Seeing Ourselves in the Movies

Image from Spiderman: Across the Spider-verse, with Spider-Gwen looking directly at the audience. Several cars are directed towards screen

A lovely fall evening at the 2023 NEIU Weekend events for Saturday, September 16, 2023 culminated in beautiful weather and a drive-in movie! But, before we could get to that fun, there were food trucks to patronize (CheSa’s Gluten Tootin’ Free, Good Trucking Beef & Chicken, and Kona Ice), some poker to play (Casino Night), and a raffle to try desperately to win (the Nintendo Switch did not come home with this author, sadly).

As the night progressed and we were informed of the high-level prizes being raffled off, the intensity of the poker players rose to such a level that the anonymous member of the crowd who hypothesized; “somebody’s going to develop a gambling addiction tonight” was starting to sound believable. Thankfully, no real money was involved so this was a happily unwarranted worry.

What was real was the clamor for the raffle; and once it subsided, we were on to the main event, the 2023 masterpiece: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”. Though some in the crowd, like graduate student David, were “gonna wait to see how the raffle turns out,” before committing, there were lines of cars excitedly waiting for the minorly delayed showing.

Zachariah Simmons

And with the sun faded and the large inflatable screen now in place, Amsal I. and Beau S. of the Northeastern Programming Board (NPB) carried around a placard that said 90.3 FM, informing us of the radio station we could tune into for the movie’s audio. The wonderful planning and execution from the NPB, Student Leadership Development (SLD) and NEIU’s Alumni Association created an authentic drive-in experience that we were all thrilled to be a part of. 

As the film began – the brilliant animation lighting a cool NEIU evening – the movie’s narrative showed through as a parallel to much of the experience relayed by students and alumni. Broadly, the movie is about a young Miles Morales (his universe’s Spider-man) trying to balance life and school with saving the world.

This struggle for balance was hilariously and emotionally depicted and reflective of the non-traditional nature of many NEIU students.

Married couple Theresa (elementary education student) and Rafat, expressed that “it’s hard to make it out with 3 kids […] but this event is good.”

Glenisha, a current student living on campus, was “out [t]here with [her] niece showing her what college is like, just having a good time.”

David, as mentioned before, is in his first semester back from two years of humanitarian work in Africa, praised the event and all others put on by NEIU as “a great way to relax and see people enjoying themselves.” 

Zachariah Simmons

The uniqueness of NEIU’s student body is something to be proud of, it’s what makes the school so exciting, diverse, and accepting. Anybody could be a student here; a parent, a returning student, a traditional student, an activist; we’re all part of this wonderful NEIU-Verse, just swinging through life trying to have fun and grow. 

Whether we’re making time for our families, giving back to the community, or just trying to get to class on time, we’re all heroes at NEIU!

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