What’s up y’all, welcome back to Inside Maddie’s Mind. We took a brief hiatus last week – I can’t lie, midterms essentially made me “head empty, no thoughts” and that unfortunately makes it hard to write a column about the current happenings of one’s mind. Nothing was going on up there, no one was home, but now we’re back and quite possibly better than ever this week. With that being said, the mini-opinion of the week is that it’s okay to take a break when you need it. Separation brings clarity and stepping away from something can do wonders.
But I’m not writing another self-compassion oriented column this week – though that is a niche I certainly feel at home in. In my time off, I’ve been unironically thinking about the Disney Channel Original Movie “Lemonade Mouth,” which is actually based on a 2007 novel of the same name by Mark Peter Hughes – something I wasn’t aware of until I started researching for this column. Though it’s admittedly been awhile since I’ve seen the movie all the way through, we’ll always be more than a band, and I’m starting to think the movie is underappreciated. I will gladly be the one to say this: We don’t talk about “Lemonade Mouth” enough.
If you’re anything like me, you idolized Hayley Kiyoko’s iconic character, Stella Yamada, upon first watch. She’s a defiant young woman who gets in trouble at school in the very beginning of the movie for wearing a shirt that says “QUESTION AUTHORITY.” A character that is parallel to Alex Russo from “Wizards of Waverly Place” or Jade West from “Victorious,” Stella is the girl who won’t deal with anyone’s bullshit other than her own. It’s a strength worthy of envy, for sure.
Really, she has a point. At the risk of sounding like your local conspiracy theorist, we should be questioning authority. Even when not even specifically questioning authority, we should be asking questions in general.
As a general rule of thumb, if you find yourself wondering why something is the way it is, you probably aren’t the only one curious about it. If more than one person is asking – or contemplating asking – this might be indicative of a larger problem. However, problems do not get solved if people don’t talk about them. If everyone is too scared to speak up or ask questions, there will be no change.
Not everyone is born with the bold attitude of Stella from “Lemonade Mouth.” It doesn’t come naturally to most. If you are never faced with a reason to question why things are the way that they are, you won’t. We have to take active steps to engage critically with our environments and the systems currently in place in said environments.
For instance, I can say that I really am only aware of what is happening at the University of Connecticut because I work in various roles at The Daily Campus. This isn’t a DC plug – though you all should, at the very least, read your student newspaper – but merely an example. If, at my job, I were not forced to critically engage and evaluate the UConn administration and how they do not operate with student interests’ at the forefront of their minds, I wouldn’t think about it at all. Had I just been an undergraduate student that was not consistently writing and reading about what the board of trustees and other powerful groups at UConn are doing, I would be just that, a complicit undergraduate student. Ignorance – while it tends to hold a negative connotation – at its core really only refers to a lack of knowledge or information. It’s bliss, sure, but it doesn’t benefit anyone long term.
Long story short, we can all take a page out of Stella’s book. Question authority. Question societal structures. Question bodies of power and institutional practices. You don’t have to just accept the way things are – and if you do ask questions, you have the ability to make change and see a more equitable world. Find your voice, and use it.