Mary & Max (2009): Of Mental Illness and Friendship.

Image source:


I’ve been keeping this film in my head for review for months now. It had to be pushed back due to my hectic schedule at work and also me suffering from writer’s block. In lieu of our dearly beloved, the late Chester Bennington’s death, I suppose there’s no better time than now to write a review of one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever watched and that has ever been made. A film that exposes and highlights the relation of mental illness and an utterly amazing friendship between two innocent souls.

Mary and Max is an Australian one stop animated comedy-drama film, inspired by the Director’s (Adam Elliot) 20-year old friendship with his pen-friend from New York. The film lasts for around 1.35 hours, was told in third-person narration, depicting the life of an 8-year old Australian girl named Mary Daisy Dinkle as well as the life of a 44-year old New Yorker who is also a Jewish-turned-Atheist man named Max Jerry Horowitz.

Let’s look a wee bit further into the disturbing yet interesting life of both Mary and Max.

Mary is a spectacled child, born with a ‘poodle-coloured’ birthmark on her forehead and were often called names and bullied by her friends for it. Her small family consists of herself and her parents (Vera Dinkle & Norman Dinkle). Vera Dinkle is an alcoholic while Norman Dinkle is obsessed with dead birds. Basically, Mary is a lonely child with complicated parents who just don’t give a damn about her. Her only apparent companions were her agoraphobic neighbour, Len Hislop and a pet rooster she named Ethel.

Max was born a Jewish, but decided to turn himself into an Atheist after researching about God from countless of books. He is diabetic, loves eating chocolate hotdogs, lives alone in his apartment, have a pet cat he named Hal due to the fact that it suffered from Halitosis, some pet snails he named after famous scientists and a pet fish he named Henry IV (started from Henry I until the latest one, whoever lasts longest). He also has a blind neighbour called Ivy who cooks soup for him. Max attends his weekly ‘Overeaters Anonymous’ meetings and also regularly sees his psychiatrist, Dr Bernard Hazelhof.

The only interests that they both share are their love for The Noblets (a TV show) and chocolates. And both of them have no friends but each other.

The Significance of Mary & Max.

  1. Mental Illness.

The film highlights 3 sorts of mental illnesses, suffered by 3 of the characters.

-Max: As the film progresses, Max is exposed to suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome (or an illness he prefers to call Aspies). According to, affected children and adults have difficulty with social interactions and exhibit a restricted range of interests and/or repetitive behaviors. Compared with those affected by other forms of ASD, however, those with Asperger syndrome do not have significant delays or difficulties in language or cognitive development. Some even demonstrate precocious vocabulary – often in a highly specialized field of interest. Actually, from the start of the film itself, the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome can be clearly observed from Max’s behaviour and actions towards particular situations.

For instance, Max’s inability to understand the intent behind another person’s actions, words and behaviors. Max’s expresses his puzzlement on why people cut trees when they need oxygen etc. Max also does not instinctually respond to such “universal” nonverbal cues such as a smile, frown or “come here” motion, which can be seen from his inconvenience on Marjorie Butterworth’s flirtings towards himself. He was also exposed to have had the exact same problem ever since he was a kid. Asperger Syndrome are very often accompanied by unique gifts. Usually, those who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome have a remarkable ability of intense focus. Max’s ability to read two pages of a book at once (an eye for a page) is an example.

Max was however, is only diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he had a major breakdown and had to be submitted to a mental instituition, where he has to stay for 8 months, which halted his letters to Mary.

-Len Hislop: Mary’s neighbour is apparently an ex-army who services during the World War II, a crippled who got both his legs chewed off by piranhas when he was captured by the Japanese. Len suffers from agoraphobia, which means he has unnatural fear of places. Agoraphobics may fear that accidents might happen when they’re at particular places, and they tend to stay away from these places. Hence, in Len case, he’s afraid of leaving his own home due to the illness, and pays Mary to fetch his mail for him. Agoraphobia may be due to genetics or environmental factors. Len might got it due to the trauma of his capture during his service as the US army.

-Mary: As the story starts, Mary is introduced as a girl with low self-esteem, mainly due to her birthmark. She wishes that she can ‘just peel off the birthmark like a band-aid’. She has no friends in school as everyone laughs at her birthmark and the fact that she does not smile, although she fancies her neighbour, a stuttering guy called Damien Popodopoulos. However, her lack of confidence prevented her from befriending him. Fast forward as the story progresses, Mary after saving a sufficient amount of money, undergoes cosmetic surgery to ‘dispose’ off her birthmark. However, even after her physical enhancement, she was still unhappy as she realized that she was wrong about not accepting herself as she is. Her depression becomes serious as she tries to commit suicide by hanging herself in her own home.

