Motivation is a powerful force working in the psyche of every human mind that consciously pushes an individual toward certain tasks in order to reach a desired goal. In “The Wave”, a group of high school students’ desire to be apart of a community and to hold power blinded them of reason and moral, which eventually led them to a tragic downfall. In this movie, motivation played a crucial role in the gradual destructive behavioral changes of the students at Palo Alto’s Cubberly High.
The psychological and behavioral changes initially began to evolve when a history teacher, Mr. Ross, encouraged students to participate in an experiment on forming a movement called “The Wave. The students were immediately entranced by the idea and begin to follow every instruction given by Mr. Ross without hesitation. Soon, they were practicing the rules and drills of ‘The Wave’ outside the history classroom by assimilated them into their regular everyday life. Soon, the students buried their previously learned values of individualism and morality to adjust to the newly formed community. This community later became almost cult-like, in which members were so intensely involved that they started to act hostile and sometimes violent towards anti-Wavers and non-members in the name of “The Wave”.
The initial factor that influenced the history class to follow Mr. Ross’ ideas was intrinsic motivation. The novelty of the experiment first triggered the curiosity of students and they performed every duty with enjoyment. However, as the group began to take the experiment more seriously, this seemly innocent interest turned into an obsession. Students used the movement as an excuse to harass and intimidate other children. They now remain not only for inner-pleasure but also for power. Other students from outside the classroom also fell under the spell of “The Wave”. These later recruited Wavers’ motives were not intrinsic for their sole reason for joining was to gain approval from their peers and to avoid harassment.
Mr. Ross provided, with his experiment, an environment where a person’s inner fascism can emerge and take control. ‘The Wave” worked as a metaphorical switch that turned on some hidden unconscious desires for individuals to shut their mind and to live a simpler life by accepting orders from a confident leader who insist that he has all the answers. Most people possess the need to identify with a group that shares a common objective. However, sometimes this need only motives people to do what is good for the group instead of what is good for themselves as individuals. Many students in this movie failed to see the larger picture of how “The Wave” was robbing them of their right to opinions, individuality and freedom.
“The Wave” is a powerful and emotional journey that opened our eyes to the existence of fascism in the most unlikely place, a high school in California. The movie demonstrated how people could easily be manipulated under certain circumstances and blinded by artificial motives. Just as the Germans fell under Nazis’ rule during Hitler’s reign, other groups or community like the high school in “The Wave” could also easily become the next victim of fascism.