Most people at some point in life feel as though they do not fit into the crowd around them. Whether it’s a family situation, social event, or any other obstacle in life. Therefore I decided to explore the theme “Standing out from society/ feeling like you don’t belong, and the different ways people chose to escape this feeling.”  The Netflix series The Get Down, by Baz Luhrmann, the book The Boy in The Dress by David Walliams, the book Wonder by R.J Palacio, and the song Creep by Radiohead all stood out to me as evidence of this theme, as they all show how different individuals chose to outwork their problem of struggling to fit into the crowd around them. Throughout these texts I learnt the different ways of dealing with low self esteem, and the feeling of not belonging. 

1~ In the Netflix series ‘The Get Down,’ directed by Baz Luhrmann, the viewer sees Mylene Cruz struggling to fit into her family environment and reach expectations in her life. The series shows the reader that following your dreams and opening up to yourself is more important than other’s opinions in order to escape disapproval from family and other members of society. Throughout the series Mylene expresses her feelings multiple ways for the viewers to understand that she is willing to risk losing her family to chase her dreams.

Mylene Cruz is a young girl from the South Bronx and daughter of the church pastor. Mylene has a huge passion for singing and is inspired by her idol Misty Holloway to become a disco-star. However her father will not allow her to sing anything other than church music, “Thy voice, shall only be lifted to the glory of God,” this makes her feel misplaced in her surroundings or as though she doesn’t belong in her family, because all she wants is to pursue her dream of singing disco music. Her dreams for her future are being shut down by her father, as a result of this she feels confused, and doesn’t know whether to stick to her passion or obey her father. In church family is an important part of your life, therefore she believes her father’s opinion counts, however she doesn’t want that to stop her from following her one true passion. Her mother states that “in this life, if you want something, you have to pursue it,” this helps Mylene realise that there are people in her life that support her decision, and she does have a choice for her future, therefore she expresses her feelings to her father and the public one day in church, when she takes off her church robe to show underneath a revealing dress. She lets out her hair and begins to belt out a disco song, going completely against regular church attire. This point in the series shows a plot twist when Mylene turns against her father to pursue her own dream and not her father’s dream. Almost everyone, at some point in life, have to go through with a choice or decision they must make, their decision is usually hugely influenced by other people’s opinions. Although it’s important to value others opinions, in the end it all comes down to your choice, your gut feeling, even though it may sometimes feel like you have no say. Mylene proves that even if you feel like the whole world is against you when trying to make a decision, there is always somebody that believes in you and supports your choice. We see this in “The Get Down” when Mylene’s struggles to find acceptance from her dad, however her mother supports her no matter what. Baz Luhrmann uses this moment in the series to help us understand that it’s ok to disobey people, as long as you follow your dreams and be true to yourself to find your place in society.

2~ My second chosen text is “The Boy in The Dress” by David Walliams. This book shows that staying true to yourself is critical when trying to escape the everyday feeling of not belonging somewhere, to not shut yourself down and deny your true feelings. For Dennis Sims, life is hard at home, trying to find acceptance from his family, he feels as though his choices are not supported by his dad and brother. The author expresses his feelings to the reader throughout the text by using lots of language techniques such as emotive language and choice of dialogue. This book is a great example of real life feelings people get when growing up. David Walliams portrays through this book to young members of society that all feelings of not belonging somewhere are completely normal and there are ways to get through them.