  1. Friendship.

“God gave us our relatives: thank God we can choose our friends.”- Ethel Watts Mumford

The beautiful friendship between Mary and Max, started from being total strangers who lives thousands of miles away from each other. However, their friendship lasts for a very long time and it changes their lives and saves them from their own selves. They learn the good, bad and ugly about each other and accept each other for whoever they are. When nobody else wanted to be their companions, they were there for each other, in mutual understanding.

Quoting Max in his final letter,

When I received your book, the emotions inside my brain felt like they were in a trumble dryer, smashing into each other. The hurt felt like when i accidentally stapled my lips together, the reason I forgive you is because you are not perfect. You are imperfect, and so am I. All humans are imperfect, even the man outside my apartment who litters. When I was young, I wanted to be anybody but myself. Dr Bernard Hazelhof said I was on a desert island then I would have to get used to my own company, just me and the coconuts. He said I would have to accept myself, my warts and all, and that we don’t get to choose our warts. They are a part of us and we have to live with them, we can, however, choose our friends and I am glad I have chosen you. Dr Bernard also said, that everyone’s lives are like a very long sidewalk. Some are well paved, others, like mine, have cracks, banana skins and cigarette butts. Your sidewalk is like mine but probably not as many cracks. Hopefully, one day our sidewalks will meet and we can share a can of condensed milk. You are my best friend. You are my only friend.’

The Relationship between Mental Illness & Friendship

Having a strong support frame is crucial for those who suffers from mental illness. If it’s not your family, its your friends. If its not your friends, its your shrink.

Since Mary & Max focuses on the beauty of true friendship, it is safe to say that both Mary & Max has each other and they’re each other’s strength. The companionship and problems that they both share help them uplift their burdens. Max try to view Mary’s problems and solves them like he solves equations, and Mary just be herself, a friend.

When dealing with friends who suffers from mental illness, it is imperative to make them feel connected. Ignoring and belittling those who are in a depressed state might cause more harm than good. Be sure to make them feel happy and keep them in their most optimistic state to prevent them from inflicting further damage towards themselves. Encourage them to live and eat healthily, as Dr Bernard Hazelhof says, ‘A healthy body equals to a healthy mind.’ As mental illness is a disease of the mind, offers your friends to accompany them, to seek for professional help.

All in All

With the increasing number of suicide cases around the world, people should spread the awareness of mental illness. Everybody should know that depression does not necessarily means being sad, and being depressed is not equivalent to being weak.

Hence, it is crucial to treat everyone kindly as each and everyone of us is battling a demon within ourselves, a demon that we hide from the world. Listen to every possible cry for help, and help those who are in need to be saved. Don’t wait until it is too late. Countless of lives can be saved if only we choose to look and listen with our hearts. Society can make a difference.

We can make a difference.

This Is For You

If you’re reading this, and you have depression, I got you.

You are way stronger than you think you are. I believe in you and I love you. I’d have it written in the skies if I could.

Hold on. There are greater things in the world that you need to celebrate. Things get better, life gets better. Make sure you’re there to see it.

I hope this post reaches you in good health, or like Max would say it ‘gey gezunterheyt’.


Rant on Fame.

If you ever read the ‘About’ section, you’ll notice that I also write for The Patriots. Well, occassionally (damn you writer’s block).

How did it happen?

I’ve always loved writing.

Back then, I wrote in my journal (still doing it). I wrote in my blog. I’ve slayed most of my essays in school. Although, lately my skills pretty much went down the drain, especially my Bahasa Melayu (facepalm).

I’ve personally never wrote any articles or long posts at my Facebook page. All my statuses are pretty bunk and junk stuff, like posting the songs I’m listening to or special events that had happened in my life (only the ones worth sharing). I dont really post my thoughts, like my real thoughts and opinion on certain matters, at my Facebook page. I rarely commented on likewise posts, even if I strongly disagreed with the writer. I just read through and try to entertain the thought in my mind.

That being said, on the verge of me turning 23 last year, I posted up something online, through a ‘confession’ page. I’ve wrote about this in one of my posts before. Anyways, I got overwhelming responses and it got me thinking that writing might be my greatest strength. Maybe.

