TROUBLE CITY

How to be a Geek and Have Friends: Part 2 - Movies

BlogsBrad WitzelComment

Film geeks, as this website proves, can be some of the most vehement opinionated bastards around (myself included).  Everyone knows which movies are utterly drivel and which are brilliant pieces of art, and to hell to anyone that disagrees.

Of course, this isn't a healthy attitude to take.  People quickly feel alienated when faced with such outspoken zeal, afraid of expressing their own thoughts in hopes to avoid some condescending confrontation.  So how is it that someone could be passionate about film, especially genre film which becomes the geek movie staple, without becoming someone whom others cringe at the very thought of?

Social acceptance goes hand-in-hand with knowing how to work social dynamics.  In this case, what's good for the gander is good for the goose.  Creating waves within the waters of general consensus for no reason other than to watch others squirm isn't a productive course of action.  It's all a matter of expressing critique in a better phrase than "people that like this movie are obviously lacking in the relevant brain cells to function as a higher life form".  Such nerd speak doesn't get a guy very far in life.  In fact, it kind of makes other people really want to hit him.  So instead, a polite phrase such as "you know, this movie just wasn't my cup of tea" serves much better.  It also opens up an avenue to becoming a trend setter within a circle of friends (at least as far as movies are concerned).

How does one person, especially a geek within a group, make himself the go-to guy when films are involved?  There's actually a couple of things that can be done to bolster the opinions other people will form concerning your tastes and ideas. 

The first; pick a specific genre that you can make your own.  Sure, you like a whole lot of different kinds of films, but that won't make you stand out.  However, picking a sub-genre to specialize in allows you to become the aficionado that harnesses respect. 
Examples: Werewolf films, post-apocalyptic survival flicks, existential space dramas, etc.  Even adopting a more mainstream genre (such as chick flicks) as an area of dorky expertise can have its benefits.

Once a genre is picked, hit up amazon.com and netflix to find every single title you can that falls within the confines of your area.  From that moment forward, you'll be able to not only recommend to others the best of that particular kind of film but also be the person others turn to with any questions.  Viola!  Instant respect.

The second; ideally in a group of friends there would be others that have areas of expertise.  At this point, it's prudent to set yourself ahead of them.  Earnestly and honestly start to cultivate the genres your friends have chosen, viewing all the films that they recommend.  Form your own opinions on these movies.  In the end, you'll have developed a taste for films in multiple genres and will most likely be able to hold a conversation about a whole variety of movies.

What's this mean for you?  The end result is the ability to jump into a conversation with other geeks and impress them with the ability to talk about any films that the group as a whole brings into play.  Any recommendation you make will have some weight behind it because you're not only an expert in a certain field but you've also seen all the movies that they like.  Your opinion matters.  Another side effect for taking in film in this manner is an ease in choosing movies for any non-nerds to watch (whether it be a date or a family outing).

Of course, like any forrays into the world of geekdom there are some hazards to avoid.  A short list of them are as follows;
1) Never get too technical with terms from sci-fi, fantasy, or other genre flicks.  This alienates those that haven't seen the film.  Instead, recommend the film and discuss it in more broad terminology that others can relate to.  That way they might still give the movie a chance - not to mention you didn't perform like a stereotypical nerd.
2) Don't try to impress through obscurity.  Recently, during a question and answer session with Hamlet 2 star Steve Coogan, a guy with a rather nasally voice asked Coogan about some obscure movies he's been in.  Coogan replied with a "Wow, I'm glad you've done your research but no one else in the audience knows what you're talking about".  The questioner, by trying to impress, ended up looking like the ultimate geeky jackass.  If you're going to try to impress, impress by bringing up classics (or cult classics) that others should have at least heard of.
3) When expressing an opinion about a movie, be specific.  Stay along the lines of "if you like this kind of thing, you'll like this film" because it gives whoever you're talking to a starting point on which to base their opinion.  After all, if you say you just loved a movie who's going to know that you actually like all movies featuring absurdist slapstick French humor?  Make sure you let others know what they're getting into, regardless of your opinion on that matter.

That's it.  Generally speaking, no matter how much of a film geek you are, others will find you much more agreeable as a person when following the above guidelines.  You'll be a film geek with friends!  That is the goal, after all.

Stay tuned for the next installment; comics!