I had a very interesting assignment the other day for one of my writing classes. We were suppose to list down people that influences our lives in the media, in history or even personally. Being the movie addict that I am, my list ran with numerous figures from pop culture over the last hundred years. Though a lot of my choices eventually became quite typical, I wanted to write about the first 11 that I jotted down. Something in my subconscious had me write these 11 guys first, and I guess that’s how strong their influence to me is. Influence being that’s what I either aspire to be, or they may have a quality that I want or see myself having, or maybe even people I idolize or put on a pedestal. Whatever the reason is, these guys popped out first and I decided to break down what part of them influence me as a person today.
played by Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)
Who: Played superbly by Gregory Peck in the 1962 Harper Lee movie adaptation, in which he won an Academy Award, Atticus Finch is a good hearted lawyer and father who likes to teach his children about discrimination and good morality through every day life situations.
Why: Atticus surely makes my list because ever since I read that novel back in 2nd year high school (then eventually seeing the movie like a year later), I always wanted to be a father like him. I always looked up to how he acted and treated his children that when I grow up I will be this way with mine. This is very admirable in my opinion. He’s a great provider, a good influence, a local hero and model human being. This I aspire to be.
played by Evan Peters in “American Horror Story” (2011- )
Who: Tate Langdon seems like a very odd choice to be included as a role model for his character is a psychopathic ghost who murdered numerous of his high school peers in a school shooting back in 2004. But Tate slowly redeems himself as he begins to take full responsibility of his bad choices and try to help the girl he loves in anyway that he can.
Why: Tate for me is actually the embodiment of misunderstood teenagers. He did things because he wasn’t sure of where he stood in life. He acts out in angst because of family problems. And her murders because everything lead to an unfortunate mental problem. But what makes Tate quite admirable to me is that he can accept responsibility for things he’s done, no matter how cruel and violent. Also, his selfless nature somewhat heroic presence in the series shows that Tate is trying his best to be a good teenager.
played by Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” (1997)
Who: Matt Damon’s greatest performance of all time was in the little-movie-that-could as the title character of Will Hunting. Hunting has suffered years of abuse by his foster parents and eventually begins to live a life of a juvenile delinquent. Will, however, holds a special gift of mathematics where no one can even nearly contest to his skills. Sadly, Will’s dark past taints his brilliant mind into a life of insecurity and fear.
Why: Another trouble human being on my list is found in Damon’s Will Hunting. However, Will Hunting is able to pull himself out of his funk when he begins to accept his dark past and realises that things turn out the way they were because that’s how life is. Will is also very admirable because he is in fact one of the smartest guys around. He can’t be fooled. Even with such an arrogant personality, Will overcomes his insecurities by opening himself up, slowly but surely.
played by Tom Hanks in “Toy Story” (1995)
Who: Playing a big part of all our our childhood’s Sherif Woody comes off as an egotistic, jealous, know-it-all when his owner Andy receives the new Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday. But Woody begins to see the light rapidly when a crazy adventure turns out to be a life changing experience for him.
Why: What I love about Woody is that he’s the leader. He’s one of those guys who immediately self elect themselves when they know they have full potential. Woody’s arrogance only truly acts against him because he wasn’t prepared for what struck him. But what person would be, if you were kicked out of their throne? I also admire Woody’s strength and eagerness to redeem himself with people. Though we should all know that we can’t please everybody, trying is never a bad thing. I see myself in him in that aspect.
played by Robert De Niro in “Taxi Driver” (1976)
Who: Travis goes locco in the end, because he experiences the scrutiny and evils of the people of New York as he drives a taxi cab at night. When he meets a young prostitute, he goes on a rampage to seek revenge on her pimp and clients as he wants to protect her innocence.
Why: Travis is a man who was consumed by an idea. And I often feel that way when I want something done or I want something avenged. But Travis isn’t as bad as he is painted out to be. Sure his sanity may be questioned, by Travis did what he did to protect the innocence of a little girl who was stuck in a moral dilemma. What I like about Travis most though is that he knows his rights from wrongs. He had nothing to do with the hooker, and yet he took action for her. Yes, it may be a bloody mess in the end, but at least he had good intentions.
played by James Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)
Who: George Bailey is one of the most selfless, kind-hearted and gracious figures of film history. He always wanted to be an adventurer, but when his father dies as he was going to leave home, George immediately takes over their failing family business. Facing the harsh realities of life, George sacrifices everything in his life to provide for his family, his friends and acquaintances. Though George looks at himself as a victim throughout most the movie, he eventually learns that without his kind doings many wouldn’t have the wonderful lives they have because of him. Also, the love he’s accumulated over the years from family and friends are bigger and more important then any of dreams he had in his back pocket.
