What I like about the film Pitch Perfect is that it’s about women trying to compete in a man’s world, failing, and then ultimately changing the game inspired by one of their own.
Often we are so busy trying to conform our strategy to what’s worked in the past that we ignore the beckoning finger of the future. At the point where our potential meets the future, that’s where the really juicy growth is, because almost nothing is as compelling to human beings as first, brand new or never-attempted-before.
Here’s what we can all learn about creative empowerment from Pitch Perfect:
1. Don’t imitate. Be different. Be you. One thing Beca has going for her in the film is that she is clear what she is passionate about and she allows herself ample time to play around in that realm. It’s the time that Beca spends doing what she loves that makes her more compelling as a human being and more interesting to others.
2. Become great at what you do and share it appropriately with others. But Beca has a communication problem. She’s still hurting from her parent’s divorce and this makes her defensive and hostile. A lot of writers and authors also have communication problems, ironic as this may seem. We let ourselves play around doing what we love. We even apply ourselves to growth and improvement in our craft, but when it comes to sharing our passion, like Beca, we often falter. We either say too little, say too much, say it at the wrong time, or try to take over without being invited. The solution is to do what you love and share it at the same time. Don’t wait for a big reveal. Use your passion to pull folks in without overwhelming them as you go.
3. Offer your best work until the gatekeepers say yes. Beca is low on the power totem pole. She is a newbie freshman in a world of upperclassman entitlement. The upperclassman are not apt to be interested in what she has to offer. She has to adapt to the constraints of her situation while risking sharing her work, or her gifts will remain unknown. Finally she gets the nerve to share her mixes with Luke, the radio station manager. Low and behold, he likes what she has to offer. Her first leg up is not the big time. It’s just a little opportunity to play music at night over spring break. But it’s a chance for Beca to practice being heard (and do some soul-searching while she’s at it). Practice is good. It gives us a chance to reflect on how we are doing and what we really want.
4. Don’t only be about winning. Be about bringing out the best in others and taking things to a whole new level. The combination of honest self-expression combined with genuine humility is basically irresistible. Beca finds her balance when she apologizes to the Bella’s after sabotaging their set at semi-finals. It’s at this moment that the power dynamic of the group shifts. When Beca embraces her humanity, doors that were formally closed fly open. She can use her gifts to try to lead the Bella’s to victory.
5. Bring your A game and crush it. Whether you are competing directly with others or not, you are always competing with yourself. If you just do the same old set over and over, that’s boring to you and to everyone else. But when the Bellas maximize the strengths of everyone in the group, and then push themselves to reach their full potential, they become unstoppable. This is a great metaphor for the various aspects that exist within a writer. You need to rally your team of strengths and lead them to victory by bringing your A game. Nothing less is going to be compelling enough to crush it. You’ll get along better with others when you can better manage all the various aspects of yourself.
Ultimately Pitch Perfect is a film about teamwork. It’s about how the whole is stronger than the individual. But actually, it’s Beca’s gifts, which go from partly actualized when kept to herself to fully actualized when shared with others, that ultimately leads the Bellas to victory.
I find the message in Pitch Perfect so exemplary for writers and authors. Just remember, success is an inside job, just as it was for Beca.
Why not watch or re-watch Pitch Perfect again before you go see Pitch Perfect 2 and think about how the Beca and the Bella’s example might inspire your writing career.
There are so few movies in mainstream theaters about girl power, I hope everyone reading this will support Pitch Perfect 2 when it comes out this weekend.
I’m not sure what the message will be in the second film. But I hope it’s as inspiring and relevant to these times as the message in the first movie.