Film/TV Sociology

Sidney Poitier as a Charismatic Leader

Sadly, actor Sidney Poitier passed away yesterday at 94 years of age. In memory of him, I am publishing an academic essay I wrote for a sociology class in October 2019 that discusses him. I have edited the tenses to reflect his passing. 

Compare and Contrast – Two Leaders in Diplomacy

This essay compares Shirley Temple Black and Sidney Poitier as charismatic leaders in diplomacy. I will showcase this using the characteristics of Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, and Individualized Consideration. These two public figures are most alike in terms of Idealized Influence and Inspirational Motivation. Conversely, they differ in terms of Intellectual Stimulation and Individualized Consideration. 

Shirley Temple Black was a successful child actress, and later a diplomat. She was the United States ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia and Chief of Protocol of the United States. Sidney Poitier is a successful actor and director. He also served as the non-resident Bahamian ambassador to Japan from 1997-2007 and the ambassador from the Bahamas to UNESCO from 2002 to 2007.

Shirley Temple Black, screencap by Mary Miracle

Shirley Temple Black used Idealized Influence quite well as a positive role model. She had been seen as a role model since she was a famous actress during her childhood. Her persona was considered extremely positive in Ghana. From what I’ve read, this was unusual. The public adored her. She was often photographed in their newspaper when she visited. However, she was shrewd when working as the face of a movement. She once had to tell a coworker not to interrupt her when he was trying to “amplify what she was saying” during interviews. She told him to never do so again and that “there was only one star on the stage” during her interviews. 

Sidney Poitier was also adept at Idealized Influence. He came off as humble in interviews. However, he constructed a heroic, intelligent, noble, sensitive brand as an actor. He created an idealized perfect man for others to aspire to. This is even more commendable, as this was on the cusp of the Civil Rights movement. He is considered the first black leading man in Hollywood. That’s a lot to carry, but he did so with grace.

Sidney Poitier in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, screencap by Mary Miracle

Shirley Temple Black did well with Inspirational Motivation. She was seen as hugely inspiring to her followers. It was said that she cultivated contacts well and that her calls were always taken. People couldn’t seem to turn her down. She was seen as inspirational by many world leaders. Then-President Bill Clinton pronounced that “She has to be the only person who both saved the entire movie studio from failure and also contributed to the fall of communism. From her childhood to the present day, Shirley has always been an ambassador for what’s best in America”

Sidney Poitier is also a master of Inspirational Motivation. Then-President Barack Obama once stated, “It has been said that Sidney Poitier does not make movies. He makes milestones — milestones of artistic excellence. Milestones of American progress.” In 1963, Poitier inspired many when he became the first African-American to win the Academy Award for best actor. In an interview with Poitier, Oprah once said “In my spirit I knew that because you had won the Oscar, I too could do something special—and I didn’t even know what it was. I thought, If he can be that, I wonder what I can be.” Poitier has stated that he knew about his influence as “so much was riding on me as one of the first blacks out there”.

Sidney Poitier and President Barack Obama, screencap by Mary Miracle

When it comes to Intellectual Stimulation, Shirley Temple Black challenged her followers to think outside of the box. She encouraged those who protested. She was always making use of her charisma. She used a protest in Czechoslovakia to get to know the movers and shakers of that area. 

Sidney Poitier used Intellectual Stimulation in an entirely different way. He challenged whites to see African Americans as equals within the context of his films. At the same time, he was true to his upbringing. Poitier did not harbor any internalized racism. He’s said, “I had in mind what was expected of me—not just what other blacks expected but what my mother and father expected. And what I expected of myself”. However, he did realize the breadth of racism once he was exposed to it. He’s stated, “You’re gonna have to be twice as good as the white folks in order to get half as much”. Some saw his craft as almost boring. This came up in a well known article that referred to his acting style as “an antiseptic, one-dimensional hero”. His characters struck some as too admirable, and therefore not human enough. Some called him an “Uncle Tom”. At that same time, Poitier was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement. He even stood alongside protestors for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. Sidney Poitier’s career started by breaking race barriers in film, but he has acknowledged that “I am not all about race…I’ve had to find balance”.

Shirley Temple in The Little Princess, screencap by Mary Miracle

When it comes to Individualized Consideration, Shirley Temple Black was a master. When visiting foreign countries as a U.S. ambassador, she showed respect for the locals’ feelings by speaking their language. It has been reported that she always “made a point of saying welcome and thank you in local languages”. No matter the person’s social standing, she did not turn down photos when asked. She always seemed delighted to take photos with people anywhere, including the airport. Shirley Temple Black was not just the face of what she believed in. She also put in the work. It was not unusual for her to work 10 hour days and take the time to personally talk to people in the streets when campaigning for change. 

