The other day in English we watched the Guru of Go episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 in class. The video followed the career of Paul Westhead who became famous as a coach for his fast break system of play. His career encompassed winning NBA and WNBA titles and intense controversy at the college level. Why? Because he was willing to challenge the system, and basketball hasn’t been the same ever since. Now for the connection.
A Bug’s Life, is one of my favorite Pixar films, and oddly enough, the movie that most people forget that they saw. It was one of the very first movies I ever watched and it has stuck with me after all of these years.
Our hero, Flik, is an ant. So you think he would do normal ant activities right? WRONG! Flik spends his life breaking the norm of the ant life he was raised in. He invents things, and for the sake of innovation, he breaks things in the process, which eventually drives him to doubt himself. He spirals into despair and he begins to believe that he is incapable of anything and that he is worthless. Flik is about give up, but his close friends convince him that he has inspired several people, and that it is time he listened to his own advice.
Flik regains his confidence in himself and he follows through with his brilliant plan to protect his colony from their mortal enemies, the grasshoppers. When is plan falls through the cracks, the leader of the grasshoppers, Hopper (played by the ever so beautiful Kevin Spacey), attacks Flik in order to teach the ants a lesson and to keep them in the status quo.
Hopper stands over a beaten Flik and says, “Let this be a lesson to all you ants. Ideas are very dangerous things. You are mindless losers, put on this Earth to serve us.”
That is when Flik challenges the system: “You’re wrong, Hopper”
He rises from under Hopper’s feet, “Ants are not meant to serve grasshoppers. I’ve seen these ants do great things, and year after year they somehow manage to pick food for themselves, and you. So who’s the weaker species? Ants don’t serve grasshoppers. It’s you who need us. We’re a lot stronger than you say we are, and you know it, don’t you?”
That speech moves me every single time I read it because it is so powerful. The speech was enough to inspire the other ants to revolt against Hopper and his gang, but that is not why the speech is so amazing. It is because Flik challenged the system and spoke the truth.
Flik is a hero not only because he saved the ants from the grasshoppers, but because he did what he thought was right and fought the status quo.