Persuasion. Some may define it as manipulation. Others looking on the bright side will nail it down as charm. What exactly is persuasion, and is it good or bad? With Mercury going direct in Leo on August 19th, your ability to enhance your message and to effectively convince others to hear you out increases significantly!
Leo gets a lot of attention for being spotlight-loving drama kings and queens who are born leaders and great performers. Today we’re going to focus on a lesser known, but not unimportant quality: their creativity! This quality can prove to be quite helpful in life, as seeing innovative solutions when life’s problems arise can keep us confident, playful, and interesting – all things that Leos are great at!
Mercury is the swift planet of communications and rules the ever-chatty sign of Gemini. Our ebullient twin friends are seemingly tireless in their efforts to charm, explain, and verbally express themselves. With Mercury ruling our gift of gab, it isn’t a stretch to assume they can be masters of persuasion.
Creative persuasion, for our intents and purposes, is about coming up with innovative ways to get your point across or to convince someone to carry out an idea they may not have accomplished without your special touch. Whether subtle or overt, used for good will or ill, here are a few movies with characters who fall somewhere on the Leo spectrum and prove to be effective in their own right when it comes to the art of persuasion. (Spoiler alert!)
1. The Usual Suspects (1995)
One could argue this movie is the epitome of creative persuasion. A customs agent is trying to assemble the full story from low-level con man Verbal Kint, one of the only survivors of a ship fire and massacre. Trying to unwind the full details, Kint lays out a tale about his ill-fated group of criminal pals who carry out a bank heist that will lead them to a deal with mob boss and agent of death, Keyser Soze.
Kint weaves his words, revealing a thorough picture of what actually happened. The real twist comes at the end, when the detective realizes that one of the witnesses to this crime may actually be the feared and mysterious villain, Keyser Soze – and the one he suspects has deftly thrown up such a persuasive smokescreen that he doesn’t realize he’s been taking a blatant confession the entire time. Masterful.
2. Primal Fear (1996)
This deliciously twisty thriller will have you on the edge of your seat and if you haven’t seen it, stop reading now because you do not want to spoil this one. Hotshot defence attorney Martin Vail lives to shine in the spotlight, so when unassuming altar boy Aaron Stampler is very publicly arrested for the brutal murder of an Archbishop in his church, he jumps to defend him pro bono.
Stuttering Stampler urgently pleads his innocence, and the cynical Vail finds his earnestness convincing, at least until the quiet victim reveals an alter ego who throws it all up in the air. By the end, the art of persuasion is revealed, devious and creative at the same time,
3. Cruel Intentions (1999)
This one might fall more towards the category of manipulation – or shrewdness at least. Bored, uber-rich teen Kathryn Meurteuil likes to mess with people’s heads. Enter her equal in ennui – stepbrother Sebastian. There’s some icky sexual attraction stuff here, but get past that. Kathryn persuades Sebastian to corrupt a teen virgin to prove it can be done. If he wins, he gets what we really wants – her.
Based on French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuse, there’s a lot of opportunities to creatively persuade others in this movie. Some make it easier than others due to their naivete, some by their desire, and some because their ego is so big they think they can’t be taken advantage of.
4. Thank You for Smoking (2005)
Dashing Nick Naylor is the chief spokesman for the Big Tobacco Industry. Here’s a guy who can sell anything – and he believes everyone does have a price. Nonplussed about his role as a spin doctor and lobbyist for a group that essentially gives people cancer, he looks at life from the point of view that anything can be argued – even the best flavour of ice cream.
This satire shows us the power of words – and how you can make people believe anything if you find the key to their doorway of acceptance. Who’s right and who’s wrong here? Is likeable Nick a sociopath, or is he simply taking his job seriously? Are politicians lambasting one ‘industy of death’ but conveniently ignoring another that’s just more socially acceptable?
5. Tootsie (1982)
Talented Michael Dorsey is an incredible New York actor who can’t get a job because he’s also a bit of a perfectionist narcissistic butthead. No one will hire this guy, but acting is his life. When he can’t persuade his fed up agent to get him a job, he takes matters into his own creative hands, dressing in drag and nailing an audition for a popular soap opera. Bam! Michael is acting again – in more ways than one!
