There are many reasons why you should go see The Darkest Minds when it hits theaters in early August. Because it’s a damn good story. Because it can educate viewers. Because these characters are everything. Because the emotion is real. Because of the representation. Because it can inspire.
“I think if you go and watch this movie you’re going to experience a story that’s heartfelt and loving and exciting,” Harrison Dickinson (Liam) told us, “and you’re going to watch a story unfold that’s going to keep you on the edge of your seat.”
And given everything that’s happening in the United States right now, this film has not felt more relevant than it does right now.
“I think it actually presents kind of a real-life danger we all face,” Skylan Brooks (Chubs) told us. “Things are corrupt and things are messed up. It’s kind of like, when you have the youth who has to deal with it, it’s kind of like their way of dealing with the problem. And then it really gets turned into their hands, so they can actually do something about it. There’s a lot of situations where the United States is messed up or whatever, but this is kind of the way of the youth, this generation, dealing with it and bringing the power back to us.”
With The Darkest Minds being more relevant than ever, there are two reasons we’re going to focus on in this week’s column: celebrating differences and the power of using your voice to make a change.
The world is a cruel place. In a world full of unique individuals, people are often bullied and ridiculed because of their differences rather than celebrated for them. Whether it’s race or sexuality to beliefs, there’s power that comes in embracing what makes you different.
It’s one of the reasons why Young Adult stories, such as The Darkest Minds, is so important. It provides examples of empowering themes that help guide children and even adults in their journey as they navigate what’s becoming an increasingly scary world. Being “different” used to have a negative connotation. But in society today, difference is continuing to be celebrated in a way that we need ton continue to push for.
In The Darkest Minds, the Psi children represent those unique individuals that are ridiculed and mistreated by the government because they’re different. They possess abilities ranging from telekinesis to mind control to controlling energy that make them “dangerous.” Even within the color system (where Oranges and Reds are considered the most dangerous), there’s a sense of fear within Ruby as she hides who she really is because she’s scared Liam, Chubs, and Zu will be afraid of her. She spends most of this story hiding who she is until she learns to embrace her power in a way that’s empowering and life-saving.
Amandla Stenberg, who plays Ruby in the film, says that The Darkest Minds celebrates difference in a way that highlights those individual strengths.
“I think the movie and the book definitely celebrate difference and the ability to have different strengths and different stretches,” Stenberg told us. “I think every character has what they’re best at, and what they’re not as great at. I think that’s really cool.”
Power of Your Voice
Given the world that we live in now – as all hell is breaking loose around us – it’s important more than ever for people to realize that they have a voice. And that that voice can be used to impact change in the world. Whether it’s the issue of gun violence or women’s rights or the injustice that is immigration reform, people are speaking up now more than ever. Because they realize that their voice can change the world. But more than that, a group of voices coming together as one can impact real change.
In The Darkest Minds, the government is afraid of the children that have developed abilities after a disease wiped through the United States, killing most but sparing others. They’re afraid of these children and decide to lock them up to contain them. But these children don’t fold in on themselves. They don’t stay silent. They fight back. They use their individual voice to unite with others like them to speak out and fight back. And that power – that comes with realizing that you possess power with your voice – is incredibly important.
Author Alexandra Bracken stressed the importance of the theme of power as individuals and as a group. In using your voice – and collective voices – you can impact change.
“We’re more powerful as individuals, but we’re also powerful when we come together and work together,” Bracken told us, “and you find people what you want to protect and who you want to help. That’s really ultimately how Ruby kind of comes into herself and gains control over her life and herself. It’s through protecting the friends that she makes. So I think it’s captured so perfectly in the film – how it’s like one voice can be powerful, but many voices joining together can be incredibly powerful.”