And when the opportunity came up, that is when The Patriots advertised that they needed a writer, I grabbed it. Even though I knew damn well that my skills in writing Bahasa Melayu are pretty suckish. I sent an article about the film ‘Accepted’, fully written in English just to try out my luck. And, bam! I got accepted. See what I did there?

Anyways, despite the fact that most of the readers of The Patriots are history geeks, coz y’know articles on history have basically the highest viewers, likers and sharers, and I wrote on film reviews (LOL). And not even historic films at that too (LOL again). I guess I dont really care about people liking or actually reading what I wrote. I mean, look at this blog. The traffic is pretty bad, it’s only a wee bit better when I commented on Vivy Yusof’s posts (facepalm).

What has this got to do with fame?

Well, have you ever written anything and posted it up in public, and got amazing reactions (in a positive way)?

It’s somehow like when you write something, and a lot of people agree with you, you’ll want them to agree more. Just like how you want people to always like you. It’s the same thing with writing. Especially when you’re used to getting a lot of people read about your thoughts, opinions and rants.

Or to make it simple, the fame.

When you posts things up in public view, and got lot’s of shares and likes, you got fame. And it’s human nature to love being known, being loved, being in mutual understanding. When the fame hits you, you’ll write more, you’ll be braver to comment on bigger things, on more challenging issues. However, being in the limelight does not make you right. It does not make you agreeable either.

Why the sudden rant?

Do you know how dangerous fame is? It’s addictive. It’s a disease of the heart. I’ve never had one but this is merely from my observation of the people around me.

In this new era of social media, getting a lot of shares and likes are closely equivalent to getting wealth. When you got viralled for instance, it opens up to new and greater opportunities.

You might think that fame is actually a good thing. I mean, especially when it’s about helping people in need and that sort. Believe me, fame will never be a good thing. There will never be a ‘good’ kind of fame. It always ends up bad.

Like wealth, fame rots the heart. It makes you greedy for more. If you post up for instance, a perfect selfie of you and got like 10k likes, you’ll want to post more selfies. You just want more, it’ll never be enough. That’s how fame works. That’s how it rots you from within.

When you write on your opinions, thinking it’ll be forever agreeable, you’ll just end up being boastful, ignorant and a smart-ass who disregards other people’s feelings and sensitivities.

I’ve recently followed quite a number of people or what you’d call ‘public figures’ based on their amount of followers, on Facebook. As much as they’re right about certain things, I’ve realized they’re also just as wrong. Some of them were too boastful and rudely sarcastic when people disagree with what they wrote.

I mean, do you treasure the fame so much so that you’ll write anything, even if it means hurting another people’s feelings? You do know that you have hundred thousands of followers right? You do know that people will read what you write, right? So, why cant you just be kind and sensitive? Even if you disagree with what other people think, it’s always better to shut up and think about it carefully as opossed to wildly attacking back with your smart-ass remarks. Is that the kind of ‘writer’ you wanna be?

In a nutshell.

Source: Google Image


It’s a prayer that I’ve never forgotten to recite after each Sallah, meaning:

Oh Allah, I seek refuge from you from from worry and grief, from helplessness and laziness, from cowardice and stinginess, and from overpowering of debt and from oppression of men.”

And with that, I add up ‘from overpowering of wealth and fame’.

As a budding ‘writer’, I pray that I’ll write with more responsibility and compassion of what I wrote. Not for the fame, but for the good of the people who reads them.

And if my greedy  and wavering heart fails me, this post will be a reminder of what should really be.


Rolling stone.

I’m someone that hates changes. Okay, maybe the word ‘hate’ is a little too strong. Let’s rephrase that.

I’m someone who doesn’t fancy changes.

Hence, I live a pretty boring and monotonous life.

Personally, routine activities are a convenience for me. I feel somewhat ‘safe’ and comfortable doing the same thing and I can stay in particular places for a long and maybe unhealthy amount of time, I suppose. Getting to know people consumes a lot of time on my part due to my socially-awkward character, so I guess it’s okay after all to stay longer while making friends and acquaintances.

But deep in my heart, I wish to live a nomadic life. A life that requires me to travel a lot, from one place to another, which is contradictory to my nature of being. The idea of being able to live at multiple places throughout my life, excites me for just thinking about it. However, it also scares me a little.

I suppose people who live a nomadic life, survive through freelance jobs. Living requires money and without a job it might be hard to survive in the real world. For me, if I were to live a nomadic life, I’d be a writer or an artist (once I’ve perfected my portrait-drawing skills) or a translator (once I’ve perfected my language skills). Or any profession that does not require permanent residency.

