Lessons I learned from movies that prepared me to live in Washington, D.C.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 26, 2019

Before packing up every pair of shoes I couldn’t bear to live without and moving across the country a few weeks ago, I had never been to Washington D.C. My exposure to the city had been limited to what I’d seen on screen. Many iconic movies take place in the nation’s capital, and while they’re not perfect depiction of real life, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from our heroes in the cinema.
  1. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde
It’s probably tabooed to start a list with a sequel, but I watched this movie at least 10 times since deciding to move to D.C. In this movie, everybody’s favorite Harvard Law grad goes to Washington to work on a bill against animal testing named after her beloved chihuahua. Elle Woods walks onto Capitol Hill sparkling and pink (as she does most things) but has to face more than a few challenges before she can put Bruiser’s Bill into action.
This movie is almost as good as School House Rock when it comes to learning about how to pass a bill, but the lessons about how to conduct yourself in a political setting are invaluable. Elle sets a perfect example for the golden rule of getting sh*t done in D.C.: Network! Elle uses her sorority network as well as personal similarities to make connections with Congressmen and women. The best line in the movie is when she unknowingly offers a doggy-poop-bag to Congressman Marks (who ends up helping her with Bruiser’s bill later on) and says “What kind of world would this be if we didn’t help each other out every once in a while?” Most people look at networking as “what can this person do for me?” But if you really want someone to value you, you have to show them what you can do for them. Also, what would this world be if we didn’t help each other out every once in a while?
  1. National Treasure
“National Treasure” tells the story of historian turned treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicholas Cage) as he hunts for the secret treasure using the map written on the back of the Declaration of Independence. At the time of publication, there’s no proof that this movie isn’t a very well-made documentary, so choose to believe what you want.
The biggest take away from this epic story is the teamwork. Nicholas Cage could not have broken into the National Archives and stolen the Declaration of Independence alone, he needed the help of his friends (and frenemies). So, when you’re planning your next heist, don’t be afraid to ask for help! When in D.C., you'll be tasked with a lot of challenging and new things. Everybody has different skill sets and can help you in different ways--even people you may not necessarily like.
  1. Evan Almighty
Evan Baxter is a newly elected congressman who God Himself decides to put to the test. Evan is challenged to build an ark and become a modern-day Noah in order to stop the legislation proposal of a senior congressman who Evan is trying to impress. Although this movie has religious themes, I think the overall message is something everyone can benefit from.
Evan must go against his personal goals in order to stay true to his morals. When asking a mentor at home for advice before moving to Washington, I asked the question “What do I do if someone asks me to do something I don’t agree with?” He very adamantly told me to never go against my morals. It’s easy to get caught up in the party-politics and wanting to impress superiors who can help you with your career, but don’t ever do something you know is wrong and don’t ever change your morals to fit into someone else’s mold.
  1. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Forget all the lies you heard about sequels being terrible, because here’s another great one. After some of his friends from the first movie are mistakenly shipped to the Smithsonian, Larry Daley travels to Washington D.C. to save them. However, the magic tablet that brings museums to life at night is also mistakenly shipped to the Smithsonian, bringing to life the entire National Mall full of museums (and one great memorial).
This movie offers only a small glimpse into the wonder that lies in the museums of D.C. There is a wealth of knowledge and history in the National Mall. The Smithsonian museums are all completely free and have everything from aviation and science to art and gardens (even a zoo). The paid museums are also worth a visit and offer more specialized areas of interests, such as journalism and espionage. You can also tour buildings such as the Library of Congress and the Capital for free. While you’re here, take some time to be a tourist. You might not have a supernatural experience like “Night at the Museum,” but you’ll almost certainly find some magic.
  1. My Date with the President’s Daughter
This D-Com is a cult classic for every Gen-Z girl. Duncan takes the stir crazy First Daughter on a date that leads to wild hijinks and high stakes. My take-away from this one is simple: be open to new experiences. Washington D.C. is full of interesting and diverse people, go meet them!

Hannah Falcon
Office of Congressman Kevin Brady
Washington, D.C. | fall 2019