Turns out he’s too persuasive as a woman – he becomes a sensation in the soap opera world, lands magazine covers as a confident and spicy icon. He also convinces his lovely but self-conscious co-star Julie (with whom he is also in love just to further complicate the issue) to stop taking sexist crap from their blowhard director, and in turn, Julie’s lovable but ornery dad falls in love with Dorothy too!
6. Roxanne (1987)
Based on the famous French play, Cyrano de Bergerac, Roxanne is full of charm, wit, and humour, as is the main character, CD Bales. Chief of the Fire Department in a small town, CD has it all: the respect and friendship of his small community, a head full of knowledge (he reads encyclopedias for fun), a great job, and the biggest nose you’ve ever seen in your life.
The latter proves to be an issue, especially when gorgeous rocket scientist Roxanne shows up and takes his breath away. What ensues is a hilarious, ribald plot that showcases CD’s powerful use of vocabulary, his magnetic personality and how knowing exactly what to say and when to say it may just get you everything you want.
7. Clueless (1995)
Popular Cher has been taught by her litigator father that anything can be argued in order to get what you want. Based on the Jane Austen novel, Emma (Austen also wrote a novel called Persuasion… coincidence?), Clueless centers around the naïve yet sophisticated Cher, a Beverly Hills rich kid with a heart of gold… mostly. She sweetly manipulates her way into and out of a whole run of events.
She pleads with her man-hating gym teacher for a better grade because her boyfriend dumped her, smoothly bullshits through an in-class debate on Haiti, and leads an insecure new classmate away from her desire to date a skater punk, convincing her she actually likes a quasi-hipster bozo with an influential dad. What’s really charming is when she discovers she’s talked her way into being a bit of a selfish airhead herself and decides to “use her powers for good.” It helps that Paul Rudd is being cute and kind of grouchy the whole movie as well.
8. Risky Business (1983)
Who’s zooming who? Is it ambitious high school student Joel, whose father wants him to get into Princeton? Is it beautiful call girl Lana, who expertly mesmerizes the naïve Joel with her feminine wiles? Does Lana want more than just an unforgettable night? Is she subtly persuading Joel to do much more than he signed up for?
This 80’s classic explores the loss of innocence, but also how quickly we can learn when we are paying attention. Joel gets himself into quite the pickle when he veers from his safe, wealthy, suburban life into the unknown world of prostitution and those who don’t take everything for granted.
9. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
This movie turns up on so many, many lists, but here we really do have a character so well versed in the art of persuasion, he needs less than 20 minutes of film time to completely mesmerize us and enfold the main character within his own twisted mind. Imprisoned psychiatrist and psychopath Dr. Hannibal Lecter has such a grasp on the human mind and how it can be persuaded that within a few meetings with aspiring FBI agent Clarice Starling, he unearths her origins, her ambitions, and some of her deepest, darkest memories.
Beyond that, Lecter quickly finds opportunity in Starling’s attempts to coax him into helping the FBI find another depraved killer and recognizes his chance to escape the maximum security creepy basement prison he’s been relegated to. Masterfully manipulating each situation, he cleverly devises a long-term plan to subtly persuade everyone around him to not only trust his advice, but ultimately to help him escape.
10. Ex Machina (2015)
We’ve talked a lot about persuasive teens, a seasoned twisted psychiatrist, and a clever fast talker, but how about… a manipulative AI? Caleb, a programmer in a successful search engine company wins a chance to visit the secluded and luxurious home of the CEO, Nathan. Nathan’s been working on humanoid robot Ava and needs Caleb to help him determine just how convincingly human she is. Well… Caleb finds out. Is Nathan a bad guy? Or is Ava already a brilliant student in the art of persuasion?
What’s really interesting – and terrifying – about this premise is that it makes you question our near future. Can persuasion be learned? Can the highly astute simply observe and take manipulation on as a power? Would androids have a distinct advantage because of their apparent lack of emotion, or would they ‘suffer’, as in Blade Runner, because they know they are somehow less human at the same time?
Are you inspired to use your newfound powers of persuasion with communicative Mercury entering creative Leo? While we’ll all feel the influence of this relationship, we don’t need the stars to help us weave a twisty tale!
Both creativity and persuasion can be learned and practiced and could prove to be very helpful to you and those around you! Being able to positively influence the lives of others is a skill to be proud of.