Being helpful is so interesting…

December 22, 2011 at 9:16 am 1 comment

I just spoke on talk radio with Stephanie Gunning and Nancy Peske (I definitely want to check out her book, Cinema Therapy) (my NY interview).  I’m still wired from great conversation with interesting people so I thought I’d continue the conversation here.

When I finish something I generally think, yikes! why didn’t I…. (probably says something deep about the voice in my head).  This time I wish I had mentioned more recent movies!  There are a ton!  Like The Help.  Which made me think about being helpful and the difference between the Hero and the Virgin.

The Hero helps others because they really need it.  People could die.  He learns there are things that are worth dying for and he pushes back the boundaries of his mortality to do it.  All good.  Hero grows personally, village is preserved and protected.

Now the Virgin is a different story.  When she helps others it is often at the expense of herself as seen in The Help.  People have power over her and she makes herself small to appease them.  It’s like feeding the angry dragon so it won’t be grumpy and burn you (I’m thinking How to Train Your Dragon here).  You give them what they want by being helpful and no trouble. This kind of helping you want to grow out of.

Psychologically, being helpful can be a sign that your protagonist doesn’t recognize her intrinsic worth – she needs a good Virgin’s journey (Maid in Manhattan, Ever After).  Sometimes she is helpful to build a debt that she hopes will be repaid later.  There is no healthy sense of entitlement that just because she exist she has the right to be the leading lady in her life.  She needs to learn she can take up some space in life (that’s my favorite message from The Holiday). She thinks she can help others and some day they will turn around and say “your turn, how can I help you, love you, make space for you.”  Of course that rarely happens unit she recognizes she can ask for it.


I did it again.  More recent Virgin movies = The King’s Speech, An Education, Easy A, Black Swan – I’ve got to start watching more in the theaters!  These are all out on video….

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Canadian Virgin Stories The Whistleblower is haunting

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Lorne A  |  December 23, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Kim: Kudos for another illuminating entry. As you no doubt know, the form of giving you speak of, wherein the protagonist gives to get in some fashion, is analogous to the “transactional” form of leadership. In this approach, being helpful – as portrayed in The Help and other films – always has as a quid pro quo element: something given in order to get something back. It seems to me that the Virgin’s approach reflects a different leadership model, namely, the “transformational” model, wherein the protagonist (leader), operating from a strong sense of intrinsic worth (the sine qua non of the Virgin archetype as you have taught us!), gives unconditionally and hence has a transformative effect (The Kingdom is Brighter).
    As the year ends, I want to thank you for your insightful and engaging blog entries. All of us who read them are enriched by your wisdom and perceptive analysis.
    Season’s best to you and your family.


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