Why: I want to be like George Bailey so badly because I want to be less selfish and more appreciative of what I have. George taught me so much about life when he was portrayed by Jimmy Stewart in the classic Christmas tale. He made me want to be a better person, and I think overall, that’s very, very important. He makes me want to do acts of kindness to everyone without considering what I’ll get back in return.
played by Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” (1967)
Who: Fresh out of university, Benjamin Braddocks comes home to California where he is confused with what he wants to do with the rest of his life. As he continues to brood (or in modern day terms…be “emo”), he begins a hot and steamy relationship with the wife of his father’s business partner, Mrs. Robbinson. However, he begins to regret his life decision when Mrs. Robbinson’s beautiful young daughter, Elaine, comes in the picture.
Why: I always liked to think I relate to Benjamin because we’re almost around the same age. And hell, I’m about to be finished with university too. The thing that I find so relatable with Benjamin is that I still don’t know what I really, really want to do after I graduate. Yes, I want to be in the film industry, but it’s such a one in a million dream that its normal that I doubt myself sometimes. That’s why I sympathise with Benjamin, because he’s a desperate case of “self doubt”, which happens to a lot of us.
played by Richard Harris in “Camelot” (1967)
Who: Based on the legend of the rise and fall of the kingdom of “Camelot”, King Arthur is the brave and brilliant leader that was a victim to the misdoings of his wife Queen Gueneveire and her affair with his most trusted knight, the French Prince Lancelot. Even with the pressures of war, treason and betrayal, Arthur kept his head on his shoulders, made good face and never failed to look and act like the great leader and kind person that he was.
Why: Arthur was hurt in so many ways. Except he never took revenge and never belittled anyone for it. He never victimised people and he never made people feel bad about themselves. Arthur’s personality is one I would like to the call “the guy who takes the high road”. This I try to do in every problems or fight I encounter. Like him, I want to make good face and pretend that there’s nothing wrong. Though it didn’t end up well for him (Camelot fell as they went into war with France), it does for me. I admire King Arthur’s strength and good-hearted nature. But most especially the fact he couldn’t see bad in other people, even those who act hateful towards him.
played by Jeremy Piven in “Enterouge” (2004-2011)
Who: Ari Gold is quite the arrogant prick. But being a successful movie agent and a very rich man may often lead you to that. He worked side by side by one of the biggest stars of Hollywood, the fictional Vincent Chase, as he manages movies, problems, money and of course, his family. Ari may seem cold hearted, but there was always a reason. The reason of being the best and to be the champion of the film industry. And he succeeds too.
Why: It’s all about film, baby. So obviously Ari Gold is a dream character for me to try and be in real life. He isn’t only a badass mofo, but he’s also rich, famous and lives a decedent lifestyle. His passion is also quite admirable. Though Ari never seems to win the hearts over of mostly well…everyone in the show, his character is most definitely the most heart working one out of all them.
played by Cory Moneith in “Glee” (2009- )
Who: The recent death of “Glee” star Cory Monteith became an eye opener to millions of teenagers around the world. His character Finn had touched the heart of millions of viewers in the hit musical dramady. Playing quarterback footballer Finn Hudson, Finn unravels (especially in the first season) when he finds himself as the leader of the dorkiest club in the school, the William McKinley Glee Club: “The New Directions”. But as Finn begins to be called a loser (amongst other things) he never let himself fall apart to truly accept who he is and what he loved to.
Why: Ever since I started following the show back in Season 1, Finn was always my favourite character and biggest role model. Apart from me, he taught millions of teenagers to be who they are and to just accept themselves by doing what they love to do. And he didn’t have to shout or be weird to get people to notice him. He’s a guys guy who loves the arts, he’s an average joe, an awkward teenager — he represented a lot of things I am and also a lot of things I want to be.
played by Josh Hutcherson in “The Hunger Games” (2012)
Who: Peeta Mallark from the “Hunger Games” franchise is very showbiz. He understands how to please people, manipulate people, and get people to like him. Of course, this was all to survive the very violent and unreasonable Hunger Games that their fictional world forces the youth to participate in every year, but Peeta has many strengths that are admirable in a human being. He knows to love and sacrifice. He knows to survive. And most importantly, he knows to make the best of everything>
Why: His character is second fiddle when it comes to the lead, Katniss Everdeen. But Katniss would not be the strong woman that she is without Peeta guiding her. And vice versa too. They compliment each other. What I love about Peeta is that he has great instincts. Not only in surviving a literal jungle, but also the crazy jungle of life. He knows how to balance everything out and he knows to deal with pressure. Apart from that, he never forgets who he is and who he loves.
WHO ARE YOUR POP CULTURE INFLUENCES?