On the last day of the conference my friend forced me to take a walk. I mean, invited me to take a walk. Whatever. We took a walk.
Greenville, South Carolina, has a beautiful, charming downtown district, and if you walk far enough (like, a dozen blocks or so), you’ll even find a park with a waterfall and suspension bridge and ducks that you’re not supposed to feed. After three days inside an airport and hotel, I was grateful for the chance to spend a little time in the beautiful weather, peeking in store windows and sitting next to a river rushing over rocks and between buildings.
It also killed my feet to walk that far in not-so-supportive shoes. So when we walked by an ice cream shop a second time on the way back to the hotel, I was all for stopping in for a scoop. And a waffle bowl.
As Dawn and I sat and ate our ice cream, we admired the giant, colorful paintings on the wall. Each one was a portrait of a celebrity, and we were facing one of Alfred Hitchcock.
The conversation that came next was predictable. To me. Because it happens all the time.
Dawn started listing her favorite Hitchcock movies.
I admitted I haven’t seen a single one.
She was shocked and dismayed.
Odds are good that if you told me your favorite movies, I won’t have seen them either. I do like movies. I do! And I’ve seen lots of them. Just…not that one. Or…that one. Nope, not that one either. I KNOW! Ev.er.y.one. has seen THAT ONE. Everyone but me.
My best friend is constantly gasping – in shock? outrage? horror? I DON’T EVEN KNOW – at my lack of movie knowledge. She loves movies. She’s seen a lot of them. And, like I’ve told her so many times, she should really just start a list of the movies I need to watch because HOW COULD I HAVE LIVED THIS LONG WITHOUT WATCHING IT?
I looked up a bunch of articles about the movies one must watch…before you go to college, turn 25, turn 30, turn 40, or die. I looked at serious movie sites like AMC.com and popular sites like Lifehack, HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog and also some sites I’d never heard of. For good measure, you know.
It doesn’t matter which list I read. With the exception of “10 Chick Flicks to Watch Before You Die,” every list made it clear I have not seen the most popular or best or everyone’s favorite movies.
But, you know what? I’m okay with that.
Does it seriously crimp my pop culture referring style if I admit I haven’t seen Goonies or Shawshank Redemption or Pulp Fiction? Maybe. Do I get tired of being looked at like I must have been trapped in an underground bunker, Kimmy Schmidt-style, to have missed Swingers and The Usual Suspects and Stand By Me? Of course. And maybe my entertainment street cred is at risk if I confess that I also haven’t seen a single Godfather movie or Annie Hall or The Big Lebowski. I think I’ll survive.
Really, even though it’s a tad embarrassing, I’m not actually sorry that I haven’t seen your favorite movie. I’m not sure why I have this gap in my cultural knowledge, and I promise I can quote Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Rain Man with the best of them. But, FINE, if you want, we COULD start that list of movies I really DO need to see one of these days.
The funny (weird? incomprehensible?) thing about all this is that I really do love movies. Last year I bought my husband gift cards to half a dozen date night venues that were not the movie theater — in an effort to push us out of our regular routine of spending every date night at the movie theater. So far? Nine months later? We haven’t used a single one.
But we have gone to see several movies this year! I’ve even seen three movies by myself in the past few months. (At the theater. I’ve watched lots more at home by myself.)
We’ve talked many times here about how it’s impossible to watch all the TV shows out there or read all the books available. It’s an incredible problem to have (#firstworldproblem, anyone?), but the truth remains that we are in an information and entertainment boom. And no one person can possibly consume all the must-watch, must-see, must-read, must-hear things in our world.
Plus, some things just aren’t for me. Just like some things aren’t for you. And sometimes, despite overwhelming pressure from both the media and people in our lives, the most popular things aren’t for me or for you. Like the new Joker movie? I won’t be seeing that. Or the Zombieland sequel (I hate zombies) or the Judy Garland biopic or the movie version of Just Mercy, a book that wrecked me to the core. More than likely, I won’t see those movies this fall…or ever. And I’m okay with that.
How about you? Do you feel embarrassed to admit you have seen that movie (or read that book or recognize that song)? I say don’t be! Entertainment is for fun, after all, not as a metric to determine who’s smart enough, cool enough, good enough. If you want to watch Dirty Dancing and episodes of The Office on repeat, you do it. And don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it!
What must-see movie have you missed?
A version of this post was originally posted in 2015.