January 25, 2012 at 10:00 am (movies, my life)

My friend Erin has been tweeting about the movies of 1990- how she felt about them then, how she feels about them now. It’s a fun exercise. Erin’s a genius in many ways, and her dissections of pop culture are fantastic.

Her tweets reminded me of a phenomenon that I experienced as a kid but never as an adult, which is watching movies over and over and over again, usually every day, for an extended period of time. Did you guys do this too? Why? Were we that bored? Were we that lacking in new movies to watch? Was there something about our developing brains that required constant repetition? Would we have done this had the Internet been a thing? I have more questions than answers, but here are the four movies I remember watching over and over and over.

Back to the Future- This was the first movie I ever watched on a VCR. I watched it over and over and over, annoyed with how long it took to rewind back to the beginning so I could watch it again. And the scene where Michael J Fox plays the modified guitar and gets blasted across the room? I rewound, replayed, and paused that scene at least 60 times. I had to know how it worked.

Heathers- This was my first “favorite” movie, and god bless my parents for realizing that the R rating was like the buzzing of flies to me. I was obsessed with Heathers, in a way I’ve not been obsessed with anything else. It was just so cool to look at, and even at a young age, I realized that it was smart- smarter than me, in fact. I watched it until I could recite the dialogue along with it, and until I had memorized everyone’s outfits in every scene. I loved studying slightly older females at this age, planning my semi-adulthood, and this movie gave me a lot to look at.

Real Genius- Real Genius does not get enough credit for being one of the first nerd-positive movies to make being a nerd look cool, without being called “Revenge of the Nerds”. It helped that Val Kilmer was the hippest nerd on the planet, and a fox. I watched this movie almost every day for about 8 months. I loved the intrigue, I loved the humor, and I loved that it made kid Emily feel smart.

Young Guns II- I have no explanation for this one. It was not a fantastic movie, but I think I had a Balthazar Getty crush. For one summer during middle school, it was my routine to wake up, do nothing, go into the basement, watch Young Guns II, do more nothing, eat, and then sleep.

I’m sure there are tons more movies I’ve rewatched a thousand times but have forgotten about- like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, for example. But you get the point. Maybe it was a necessary part of development… it was a necessary part of my development, at least. When you’re young and your hormones and your body are changing so fast you cannot keep up, perhaps you need a bit of repetition and comfort to keep you grounded. Perhaps I was working on finding my own personality in these movies, trying to figure out who I was by examining the things that kept me the most engaged. I see bits of myself in each of these movies now, and bits of these movies so deeply in my emotional DNA that I cannot figure out what came first.

Or more likely, it was boredom.

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  1. erinthill said,

    How lovely to read nice compliments about myself at the beginning of a blog that addresses one of my interests: rewatchability. Heard a This American Life about a girl who wanted to be a playwright badly and read an old book on theatre over and over again and fell in love with the guy who wrote it, who was long dead. She wrote her first plays based on this book, not realizing how dated the form she had learned was. I liked the way she talked about reading that stuff over and over because it reminded me of watching stuff over and over and memoirizing it and falling in love with it.

    To me, since it starts with little little kids rewatching Finding Nemo (or for me, The Dark Crystal and Disney’s Robin Hood), it’s something to do with kids learning about the world and trying to figure out what they like and who they are and what they’re good at (I have some friends who have done this with other stuff but not movies, too). It connects them to the adult world in some way. Even if it’s Heathers i think there’s this sense of wanting to be part of something in which things actually happen and are hyper-real instead of just real. Especially since, though we forget this as adults most of the time, childhood seems to move SO SLOWLY as you wait around to grow up so life can start.

    Anyway, long response short, i agree with your idea that it’s that sort of emotional/cognitive development. With repetition to lock it in and make it part of the brain’s wiring. Also, I think some movies are on cable a lot. Some of my old rewatches: Young Guns II, Pretty in Pink, Lady Jane, Glory, Gone with the Wind, Reversal of Fortune, Aliens. I have no idea why.

  2. The Nate Gatsby said,

    I think I’ve watched Back to the Future at least 12 times. haha

  3. Kobe Oh B said,

    i loooooved heathers and watched it a ton. also, dirty dancing and the princess bride. but i recall summers at my grandparents’ where i watched dirty dancing almost every day. annnd, milo and otis.

    • O.s. said,

      For me, it was Star Trek: Wrath of Khan. Even today I can recite dialogue scene by scene…
      Heathers? Well, it was just so very…. ;)

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