The Perils of Being “The Movie Guy”

When you’re really interested in movies, you want to wear it like a badge, geekery be damned. You want people to know that you can’t wait for the latest blockbuster or Oscar film. You want people to know that you really enjoy films made by certain actors, actresses, directors, or any other member of a film crew. Around your friends, you become “The Movie Guy” (or gal, as the case may be). But there are some perils that go along with it. I’d like to address a few of those.

I haven’t seen every movie ever made.
When you’re “the movie guy”, people assume that whatever movie they’ve seen and liked (or disliked, for that matter), you’ve also seen. After all, you’re “the movie guy” and therefore you’ve seen everything. This is not true. The only difference between you and me is that I like watching a lot of movies. Just like you, there are plenty of films I haven’t seen. If I haven’t seen something that you liked or disliked, spare me the indignation. “WHAT?!?! You haven’t seen _____? HOW?!?” A simple “I liked it, you should check it out” will suffice.

It’s ok if you didn’t like this movie. It’s also ok that I did.

If you really like a movie that I don’t like (or haven’t seen), it doesn’t mean that I think you have bad taste.
Watch enough movies and you’ll eventually realize one of the most magical parts of filmmaking. Namely, there’s something out there for everyone to enjoy. Just because you loved Transformers and I think it sucked doesn’t mean I think lesser of you in any way. If I love Cabin in the Woods and you don’t, it doesn’t mean I think you’re wrong. It simply means we have a difference of opinion about a movie. And this is all especially true if I haven’t seen the movie that you like. Too often, the answer “I haven’t seen that” is followed by an assumption that I think their movie is beneath me or something. I never feel that way these days. Ever.

Watching a lot of movies does not make me a snob, nor should anyone be intimidated about talking about movies with me.
There’s sort of an undercurrent to a conversation once you mention that you love movies, or that you’ve seen and enjoyed foreign films, silent films, or even classic films. Whoever you’re talking to assumes that you’re a snob who couldn’t possibly enjoy something like Airplane! (1980) or action movies or gross out comedies or rom-coms or whatever. The other day, I said that I really liked The Big Lebowski and the random bar patron I was talking to said that he doesn’t like “that intellectual stuff” and instantly assumed that I don’t like This is Spinal Tap. First of all, I love the hell out of Spinal Tap. Second, the two things aren’t mutually exclusive. There’s not a single reason I can’t enjoy both an Ozu film and a Farrelly brothers film (choose your own archetypes but I’m sure you see my point). Third, I’m kind of shocked that anyone would refer to Lebowski as “that intellectual stuff”, and my reply was “You mean the movie where the guy burns his nuts with a lit joint?” But I digress.

High art, apparently.

As for the intimidation, I’d hope it’d be the other way around. I would hope that I could talk to anyone about movies- ANY kind of movie. As “the movie guy”, I love movies and I love talking about movies. It goes back to my last point a little bit- if I haven’t seen a movie you enjoy, don’t take it as a sign that I think the movie is beneath me. All it means is that I haven’t seen it yet.

I love giving recommendations to people in the hope that they might like what I recommend. And far more importantly, I like taking recommendations, too. It’s how you become a “movie guy”- breaking down barriers and developing well-rounded tastes. Throw a “movie guy” into just about any social situation and there’s a good chance they should be able to find some sort of common movie ground with their conversation partner. Having said that…

I’m still allowed to have preferences.
Why should I be any different from anyone else? While I might love lots of movies and want to see and enjoy as many as I can, some movies don’t work out for me. This typically leads back to borderline indignation. “How could you not like Semi-Pro? I THOUGHT IT WAS GREAT.” The irony in this scenario is that I’m branded the movie snob if I don’t like something, despite the fact that there are tons of genres and directors and countries and actors and actresses I enjoy. And yet, a lot of these same people wouldn’t dream of watching half of what I’ve watched and enjoyed. Who’s the elitist or the snob in this situation? Who’s shunning movies based on preconceived notions?

