Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Part of the fun of The Strategic Whimsy Experiment, for me, is revisiting some of the films that I grew up watching. I’m able to take a wonderful little stroll down memory lane and see the films that I’ve loved for years in a whole new light. And Raiders is one beautiful example of this. Who doesn’t love an action flick that has Harrison Ford going seamlessly from the classroom to the middle of the desert?
Watching this film in the middle of our cultural conversation around toxic masculinity was the breath of fresh air that I needed. Indiana Jones isn’t the strongest or the bravest hero around. He is openly scared of things like snakes. He runs away from danger and has a strong sense of self-preservation. He takes ridiculous risks and mocks himself in the process. He is snarky and sarcastic while being simultaneously brilliant. And watching this film decades after it came out I realized just how unique of a protagonist he is.
When crafting characters, you have to decide many, many things, one of them being the character’s flaws. This is something that the creators of Indiana Jones did well. Throughout the film, Indy is put in dangerous places with the creature he absolutely abhors, a sentiment he expresses over and over again. This is a brilliant choice when you really think about it.
Indiana’s job is going into desert or jungle environments to look for artifacts. Now, he could’ve simply chosen to remain within the safe walls of academia, knowing that out in the real world he would encounter the slithering creatures of his nightmares, but he didn’t. He did everything scared, which is a beautiful thing and a trait worth emulating. He did what needed to be done though he was uncomfortable and complained for much of the movie. But he didn’t let his discomfort stop him.
This movie was encouraging to me this time around because I’m keenly aware of the fact that I don’t have to have it all together. Indy reminded me that I can be scared or annoyed or creeped out or unsure and still move forward. Amidst this really fun action adventure, there’s this beautiful lesson about being yourself and doing what needs to be done no matter what you’re feeling.