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.
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.
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?
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.”