Return to Communications Center

The Hero’s Journey Led Me Astray | Colin Stokes

The runaway hit of TEDxBeaconStreet 2012 was Colin Stokes’ talk, “The Hidden Meanings in Kids’ Movies.”  The Brookline father’s reflections on “The Wizard of Oz” and “Star Wars” has been viewed more than 2 million times, catching the eye of Kevin Spacey, Sheryl Sandberg, and Upworthy.  He was even invited to Walt Disney Animation Studios to expand on his point of view for the makers of “Frozen.” (“Which features,” he points out gleefully, “a team led by women to bring out the best in others!”)

For his return appearance on the Lincoln School stage, Colin says he wanted to continue asking challenging questions.  “I think one reason my talk worked last year was that it started easy and got hard,” he says.  “If you can help an audience relax and laugh, you can sneak tougher ideas through their defenses.”

His follow-up does indeed start out easy (The Hero’s Journey) and get hard (race and the movies).  “American culture is less able to hide from race in 2013 than it has been for a while,” says Colin, who works at an education non-profit that works with children in low-income neighborhoods, most of whom are African-American or Latino.  “On the one hand, current events are making injustice in our society painfully clear.  On the other hand, you have Hollywood releasing an unusual set of movies about the African-American experience.  I grew a lot this year, and I wanted to share what that meant to me.”

Colin sees these talks less like lectures than as personal essays.  “I am not an authority on race in America, obviously,” he says, “and I wasn’t any kind of expert on feminism.  I do a lot of reading and listening, but I try to speak only from my experience.  I hope people will reflect on their own experience too, and maybe change just a little.”

You can read Colin’s ongoing thoughts on movies and culture at his blog, Zoom Out.