Where I’m gonna live? I’ve written in one of my posts before, about how I yearn to live in a loft/anywhere with magnificent views of sunsets and sunrises. Tiny apartments in big cities, small cottages in the countryside, you name it. I’m up. I love the idea of me being that adventurous.

Living life without a ‘home base’ sounds pretty intimidating, but that’s what being a nomad means. Where would I call ‘home’? Am I ever gonna be ‘homesick’ if I have no home? What would I miss more, the food, the faces or the smell of the air I breathe? I guess, home will be wherever my heart is. And that means everywhere I’ve been to.

Experiences are one of the things that I value most in life. Like respect, it is to be gained. It is up to our choices for each and every experience that we go through. We seek it like we seek truth. Because somehow the truth reveals with experience. And life is a supreme platform for gaining experiences.

Maybe I’ll never get to live a nomadic life, maybe I will. Whatever happens, I’m here. Living life, breathing, eating, overthinking and stepping forward. I’ll take it all in, rolling or not rolling.

Here’s to better adaptability in the future. Here’s to more change.

CR: Perfume by Patrick Suskind, pg. 99/263.

Eid Mubarak.

In case you’re a Muslim and reading this, Eid Mubarak to you! 🙂

Like usual, I ain’t posting my Raya selfie here, only took one and used it for my Whatsapp profile picture. But in case you’re wondering, here’s a peek of my baju raya.


It’s a jubah dress, which I supposedly wore during my sister’s wedding but unfortunately did not get to do so (due to an unfortunate circumstance). Ended up being altered into my baju raya this year, which looks kind of great.

Growing up and growing old, Eid have been decreasingly fun year by year. Especially since my sister and brother got married and they started taking turns balik kampung. Eid just does not feel the same anymore. Well, Eid is still Eid, but every year the good times with le fam just gets lesser and lesser. Some of them just decided to stop balik kampung, due to many reasons.

Flashback to all of us cousins being kids, playing around meddling with our Mom’s preparation of ketupats and rendangs, watching Raya TV shows (which was awesome back then) together at night, playing bunga api and just the simple act of eating together at the same table during pagi raya.

Nowadays, things just surprisingly and ridiculously gets awkward. Making jokes seems a little harder than usual and the way we catch up reflects how rigid we’ve all turned to be to each other as years passed by. Things just get so different and yet some of our habits stay similar. Funny.

Nevertheless, to be able to celebrate Eid with the family (even if it’s just 50% of them) is still considered something to be thankful for.

So this is to all of you readers, those who knew me and those who dont. Also to those who’ll never know who I really am. Salam Aidilfitri & Salam Kemenangan, maaf zahir & batin, taqaballahu minna wa minkum. Have a blessed raya with your loved ones and stay safe and sound wherever you are!


Moment of kindness.

As a Muslim, I believe in kifarah. Kifarah is basically an Islamic term for karma. ‘What goes around comes around’. The good deeds that you do are the start of a cycle and a chain reaction that affect mankind, inadvertently. You may not experience the reward instantly, but eventually.

I’m gonna tell about a random moment of kindness that I’ve just experienced sometime around last month (or maybe last two months). I’m currently residing in an over-packed high-residential area where parking spots have always been the greatest hassle. It was always packed, and my last and most convenient resort is to double-park (no worries, I put my gear on neutral and have the handbrake down). I’ve always and still go out to work pretty early, way earlier than I should have, because I’m a nerd who live by the rules and routines (orz). Anyways, it’s almost never a problem for me when I double-park as I go out earlier than most people, so all I gotta do is start the engine and go.

However, that one fine day, my car was stucked in between 2 other cars (which was also double-parked) which was usually fine, but this time they were a little too closely parked to mine, bumper against bumperAnd there was no way I could move my car except to push those 2 cars to a certain distance where I can make my way out. Given that those 2 cars were Kancil or Myvi or anything of that sort, I might be able to push with some effort. Unfortunately for me, they were sedans.

And shamefully, my ‘kudrat’/ strength as a girl (who have maybe about 20% body muscle) is not that strong to push 2 sedans out of the way. *facepalm*

Anyways, an uncle who was, I guess, rushing to work as well and was just pushing some cars which was double-parked in front of his, saw me. And he was just shaking his head and gave a faint smile (macam nak cakap ‘haihh kesian’ & ‘gerenti kau tak boleh tolak’) and went straight into his car to warm the engine. But somehow, maybe after witnessing my failure and how the 2 sedans did not even budged when I tried pushing, he rushed out of his car, and came to my rescue.

