Does The Film 'Night School' Show How Destructive Shame Can Be?

Does The Film 'Night School' Show How Destructive Shame Can Be? 1

The other night, while I was at a friend's, I ended up watching a film called 'Night School'. This is a film with Kevin Hart in and, like most, if not all, of his films, it is a comedy.

At the beginning I thought that the film was a bit stupid, but as time went by, I gradually got into it. A number of the players put in good performances, with the guy who plays Jaylen being one of them.

From The Start

After going back in time to when Teddy (Kevin Hart) was at school, it goes forward to when he is dropping his partner off at work and, from the car that he is driving, it looks as though he has a high paying job. He then has the attractive girlfriend and he has the desirable car.

Shortly after this, Teddy is working as a salesman at a business that sells BBQs and other garden appliances. Before long, he ends up receiving some good news from the owner of the company.

Up and The Down

The owner tells Teddy that he is going to leave the company to him, and this is soon followed up by him proposing to his partner. Everything appears to be going in the right direction, only for him to accidentally blow up the building where he works.

These results in teddy looking for another job; however, this is not an easy task due to how badly he did at school. In order for him to be able to work at his ideal job, he has to go to night school to retake an exam.

One Big Cover Up

Even though he goes back to school so that he can retake the exam that he walked out on many years ago, he does not tell his partner. His partner has the impression that he has his ideal job and sees him as a capable guy.
Another thing he keeps to himself during this time is that he is working at a fast food place that sells chicken. Yet, although his partner is oblivious to all this, his parents know exactly what is going on.

Two Extremes

Unlike his mother, his father is anything but supportive, which makes it harder for Teddy. He learns that the reason he did not do very well at school is because he has learning difficulties.

Still, just because teddy has learning difficulties, it does not mean that he should feel bad about himself. After all, there is something wrong when it comes to his ability to process information, not something wrong with his being.

Toxic Shame

The fact he has hidden the fact that he has learning difficulties from his partner shows that he feels ashamed of this. Deep down, he reasonably believes that his partner would lose interest in him if this was something she was aware of.

To stop this from taking place, he has to create the impression that he has it all together. It is then not that he has a challenge when it comes to processing information; it is that there something inherently wrong with him.

Contributing Factors

When it comes to why Teddy believes that there is something inherently wrong with him, there are a few two reason that could be put forward. Firstly, there would have been the put downs that he received while he was at school and, secondly, there were all the put downs that he received from his father.

This would have been the person who was supposed to give him the support and guidance that he needed as a young boy to be able to develop into a confident and competent adult. Instead, his father undermined him at this important stage of his life.

It's All Over

His partner soon finds out about what is going on, thanks to the principle inviting her to the school. He told her that it was to redesign the school, when in reality it was to get his own back on Teddy for being more popular than he was at school.

Naturally, she is shocked to find Teddy there and ends up telling him that she does not care what he does for a living. He puts this behind him and does what he can to finally pass the exam that will allow him to move forward with his life.

The Final Speech

At the end of the film, and once it has become clear that he has finally passed his exam, he talks about why he has lied so much. He says that the reason he has pretended to be somebody else for so long it that has felt ashamed.

This caused him to forget about being honest and stopped him from being able to accept himself, and what played a part in being able to move on from this was having a teacher who believed in him. Unsurprisingly, he says that his dad said hurtful things to him 'out of love', and that this was a way to 'motivate' and 'push him'.

A Defense

I say unsurprisingly, as it is a normal reaction for someone who was poorly treated as a child to minimize and to try to rationalize what took place. Out of their need to be loyal to their parent and to avoid how they feel at a defect level, they can do their best to maintain their idealized image of their parent.

If they had realized that there was something wrong with their parent at this stage of their life and that there was not anything wrong with them, they would have felt powerless and it would have been too much for them to handle. By believing that there was something wrong with them, it would have allowed them to believe that they could change what was going on, theby stopping them from feeling powerless.

Final Thoughts

In the same way that acid will destroy metal, toxic shame will destroy someone's sense of self. Through believing that there is something inherently wrong with who they are, they will need to hide behind a false-self in order to try to be accepted by others.

Their value will end up being based on what they do and what they own, not on who they are. Said another way, they will not feel as though they have any value internally, which is why their value will be defined by what is taking place externally.

What do you think?

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