Sidney Poitier used Individualized Consideration differently. He has made a point to always sign autographs when asked as he does not want fans to experience the rejection that he once felt in their place. However, most of his followers’ needs have been addressed on a larger scale. In his roles, he exuded black pride. He turned down roles that contrasted with his values even when he needed the money.  He also believed that “we are a part of a single human family — regardless of race, religion or social status”. He has espoused the following, “While you are here, try to do the best you can with your life and be faithful to your values and principles. Be kind and respectful of others”.

Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love, screencap by Mary Miracle

In conclusion, I found that Shirley Temple Black and Sidney Poitier, as charismatic leaders in diplomacy, are most similar with regard to Idealized Influence and Inspirational Motivation. They differ greatly in terms of Intellectual Stimulation and Individualized Consideration. I believe that their differences can be attributed to their upbringing. Shirley Temple was born into a middle-class family in Santa Monica, California. Her mother promptly paid for her to attend a dance school. Though she was always a hard worker, she did not struggle for success. 

Conversely Sidney Poitier struggled for the first chunk of his life. He was born a preemie that his father assumed would die. He was born into extreme poverty on Cat Island in the Bahamas. His father was a dirt farmer. He did not receive much education or social interaction. At age 15, he left to find a better life. Finding segregation in Florida, he then moved to New York. He worked as a janitor in exchange for acting lessons. Their similarities may stem from them both being actors who are adept at public speaking. 

Overall, I believe that Shirley Temple Black best highlights the model I chose for the characteristics of a charismatic leader.  I believe that Poitier has made more of an impact in the United States. He made huge strides for the Civil Rights Movement. However, primarily in terms of a diplomatic charismatic leader, Shirley Temple Black had more opportunities to exercise these characteristics. Poitier’s work in diplomacy was brief and yielded very little during my research.


This piece was written over two years before Poitier’s passing. It was not written precisely to celebrate him, but rather to fit into an assignment for my university. We were given free rein on each piece to choose our leaders. I did choose and keep Poitier despite not being able to find as much on him politically as the other actor because I think he is very important overall in terms of change and rights in our country. I chose to neither use in-text citations or hyperlinks for my references as it flows better this way, but they are below.


A Tribute to Sidney Poitier – Hollywood Game Changer. (n.d.). Retrieved from

An exclusive interview: Sidney Poitier. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Jacobs, L. (2018, April 24). Sidney Poitier, 1967, and One of the Most Remarkable Runs in Hollywood History. Retrieved from

Jones, C. (2019, February 13). Grammys torture: How stars can learn from Sidney Poitier at the Oscars in these dire days of the acceptance speech. Retrieved from

Kennedy, L. (2016, May 6). From quiet life in Bahamas, a star was born. Retrieved from

Leadership Qualities of Shirley Temple: Remembering Shirley. (2014, February 12). Retrieved from

Miller, M. (2017, February 20). Sidney Poitier Turns 90: Inside the Actor, Activist and Diplomat’s Incredible Life. Retrieved from

Op-ed: The Littlest Rebel Shirley Temple Cheered a Nation and Modeled Independence for Girls. (2014, February 12). Retrieved from

Ryan, M. (1990, January 8). As Ambassador to Prague, Shirley Temple Black Watches a Rebirth of Freedom. Retrieved from

Shirley Temple Black: From the Good Ship Lollipop to the Ship of State. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Sidney Poitier. (2018, June 12). Retrieved from

Smith, N. M. (2011, May 3). A Gracious Sidney Poitier Honored by Friends, Peers and Devotees at 38th Chaplin Award Gala. Retrieved from

Winfrey, O. (2000, October). Oprah Talks to Sidney Poitier. Retrieved from

Griggs, B. (2022, January 7). Sidney Poitier, Oscar-winning actor and Hollywood’s first Black Movie Star, dies at 94. CNN. Retrieved January 7, 2022, from

Film/TV Movie Reviews

Is A Christmas Story the Best Christmas Movie?

