Whenever you’re feeling sad, adrift or oppressed it’s never a bad idea to turn to the infinite well of wisdom and inspiration that is Hollywood films. Why just this weekend I learned how to live a life of full autonomy by watching the 1976 Hollywood film Carrie.
Often miscategorized as a horror film, Brian De Palma’s Carrie is really a story about a young girl learning how to break through the limits imposed onto her and achieve a life of full autonomy. Maybe that’s why audiences were so terrified by this film.
The titular character (Carrie) played by Sissy Spacek starts the movie as a homely social outcast who has a complicated relationship with her mother who is so poor, fanatically religious and abusive that I had to call child services to report her bad parenting when I was watching the movie (to which they responded unfavourably because, as they explained many times, my constant phone calls were a waste of valuable, limited child services resources since it was a fictional case that occurred nearly 40 years ago).
Despite how rude the people operating the phones at child services were, things eventually started looking up for Carrie. Not only was Carrie a good-natured punching bag for her peers and legal guardian, she was also special. And it was through accepting her specialness that she was able to transcend the badness of her situation and live a life of full autonomy.
In the film, what makes Carrie special is her telekinetic powers and learning to embrace her God/Satan given gifts is what allows her to break free from the despotism suffocating her life. Once she embraces her telekinetic gifts, Carrie gets a hot date to the prom with the varsity track star that looks suspiciously Australian, musters the confidence to say “No” to her mother and even wins the prom queen crown.
I’ll admit, her sudden burst of confidence does eventually lead to unspeakable humiliation. However, this does not stop her from doing exactly what she wants to do: violently murder everyone, including the people that tried their best to help her. Seeing Carrie go from push-over to the conductor of a massacre, exercising her freedom in the most horrific ways imaginable is an inspiration.
What Carrie really is all about is coming to the realization that there’s nothing wrong with being special and that part of being special is being able to do what you want, whenever you want (including violently murdering everyone at prom with telekinetic powers). And hey, if people want to bring you down because you’re special, just harness whatever it is that makes you special to destroy them. If you do, I guarantee that you will transcend to a happier, healthier life of full autonomy.
Watch Carrie transform from homely nobody to special, autonomous murderer and you might just be able to become a fully autonomous person as well.