As our way of life in the United States is threatened more and more each day, the need for attention to self care grows — especially for those of us choosing to engage in social media and in protest, as fighting back against hatred when that hatred is in power can be a daunting, thankless task, and reading about issues like Donald Trump’s Muslim ban all day long with no break can put a strain on our mental health.
Therefore, we’re choosing to surround ourselves with entertainment that lifts us and inspires us whenever we’re not freezing our butts off at rallies and marches. Netflix, thankfully, has a whole lot of streaming options that are pitch perfect for those who need an extra dose of inspiration to keep fighting.
Check them out, and we’ll see you on the front lines once you’re feeling adequately inspired to take action.
We know it’s easy to feel powerless when you’re up against an institution as powerful as the US government, which is why this 2016 Oscar winner — based on a true story, of course — is a perfect choice for anyone who is feeling discouraged.
In Spotlight, a small team of dedicated investigative journalists for the Boston Globe takes on the all-powerful Roman Catholic church and wins, exposing both decades of sex abuse from priests and a massive, high-reaching conspiracy to cover it up. It’s definitely not easy subject matter, but seeing the little guys actually win for once is incredible — and given the current attacks from our president on the Fifth Estate, it’s an important reminder of what good journalism can do for the world.
2 To Kill a Mockingbird
One of the most important, celebrated, and beloved works of American literature, the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird also endures for a reason. Atticus Finch doesn’t win his trial against racist Mayella Ewell and her racist family in the very very racist 1930s American South, but he tries, openly defying white supremacy and the norms of his very small Alabama town in the process.
It makes him a pariah, but he endures, making Atticus a great reminder of the importance of standing up for causes that don’t directly involve you.
Nothing will want you to bolt from your living room and protest like 13th, Ava DuVernay’s powerful, bone-chilling documentary about how the United States criminal justice system is effectively perpetuating slavery via the mass incarceration of black people. It’s not a feel-good story since this is still a massive problem, but the work people are doing to fight for reform and save lives is the very definition of inspiring. And you can join them in real life which, you know, is pretty awesome.
No one stands up to rally for a social cause in Dope, but this story about three black self-described “geeks” fighting to survive their crime-ridden Inglewood, California neighborhood with street smarts and intellect is inspiring in its own right. Education, class, and privilege are explored with a deft touch, but the film is also very, very funny, making it one of the more light-hearted, feel-good films on the list.
5 The African Doctor
This French comedy-drama about a, well, African Doctor and his family moving from Zaire to the small village of Marly-Gomont in the north of France in the ’70s, then dealing with racism, distrust, and misunderstanding from its residents, is a great reminder of why immigration is so important in creating a thriving economy. It also features a small community getting over their hatred and rallying behind a foreign family fleeing a dictatorship, so yeah, we pretty much need this in our lives right now.
6 Short Term 12
In Short Term 12, Brie Larson’s character does everything in her power to better the lives of others. Not by running for office or arguing cases for the ACLU or even protesting, but by quietly working as supervisor of a group home for troubled teenagers, putting everything she has into helping them out.
This movie makes it clear that, even though it’s easy to get overwhelmed by just how many things are broken in this world, focusing on one thing you care about a whole lot and fighting to fix that one thing is a great way to tackle social change.
If you can get past the whole Mel Gibson thing — and the bloody ending, of course — then revisiting the story of William Wallace bravely leading the First War of Scottish Independence might be a good idea. Because even though we have our issues with our current administration and their leadership decisions, at least they can’t legally quarter us when we decide to rebel against them.
Hey, it’s the little things, man.
Zootopia is a feel-good Disney movie about a bunny cop and a fox con artist teaming up to uncover a conspiracy led by a sheep, sure, but it also contains a powerful message on the dangers of prejudice and xenophobia.
9 The Jungle Book
Human world got you down? Same. But lucky for us, nothing is an inspirational as the majesty of Mother Nature, making the 2016 Jungle Book remake the perfect film for someone who wants to escape 2017 politics, and also feel super, duper inspired by creatures from Planet Earth.
10 BONUS: Parks and Recreation
Okay, okay. Parks and Recreation isn’t a movie. But when it comes to scrappy, everyday humans rising up against their government overlords to fight for a greater good — like a Harvest Festival, for example — no one beats Leslie Knope. For seven seasons, Leslie crusades to help the people in her small Indiana town even when they don’t want said help, and treat her like total garbage for her efforts. Still, she perseveres, and eventually her efforts pay off in one of the happiest sitcom endings we’ve ever seen.