Wednesday, December 28, 2016

If you put your Bat-Signal in the air, I'll be there.

I don't care what your eyes (sometimes) tell you. Or what your heart says half the time. Or what the news says always.
And that one guy you work with? He's an aberration. A glitch in the Matrix, I'm sure of it.
Oh, and forget everything you've ever read in a comments section, or just about any interaction on the internet in general. I'm telling you...right here and now...

...the world is a very good place. 

And it's filled with very good people.

At least it was at one point in November of 2013, where thousands of people came together to do something good...for someone other than themselves. Batkid Begins, an endlessly inspiring documentary from 2015 (currently streaming on Neflix), captures a moment in time where all the darkness of the world seemed to magically vanish under the bright lights of the Bat-Signal.

Quietly a love-letter to the bittersweet brilliance of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Batkid Begins tells the story of then 5-year-old Miles Scott, a little dude fighting the good fight against childhood leukemia. When contacted by the charitable organization, Miles' wish was, on paper, rather simple: He wanted to be Batman. Oh, so like, he wants to dress like The Dark Knight? No problem. No, no. He wants to be Batman. Like, the real Batman. Oh....*crickets* Uh, okay. We can come up with something...right?

They do. And as chronicled here, this seemingly little endeavor spirals out of control in the best possible way. Like a giant Katamari ball rolling down the hills of San Francisco (and only picking up the best parts of humanity), Dana Nachman's film shows not only what is possible for one little kid, but what might also be possible for the rest of us.

From a way-back recommendation from Dell at the super-cool Dell on Movies, I decided to show this film in my Language Arts class for the last two days leading up to holiday break. Fine, there's was a little bit of selfishness in there, sure (they're basically unteachable in, well, December), but I wanted my sixth-graders to see that it's entirely okay to be a good person. Yeah, it's not exactly something you'd put in your lesson plans, but between you and me, I've never been a fan of those things anyway.

EJ, playing Batman, is the MVP of, well, everything.
See, somewhere along the way, being a selfish jerk became something my students worked at (worked clearly being the wrong word [maybe haphazardly shuffled into]). My hope in showing this film, was that perhaps these 87 minutes could short-circuit some of that, at least temporarily. The idea of being grateful for overall good health from a twelve year-old is essentially demanding a Christmas miracle, I realize. But more than that, this film shows that when it comes to helping out, everyone has something to offer. And unlike ninety-percent of what I actually teach, that's a lesson they'll (hopefully) use when they're older, you know?

Speaking of when am I ever going to need this?, here are the Yays and Boos. I initially thought the jeer-squad was gonna have to sit this one out, but if there's anything that Batkid Begins teaches us, it's better when everyone participates.

There's too much awesome here. 
  • The choir version of Heroes somehow makes that song even better. Brilliant.
  • It's good to know (because I didn't) that 80% of all kids in the Make-A-Wish program go one to fully recover. I always thought...well...nevermind what I always thought.
  • When I say that everyone helps, I do not think I'm exaggerating in the least.
  • The list of amazing people featured in this documentary would be entirely too long, so let me just briefly single out EJ, Mike Jutan and Patricia Wilson. Arguably the finest trio in the history of superheroes, these three people simply make the world a better place.
  • What happens on/because of social media is spectacular. Twitter Guy (@mikeofjesus) totally nails not only the day itself, but the sheer excitement of capturing it, too.
  • Hans Zimmer. Man, this guy is astoundingly awesome. I mean, he already had me at The Lion King score, sure, but here? Wildebeest's couldn't stop how inspirational this dude is. You'd have made a pretty good Batman yourself, Hans.
  • The trapeze! That bit almost took my breath away on multiple fronts.
  • Dude. Miles' constant hero-walk still cracks me up. Don't mess with this kid, okay?
  • The Beastmaster handshake shall now forever be known as the Secret Acrobat Handshake. It will also be known as the thing that almost made me sob in front of my students.
  • Holy elaborate plan, Batman! 
  • And finally, the best news of all, according to what I've read, Miles is currently doing very well. Every little kid deserves the best childhood possible, you know? Even those that grow up to be people that ruin everything. 
There's nothing to Boo here, actually.
Other than the fact that I wasn't there, perhaps?
  • Parents, um, just a quick heads up: the first ten minutes are heartbreaking. Oh, it's just an ear infection...(good grief).
  • C'mon, Miles. Filling your shows with gravel from the playground is not cool.
  • Hey, Videogame Designers! Thanks for being awful. 
  • So, uh, I pretty much found myself enamored with both parents...physically. I know, I know, what a creep, right? Still. Dad pretty much looks exactly like Aaron Rodgers (which is awesome) and Mom? Goodness, Mom. I'm trying to focus here!
  • Speaking of the lovely Mrs. Scott, um, I'm not sure nipped in the buns is the right saying. Nor is your community tight-niched. (sorry, I was watching this is my classroom with the subtitles's pretty much habit).
  • Okay, San Francisco. You're breathtaking, right? You and your cable cars full of Rice-A-Roni. That should be enough. But then you go and have a circus school full of the best people ever? Uh, now you're just rubbing it in our faces.
  • Car seats. I know, I know....but c'mon. In a Lamborghini? Booo!
  • I think I'm done saving people for the day. Kids, man. Kids.
  • And finally, the people that complained about the money spent on this whole event. I get it, sure, but really? Really? You saw this story and thought, we could have used that money elsewhere! No, you know what? I forgive you for thinking it. That's fair. But saying it? Out loud? To other people? Shameful.
As 2017 races toward us, and as our country seems as if it's hurtling into some forsaken abyss, I'm going to constantly remind myself that no matter what is happening, the world is a good place. And it's filled with very good people. Even if 2016 took a lot of them... didn't get them all.


  1. I did not know that state about the Make a Wish Foundation, that's much better than what I was also thinking.

    This seems sweet, I'll probably watch it some time. Great review!

    1. Yeah, when I worked at Best Buy *shudder* we had a young dude come in and buy all sorts of shit. I guess there's a good chance that kid is still playing all that stuff, right?

      Please let me know if you do!

  2. JUst reading this review made me misty-eyed, how will i ever make it through the movie?

    1. I had to fight hard to keep my composure during it, so I wish you the best. It's soooooo good, though! Let me know if you decide to watch it!!!

  3. So glad you watched this...and showed it to your class. I hope at least one of them appreciated it. Better than Miles's superhero walk, was his serious face whenever he knew he had to spring into action. I loved it. And yeah, car seats in the Lambo - big boo. Thanks for the link!

    1. I think some of the kids in my honor class really appreciated it, and were able to get why I was showing it to them right before Christmas (the idea of being selfless was what I was going for).

      Dude, Miles was under so much pressure and he handled it so well. But I guess after battling what he battled, a couple thousand people staring at you ain't shit.

      Thanks again for the recommendation!! It was super clutch.