Shrek, in my opinion, is one of the greatest movies ever. Not only for its spectacular animation style, but for its story, its characters, and most importantly, it teaches people of all ages some great life lessons. It even played a role that was somewhat similar to me as I grew up. I recently came across an article written by the famous youtube subscriber, Smosh, titled “5 Serious Life Lessons We Learned From “Shrek.” After reading that article, I now strongly believe that Shrek plays an important role within Autistic individuals, and that is why I would like to take the time to compare Shrek with Autism. So thank you Smosh.
First I’d like to give a brief introduction of how Shrek impacted me. When Shrek first came out, I was just a little kid, and was home schooled in a very small town, so regrettably, I never got to see it in theaters. However, when my family owned it on video, it became a non-stop movie for me and my siblings. When I first saw Shrek, I didn’t really pay attention to the story or its meaning, I was just interested in the animation and the action, and that’s just all I cared about when I was a kid. But as I got older, I started to get a better grasp on the meaning of life, and then I finally understood Shrek’s real purpose. In the Fall of 2013, I had the opportunity to perform in Shrek the Musical at the Elgin Opera House. Never thought that would ever happen to me. I played Lord Farquaad’s Captain of the Guards, a fun part for me, because I got to stand tall, order fairy tale creatures around, and stand alongside Farquaad during his hilarious acts. Also because my costume resembled a Cheese Grater to most people, ever where I go, people will always know me as “Captain Cheese Grater.” I also played the Bishop, who marries Farquaad and Fiona, and I parodied the Impressive Clergyman from the Princess Bride, which brought a lot of laughter to audiences.
|Here I am as Lord Farquaad's Captain of the Guards.|
|Me as the Captain of the Guard, confronting Pinocchio the Puppet|
|Me as the Bishop|
Discovery of Shrek:
At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to a Big, Green, and physically intimidating ogre named Shrek. Shrek’s background is something of a mystery, however, in the musical adaptation, he was sent away from his parents when he was 7 years old because it was an ogre tradition. Throughout most of Shrek’s life, he is seen traveling alone, or screamed at, or teased by passers-by. He’s been called mean things like ugly, and stupid. Shrek may seem intimidating to most people, but he actually is a peaceful creature, and never has any intention of hurting anyone, although he performs acts that seem threatening to people, such as roaring at a mob to scare them away, or putting up signs to stay away. But he just wants to live his life in isolation and be left alone, because he cannot stand the way the world judges him or treats him. When people saw Shrek and judged him badly, they all thought that he would never fit in the real world or have a chance at life.
Discover of me as an Autistic Person.
Here’s how it all began for me. At age 4, I was diagnosed with Autism, although I was suspected at 18 months. As I grew up, I struggled with learning, socializing, I screamed a lot when I was young and threw tantrums when I was angry, and that was intimidating to most people. I said things that were offensive to people, although my intention was not to be offensive, I just didn’t understand certain words or actions that affect people. People teased me a lot because of my faults, like struggling to learn, the way I talked. People called me stupid. I wanted to live in isolation like Shrek did, because I could not stand the way my surroundings were treating me, and people never thought that I would stand a chance in this world. They even told my Mom when I was 4 years old that I would never grow up, become independent, or graduate from school.
Shrek’s Own World:
Some people, or any people, believe that living on their own in their own world or fantasy is the best to live life and escape your troubles. This appears to be the same for Shrek, and for an Autistic person like me. There are pros and cons to living by yourself, in your own world. For Shrek, he lives along, far away from the real world. Hardly interacts with anyone at all. He has his own home, his own swamp, which is green and murky, and contains small and big ponds of muddy water that uses to bathe in, or relax, and different kinds of species, like a slug that Shrek uses for toothpaste. This may be living the dream for Shrek, however, when people see Shrek living his life like this, they think he is disgusting, and strange.
My Own World.
I have lived in my own fantasy world all my life, and still do. What I physically live in is what other people normally live in, but it’s what goes inside my mind that I mainly live in. I was Homeschooled most of my childhood life because schools did not have the patience or knowledge to educate somebody like me. I never had many opportunities to interact with others. I always remained at home. When I’m alone, I like to picture myself in different places, something with a paradise image. I like to picture myself in some of my favorite movies, or as different characters, however in order for me to put that thought in my mind, I have to physically act it out, because it’s hard for me to sit and daydream all day. If I use my body to stimulate the image I want to live in, it becomes easier and joyful for me. However, when people see me living this way, they think I’m weird and crazy.
Moving into the real world for Shrek:
In every person’s life, there will always be a time where they have to leave their comfort zone and face the real world, sometimes the good, but also the dark side of it. In the movie Shrek, the green ogre finds his life interrupted when his swamp is filled with many fairy-tale characters who are exiled there by order of the antagonist, Lord Farquaad. Since Shrek cannot enjoy the quiet happy life he aspires, he has no choice but to leave his swamp and confront Lord Farquaad to remove the fairy-tale creates from his swamp. However, in order to complete his goal, Shrek has to overcome some obstacles. Most people saw Shrek as a hideous beast with no knowledge, or feelings. When he reaches Lord Farquaad’s Castle, all the people in the kingdom, including Farquaad, gasp in disgust and fear. People also try to gain up on Shrek to defeat him. Throughout the climax of the story, Shrek is sent to rescue Princess Fiona from the fiery keep of a dragon, he may have no problem with crossing a footbridge over a lake of lava, or battling a fire breathing dragon. But what he does have problems with, is being accepted by those around him, Fiona as well, who was hoping that a handsome Princess would rescue her and bring her true romance, but is shocked and disappointed that he is an ogre, and treats him scornfully.
