“Akeelah and the Bee” is a movie that transcends the limitations of its average plot and linear storyline to reveal valuable and intrinsic lessons that have been forgotten by people at present in their pursuit to be “winners.” In a sense, it is a critique of the current predilection of American society to place value in “winning” whether, in school, work or in life wherein being a winner is all that matters. The main theme of the movie is not the concept of winning; rather, it helps audiences to understand that one must win for the right reasons.
About the Movie
The movie, “Akeelah and the Bee” stars Keke Palmer (Akeelah Anderson), Lawrence Fishburn (Dr. Joshua Larabee) and Angela Bassett (Tanya). It was released in 2006 with a G rating and featured the character of Akeelah who through her efforts is about to enter the national spelling bee.
The movie shows the various trials she has overcome to reach this goal and shows the power of bonds between family, friends and the members of a community (Black Movie Awards Names ‘Akeelah & The Bee’ Outstanding Motion Picture Of The Year, 32).
Akeelah and the Community Members
The reason why Akeelah seemed to be upset with the comments of the community members was that they were placing far too much pressure on her to succeed and become a winner. It was this pressure to succeed for an activity that was supposed to be fun that resulted in her displeasure towards their comments.
Akeelah appears to be upset with the members of the community since they are placing too much value on winning rather than on her enjoying herself.
Tanya and the Self- Fulfilling Prophecy
When it came to Tanya and the self-fulfilling prophecy, what you have to understand is that constantly re-iterating the same concept over and over again to yourself would, over time, change an individual’s perception in such a way that in their eyes it becomes the truth. As such, when she said she felt out of place, it was her faults which lead to her becoming poverty stricken.
Akeelah and her Younger Brother
Earlier on in the movie, Akeelah seemed to have “moved away” from her family and concentrated more on her spelling bee activities. As a result, her younger brother resented her for it and was unwilling to help her. It was only when Akeelah started becoming closer to her family that her brother relented and began to help her.
The 50,000 Coaches
The reference to the 50,000 coaches that was stated by Akeelah’s mother refers to the various residents of the neighborhood that they live in. The coaches are her principal, teachers, family members, neighbors, and classmates that Akeelah has encountered throughout the movie and have now become her helpers so that she can practice spelling a wide variety of possible words and phrases.
Changes in Self-Perception
Once Akeelah relies on the 50,000 coaches, the concept of winning changes abruptly for her wherein she is in it more for the experience than the promise of a potential reward. As seen through her interactions with Javier, Dr. Larabee and other members of the spelling bee, Akeelah values the experience of being a part of the spelling bee more so than the concept for winning. Thus, her self-perception changes from valuing winning above all to realizing that forming lasting relationships with other people is the best way to live life and enjoy it.
Changes in Georgia’s Self-Perception
Throughout the movie, it can be seen that her self-perception was concentrated on believing that both her and Akeelah were on equal ground. It was only when Akeelah started distinguishing herself through her spelling talent that Georgia grew jealous and got angry with Akeelah. At the end, when Akeelah invited Georgia to go with her to the spelling bee that she realized the value of friendship and her jealousy went away.
Akeelah’s Success and the Social Perception
Through Akeelah’s triumphs, it is shown that a person does not need to come from a wealthy/middle-class background or study at an exclusive private school to become a success. For members of her community, Akeelah is a symbol of what can be achieved through hard work, perseverance and faith in being able to succeed.
Based on what has been stated in this paper so far, it can be seen that the main theme of the movie is not the concept of winning, rather, it helps audiences to understand that one must win for the right reasons. A person should strive to be victorious not because they are forced to, not because of the desires of others; rather, it should be something that is based on what you desire to do.
For Akeelah, it was the experience of being with people that loved her and cared for her that was at the heart of her actions. As such, even before she was given an award at the spelling bee, she had already technically “won” because she came to understand such an intrinsic lesson that many of us have forgotten.
“Black Movie Awards Names ‘Akeelah & The Bee’ Outstanding Motion Picture Of The Year.” Jet 110.18 (2006): 32. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.