Let’s talk about why A Christmas Story should be crowned the greatest Christmas movie. Holidays are ostensibly about family and the memories we make when we are with our family. The plot of A Christmas Story is not a big, showy production. It is simply about young Ralphie’s Christmas with his family and his hopes for the perfect Christmas present. Remember your childhood? Remember when you thought about what you would get for Christmas for at least a month? This is the highly effective hook of A Christmas Story. The story is told through the unique story device of an adult Ralphie providing the voiceover in retrospect.

As a child, my father sat the family down to watch A Christmas Story. I was initially uninterested. In the years holidays that ensued and the highly effective 24-hour cable marathons, pre-cutting the cord, watching A Christmas Story at least biannually became one of my family’s traditions.

This film is intentionally dated and intentionally cheesy. It is a way to connect to the child you were. When I watch this film with my father, it takes him back to his childhood. This is not because his childhood was exactly the same as in the the film. As an adult, I too experience nostalgia for this film.

Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story, screencap by Mary Miracle

This movie touches on many childhood struggles that a lot of us went through: the perfect Christmas toy, wearing giant snowsuits against our will, performing like a monkey at your parents’ request, meeting Santa, childhood fights, and dares. Most importantly, A Christmas Story is so effective at putting us in Ralphie’s shoes that we get to experience our childhood again, even if it was superficially different. It is family friendly-fare that is perfect to put on when everyone is gathered together this holiday season.

C’mon, let’s choose A Christmas Story as the greatest Christmas movie! Please join me in checking out the rest of the contenders over on the LAMB

A Christmas Story Leg Lamp, screencap by Mary Miracle

Conventions Film/TV

Meeting Matthew Mercer

Matthew Miller, also known as Mathew Motherfucking Mercer, is a voice acting icon and legend, lending his voice to many television shows and video games, Oh god, so many video games. He’s worthy of gushing over as one of my favorite voice actors, right up there with Tara Strong, the sexy vixen of a thousand voices.

Now, I’m a rather big fan of animated television shows. One is a show called Attack on Titan, a post-apocalyptic anime about the life of an emotionally unstable teenager, bent on vengeance against an army of naked, man-eating giants. Sound fun? Well, it should be, especially when introducing the most bad-ass, titan-killing motherfucker this side of the wall.

Now, this time around, I’m not going to talk about every show he’s been in. I’ll save you the list, believe me. Instead, I’m going to tell you about my personal experience with meeting this man. 

My lovely partner Mary and I were in Philadelphia, enjoying the delights of Wizard World Comic Con. It was day two and dear god, I was tired as hell. I had just been walking around in a jester costume, posing for pictures, and running from panel to panel to see all of the famous actors, answering scripted questions asked by the panel’s moderator. The only reason why I’m so perturbed is mainly that I didn’t get to ask my obviously important question involving a drinking game for Arrow. 

Anywho, I was a little more than tired. We were in a line to meet Cary Elwes for a picture. Now, I kinda knew who he was at the time and she was super excited to meet him. I was half in and out before she had mentioned there was going to be a meet and greet for a man who plays on Attack on Titan. So, we parted ways, and I started my little adventure of maneuvering through all of the Doctor Who posters and tattoo artists.

He was in a room in the building, but it was so far from the actual convention that there was no music playing. Only a few people knew he was there, so the conversations were a lot more personal. After a small chat with everyone, a fitness/combat training instructor walked into the room, and it turned from a meet and greet into a self-defense class. 

It was fucking incredible, but I was sore from the day, so I only made it about halfway through the class. I decided to call it quits and stepped out. Matt was just right outside of the room texting on his phone. I thought it was probably the closest thing to an interview I was going to get, except it wasn’t an interview. Plus, I had absolutely no questions whatsoever, as I was distracted by the fact that I was talking to Levi from Attack on Titan. We stood there for a good part of 10-15 minutes just bullshitting. The guy is seriously down to earth. Most voice actors are. They are a severely underrated class of actors, but what are you gonna do, right?

Sam Hice with Matthew Mercer, via Sam Hice

In the end, I got a good couple of pictures with him, none of which had my face. I gotta say, I kinda regret not getting one. However, before the picture was taken, he made the suggestion that I wear the mask because it was both creepy and awesome. I obliged. When an actor tells you to do something, you do it. Especially, when it is followed after a compliment.

After I went back to the main part of the convention, I told my story to Mary, like an excited 10-year-old who just saw his favorite cartoon character live!!! Except, I was a 23-year-old man, who saw his favorite cartoon character live. So, all in all, it was a pretty good day.

Thanks to Wizard World for providing Mary and me with a complimentary weekend press pass to the 2015 Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con.

