When I was in middle school, my girlfriends and I sat through two rounds of watching Francis Ford Coppola’s movie, The Outsiders. As middle school girls, we were thrilled to see a bunch of famous “heartthrobs” in one film.
The movie was adapted from S.E. Hinton’s book about a group of boys growing up in the “Greaser” gang. They run into trouble with the opposing gang, “The Socs.” I’ve watched this movie several times in my lifetime and rewatched it most recently. Coppola did a decent job with the movie. The acting was mediocre, however, there are several important lessons one can extract from the story.
To get the full effect of the allegory, you need to read the book, but the one key message the movie presented was about staying “Gold.”
There’s scene in the movie, when Ponyboy, the lead character, is watching the sunrise with his friend, Johnny. This was after Ponyboy and Johnny get into trouble and were hiding out in an abandoned church. As they watched the sunrise, Johnny remarks on the beauty unfolding in front of him. Ponyboy stares off into the distance and says, “Nothing gold can stay” and begins to recite Robert Frost’s poem. The two boys talk about the meaning of the poem and how nothing beautiful can remain intact.
Fast forward to later in the movie when Johnny urges Ponyboy to “Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold.” When I first watched this film as a middle school kid, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance. But now, many decades later, I understand it.
“Stay gold” means to hold onto the curiosity, the wonder, the innocence in the world. Children are instinctively this way but something happens as they get older and that perspective becomes lost. For me, “Stay gold” means to not waste energy on negativity but instead open up to receive joy and positivity. And also be willing to have new experiences and be ready to play…as children do.