing their safety is positively not an option. Alex exemplifies this trait by imperiling his own safety for the sake of someone else’s. All romantic feelings set aside, he does care for Rocky and truly wants her to survive, even if it means he will not.

Don’t Breathe teaches its viewers what a leader is by modeling exactly what a leader is not. I find this to be a very effective strategy. It is very easy to drill into someone’s brain the qualities of an efficient leader, but it is also important to be aware of the characteristics or actions that can allow a leader to lose his or her credibility. Comparing and contrasting two leaders makes it easier to understand what a good leader is and what it is not. This movie in particular has the perfect characters to do this with. When you find yourself evaluating different leaders, you must ask yourself, “Who would you rather have as a leader?” “Who best represents you?” and “Who would you trust to successfully lead you in difficulty?”

Cover Image Credit: SciFiNow

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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