Is It Reasonable to Break Up With Someone Over a Movie?

By  · Published on August 23rd, 2016

Dear FSR

What if they don’t like ______?

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been faced with a question that has no solid answer. Some people may take such a puzzle to a trusted confidant, a friendly pastor, or the esteemed annals of Yahoo! Answers. But will they have the expertise needed to solve your most pressing film predicaments?

Think of Dear FSR as an impartial arbiter for all your film concerns. Boyfriend texting while you’re trying to show him your most precious Ozu? What’s the best way to confront the guy who snuck that pungent curry into your cramped theater? This is an advice column for film fans, by a film fan.

Dear FSR,

When do you compare favorite film lists with a date, and should it factor into choosing to date someone?


Listless Loverboy

Dear Listless,

I’m hoping this isn’t what spawned your question:

But we’re here now so let’s rap.

This is where I sit backwards in the chair and turn my baseball cap around.

No matter what your brooding little heart tells you, you really don’t want to be John Cusack in High Fidelity. Trust me, I’ve been there. In fact, I think we’ve all been there. I’ve stopped seeing people over stand-up comedians (sorry Ralphie May and Jeff Dunham, nobody is worth that) but that’s a bit more indicative of a schism in senses of humor. But the same idea persists.

I’ve definitely gotten prickly when showing someone a movie I love and the person who is in my apartment (because they ostensibly enjoy what I’m all about, mind you) just can’t muster the willpower to pay attention. But like I said, you don’t want to be that person.

The same impulse that makes us feel personally attacked and defensive about our favorite films and our taste in music manifests in our relationship insecurities. If they don’t like oh, I don’t know, Die Hard, do they like me?

What parts of me that love Die Hard, that see Die Hard as a part of who I am (or at least something that speaks loudly to parts of who I am, like my love of fuck-up cops and sharply-dressed villains) does this person dislike now?

But that’s not really how it works, is it? Though we may exchange pleasantries about films we enjoy and if someone finds out you’re a film buff or (god forbid) a film critic, they will inevitably ask you about your favorite movies, this doesn’t really say anything about us or our compatibility as people. It’s a bit infantile to expect people to enjoy what we enjoy to the same extent that we enjoy it and if they don’t, to boot them from our lives. It’s solipsistic ‐ it boils down a human to an hour and a half of subjectivity.

What I’ve come to learn is to enjoy the difference and celebrate the similarities. Go into every difference with an inquisitive mind and a sense of humor. So someone fell asleep during your seminal baked-in-sophomore-year film. Use this as an opportunity to see the other side of your favorites.

Movies can be amazing, but they can also be dorky, esoteric, and unpleasant. Those last three qualities can also be why we love the movies we love, but it’s unlikely we ever reach those conclusions ourselves. And, as someone that can’t hold in their criticism of movies I don’t like, I try not to hold myself to a double standard. From the way I dish it out on people’s chosen movies, I better be able to take it.

I went on a date with someone and we ended up seeing Hellraiser. It’s a silly movie full of gothic weirdness, sex, violent hedonism, and cartoonish plasticky gore. I adore many parts of it, mostly for its unabashed desire to be schlock. My date was less impressed. She enjoyed the Saw sequels, which I don’t care for as they descend into torture porn. But she rightly called out that I was too squeamish for real violence so I compensated with cartoonish weirdo violence.

She’s not wrong.

The things we can do now that put needles that close to eyeballs?

No thank you.

I went on to mock a movie she enjoys, Odd Thomas, which is a crazy Sundance-style novel adaptation where all the dialogue has the repartee of an awkward writer’s collected “that’s what I should’ve saids” and ‐ because they couldn’t cleverly restructure the book ‐ the story is primarily told in grating voiceover.

Things didn’t go well.

So lesson learned. Have a little tact, don’t take yourself or your movies too seriously, and enjoy showing each other new things. Bonding over media is an easy icebreaker but shaky ground for a relationship.

Don’t ever make fun of Odd Thomas on a first date,


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We’ll be back answering your questions every Tuesday!

Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).