Feb 24

“Stay Weird”: Stirring Advice from Screenwriter Graham Moore

“Stay weird,” concluded Graham Moore during his Oscar acceptance speech Sunday night for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game. 

It started this way: “…When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong.”

This line alone brought tears to my eyes when I first saw a clip of his speech yesterday. He continued:

And now I’m standing here, and so I would like this moment to be for this kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different and then, when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along. Thank you so much!

Some in the media wrongly assumed from this that Moore is gay, as was Alan Turing, the subject of the movie script that won the award. Even the GLBT-oriented TheAdvocate.com described Moore yesterday as an “out screenwriter” before correcting it.

Sasha BronnerHuffington Post, in fact, quotes Moore on the topic of depression: “I’m not gay, but I’ve never talked publicly about depression before or any of that and that was so much of what the movie was about and it was one of the things that drew me to Alan Turing so much,” Moore said. “I think we all feel like weirdos for different reasons. Alan had his share of them and I had my own and that’s what always moved me so much about his story.”

It’s common to feel weird and different, especially in one’s teens, and the possible reasons for this are too numerous to mention. One phrase I clung to earlier in my own life came from psychologist Sol Gordon (1923-2008), who’d written a book for youth called You! (with a superlong subtitle) in which he advised those struggling with a weirdness identity to adopt a stance of being “positively weird.” Take away the negative stigma, in other words—it’s okay to be weird.

Another great and moving moment from the Oscar telecast, by the way, was the performance of the John Legend/Common song “Glory” from the film Selma. And I’m pretty sure Moore would appreciate that Martin Luther King, Jr., himself once said, “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” The positively weird.

Stay weird.