Dennis had always felt different from the other boys at his school, although he looked like an ordinary 12 year old boy, he knew he wasn’t into the same things as them (cars, video games… etc). Dennis always had a love for fashion. Already this made him feel excluded from the boys he was growing up around, as his interest were not the same as theirs. When Dennis decides to open up to himself and explore the world of fashion, he buys a Vogue magazine from his lovely friend Raj who ran his favourite shop. The magazine caught his eye when he saw the pretty yellow dress with roses sewn into it on the front cover, the dress reminded him of the one his mum was wearing in the photograph he’d kept of her after she left home. The photograph was the only thing he had left of her. As he walks up to the checkout, Dennis tries to hide the Vogue magazine behind a Shoot magazine because he knew that Vogue was usually read by women, and he felt a twinge of embarrassment. Raj paused as he looked at the magazine, “are you sure you want this, Dennis?” he asks “Vogue is usually read by ladies, and your drama teacher Mr Howerd,” instantly Dennis felt a rush of humiliation, inside he wasn’t sure why a boy could not read a Vogue magazine, however he knew that in this world it wasn’t right and so he tries to cover himself from further humiliation, “umm… it’s a present for a friend, Raj. It’s her birthday” The author uses this piece of dialogue to show how Dennis felt about his thoughts, he was in denial of them, he tried to shut them down and hide the fact that, unlike other boys his age, he was into fashion. He didn’t like the thought of being different. This text is a great example of the real world, as many young boys experience thoughts like Dennis, their thoughts become looked down on by society, and makes them feel unlike anybody else and as though they have no one to turn to for support and acceptance. It makes young boys like Dennis believe that these thoughts are not normal, and that it’s not ok to be into “girl’s things,” although it’s completely normal and they are not alone, with many others going through the same feeling. In this case Dennis decides to hide the fact he likes fashion and Vogue, because he thinks it’s weird and abnormal, and doesn’t want to be frowned upon.

At this point in the text, “The Boy in the Dress” is different from “The Get Down” because Mylene and Dennis have different ways of coping with the feeling of not being accepted by society. Mylene choses to open up to her dream of becoming a disco singer even though her father despises the thought of anything other than church music. Mylene stays true to herself and wants to be successful in chasing her dream, even if that means losing the people she loves. Unlike Mylene, Dennis is scared of the thought of being unaccepted and different from others. He gets put down by others in society and chooses to let that get to him and get in the way of being true to himself. 

After a while of frowning upon his thoughts, one day Dennis is playing football in the playground with his friends. Dennis goes to header the ball into the goal when it flies too high up through the headmasters window. This leads to a four o’clock detention for Dennis, however this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing… When Dennis turns up to detention with the French teacher, he noticed that there was only one other person who had detention. It was Lisa James, the most beautiful girl in school who everyone had a crush on, including Dennis. After finishing detention early, Lisa asks Dennis to walk home with her. The two end up talking the whole way home about fashion and vogue… “you read Vogue?” Lisa asks him “I think that’s cool.” Dennis replies with “you do?” as this made him feel incredulous, he was shocked that anyone would ever of said that to him. She then explains to him that she thinks there’s not nearly enough boys that are into fashion. He feels completely surprised by this but is glad someone agrees with him, he believed that he was the only person to thinks it’s ok for boys to be into fashion. Suddenly he feels as though it’s more acceptable. It’s super important to know that someone is always supportive of you, and there are people that believe in you. Dennis went from completely denying that he enjoyed reading Vogue because he believed it wasn’t normal as everyone made him feel that way, to accepting himself a lot more and become happy and comfortable in his own thoughts. All this happened just because he realised someone was supportive of him. The author of “The Boy In The Dress” proves that you are able to completely change your opinion on something all with a bit of support from someone. This part of the book shows a similar connection to “The Get Down” as Mylene’s mum and Lisa James, both show acceptance to the characters. They prove to Mylene and Dennis that it is ok for them to follow their true passions and interests. The director and author of these two stories prove to the viewer that it is important to find someone who believes in you, as this can comfort you hugely and help you make a decision.

3~ The book “Wonder” by R.J Palacio, revolves around the life of August “Auggie” Pullman, who was born with a facial condition that led to his parents home schooling him through the fourth grade. As he gets older he begins to want to explore more of life and go to school like “normal” kids, he then begins fifth grade at Beecher Prep, where he is bullied at the hands of many of his classmates – particularly by a boy named Julian Albans. Throughout the movie we learn what it’s like for Auggie to grow up with his condition and how he copes in society.