I am not an animal! I am a human being… who likes movies!

The larger point to all of this is, much like David Lynch’s Elephant Man, “I am not an animal! I am a human being!” My enjoyment of movies and my love of the medium doesn’t make me unapproachable about it, nor do I have any interest- at all- in telling you that you shouldn’t like certain movies. Quite to the contrary, I’d prefer to have an infectious enthusiasm about it. I would hope that someone would walk away from a conversation with me saying “A movie sounds great tonight. I’m going to go watch one.”

43 Comments

Filed under Humor, Movies

43 responses to “The Perils of Being “The Movie Guy”

  1. I have become that guy, i hate it at times…

    “seen anything good lately? What shall I watch?’ I hear from friends, then I recommend them something and they hate it… Makes me a little sad, and embarrassed.

    It happened last week with CABIN, which I loved and my friend hated… But I need to get over the sadness, and accept that I am not the end of all knowledge, and personal tastes (as you say) have a lot to do with things.

    • Oh yeah… recommendations are a whole other thing. I’m really careful about recommendations for exactly that reason. At this point, I try my damnedest to give a thousand disclaimers when I make one. “IF you like _____, and IF you like _____, you might like ______. But you might dislike it because you also disliked _______”. There’s just no telling what’ll click with someone.

  2. Nice read and completely agree with you!

  3. Uh oh – I think I’m becoming that girl with everyone! :)

  4. Something that I’ve found is that whenever taking part in a quiz of any sorts, if a movie related question comes up, everyone automatically turns to me. This is great if I happen to know the answer, but if I don’t, people seem shocked. Guess that kind of fits in with your ‘I haven’t seen every movie ever made’ point.

    • Vladdy

      What’s even worse is when you DO know the answer, but it’s about something so stupid you’re embarrassed to admit it! Then you have to explain that being the movie guy means you have to know that stuff, not that you have to like it.

      • Ha… true. That one got a lot of play when Nora Ephron passed away. Friends who don’t know movies: “Who’s Nora Ephron?”// Me: “Well, she did “Sleepless in Seattle”, “You’ve Got Mail”…

    • That’s a perfect example. We’re not film scholars. We’re not giving commentary on Criterion discs. We’re just people who like movies a lot.

  5. Great article. I notice a lot of times that people might apologize to me before mentioning certain movies they like, as if I’m gonna berate them. Which makes me feel like a douche, because I’m one of the least judgmental people when it comes to this subject. When you love as many trashy movies as I do, it’s impossible to judge others based on their movie tastes.

    • You’re preaching to the choir. I HATE that look or expectation of disapproval. I think there’s this weird archetype in the collective consciousness of what a movie geek is, and it involves hating lots of movies that most of us actually like.

  6. aleksa

    Being the “movie girl” with my friends and co-workers brings up another problem. Because people assume I’ve “seen everything”, they’ll often rattle off surprise plot points/endings of films. This happened last week, and the person almost looked insulted when I interrupted them.

    • Ooooh, I’d be annoyed by all of that. Although that raises a great question. What’s the expiration date on a spoiler? If I talk about Psycho, is it ok? (just one example)

      • aleksa

        My general rule of thumb is 5 years: by the time a film/television show/book is that age, the plots are generally out there in the ether. If the whole point of a film pretty much hangs on a surprise twist (a la “Usual Suspects”), I ask if a person’s seen it before discussing it, period.

  7. Exact picture of myself..my friends said I am the movie wikipedia for class and always feel I have not watch any film yet

  8. Not the same with beer though. If you tell me you love American Patriot, I’m gonna make fun of you and tell you the you have been overcharged for rebranded piss water. I’m a dick sometimes.

  9. I fully understand qhat you mean here. They always refer to ma as if I was the Cinema Encyclopeadia. Like: What’s the title of the film where the guy fights skeletons and has a chainsaw instead of a hand? As if I knew every damn film out there. Well, most of the time, I mean always, I have the answer but it still bothers me to be defined only by films. Great topic John you know how I like those ramblings!

