10 Life lessons we learn from Empire Records
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10 Life lessons we learn from Empire Records

When you are a teenage girl and you have the weight of a sleepover resting on your shoulders there is a short but vital list that will help you. Get snacks to please everyone. Have all items for makeovers ready and waiting. Get an incredible movie to watch. I was 13 and I had spent a long time prepping for this event. I had cleaned the room and made it super cosy and comfy for my guests. I had organised sparkly nail varnishes, garish eyeshadows and an array of scrunchies next to the bowls of crisps and maltesers. My Mum had splashed out and got THREE frozen pizzas, all that was left was the movie. I had saved some pocket money and asked if we could go and rent a video and whilst I scanned the VHS cases I fell upon Empire Records. It had a dog wearing headphones and some cool kids on the front. I thought it would hit the mark. It didn’t. My friends thought it was ‘SOOO lame!’ I – on the other hand – LOVED it. It remains one of my favourite movies to date and the more I watch the more I realise how this isn’t just a movie it is an important lecture into adulthood. Without this movie I don’t think I would be the stand-up citizen I am today and I will never be able to explain how excited I got when actual Ethan Embry followed me on twitter. I will now guide you through these lessons (in list form because who doesn’t love a list!)

1. You never have to explain your art to anyone.
It’s your art; the world can like it or suck it. It is YOUR art. Who cares what people think? Do what makes you happy and what makes you feel artistically free. You want to make pin badges with angsty taglines on them then do it. You want to glue quarters to the floor, you glue them and be proud. You don’t have to answer to anyone!

2. Your idols will quite often be a let down.
There is one singer of a band that I love but he is quite well known for being an arsehole. I met him once and he wasn’t overly rude but he wasn’t very engaging either compared to the rest of the band and it put me off them a bit because I just think you should be nice to people, regardless of who they or you are. It’s just unfortunate that some people get above their station and these are the ones that don’t care about you, they enjoy seeing you humiliated and crying. They secretly wash their hair with your tears.

3. Sometimes (most times) that weird punk/ Goth is actually super nice.
They come across as gnarly angst-ridden brick walls that need bulldozers to break their heavily pierced, eye lined exterior but inside they are the softest ball of butter you will ever meet. Secretly they also love unicorns. More than anything they just want to be loved and liked and you will find that they fight the hardest for someone/ something they believe in. Big up the goths!

4. You will always have one friend that you secretly have the horn for.
This doesn’t apply to every friend. I have loads of friends and I am 97% sure I haven’t thought of them all naked but there will be one guy/girl that you talk to more than the others and you tell him/her things that are deeply personal and you show vulnerability and frailty then BAM! Friend zone explodes and you want to pork. After all they make you feel like a bath, right A.J?

5. Corporates try to ruin everything.
I hate money. So does Lucas. Money ruins everything. I know we need it to survive or whatever but in my hometown an independent record store has been serving us since 1894 (obviously back then it was selling phonographs rather than the new Alice in Chains vinyl) but the bigwigs swan in and try to ruin everything and they make stupid rules. No gum chewing? We’re talking to customers all day long, should we not have fresh breath? No piercings or tattoos? I have heard that it affects the way you work; it must be all the metal dragging you down. No revealing clothing? Most dates come from flirting with customers. Stupid corporates!

6. Your work mates will help you with the drama of life better than anyone else.
Need love life advice? Your mature boss will help you with their nuggets of wisdom (as long as you keep your hands off their beer, cigars and drumsticks) Need some advice on how to seduce a pop star? Borrow your friends red bra, job done. Want to shave your head, borrow my clippers. Hungry? Hello pizza delivery and special chocolate brownies with extra sugar. You want to sing in a band? Come sing with us. Your work mates see you more than anyone else. You become a family; there is nothing they won’t do for you. If anything they make you chase your dreams more.

7. Record stores are the best place to work EVER!
You meet all walks of life in a record store. It’s a holy grail for people to congregate in their one joint love of music. No one judges you, if anything they make suggestions for what else you may like or tell you about a band playing down the road that you should check out. I spent years trying to get a job in HMV, Virgin and, of course, Spillers but to no avail. I still feel hugely disappointed.

8. Always play with their minds.
This can be used on many levels. You never want to be an open book. Live your life shrouded in a bit of mystery. Keep a part of you hidden. Make people think about you. You want to leave an impression on people and the best way is to be a little bit weird. Also great for catching shoplifters.

9. Empire Records is one of the most quotable movies of our generation.
I can honestly quote empire records in context to something every day. There are so many characters and stories blended into one movie that it gives you a wide range of use for dropping in the quote bomb. When I was in Uni my housemates and I practically spoke in Empire records language. I would list them on here but I would be here all night. Just watch the movie.

10. Music is the glue of the world.
I can’t imagine my life without music. Just having some rap, metal and Whitney Houston to listen to makes me feel all kinds of awesome. There is something for every mood you are feeling. It will always be there for you. It unites us as friends, hell, even as nations. Without music – life – would be meaningless.

So, in the immortal words of The Doors, the time to hesitate is through. Put the movie on
and bask in the glow of the almighty juggernaut that is Empire Records.

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