When you're preparing a humongous, totally momentous competition - there are things you like to do to get in the mood. Get all of your clothes lined up, create the perfect playlist, Facebook everyone you know who will be there, maybe...actually...uh...practice or something. Or whatever. As for me, I'm all about the movies.
Sure, some folks like the sports films. It makes sense. Competition, struggle, winning...hoo-ray...that hits the spot. Maybe you're tired of watching The Karate Kid, Rudy, Remember the Titans, Bring It On, Stomp the Yard, Happy Gilmore, or any of those other films featuring feats of athleticism. No hate...no hate...but, eh...we've been there before.
That's why I downloaded The Lego Movie as soon as it came out this week.
Now, if you're one of those "Blah blah animated movies are for little kids" folks, then you can go find another party to poop on. Plenty of people LOVED The Lego Movie. Seriously, it's worth a viewing.
If you've already seen the movie, you may be scrunching up your face like, "Whaaaat? Pffft. How is that even related to forensics?" Well unscrunch your face, cynic. I'm about to get on the S.S. Explainer and take you on a trip to This-Is-Whyville.
Emmett (voiced by the deeeelightful Chris Pratt) is an average guy who happily follows the rules and gets overlooked by those around him. When he stumbles upon the piece of resistance -- the key to thwarting the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) -- he is considered "The Special" master builder who will save the world. The only problem is that unlike the master builders who can assemble anything they can grab into anything they can imagine - Emmett only knows how to get things done by following for the rules. When he does have an idea, it is generally laughed at.
Those who have seen the movie know there's a 'twist,' but I'm not going to spoil that for you.
I will say that there is a lesson regarding the idea of following a formula versus embracing one's own quirky and creative ideas. In forensics, there are rules that we have to follow: time limits, literature choices, quoting sources. But then there are tons of unwritten rules that we think we have to follow. When you watch videos of previous champions and finalists, you begin to break down those performances as instructions for success. "This is what you have to do to be successful, because this is what these successful people have done." And yes, in a way, there are great lessons to be learned in the process.
But blindly following the instructions to make something "look the way everyone else thinks it should look," as the movie points out, isn't all that it is cracked up to be. Slowly but surely, you're erasing the little parts of you that don't look like everyone else. It's like making a sandwich without including a special sauce. Your ideas, your passion, your connection to your speech, you are the special sauce. Without the special sauce, there's nothing unique about your performance.
The Lego Movie is a celebration of creativity and individuality. Pragmatically, you can't just waltz into a round, do whatever you want, and expect to win. With forensics competition, you'll have to make some concessions and adjustments so audience members and judges understand what you're trying to say. But that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the unique and creative ideas you bring to the table.
No one else thinks the way you do. No one laughs like you, or feels the exact same way as you. Ten people could do the same piece, but you can bring your own special sauce to make it your own flavor. Maybe the judge won't appreciate your flavor. So what. That's life. There will be people in your life who may not appreciate what you can do. But there will be other people who love what you do, who would stockpile crates of your special sauce.
Those people in the videos? The finalists and champions that inspire you? They got there because they brought some unique part of themselves into the round. Sometimes we get lucky and get judges and audiences that just so happen to appreciate our sauce at that moment. That's how you become legendary. That's how you become the inspiration - to hundreds of people on the final stage or dozens of people in your regular rounds. That's the whole point of this activity. To get together, share ideas, perform for each other, and genuinely celebrate how wonderful it is that we're all so weird, smart, and creative.
If you get a chance, watch The Lego Movie. Hopefully you'll be amused, if not inspired. Here's to building something amazing for the national tournament.