Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?
Superhero cinema is an oligopoly consisting of two prominent, towering brands: Marvel and DC. I’m a religious supporter of Marvel, but last year, I discovered my friend, Tom, was a DC fan. After a 20-minute vociferous quarrel about which was better, we decided to allocate one day to assemble coherent arguments and have a professional debate.
One week later, we both brought pages of notes, evidence cards, and I had my Iron-Man bobblehead for moral support. Our moderator – a Disney fan – sat in the middle with a stopwatch – open-policy style. I began the debate by discussing how Marvel accentuated the humanity of the storyline – such as Tony Stark’s transformation from an egotistical billionaire to a compassionate father – which drew in a broader audience because more people resonated with certain aspects of the characters. Tom rebutted this by capitalizing on how Deadpool was a duplicate of Deathstroke, Vision copied Red Tornado, and DC sold more comics than Marvel.
40 minutes later, we reached an impasse. We were out of cards, and we both made excellent points, so our moderator failed to declare a winner. Difficult conversations aren’t necessarily always the ones that make political headlines. Instead, a difficult discussion involves any topic with which we share an emotional connection. Over the years, I became so emotionally invested in Marvel that my mind erected an impenetrable shield, blocking out all other possibilities. Even today, we haven’t decided which franchise was better, but I realized that I was undermining DC for no reason apart from ignorance.
The inevitability of diversity suggests that it is our responsibility to understand the other person and what they believe. We may not always experience a change in opinions, but we can grant ourselves the opportunity to expand our global perspective. At Princeton, I will continue this adventure to increase my awareness as a superhero aficionado, activist, and student by engaging in conversations that require me to think beyond what I believe and viewing the world from others’ perspectives.
And yes, Tom is still my friend.