  10. The guy who met Kevin Meany

    I’ll call you “Movie Guy” the day you write a review of the Nicolas Cage masterpiece, “Drive Angry”!!

    • You have no idea how many times I’ve almost watched that movie purely based on your recommendation. It’ll happen someday. I don’t know when, but it’ll happen.

  11. This is so true. I’ve experienced all of these at some point. I bet I experience the first one on a weekly basis, especially when my professors are like “You haven’t see X film?!?!” and it’s usually some random film from the ’90s was released when I was like 4.

    And while I certainly don’t help my image as a film snob around my friends, the second I mention I don’t like a film everyone else seems to love, I’ve blown off as the film snob.

    Although, if you like certain really bad films, I will just assume you have bad tastes. :P

    • Yeah, I’m still working on Crash. I’ve become so much more accepting through the years but I still can’t get past the Crash hump.

      I’m surprised your film professors bust you that way. You’d think that if anyone could relate, it’d be a film professor.

      By the way, I saw your Twitter comment about The Master and PTA’s elaborate fart/masturbation joke with his audiences. I had to laugh because I think there’s something to it. Great observation.

  12. I was linked here from a tweet by my pal Emil. Every now and again, someone writes something that feels like something I could have – even should have – written and this is such an instance. I’ve gone so far as to form a movie-of-the-week club on Facebook actually called, “You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?!” in recognition of all the times I’ve been asked the question.

    I will say, as a history major, that I encounter all these phenomenon even more with that subject. Somehow, it’s simultaneously an invitation to hammer me on any subject related to the history of all mankind, as well as an albatross to be used against me. I couldn’t guess the number of times I’ve been told that I’m the ignorant one in a discussion because I received my education in, you know, a university where I was deceived and/or brainwashed and where the truth was never taught to me. Just what access the other party ever had to “the truth” that I didn’t, I have no way of knowing. I guess they saw a documentary on TV or something.

    The upshot of all this is that I’ve reached a point where I actively try to avoid engaging people about either films or history unless I’ve had positive experiences discussing those topics with them in the past. It’s a shame, because those are two of favorite topics but I’ve just grown weary from all the reactions you’ve so aptly recounted.

    Thankfully, we live in the era of the Interwebs!

    • “You Mean You Haven’t Seen?” is a perfect name for such a project.

      Your line- “I guess they saw a documentary on TV or something”- in relation to your experience made me laugh.

      I’d say keep bringing it up. Keep engaging people in those conversations. If you love history and film, make them accept it, and accept you for those aspects of your personality.

  13. Great post. One of those times where I find myself going “Damn, why didn’t I write this myself???”

  14. I LOVE reading this kind of post.One thing bugs me as a movie guy is people always ask me if they should watch a certain new movie in the cinema,and my answers are always “No,I haven’t seen it”,but in my heart I was saying “I don’t give this kind of films a shit”.

    • I know exactly what you mean, David. I don’t want to say that because then you look like a snob or disrespectful to other people’s tastes but that happens to me a lot.

  15. This is a great post, and it can be funny being known as “the movie guy.” Sometimes I forget that most people aren’t familiar with a lot of older films. I went camping over the weekend, and my friend brought a deck of old 1970s Trivial Pursuit cards for the hell of it. The very first question I was asked was about Dr. Strangelove, and everyone was shocked that I knew the answer immediately. Apparently I was the only person who had seen the film, or even heard of it. That kind of brought me back down to reality a little bit.

  16. Pingback: Month In Review: September | French Toast Sunday

  17. Craig

    “If I love Cabin in the Woods and you don’t, it doesn’t mean I think you’re wrong. But you are. Science proved it.”

    Is how that sentance should have ended.

  18. Pingback: » Movie Review – O Brother Where Art Thou? Fernby Films

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