Auggie sees himself as an ordinary kid. He has a love for anything to do with science, is a big fan of “Star Wars”, and Halloween is his favorite holiday. He lives in upper Manhattan with his parents Isabel and Nate, sister Olivia, AKA Via, and their dog Daisy. Before Auggie’s first day of school he is assigned to three students in the same grade entering at Beecher Prep. They try their hardest to make Auggie feel welcome and show him around, however they can’t help but be curious about why Auggie looks different to them. Julian Albans questions Auggie on why his face looks like that, one of the other students in the groups tells him to shut up and be respectful. As the students bicker, Auggie quietly stands there listening to them argue about his appearance. This makes him feel invisible to them, as they talk about him as though he’s not even there. He begins to feel alienated from them, or as if he’s from a foreign place and he can’t understand them. On his first day of school he stands at the entrance wearing an astronaut helmet. He does this to avoid people looking at him funny by hiding his face. This instantly proves to the viewer that Auggie feels insecure about his condition and will try to avoid contact with others at any cost. When he is wearing his astronaut helmet, August enjoys pretending he is in out of space, where there is no human contact and he does not feel judged. He also likes to pretend he is an astronaut being welcomed by the public after his descent from space. The people are cheering him on and he feels as if he truly belongs. He imagines fake scenarios to escape reality “my mum says that if you don’t like where you are, picture where you want to be,” this illustrates to the viewer that Auggie does not like where he is, he feels uncomfortable when placed in a social environment and struggles with interaction. In a real life scenario many people experience this feeling of not fitting into the crowd around them and therefore struggle to interact with their peers. This is usually because that person has low self esteem or confidence, much like Auggie Pullman. 

The story line of “Wonder” at this point is different to “The Boy In The Dress” because Dennis has a normal appearance but experiences different feelings, whereas Auggie feels the same as the boys around him but is physically different. They both struggle with fitting into society, as they both experience differences from the ‘regular’ person. This makes them both feel extremely excluded from everybody else as people treat them different and don’t accept their differences, leading to them believing that something is wrong with them and trying to hide or avoid the fact they’re atypical. 

Later on in the story, one of the boys named Jack Will begins to genuinely enjoy being around Auggie and wants to become his friend. Auggie at first doesn’t believe Jack is being honest and thinks he’s only being nice because he was asked to by the principal of their school. Auggie doesn’t think anybody would want to be his friend as his whole life he has struggled to make friends. When Jack Will reassures him he truthfully wants to be friends, Auggie begins to feel much happier and confident in himself. This shows that having someone to support you can instantly make your whole life a lot more pleasant. After school Auggie’s mum is waiting at the school gate, he says “hey mum, is it alright if Jack comes over?” His mum stands and says nothing in disbelief, she is surprised that Auggie has found a friend, however she is excited and proud of him. Her reaction makes the reader believe that this is the first friend Auggie has ever brought home. This part of the text makes the reader feel happy for August as he has finally found someone who accepts him for who he is. He suddenly becomes a much happier kid and finally enjoys going to school now with someone to sit and play with. 

At this point, the story of “Wonder” is similar to “The Boy In The Dress” and “The Get Down” because at some point in the plot, one character becomes more confident and true to themself after they gain support and acceptance from a friend or family member. Each director or author portrays to the viewer that if they are experiencing feelings of loneliness or feel like they do not belong somewhere, they must believe in themself and believe that they have support and will find someone to accept them. 

4~ Finally, the song “Creep” by Radiohead is about a boy who falls for a girl who seems to be out of his league. He thinks the girl is perfect, and this makes him feel self conscious about how he doesn’t belong with his girl. He talks about how she is so special and floats through life like a feather, all he wants is to be just as special as her so that she would notice him and he could have a chance with her. 