He was all like, ‘you pergi start engine‘ and started pushing those 2 sedans out of the way, which only took him seconds. *lol* I thanked him repeatedly, and could not have imagined if nobody was there to help, I might be late to work. Or simply call for Uber/Grab. Thank God for that uncle. I dont know who he was (although I do recognize his car), but I prayed that whatever his business, it will be eased just like he eased my way to work.

On the other hand, this reminds me that I really need to work on my muscles.

CR: Perfume by Patrick Suskind.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006): On Nietzsche, Proust, Beauty Pageants & Family.

(Spoiler Alert)

Source: Big Beach

Little Miss Sunshine is a comedy-drama film, starring Academy Award, Golden Globe Award as well as Emmy Award nominees and winners, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigal Breslin and Alan Arkin. The film itself was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two: Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Alan Arkin.

The film depicts the imperfections and issues faced by an American family and focuses on their road journey from Albuquerque, New Mexico to California just so that the daughter could participate in a beauty contest called ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. Hence, the title.

Before we start with the message and lessons learnt from the film, let’s look at the main and only characters of each member of this small family. The family consists of the following:

  1. The Dad, Richard Hoover (played by Greg Kinnear), a self-proclaimed ‘life-coach’ who constantly and annoyingly pressed the family about ‘winners and losers’ and the 9 steps ’Refuse to Lose’ programme,
  2. The Mom, Sheryl Hoover (played by Toni Collette), an overworked mother who was a divorcee before marrying the Dad,
  3. The Uncle, Frank Ginsberg (played by Steve Carell), the Mom’s little brother, a gay, depressed and suicidal pre-eminent Proust Scholar in the US,
  4. The Brother, Dwayne Hoover (played by Paul Dano), a Nietszche-loving 16-year old young chap who desires to be a pilot and has taken a vow of silence until he achieve that particular dream,
  5. The Little Daughter, Olive Hoover (played by Abigail Breslin), a 7 year old chubby and spectacled little girl who yearns to become a beauty queen and participated in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest.
  6. The Grandpa, Edwin Hoover (played by Alan Arkin), the heroin-snorter grandfather who also couched the little daughter for her routine on the upcoming Little Miss Sunshine.

Their road journey started when Olive was eligible for the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest at Redondo Beach, California and the whole family was forced to travel in a yellow Volkswagen microbus, a journey they can barely afford, just to see her compete.

  1. The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Friedrich Nietzsche was a famous German philosopher, with great, well-known and powerful works among which includes ‘The Will to Power’, ‘Beyond Good and Evil’, ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ etc. Nietzsche was known for his criticisms of the traditional European morality and religion, and he was often associated with a group of late modern thinkers such as Marx and Freud.

In Little Miss Sunshine, the association of Nietzsche can be clearly seen on Dwayne Hoover’s character, who was a Nietzsche-loving teenager. Dwayne, played by Paul Dano, can be seen reading Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra in bed before he sleeps as well as along the journey to California and a large portrait of Nietzsche hanging at his bedroom wall. He can also be seen wearing a yellow shirt with bold black words ‘Jesus Was Wrong’ printed on it as well as another white shirt with an image of Nietzsche printed on it.

Source: Tumblr

The concept of philosophies by Nietzsche highlighted in the film was of Nihilism, Will to Power and Ubermensch.

Nihilism came from the Latin word ‘nihil’ which means nothing. It also appears in the verb ‘annihilate’ which means to destroy or bring to nothing. From Nietzsche’s point of view, nihilism is ‘not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one’s shoulder to the plough; one destroys’ (Will To Power). In simpler words, nihilism is the belief of extreme pessismism and radical scepticism, whereby a nihilist believes in nothing, has no loyalties and no purpose except to destroy. Nihilism is often an opposition to moral and religious values as it is a belief that denies the existence of truth and God by denying the validity of those values and their binding obligations upon humanity.

Will to Power (der Wille zur Macht) is one of Nietzsche’s greatest works, focusing on the human will. Nietzsche believes that the will to power is stronger than the will to survive as can be observed with martyrs willing to die for a cause that they feel gives them greater power. It is also considered stronger than the will to sex, as can be witnessed with monks renouncing sex for a greater cause that they believe in ( Nietzsche highlighted that the will to power is more of an inward force of personal mastery rather than the mastery over others. In a much simpler word, the will to power reflects the power exerted by human in the struggles to quench their desires.

