I originally wanted to write something that celebrated all that is good and wonderful about sweet and beautiful Amy Poehler. She’s someone special because she’s exactly who she is and doesn’t mind looking stupid when she does it. I remember reading an interview with her and something she said stuck with me: “No one looks stupid when they’re having fun.” You have to look up to someone who thinks that way because, I mean, there is not downside to living like that.
What makes me fangirl even more over Amy Poehler is how she has brought all that fun-loving, positive energy to the strongest and most well-rounded female character on television, Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation. I got to thinking about role models and why Leslie is one of the best ones we have right now when I watched Election over the weekend.
My brother and I have a tradition where we each pick a movie the other hasn’t seen and watch it together (it’s mainly so we actually hang out now that he’s moved out). This week, I picked Election. If you’re not familiar with Election (and if you’re not, go get familiar), it’s a look at the dirty world of politics concentrated on a high school election for class president. Reese Witherspoon absolutely kills as it overly ambitious, super focused candidate Tracy Flick – it’s one of her best roles to date.
When we finished the film, I looked over to big bro for what he thought because I’m always on my ‘annoying little sister looking for my big brother’s approval’ tip with things like this and it was pretty validating when he said that he liked it (he was giggling through out so I knew I was onto a winner). But it was when he said that Tracy reminded him of Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope that my work was done. I had raised my older brother well.
Leslie Knope is a Tracy Flick all grown up, but this time with added compassion! Sure, she’s as ambitious as the Flickster, but Poehler (and the Parks and Rec writers) show Leslie to be one of the most open, kind and inspiring characters on television.
What I learnt from Leslie Knope:
- That nothing is too big to achieve and if someone says it’s not going to happen, just keep going until you can prove them all wrong.
- Keep your friends close. The parks department is a lovable little family and Knope is right at the dysfunctional heart of it. There’s nothing that Leslie wouldn’t do for her co-workers/friends and what’s beautiful is that she’s usually not helping out for any kind of gain, just cause that’s what you do if you’re friends.
- Be exactly who you are, always, because no one looks stupid when they’re having fun. Leslie isn’t afraid to be an ambitious, big-hearted dork, though to be fair this is owed in part to her endearing obliviousness. But who couldn’t look up to someone who pays tuition for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (majoring in potions)'; who needs all 11 discs of Gossip Girl at the same time; who has a practise first date and then gets drunk on the real one while putting on an awesome English accent; who makes a mix for a stakeout and describes her ideal man as being a little similar to the Phantom of the Opera? Try and tell me that you haven’t done something (or thought of doing something) similar to at least ONE of those things… Right, I know you can’t.
- Go big for what and who you love… that’s the only way that the Knope knows how to operate.
I feel like young girls these days don’t have the best role models anymore – all they have to emulate are rich kids famous for nothing, starlets in and out of jail, gold diggers and bitches. I mean, have you seen Toddlers & Tiaras? Terrifyingly watchable, but we need to get these girls enrolled in the Pawnee Rangers (formerly Pawnee Godesses) as soon as we can get all that make up off… so who knows how long.
Just ask What Would Leslie Knope Do?, because she’s Leslie f***ing Knope.
Knope for 2012. Just sayin’.
Image via Femistorian