The Footloose remake is out on DVD. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen a movie in the theater, I’ll still watch it at home because it’s the second or third time through that I go beyond being entertained, to gleaning truth from the story. There’s truth in every story if you search it out.
The last time I watched the Footloose remake, one scene jumped out at me. Ariel is with Chuck (boo – hiss) and he calls her a preacher’s daughter. She’s his rebel child.
“I’m not a child,” she says.
Zing. Now, in this scene Ariel is reveling in the notoriety of being with Chuck, the danger, the forbidden-ness of that relationship – and he plays on that. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, it shouldn’t be a big stretch to imagine how he expects her to prove it to him. But in the greater story, she’s out to prove a lot of things — to her dad, her friends, and herself.
Watching that scene as a parent, the idea of a guy doing that to one of my girls makes me fighting mad, and I’d like to think I’m raising my son to respect women.
But more than that, as a woman, I remember the times guys have said it to me, and filling up with shame until I was flushed with it. The words tear a hole. It’s a slap in the face.
Here’s a clip from the movie – it’s not the scene I’m mentioning above – but if you haven’t seen the movie this gives you a good idea of her character.
When said in a serious way, the words “Prove It” sting – doesn’t matter who says them or why. Sometimes being told to ‘prove it’ is legitimate like in a new job situation. A lot of jobs begin with a probationary period – your opportunity to Prove It to your employer. As a freelance writer, my next job generally depends on the success of my last job – the results, the payoff. Did I do what I was asked to do, what I said I could do.
However, all too often this phrase is used as an ultimatum. It’s used as a dare. It’s a tool to shame someone into doing something they’re not comfortable with. And here’s the conundrum – rising to the challenge rarely leaves you feeling good – just used. But once used against you successfully, the taunt becomes the proverbial bad penny and it cuts like a blade each time after that. What’s the big deal? You did it before. And at some point, your protests become meaningless even to you.
Sometimes it’s not even said out loud, but by the other person’s body language or attitude we hear that shame-filled whisper in our ears none-the-less. You’re really a writer? Prove it. You love me? Prove it. You’re not afraid? Prove it. You really want this promotion? Prove it.
And sometimes we say it to other people.
How am I supposed to believe you after…
It’s most powerful when uttered by those in a position of authority over us – perceived or real. The guy you just can’t live without. The crowd behind the bully. It’s intimidation. You’re a chicken. We really do love that guy. I’m not a tease. We really need that promotion. We’ll see what you’ve got. Sometimes we feel the need to prove it to ourselves. I’ll show her.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”-Eleanor Roosevelt
The antidote – the inoculation, if one exists, is likely a mixture of self-assurance, respect, and courage. But sometimes, there are lessons you just have to learn the hard way.
Have you seen this movie? Were there any ‘lessons’ in it for you? Ever felt you had to prove yourself – rightly or wrongly? How did that work out?
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