Film/TV Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Project Almanac

2 out of 5

When I first started seeing trailers for Project Almanac, I was definitely curious. This time travel flick about selfish high schoolers looked pretty darn good. The trailer sucked you in with a group of friends using time travel for their own gain. Then it turns kind of creepy when you see that time travel can, oops, screw things up.

Unfortunately, the movie didn’t live up to the trailer for me. I thought maybe it was one of those instances with two many writers and/or directors, nope. One director and two writers. I’m currently exhausted and didn’t even feel like writing this review. I thought I’ll find a review by someone with similar views and share that. I can’t find one! What? So, basically, others have issues with the science behind the film but embraced what disappointed me. My views are a bit different.

Yes, there are times that I thought, no, just no, that doesn’t make any science. Keep in mind, that I’m not scientifically minded. I’m pretty likely to not know if someone is using the correct piece when they are building something. I also don’t mind shutting off my mind to enjoy something fun, to an extent.

Project Almanac from Paramount Pictures

However, unlike others, I don’t believe that you need to see this JUST because it’s a time travel movie. As if, a dearth of movies means that poor ones should just exist to fill the void.

Have you seen the trailer? No?

Project Almanac Official Trailer

Okay, now you have. You don’t even need to watch the movie. That is everything that you need to know and it doesn’t have to work because it’s a trailer. You are supposed to want more.

What happens? Okay, a guy, his sister, and his likable friends build a time travel machine based on his late father’s plans. Later, a “hot”, popular girl joins their group and decides that she’s an integral part of it. IMHO, she is not.

At first, everything seems fine, the kids get money, popularity, and sex. I’m not gonna lie, some of those scenes are amusing. They even get to see Imagine Dragons live. That’s super fun.

Imagine Dragons in Project Almanac

Then the lead decides to start jumping around through time solo and disasters happen. If I were one of the kids, I would have rationalized the hell out of being at fault for huge disasters though, as one does. This is when the illogical time travel starts really bothering me. Now, it’s not just for fun. He has to fix things, but with the way that things have been going, I can’t buy what follows. Plus, even if I tried, it’s like he intentionally mucks things up.

I did enjoy his friends, but they didn’t get enough screen time. His love interest is annoying and the sister wasn’t onscreen long enough for me to form an opinion. 

Yes, I’m impressed that this movie was filmed for around $3 million and earned about 10 times that much, but going into it, I didn’t know that. As a casual viewer that shouldn’t concern me. Although, I’m sure producer Michael Bay is thrilled. Another plus is that the film wasn’t overly long. Some found the fact that it’s set up as a found footage film to be a detractor. It slightly enhanced it for me, making the creepy scenes a bit creepier. Maybe, my biggest issue is that the lead becomes unlikable, but not annoying enough to completely hate. I like to have some strong feelings one way or another when I’m watching someone’s story. I’m only giving it 2 out of 5 stars for the initial premise and fun section of them just goofing around for personal gain.

Conventions Film/TV

Arrow Stars to Shoot into Philly’s Wizard World Comic Con

As you may recall, I’m a huge fan of the annual Philadelphia Wizard World Comic Con. This year, I’m as excited as ever. The wonderfully fun-to-watch stars of the CW’s Arrow are on the guest list. Yes, both Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Laurel herself (Katie Cassidy) will be appearing!

Arrow screencap by Mary Miracle

If you haven’t checked out Arrow yet, I’d recommend doing so ASAP. This superhero show does get suspenseful but isn’t always serious. You gotta love a show in which multiple characters know the lead’s secret identity, which is mainly covered by green eye makeup.

Stephen Amell from the CW

Amell can portray Oliver Queen skillfully in both the present and in flashbacks when he was still a spoiled rich boy. Not to worry, he’s not really like that anymore, due to “5 YEARS ON THE ISLAND!” Oliver, aka the Arrow, aka the Hood is one hell of a vigilante. His parkour game is on point.

Arrow screencap by Mary Miracle

Katie Cassidy plays attorney Laurel Lance. She’s one tough cookie. Of course, Oliver and Laurel have a history. It’s awesome to be able to watch Ms. Cassidy regularly. I’ve been a fan of hers since her role in the Black Christmas remake. 

Getting the chance to meet two of the fab stars of Arrow is one of my top reasons for attending the Philly Wizard World show this year. It could only get better if Diggle were enlisted.

This year the Philadelphia Wizard World Comic Con runs May 7-10th. For info about all of Wizard World’s conventions, visit the Official Facebook Wizard World page.