The things you think about while watching a movie
(Note: This story takes place in a pre-pandemic world.)
If my life were a romantic comedy, this would be the part when the main character walks off into the sunset to an upbeat song. The scene fades to black. The credits roll. Everyone leaves the theater happy, optimistic, changed (if only for a little while).
Mind you, the main character, which is me, didn’t end up with the girl of his dreams, nor did his life change drastically. It did, however, change. I can feel the light breeze going through my hair, blowing away some of my problems, so, by all means, let those credits roll.
On my way to see Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (before becoming Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey) and although I was gassed after climbing the hill of doom to reach AMC at CityWalk Hollywood, I took more confident steps than usual.
I’m still broke. I’m single (I prefer to be at this stage as I prioritize my writing career over everything else). I’m not a published author. Rent is still bullshit in Southern California. Taxes, healthcare, screens, yadda, yadda, yadda.
However, I finally feel like I have a sense of purpose. I’ve felt this purpose before—that’s kind of how life works. Up. Down. Up. Down. These periods last an indefinite amount of time that seems like forever.
Recently, I became a pop culture (TV and movies) writer. That’s my big win. That’s my walk-off-into-the-sunset moment. That’s it.
Why? Because I’ve been trying to escape content writing for what feels like the entire time I’ve been in California. I can no longer mentally handle writing about topics I’m not passionate about. My end goal is essayist/novelist and content writing will never get me there financially or creatively.
Throughout countless essays and a long mental journey, I brainstormed ways to escape and the plan I landed on is to become a pop culture writer, build my portfolio of essays, and get paid what I’m worth. That journey is finally in motion thanks to a company taking a chance on me.
How does this have anything to do with Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, other than thinking about my life during a walk to see Birds of Prey?
You could say I’m a bird of prey — in subtle ways, we all are. I once had the security of a staff writing job (similar to Harley Quinn having Joker and the security and immunity that brings). Once that ended on my terms, I reentered the world, but no one wanted me. I laughed, cried, and felt everything.
Okay, so the two aren’t that similar, but remember, dear reader, this is my rom-com ending—if I were on the big screen.
I struggle with figuring out what kind of writer I want to be. I never have the correct samples. I put all my eggs into a sportswriting basket after college. But I finally realize I’m not a good enough writer (yet) despite journalism and MFA degrees.
I let others dictate my life. I previously placed myself in toxic work relationships because I, deep down, didn’t think I could do better, moving from one shit-bag entrepreneur to the next. I also don’t know who the hell I am, but that comes with the territory of being 29 (or a human). I clearly don’t need help in the self-loathing department.
I lost track of what I’m worth, forgot to take priority of my own happiness, and coasted along (aka struggled my ass off) for the better part of three years.
Now, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is, of course, a badass. She’s also a hot mess, something I can relate to and have even been called after friends viewed my Snapchat from the drunken night before. (That hair tie scene during the big fight was amazing — just sayin’.)
She’s clearly broken up about parting with Joker, but she’s also optimistic and ready to restart her life. That’s how I feel with my switch from content writing to pop culture—we all breathe sighs of relief that morph into optimism yet never know if we’re truly making the right decision.
While her friends are more out of necessity and join forces because of her situation—being on the run from Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) and causing destruction while creating countless enemies — I can relate to a makeshift family and friend group.
Over the past two years, I’ve slowly, parts intentionally and unintentionally, trimmed the fat from my life, surrounding myself with people who actually care about me and what I’m trying to do. Real people with common goals, beliefs, damage, and baggage. Not just people who are fun to hang out with on a Saturday night and especially not people who feel good about being with me solely because I’m like their jester they laugh at and gaslight while I politely shrug it off and smile.
Everyone has a different opinion about social media, but my makeshift family doesn’t care about a following and looking cool on rooftops. We don’t follow people so they’ll follow us back and build up our social media empire—we follow people who bring value to our lives, whether we personally know them or not, solely because they bring value to our lives (and if we do know them, then vice versa).
Although I don’t personally know Harley Quinn and she seems to enjoy putting on a show and craves attention (in our own ways, we all do), I’d like to believe she wouldn’t sell out and would create an organic following.
Now, do understand that I’m comparing myself to a fictional character who’s worlds different from me, not to mention I can’t fathom her problems or life in Gotham City. The day-to-day in Studio City is challenging enough. But isn’t that what people like most about movies and TV shows? Being able to find subtle similarities with the people on the big screen? That’s totally me, you think to yourself as your favorite character does something you wish you could do yet imagine yourself doing.
So, yeah, I guess that’s how this story relates to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. While watching Birds of Prey, for all it’s worth, I thought if Harley can make it through her messy life, I can make it through mine.