Ubermesnch translated to superhuman/overman, a phrase from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The concept of Ubermensch according to Nietzsche would simply means the concept of willingness to risk everything for the sake of enhancement of humanity. In a much simpler word, overman is someone who has his own values with the capability to affect others, values independent of others and of herd instincts.

In relation to Little Miss Sunshine, Dwayne’s character has successfully, though not perfectly captures all the 3 concept of philosophies highlighted by Nietzsche.

The concept of nihilism can be seen with Dwayne’s confession of him hating everyone, saying that they were losers and that he did not want to be like them. His shirt with a print of ‘Jesus Was Wrong’ was an association to Nietzsche’s view of nihilism although he did misunderstood Nietzsche with the act of hating everyone when what Nietzsche really tried to convey was nihilism is actually an affirmation of an authentic life unbound by false values.

The concept of will to power and Ubermensch can be seen with Dwayne’s vow of silence in order to achieve his dream to become a pilot. In one of the conversation between Frank and Dwayne in the film, whereby Frank questioned, ‘You don’t speak because of Friedrich Nietzsche?’ was the portrayal of Dwayne’s will to power, which he have gotten from reading Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Having his dream crushed towards the ending of the film reflects Nietzsche’s concept of Ubermensch, where Dwayne realizes that the only thing that matters is his individual will and power to be what he wanted to be regardless of the view of others,

‘…And fuck the Air Force Academy, If I want to fly, I’ll find a way to fly. You do what you love, and fuck the rest.

2.  Marcel Proust.

Marcel Proust was a French novelist, one of the most influential in the 20th century, well-known for his views on pop culture. His best well-known work was a novel of seven volumes, called A la recherché du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) which he did not had a chance to complete before his death.

Basically, Proust’s In Search of Lost Time captures the sources of the meaning of life through the story of Proust himself, in his search for the purpose of life. The book was also an effort of Proust to help others, as his father, Adrien Proust did as one of the greatest doctors in France (

In Search of Lost Time explore social success as one of the sources for a meaningful life. As someone who was born in a great and well-known household, Proust thought that life will be meaningful if he could join the social circles of those higher in hierarchy but was soon disappointed to come to realization that most of those ‘high-class’ society was not as extraordinary but rather, boring, cruel and mean. Hence, Proust highlighted that virtues and vices are scattered throughout the population regardless of income and social hierarchy.

The second source towards a meaningful life, according to Proust, was love. He believed that with the promise of love, came an understanding from one lover to another, and for that lovers can never be alone.

The third and most relatable source of a meaningful life, was art. Proust differentiated art with habits, whereby habits dull our senses and ruined us with familiarity, preventing us from appreciating the beauty of even the smallest things in life. Artist, as stated by Proust, are people who stripped away habits by looking at the world generously at a wider spectrum.

In Search of Lost Time taught readers to appreciate life in every moment while they lasts, the good, bad and ugly. Those moments are the monumental proof of what life really means and feels like.

In relation to Little Miss Sunshine, an obvious character portrayal would be Frank Ginsberg, the pre-eminent Proust Scholar in the United States. The film starts with Frank confessing his failed suicide attempt to Olive, stating that he was very unhappy. According to him, the events unfolding towards him actually tried committing suicide was falling in love with his male grad student who did not love him back-that boy he was in love with fell in love with Larry Sugarman, who is the ‘second most highly regarded Proust Scholar in the US’-he was upset and said things he should not have said and done things he should not have done-he was kicked out of his job-he was forced out of his apartment and had to move in a motel-the MacArthur Foundation awarded a genius grant to Larry Sugarman. Frank easily relates to the French novelist, Marcel Proust, as in being gay and his unrequited love affair with a guy, not to mention that he is actually a Proust Scholar.

Source: Tumblr

In the words of Frank himself in a dialogue with Dwayne about wanting to sleep high school, Marcel Proust was a,

French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he’s also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh-…he gets down to the end of his life and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, those were the best years of his life because they made him who he was. All the years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn’t learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you’re 18, ah think of the suffering you’re gonna miss. I mean, high school? High school – those are your prime suffering years. You don’t get better suffering than that.

3. Beauty Contest.

Little Miss Sunshine in it’s infinite yet hidden wisdom, actually exposed us to the American beauty standards and how human beings, as young as six and seven year olds are not excepted from this standards through various beauty contests held.

