Youth Professionals need to watch Divergent
So yes, I admit there is a bit of fan-girling in this article, but bear with me; if you can get through my fan girl obsession there are some gems in here. I often get a bad review for my obsession with youth films and books and I am sure some intelligent, serious types might see my obsession as pure entertainment but I kid you not, I believe films are therapy. In fact, I am trained in cinema therapy, but that is for another post.
Those of you who have dug into my stuff for a while will know I have already written about why Divergent is so cool and you can find that article here.
To update those who have no idea what I am talking about.
Similar to the Hunger Games, this dystopian series is set in the future where the world has been split into factions, but this time based on certain qualities you process rather than what you do for a living, such as in the Hunger Games. The factions being Abnegation for the selfless, Candour for the honest, Amity for the peaceful, Erudite for the intelligent and Dauntless for the brave. Again, it has a female lead who is put in some very dicey situations and it does, like the Hunger Games, involve children hunting and killing each other but for survival rather than for entertainment.
After reading all three books I have now seen the film twice and it didn’t disappoint. I love this film mainly because I think there are so many messages in that that we can talk with young people about, so many great conversations that it can open up between adults and young people.
So here goes, if you fancy using a film as therapy.
The film centres on a big choice that all 16-year-olds have to make; each child decides if they stay in their own faction or move to another that they think represents them more. If they do change factions they are not allowed to go back or see their parents again. In this world it is faction before blood. So do young people choose to move faction and become who they think they are, or do they follow the path that has been made for them? What a great question to ponder and talk with youth about. In the film our heroine changes factions and that spurs the story.
In this dystopian work the way the whole system is controlled is by everyone knowing their place, their job and sticking to it. The people that have tendencies for more than one faction, called divergent, are considered dangerous. What makes you different makes you dangerous. While this is at the extreme and divergents are stalked and eliminated, isn’t this an imitation of real life? If you are different and don’t fit into boxes, aren’t people scared of you and treat you differently? Aren’t they scared of you because possibly you can’t be controlled? This film looks at and talks about differences and how people respond.
I have on some other blogs been talking about fear a lot. I think we try and conquer fear or ignore it and are scared to even think about what we may be fearful of. In this film young dauntless initiates must mentally confront and get through their fears. There is talk about how fears never go away; you just get use to them and learn to get through them. There is talk about how fear can shut you down or wake you up and when fear wakes you up, you can see that is not real!
Throughout this film we are lead to believe by the powers that be (i.e. the ones in Erudite – the faction that values knowledge) that for there to be harmony in the system everyone must conform and stay in their faction, with every faction and those within them having a job and position. This is the only way that harmony can be achieved; most believe this and follow blindly. There is no tolerance of someone who steps out of line. This belief is spread and delivered by those considered to be more intelligent and knowledgeable (pretty similar to our governmental system, don’t you think). While the other factions – dauntless the brave, amity the peacekeepers, candour the honest, and abnegation the selfless all fall in line, a few see things differently and know that one type of person in power does not a good community make. One of the main characters has tattoos of all the factions and when questions he says that he doesn’t want to just be brave, but also kind, selfless, intelligent and honest. He recognises that a good community requires someone with all these qualities. And as the story progresses thorough the three books we learn that actually this is the objective, to create humans to have these five qualities, not just one. I think this asks questions about how we categories people, how we can often blindly follow a thought or ideal because it came from the powers that be or someone more intelligent than us.
I could go on and on about how these books and films mimic so many aspects of modern-day life and how they could open up so many discussions.
I also believe that ideas that spread – this film is already top of the US Box Office – show is where modern-day thinking is, where youth culture is going and the ideals we are thinking about as a society. Young people love this film; it answers questions for them about choices, diversity, systems and being different.
So off I go to book some tickets to watch it for a third time!
I would love your thoughts on this film and franchise.