Moving into the real world for Autistic People:
Everybody has to grow up someday, especially Autistic people. That means they too will have to leave their comfort zone and face the real world. Moving into the real world was a very hard task for me. When it was time for me to be public schooled, I had to overcome some major obstacles as well. This included facing people who strongly resented me because of my autism. I have tried to hide the fact that I was autistic, but was never successful at it. Just like with Shrek, most people saw me as an individual with no knowledge or feelings, and thought it would be fun to gain up on me and bully me. This included people who would sneak up and try to chock me until I passed out, call me names like stupid or faggot, make fun of the way I talked, avoided me, and singled me out.
“Ogres are like Onions…They both have Layers”
When I first heard that line “Ogres are like Onions” I had no idea what Shrek meant by that, and of course neither did Donkey. I couldn’t grasp the meaning of how they both have layers. But now as I grew up and matured, and researched it, I’ve been able to have a better understanding of this quote. So I’m going to define the meaning of how Ogres are like Onions, and Yes, I’m going to explain what that has to do with Autism.
You see, in Shrek, people see Ogres as large, cruel monsters, with super strength, and if you prick them, it barely harms them. Some people see those with autism as awkward human beings with little knowledge. But according to Shrek “There is a lot more to Ogres than people think.” According to me, “There is a lot more to autistic people than people think.”
We are always gonna rundowns with horrible people in our lives. A big kid could bully a bunch of little kids at school, your coworker could be lazy during work, a cashier could snap at customers. Why? We’re not always gonna know why, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have lives. There is always a reason for everything. The kid that bullies other kids could have been mistreated by his father, the lazy coworker could have gone on a date with a really nice person and have a good time but has to work instead, and the angry cashier could have had a death in the family and is having a difficult time containing her emotions. The point is, people have deep emotional layers that torments them, and they become so desperate to escape those emotional layers.
Shrek was tired of being alone, judged, and rejected because of how different he is than others, and he feels that the only way for him to escape from his troubles is to chase people away, put up signs around his swamp, and live a quiet isolated life. Sometimes he would have to throw people into air, or roar at those who would gain up on him. As for me and autism, I was tired of being bullied, judged harshly, rejected, and being by myself a lot, and I felt that the only way for me to escape from my troubles was to hide in a little corner, fantasize my favorite movies, or picture myself in a land of paradise. Sometimes I threw aggressive tantrums when I got angry, or screamed a lot.
As you can see, these masks that Shrek and I put on every day was our safe house, where we felt comfortable. We try to cover up our problems by acting out. We hide our problems in different layers of our minds to secure all the bad thoughts and memories so that nobody can find them and use them to their advantage.
Now I’m not saying that this was a good way for me and Shrek to cope with our problems, but if you see something about another person you don’t like, do you think that you are gonna resolve that by fighting that person, or insulting them, or rejecting them?
Why people behave the way they do, we are never gonna know by just brushing them off. A better way to resolve this is by maybe talking to the person. Find out the deeper meaning of their actions.
In the movie Shrek, Donkey had no problem with asking Shrek what his problem was. Shrek explained that his whole trouble is that people who took one look at him would shout “Ahh! Help! Run! A big stupid ugly ogre” and judge him before even knowing him. That’s similar to me, people used to take one look at me think I was stupid, and judged me before even knowing me.
So to put it delinquently, this quote plays an important role in our lives, Ogres have layers, Autistic people have layers, we all have layers, and we are all human.
Accepting people for who they are:
There are two kinds of acceptance: Accepting others as they are, and accepting others as how we want them to be.
Throughout most of the movie, people have focused on the negative aspects of Shrek and never saw the good in him. Things really began to change when Shrek stepped foot outside his swamp into his real world, and there were benefits to that. Shrek spent his entire journey with an annoying, talking donkey. Although there were some hot-headed moments between the two, at the end of the journey, we learn that our best friend is not only someone who accepts us for our faults, but brings to us what we need. Shrek learns to look on the bright side of life by realizing that he was at fault by his actions, and that good deeds was the way to redeem himself, and Donkey has a sense of family and companionship. Fiona had spent her life locked away in a tower, guarded by a fire breathing dragon, and never would’ve found true love if Shrek hadn’t come and rescue her. Although she dreamt of marrying Prince Charming, she learned to accept Shrek as an ugly ogre, and helped him become accepted into the world. This teaches us that if we have to change who we are completely to be accepted by someone, we are with the wrong people.
Just like me and Autism. I never would’ve made it past college, and be able to pay off my bills, and support myself if I was never accepted by others. All it took was for me to spend some time with others and evolve, and now I can be almost anything.
If you look at Lord Farquaad’s example, you will be going down the wrong path. He tried to rid the world of Fairy Tale Creatures, and never cared to have ogres in his sight, just because they were different, and everything backfired on him where he ended up being swallowed by a dragon. Again, same with me, there’s people who have rejected me harshly, and mistreated me for who I was. I later heard rumors that some of those people ended up either jobless, or with gas pumping jobs, never finished school, did drugs, and have been to jail. This teaches us that if we are unable to accept others for who they are, we are rejecting ourselves and passing judgment on ourselves.
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DeProspero, J. (2014, Febuary 13). Five Life Lessons We Can Learn from Shrek. Retrieved from Parents: http://www.parents.com/blogs/fearless-feisty-mama/2014/02/13/joe-deprospero/five-life-lessons-we-can-learn-from-shrek/
Stefni Borchardt. (2013, Auhust 29). Quotes that Inspire Us. Retrieved from Voices of the world: http://www.voices-of-the-world.org/opinion/ogres-are-like-onions-they-both-have-layers/
Wikipedia. (2015, March 19). Wikipedia. Retrieved from Shrek (character: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrek_(character)