Source: Tumblr

The opening of the film itself, showing Olive imitating a beauty queen from a television programme, reflects how the beauty standard set by society affects even those of younger age. Those age at which little girls should think of having fun and being happy and explore the world instead of diet pills, heavy adult-like makeup and staying skinny.

From the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest, it can be clearly seen that the young contestants were hyper-sexualised, competing with revealing swimwear and excessive doll-like makeup. Most contestants have the same facial features and body figure, fake tans and skinny bodies – the American beauty standard.

Which brought us to the scene when Richard and Dwayne, after witnessing those young contestants on stage and how they were heavily judged, decides to pull Olive out of it, worrying that people would laugh at her as she’s not ‘beauty queen material’. The idea was however, rejected by Sheryl, with her saying, ‘Olive is who she is. She has worked so hard. She has poured everything into this. We cant just take it away from her. We cant. I know you wanna protect her, I know honey. But we gotta let Olive be Olive.’

Eventually, Olive stayed to compete, in her own uniquely-ridiculous way. And that was one of the highlights of the film.

4. Family.

From the start to finish of the film, we are offered the views of a tense family on the verge of exploding. The issues of bankruptcy, stress and loss can be felt together throughout the whole story. However, each one of them was somehow overcame with the power of togetherness, family.

They might not be the perfect family. Each protagonist has his and her own problems to be dealt with. But having each others back helped them overcome each struggle that came their way.

For instance, their exceptional teamwork can be seen when dealing with the breakdown of the VW microbus. Despite their occasional lashings at each other, they still work together in order to get the van moving so that Olive can reach the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant on time. It can also be seen when Olive was almost threw off stage for her somehow ‘inappropriate’ dancing routine but the whole family came together to protect her and make her feel comfortable on stage.

Source: Tumblr

When it comes to the theme of love within the family, Dwayne was the character that portrays it the most despite the ‘i-hate-everyone’ demeanour he shows on the surface. When Olive was accidentally abandoned at the gas station, Dwayne was the only one who noticed her disappearance and alerted the other family members. He was also the one who instruct Olive to hug Sheryl when she cried at the hospital, revealing that he actually cares for his Mom despite his reluctance to show it. During his major breakdown, no one but Olive could soothe him, wordlessly at that too. And when Olive was about to go on stage to showcase her routine, he was worried that she would be laughed and judged at and decided to talk her out of it to protect her from the viciously-judgemental crowd.

In a nutshell, Little Miss Sunshine portrays some hidden yet powerful message about being yourself, achieving your dreams, appreciating life and the strength of family. Despite the countless and somewhat ridiculous beauty standards set by society or those who makes money out of it, every single one of us should be thankful for who we are. Beauty is not definitively fair skin, slim figure or long eyelashes. It’s whoever and whatever you are. And you are the person who should have notice it first before anybody else. Be an Ubermensch if you can possibly be, a person with an ultimate power of your own values regardless of the thoughts of others. Struggle and failure is an essence of life. Life is not all about winning. You don’t learn much without losing. So, appreciate each and every losing moments in life. The best love is family love. When nobody else have your back, family will be there for you through thick and thin because ultimately, to be strong is to be together. And that’s exactly what a family offers.

Quoting from Dwayne himself,

Fuck beauty contests. Life is one beauty contest after another.

Regardless of how you look or how well you do in life, you will always be judged. So ‘do what you love and fuck the rest.’ The only judgement that matters is His.

p/s: The soundtrack will blow you away.

Souce: Tumblr

Accepted (2006): Education Is Not A Measure of Intelligence.

(Spoiler Alert)

Source: Google Image


It’s an underrated film, with witty, funny and ridiculously-scripted screenplay accompanied with a strong message for society of all ages. And like most underrated films, it’s definitely one of my all-time favorites.


I remembered watching this back in 2013 and it widened my perspective on learning and self-worth, and most importantly as the title stated, on ACCEPTANCE.

It’s a film that depicts the life of a high school graduate (Bartleby Gaines) trying to get himself accepted into various colleges, only to fail miserably. What he did in regards to the rejection is the main reason why this particular film turns out to be an interesting one.

Accepted has taught me quite a number of lessons, most of which I believe should be shared with everyone who’re willing to read this, especially to the younger generation going through all sorts of rejection in life.


