Sunday, March 29, 2009

The language of movies

A few weeks back a friend at work and I were discussing the way that people (and he said usually guys) can spend entire conversations quoting or talking about movies. He said that a female friend of his was of the opinion that this is because men don't know how to talk about their feelings, so they talk about movies. Aside from the blatant generalization, we thought this was partly right. I am one of those people who can have entire conversations based on quotes from movies and song lyrics. And while I do not feel incapable of discussing feelings, quite the opposite, I do find that movies, songs, pop culture, provide a medium of expression that can be quite handy and even eloquent. I'll give an example. When I'm at work and have to tell my team something to do that I know they'll hate, I'll often find myself whipping out a quote from Office Space, and particularly from the boss in Office Space, Lumberg. "I'm gonna have to ask you to go ahead and get this done by this afternoon, mkay? And if you can do that, that'd be great. Thanks a bunch!" Now I'm not doing that because I can't talk about feelings, I'm doing that because it's a means of talking about feelings - a short hand. I suppose I could say something like "I know you hate this, and I hate being in the position of asking you to do it, but you really have to and I really have to ask you to do it. And I'm worried that you'll think I don't care about how this affects you, or that you'll think I don't know you're already busy. Because neither of these is true. And I'm even more worried that you'll thinkI'm an arrogant prick. Please don't think that." But, frankly, a Lumberg quote works just as well - and it gets some laughs to boot. By alluding to what I desperately don't want to be, and the fact that perhaps what I'm saying/doing could give that impression, I make it clear that I'm aware of it and don't want it to happen.

Now, do I put that much thought into it when I do it? Duh, no! But as I look back on it now that's what is going on. And I'm glad that we have this shorthand language of movies to convey these sometimes complex ideas. By the way, so you all know, Katy is incredibly fluent in the language of movies, which, aside from disproving the whole "only guys can't talk so they use movies" crap hypothesis, is also pretty cool.

No comments: