You are what you love

One of my all-time favourite movies is High Fidelity, which I'm sure will have a blog post dedicated to it one of these days.  In case you haven't seen it, it's a movie (sort of) about guys that love music, and know everything there is to know about music trivia.  One of my favourite lines in the movie is by the main character, played by John Cusack.  I don't remember the exact line, but I can paraphrase it pretty well.

Basically, he says that the music, movies, and books we love are a reflection of who we are as people.  That the albums, books, and DVDs we own and put on display say a lot about who we are, what interests us, and what motivates our behaviour. 

Now, while in the movie the main character begins to realize that this is perhaps a poor barometer of a person's identity, I think the theory has at least a little bit of substance to it.  Someone who has a DVD shelf consisting only of blockbusters, a record collection of Top 40 hits, and purely practical books picked up through school studies, is probably going to be a rather faceless, bland person.  Someone with a DVD shelf entirely of indy films, albums consisting entirely of bands "you haven't heard of", and books entirely focused on esoteric topics - well, that person is probably an elitist indy snob.  And so on, and so forth.

Essentially, the media in our household is a shorthand people can use to figure out the basics.  You won't get all the details, mind you.  But they are still informative, which is why I think a lot of us gravitate towards those media areas when first visiting someone's home.  It's the socially-acceptable alternative to rooting through someone's medicine cabinet.

I've found that I can use this to get a quick initial impression of a person during a conversation.  Basically, all I have to do ask something like "What are your favourite movies?" and I quickly begin to build up an idea of who this person is.

If the person only lists movies of one "type" (kung fu movies, anime, and so on), it usually means he's the type of person that gets focused on one subject, and is usually rather specialized in his interests. 

If the person only lists movies made in the last few years, he may have little depth or conviction, and probably flits from subject to subject, like an A.D.D-riddled monkey.

If the person only likes blockbusters, or mass-marketed movies, I'd almost say it's a sign of stupidity, but really, it's more a sign that the person either doesn't like movies, or doesn't really make any sort of emotional connection during films.

You get the idea.  If the person only lists sci-fi, odds are there's a latent (or not so latent) geek hiding in there.  Documentaries lead to an inquisitive, rational person.  Comedies can mean the person is fairly laid-back, or doesn't really want much out of a movie besides laughter.  And so on, and so forth.

This trick doesn't get you too much information - just a quick snapshot of someone's current tastes - but it can serve as an early warning system.  If a person's three movies are composed entirely of:
  • Films that make fun of other films (such as Meet the Spartans, or Scary Movie)
  • Films that are gross-out comedies (those American Pie-type clones)
  • Films made by, or involving, any of the Wayans Brothers
...then that person is an idiot, and should be avoided. 

This is a golden rule.  Break it at your own peril.

Those movies are garbage, and even most of the people involved in their making know the films are bad.   If someone's top three list involves ONLY those movies, they are poor examples of human beings, and should probably be wearing a helmet.

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