A couple of months ago, I came upon several articles and ‘confessions’ posted through social medias by youths, or more specifically ‘angry’ youths of a particular university comparing themselves and their struggles against those experienced by students of other universities. A deliberate ‘debate’ was sparked up with students claiming and further comparing each other’s struggles about how other people got it easier than them and how the ‘product’ of university A is of lesser quality than the ‘product’ of university B.

We’ve been living in a society that compares about literally EVERYTHING. From education to who owns the latest pair of Nike shoes to who travelled to the most countries. Honestly, aren’t you people sick and tired of it?

I was once asked about what it felt like to be compared with students from another University and to be deemed ‘low quality’ in regards to my education.

Was I angry? Should I lash back at those who claimed so? Do I need to compare what I had gone through with what others had?

Well, here’s the big question. If I were to do all of that, WOULD IT HELP?

Instead of being angry and retaliate, all I got to do is to PROVE them wrong. Action screams louder than words, anyways.

Everyone and I mean everyone, should never be measured by their education. People should NOT be judged by their education but by their intelligence, character and attitude. You can graduate from the lowest ranking University in the whole wide world and you can still be the smartest and humblest person there is. Or you can be a graduate from the most prestigious University with an attitude that disregards other people’s opinions, feelings and sensitivities. Regardless of where you get an education from, it is never an excuse to undermine and condemn others.

The main point is education is not a measure of intelligence. So, why would people focus on the former instead of the latter? Where or what you study does not define you. You define you.

In relation to the film Accepted, even though Bartleby got rejected by every college he applied to, he went on to be the founder of another (South Harmon Institute of Technology), with creativity and passion-based curriculum, that ACCEPTS everyone. As opposed to the neighbouring ‘ivy-league’ college (Harmon Institute of Technology) who discriminates those whom they deemed not at par with their ‘standard’.


How many of you are studying a course that you’re actually interested in? Or are you just following the one and only path laid in front of you? Are you studying blindly just to secure your future, for the sake of getting a job and paying bills? Or are you applying your creativity and passion throughout the learning process? Does the educational system nowadays encourage us to follow our hearts or play it safe? I’ll bet on the latter.

In the film Accepted, South Harmon Institute of Technology offered their students to choose what they wanted to learn regardless of their grades. Since their curriculum focused solely on the student’s passion, learning became a fun and exciting process that each one of them look forward to everyday. Meanwhile, quoting from Bartleby’s speech in the film, ‘Harmon Institute of Technology’s tradition and curriculum puts so much pressure on kids turning them into stress-freak and caffeine-addicts’.

Educational institutions play a massive role in instilling knowledge by letting students express in their own creativity, not by spoon-feeding them with information just to prep them for examinations. How do you expect the younger generations to be great thinkers and changers when they are robbed of their own creativity and freedom of expressions? Victor Pinchuk once stated that, ‘Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics’.


Rejection hurts. Nobody likes being rejected, be it from your crush or from that dream job you applied to, or from your college applications. It is the nature of human beings to yearn to be accepted, to belong. Reality check, you’ll get rejected. Maybe just once, if you’re lucky. I got to say though, I’m pretty much unlucky.

 Nevertheless, what matters most is how you deal with being rejected. Are you going to lie in bed and cry your eyes out for a month? Are you going to play the blame game and endlessly whine like it’s the end of the world? Or are you going to fight back with every part of you, change for the better and show the world what you’ve got?

I chose change. I’ve figured out that as much as you’d think that it’s impossible, it is possible to rely on yourself to make the big leap. Sometimes, all it takes is courage and believe it or not, you have it in you. Just have faith and search for it within yourself.

Rejection is not the end of the world. Life is full of possibilities. Rather than focusing on the fact of not being wanted, why not grasp the possibilities and make something out of them? Rather than waiting for the change to happen, why not be the change?

‘Everybody thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.’ – Leo Tolstoy.

When Bartleby got rejected from every college he applied to, he did not blame anybody for that nor did he beat himself up for the failure. Instead, he started his cunningly brilliant plan by starting his own college which would eventually made him realize of the possibilities that he had accidentally created for himself and for the students who enrolled at South Harmon.

All in all, Accepted taught us to accept ourselves even if nobody else does. Being rejected does not determine your self-worth and you are NOT the definition of those who have rejected you.

As the younger generation who will eventually be the future of our own country, we should embrace the differences between each other, the weaknesses and the strength. Let’s stop the comparisons and start building each other up. One that grows together will never be easily broken because ultimately, unity is strength.