When I was asked to describe my personal journey to a group of peers, it was apparent that I should choose a unique lens to enlighten others who are going through many of the same experiences. Based on our common readings, there is one aspect of our shared journey that emerges for me, and that is the influences which affect us while we are progressing through our journey.
Sometimes, we are guided by unknown forces. In this speech I will be analyzing the film “ Juno,” the song “ Same Love” by Macklemore and a short story “ The Scar.” I will explain how these three works represent how journeys involve a transformation of relationships, experiences and self-identity for the better or worse.
Unknown forces hold a spot in the journey of the characters we have studied in the readings and make up a large part of our own personal journeys. Our materials have reflected characters of similar ages. For example, in the movie “ Juno,” the main character, Juno MacGuff, a teenage girl, becomes pregnant and is ready to give her baby up for adoption to a young couple. The pregnancy itself is unexpected, but Juno is determined to do the right thing for the sake of her baby. However, the couple separates before the baby is born, another unexpected event, leaving Juno with a hard decision to make. With nowhere else to turn, she leaves a note with Vanessa, the female member of the couple, with the words “ If you’re in, I’m in.” Vanessa ends up adopting the baby as a single mother, another unforeseen twist, and the experience becomes part of Juno’s journey into adulthood.
The common theme for most of these stories is the impact which unforeseen characters have on individuals as we go through our journey. Sometimes they are people we know, but did not expect to be there as a life-force. Other times, they are people who emerge from nowhere.
Regardless of where our inspiration and influence comes from on our journey, we must be prepared to accept assistance from sources which were not initially anticipated. However, it is a personal decision for us to determine how willing we are to accept help from others.
Unexpected events become part of our journeys, and the aftereffects remain part of us as we progress.
In “ The Scar,” a story told as a first person narrative with no use of gaudy figurative language, the main character befriends Renata as a child. The two become the best of companions and share their youthful lives. The characters remain in Bosnia, so the journey does not send force them to relocate. Ironically, the events of the war in Bosnia cause many others to flee, while soldiers and government officials begin to overtake the town of Sarajevo.
Even though the pair of youngsters doesn’t actually travel, they encounter a life changing journey when warfare starts in the neighborhood and a grenade explodes nearby. Renata was thought to be dead. When she was found alive, the main character is thrilled to be able to talk with her friend one more time, not realizing that it will indeed be their last visit, as Renata dies the next day from her injuries. But Renata did manage to give her friend a bracelet, which makes the end result of her journey a “ bracelet and a scar,” Both the bracelet and scar serve as metaphors for reminders of the war in Sarajevo.
Finally, the lyrics of “ Same Love” describe a journey which has not necessarily been taken. The song speaks out for gay rights, but describes the journey that is taken by the gay person on a daily basis. In graphic detail, Macklemore describes the plight and discrimination suffered on a daily basis. Here’s an example:
“ If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates meHave you read the YouTube comments lately?” Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the dailyWe become so numb to what we’re sayingA culture founded from oppressionYet we don’t have acceptance for ’emCall each other faggots behind the keys of a message boardA word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it” (Macklemore, 2011)
The other part of the journey is the one which the rapper and composer challenges his contemporaries to take. He challenges others to put themselves in the position of being treated as a lesser person, to be discriminated against, and to be called names.
The other part of his journey challenges others to defend the gay community – in essence to emerge from silence and speak out on behalf of this group. It is a bold statement, and Macklemore figures it is not an easy decision for people to make, mainly because it is much easier to be silent and non-confrontational.
Macklemore uses rap for his narration, creating rhyme and rhythm in a short syncopated manner. His use of simile and metaphor is sparse, but does arise on occasion, as with his couplet:
“ If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointedThat holy water that you soak in has been poisoned”
In all of these writings, one of the central themes is the transformation of relationships, and how they can have a positive or negative effect on the individuals involved. With Juno, the central character meets a young couple and is pleased to know that they will take care of her unborn baby. Their relationship starts off positive. Then, because of a negative incident between the two members of the couple, they split and Juno is left without support. The relationship transforms again. In the end, she manages to salvage a positive relationship with the female member of the couple, who ends up raising her baby. The direction of the relationship switches twice, and fortunately has a happy ending.
The two young girls in “ The Scar” also have a transformation in their lives because of the war. Suddenly, their carefree childhood is lost. At first, they don’t notice and play games even as tanks ride down their streets and barricades are built. But the reality of war changes their lives forever, mostly so when Renata is injured by a grenade, then dies.
Macklemore speaks of a potential transformation – one which is not been made yet, but he wonders what the world would be like if it was. Could the identity of the gay individual be preserved in the eyes of society so that all are treated equally? How would he be treated if he were a gay rapper? What difference would it make in his musical journey?
In conclusion, I believe that we must be willing to accept help when it comes our way, and prepare to be properly thankful for the assistance. We must also accept the fact that each person’s journey is different. Sometimes, we don’t have to move to complete a journey; a truly internal change can come while standing still. And we never know who will change the direction of our journey as it can come by total surprise from someone or something we don’t expect.