In the beginning of the song You float like a feather, In a beautiful world” he is enchanted by her as he observes her beauty walking down the street. But as he progresses through the song he begins to feel a different state of mind, and the mood for listener changes. He starts to feel opposed to her “beautiful” world. The lyrics at the end of the second verse are “I wish I was special, You’re so f*****g special,” these lines make the reader understand that he feels completely worthless around her, as she is is made out to be very popular and he seems like a nobody, therefore thinks he has completely no chance with her. The truth behind these lyrics is that he is envious of her, and of her beauty. He’s jealous of  the way people react to to her beauty and her confidence, as he receives no attention from his peers. He feels like she is everything he will never be. The chorus then goes “But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo, What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here” This hook makes the listener realize how self conscious he feels around this girl, she makes him feel like an idiot for even thinking he could be with her. His deep feeling of extremely low self esteem, can make a lot of people realize that they are not the only person feeling this way, and they can relate to his lyrics. The author is trying to gain this reaction from his listeners by using emotive language to connect with them and them to feel deeply towards. Words like hurt, control, body and soul, people often relate to in a self conscious way, which makes them feel sad when listening to his song. Some people may also feel a sense of happiness when hearing his lyrics as they realize there’s other people that feel like them. Their thoughts are gathered into words for them to make sense of how they feel, and understand their feelings are normal. The writer has very strong feelings for this girl, and since she seems to not notice how he feels about her, he begins to feel lonely and worthless, and way out of depth. Because of his insecurities, instead of talking to the girl and giving it a shot with her, he decides to express his feelings through lyrics of a song.  

There is a similar connection between “Wonder” and “Creep,” as the characters feel the same sense of insecurity about themselves. However their insecurities are different… in “Wonder” Auggie stands out from the crowd in a physical way, he looks different to everyone else and therefore is considered “special.” All he wishes for is to look like a “normal” kid his age. He wants to be treated the same as them and hates getting attention from his peers because it makes him feel like a “weirdo”. Whereas in “Creep” the writer’s low self esteem comes from the fact he can’t get attention from the girl he’s fallen for. He hates that he blends into society because he compares himself to the girl he wants who is so very special is his eyes. The fact that he doesn’t get attention and doesn’t feel special, is what makes him feel like a “weirdo.” 

There is a different connection between “Creep” and the series “The Get Down,”  and the texts “The Boy In The Dress” and “Wonder”  because the character in creep uses song to escape his feeling of not belonging, whereas the other characters gain support and acceptance to help them belong. The writer of “Creep” gets his emotions and writes them down to create lyrics, this way he can makes sense of his feelings for the world to hear instead of letting them buddle up inside his head. Instead of accepting their feelings, Mylene, Dennis and Auggie find a way to make these feelings disappear, by finding acceptance, they no longer feel excluded from society or unaccepted by their peers. 

All four examples prove to their audience that they are not alone with their feelings. They make the reader or viewer understand that it is ok for them to be different and stand out, or feel completely worthless. I learnt from these texts that it is important to find someone to accept you for who you are in order to not feel excluded from society. It is important to never stop believing in yourself and pursue your true dreams and interests. Baz Luhrmann, David Walliams, R.J Palacio, and Radiohead all prove this to their audience by telling the story of characters who experience the the feeling of standing out from society/ feeling like you don’t belong and the different ways that they chose to escape this feeling.

 

 

 

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  1. Phoebe, there is some mature discussion in this essay – well done. My first question is whether “Standing out from society and feeling like you don’t belong” is a complete theme? Take your statement further to form a conclusion; look at how you have expanded on this idea in your essay and adjust the theme’s wording where necessary.
    Secondly, when you are giving your final judgments about what the reader or viewer learns from each text or text connection, relate directly back to your theme, and be specific to the evidence that supports your ideas. You have done this well in your comparison between “Wonder” and “Creep.”

    I am really looking forward to the finished product, Phoebe. Well done.

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