The Washington Post published two articles today that, in first glance, have nothing to do with one another. The first, a new film by actor Emilio Estevez. The second article, a story on what element of a college application essay may persuade an admissions officer.
A closer look reveals what a successful movie and a successful admissions essay have in common: kindness.
A “kindler, gentler” movie, as Washington Post writer Ann Hornaday writes, is causing positive reaction at the Toronto International Film Festival. And a twenty-year veteran of reading admissions essays writes:
“Kindness builds character, and colleges (and employers) care about character. Yes, grades, course rigor and test scores matter. But consider that most student applications will look very similar with just a straight numbers comparison. Kindness allows students to stand out.”
Consider the breakout sensation of Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the most successful biographic documentary in history on the beloved Mister Rogers.
We are witnessing a surge in the “kindness market.”
Our own Andy Peterson, quoted in the story, said, “ … there’s a demographic of viewers most studios overlook when composing their marketing plans — consumers who ‘are not trying to avoid the pain that’s present for most of us in our everyday lives by escaping it with sci-fi fantasy and comic superheroes — they want to cry, to feel something so deeply they almost can’t express it with words, to remember what it was like to be small and scared and vulnerable.’”
Stories of surprising empathy, radical generosity and compassion, conviction to do the opposite of what’s expected — these stories are gripping audiences (and admissions officers) because of the toxic nature of social media and public debate, mostly coming from high-up leaders who should know better.
A trickle-down anger is causing a bottom-up resurgence of kindness.
That’s a good thing for the box office … and America’s colleges and universities.
To read the full articles: