In "Regret Everything," comedian Will Hines gives a weekly update on the thoughts that are gnawing at his brain.
Friends don't just recommend movies. They ORDER you to watch them.
"Have you seen SkyFall? Oh my God, you HAVE to see it! You HAVE to!"
They grab your forearm. They lock their eyes with yours. This is important. If you didn't speak English, the tone of conversation would suggest you had just walked by the President without noticing he was trying to give you a high-five.
"Have you seen Argo? Oh you HAVE to see it! Go see it! Why haven't you seen it?"
This is something unique to media: movies, TV shows, music and books. Friends don't just compliment it, they desperately need you to have seen it also. They must know that you had the experience they had, or else, it seems, they can no longer be friends with you. You will forever be separated by the emotional gap left by not seeing Looper.
Even though conversations about movies are often just listing scenes:
"Did you see Ghost Protocol, when he ran down the building?" says your friend with an expression of genuine interest."I did see that," you reply."Wasn't it good?" your friend asks, still fixated on you."Yes, it was good," you answer."SO good." And for the first time in what seems like a long time, your friend relaxes and gazes elsewhere.
No one gets that way with other things, like with sweaters.
"Oh my God, have you worn this sweater?" your friend asks, gazing intently at you."The one you have on, now?" you ask, confused."Yes! It's so comfortable and thick! You haven't worn this sweater? You have to!" Their eyes wide, their mouth agape."No, I haven't worn your sweater," you admit, suddenly shamed."Do it! Wear it with me. I wanted to wear it again anyway."Your friend wrestles the sweater over your head and you feel what they felt the warmth, the inclusion."It wasn't the kind of sweater that its trailer led to me expect, but I like it anyway," they confide.
Their urgency is well-meant. They're not angry. It's more that they are confused. How is it that you could not have seen The Avengers? Are you hurt? Have you been trapped in your home?
Friends who saw and enjoyed the HBO series The Wire urged me to see it with such passion that they made Gary Busey seem super chill.
For those of you dating nerds (and since you reading an essay on a comedy website I assume this includes all of you), one of the biggest gifts you can give someone is to watch a movie with your loved that you have already seen. It's oddly not fun to watch a movie with someone who has seen it, since they spend a fair amount of time verifying your opinion as the movie goes.
"It's good, right?" your boyfriend says, as you slog through your first ever viewing of Boondock Saints. "Isn't it good?" asks your girlfriend as you finish up Wedding Crashers. It's like having the commentary track playing during the first viewing.
Given how passionate people's opinions CAN be, an indifferent opinion is the most damning. Let's review the full range of possible emotional reactions in terms of Spider-Man:
Spider-Man: "Good! You should see it!"Spider-Man 2: "Oh my God, You HAVE to see it! You HAVE to!"Spider-Man 3: "Never see this."The Amazing Spider-Man: "Eh."
"Better to be loathed with passion like Spider-Man 3 than forgotten like Amazing Spider-Man" Winston Churchill.
Be careful dismissing movies that your friends loved when they were children. There is no bond on earth as strong as the one between a human and the movies that human got really into when he was twelve. No one really cares if you skip The Master. But someone in his/her late twenties that you've never seen The Goonies and you're asking for an intervention.
For those auditing my character, I have two reason why I haven't seen The Goonies: First, I was too old when it came out to care. I had a driver's license and was talking to actual girls. I assume people who are twenty-five now are not going apeshit over a Blu-Ray copy of Spy Kids 3D either.
Second, even though I haven't seen The Goonies, I know almost all of it. Or rather, I know it's about a misfit gang of kids who go underground looking for either treasure or a dead body or something. And that there's an Asian kid who's good at math and a fat kid who shakes his fat belly around. And that there's a big speech at the end in which The Goonies declare that it's their time, or maybe it's that the cave is their place? Something is theirs, and they let the bad guys/bullies know. And that a cute girl self-identifies with the misfits, which pleases everyone. And at some point Cyndi Lauper sings, or maybe that's just the video. Am I close?
My personal coping strategy: when someone bothers me about The Goonies, I ask if they've seen director Richard Donner's later film 16 Blocks. People go glassy-eyed and wander off, in search of validation elsewhere.
In general, I accept people's impassioned pleas to see movies as a gift, not a burden. Even though they seem crazed, I believe they mean well.
Though, God help you if you tell boys under twelve that you haven't seen nor care about seeing Star Wars.
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