A recent survey for myfilms.com came to the less than startling discovery that the films we actually watch are very different to the ones we claim to watch. And further, the films we say we don’t watch are even more revealing. It seems that, instead of The Godfather, Schindler’s List and Citizen Kane, we’re really watching The Sound of Music, Dirty Dancing and Love Actually (now there’s a good way to waste a day) and lying about it. (I guess I must be an exception to the rule as I’d seen eight out of the 10 people haven’t really seen – and many of them more than once). I’m sure you’d find exactly the same kind of results if you asked people about what they went to the theatre to see, bought on DVD or what books they read.
But why do we do that? Why do we always want to seem more cerebral than we are? It’s not as if we’re the only people who pretend – everyone does it. You only have to look at the box office totals and sales lists to discover what we’re really watching, buying and reading.
We just don’t like to admit that we watch certain things because they’re just plain good fun or make us feel better. They don’t have to change the world – just make it a better place for a couple of hours. They don’t even have to make us happy: I’ll contentedly watch A Matter of Life and Death or It’s a Wonderful Life at any time and cry my eyes out – I guess an emotional release is a release whichever way it goes.
We all have a film or a book that we turn to when we’re stressed or when we’ve had a bad day. We lock the door, gather something naughty to eat and drink and curl up to wallow in our guilty pleasures.
Me, I don’t have too much trouble owning up to these things. I’m known for liking glossy rubbish and old black and white movies (‘but it’s a classic…’). Give me pretty much anything with Sandra Bullock or Cary Grant in it and I’m happy. I’ll try any film or series about crime (start a CSI channel and make it easy for me) or medicine (I don’t care if it’s as soapy as Grey’s Anatomy or as quirky as House and bring on the gore). But then I can cope with weightier material, too – I could watch The West Wing all day (and do, given half a chance).
So how about we all make a resolution to own up to some of our guilty pleasures? You don’t need to reveal your deepest darkest secret loves, but let’s give credit where credit’s due for the things that get us through life. I’ll start – my name is Jane Watkins and I’m a Star Wars addict…