Film Friday: Life Lessons from Empire Records

Film Friday:  Life Lessons from Empire Records

Happy Rex Manning Day! Empire Records, open til midnight, this is Mark.

I’ve always wanted to work at Empire Records (Moyle, 1995). Since I first watched it, I knew this is the type of fun, supportive workplace I wanted to work. I watched this movie everyday in high school, on repeat. Yep, I binged watched this (and Kevin Smith’s 1995, Mallrats) while I completed my daily homework. I knew all the words and lyrics to this life chagning film. I was introduced to it by my cousins and only years after it first came out, was when I fell in love.

I even had an encounter with the filmmaker and got my DVD copy signed by him, pictured below.

If you don’t know anything about this film or what Rex Manning Day is, take a look at this snippet from Cinemablend for a quick summary.

This fictitious celebration, which is acknowledged on April 8, is rooted in the 1995 film Empire Records, a movie that dates itself as much by its setting as by its glorious soundtrack. The film follows a group of young record store employees as they go about their work and prepare the store for the arrival of a once-popular pop star Rex Manning, while also tackling their own personal drama. There’s a bigger plot involving the store’s financial troubles and the staff’s determination to keep it open, but for the sake of today’s date, we’ll focus on Manning.

Upon rewatching this film, I listened to the words more than I ever did. There are more life lessons than I originally was aware. Below are quotes from the film, my thoughts and questions to prompt for journaling and personal reflection.

So as Lucas would say, The time to hesitate is through.

I wonder if I will be held responsible for this?

The answer typically will be Yes. It may seem so simple that a person has responsibilities and consequences to their actions but I think it is so easier said than understood. When we question ourselves and truly ask what we have control over, or is willing to take on, and take personal responsibilities for our actions (choices, reactions, actions etc.) we may see that this is something we overlook within ourselves.

Do you blame the metro for your tardiness even thought you were the one that left late? I know I’m guilty of this. Ever swept something ‘under the rug’ in hopes of not having to deal with something (other’s feelings, a task etc.) I know I am guilty of this. I don’t think I am the only one that doesn’t always take personal responsibility.

Reflection: Consider taking control of moments in your life you don’t think you have power over. You are responsible for your well being, your attitude and actions towards yourself and others. Where are you taking responsibility in your life? Where are you not?

I do not regret the things I’ve done, but those I did not do.

A hot quote to take from this film. I definitely carried it with me since I first watched it.

Reflection: When you look back in your life, are there events you wish you did? What could you do now so that a year (or certain a passage of time) you could ask yourself the same question and know you won’t regret what you tried.

I want to tell her I love her, now how do I do that? …What you want written instructions?

I’ve always said, we are not given a “how to live” handbooks when we are born. It’s a learn-on-the-job, type of situation. If there could be a Guide to Living, there would be so many authors and versions! As much as we want to live life as if we’ve done it before, the irony is that we are all doing the research while trying to write our own guidebooks.

Reflection: If you could title your biography (current to date) what would be the title it? What are 3 lessons you would you have wanted to know?

A little bit of focus, would make me very happy.

Having direction in life goes a long way. It doesn’t have to be specific at this point. Unless you do know it. I think it is more important to figure out how you want to feel and what activities that create the opportunity to exercise that. If you are uncertain what that is, don’t fret, it will take time. It definitely took me a while and had to hear it from others to put all the pieces together. I’ve even had the experience of thinking I wanted one thing, and realized I didn’t!  Other people see you differently than you see yourself. Use it to your advantage if you are uncertain about your future and ask what they can see you doing. You don’t need to take their answers literally, just consider the re-occurring themes.

Reflection: How do you want to feel when you reach your goal/achievement?

Find yourself, I’m right here!

Humans have been asking the questions: who am I and what is the meaning of life? Man’s Search for Himself (Rollo May and I am sure others have written on this topic) is one’s constant journey and one where lessons are constantly learned. So, consider your search over. You are where you are meant to be. Understanding and accepting where you are is a great place to start, rather than wishing you were elsewhere. That reality doesn’t exist.

Also, to find yourself is to focus on your own path.So stay in your lane, let others make their mistakes and carve what is right for them. You’ve got your own story to write, stick to it.

Reflection: You’re right here. Take an inhale and exhale. No questions or activity follows this, because it isn’t always about digging deep and answering questions. It is also just about being where you are, with who you are and what you already know. Celebrate that.

In this life, there are nothing but possibilities.

Enough said.

I have to tell Cory I love her by 1:37 this afternoon… That’s an excellent time.

It is always an excellent time to tell someone you love them. Just don’t be a creep 🙂 Remember, the time to hesitate is through. Action, baby!

Reflection: Is there anyone you can reach out to, to let them know you are thinking of them?

I don’t feel I need to explain my art to you, Warren.

You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. I had a convo with a friend who was also educated in art theory. We recognized that we are trained to explain ourselves. And this isn’t just from school, I saw this in my childhood too. Not everything needs an explanation, or justification, especially when it’s from your internal dialogue. This raises the term guilty pleasure.  Why does this pleasure need to have guilt involved?

Reflection: What do you consider pleasurable that you may have considered to be a guilty one? Can you take the guilt out of it?

So I guess nobody really has it all together. I feel like I should welcome you into the neighbourhood or something.

I love this. Not everyone has it together, even if they look like they do. Don’t be fooled. We are all the same.

Reflection: Is there a story you could share with someone about your personal experience that you can relate to someone else’s? There are a lot of brave souls sharing their stories on Instagram. Perhaps you can share yours or send a encouraging comment on someone’s story to let them know they are not alone in that experience.


So there you have it, my life lessons from Empire Records. Let me know what you think and if you have any lessons learned from Empire or your fave movie.

Damn the man, Save the Empire!

Say no more, mon amore.





2 thoughts on “Film Friday: Life Lessons from Empire Records”

  • Thank you; I love this. Thrilled to see I’m not the only Canadian who loves this film. It’s unfortunate there aren’t more Rex Manning Day events in Canada. I’m in Nova Scotia and I’m devastated by the lack of people to celebrate this day with 🙁

    • Woo, another fan! I’m celebrating it with you in spirit! A few years ago TIFF Lightbox was showing the film as a way to celebrate it. It was really neat to watch it on the big screen.
      Thanks for commenting and visiting us!

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