DudeSpeak: The Incessant Quoting of Movies

20 01 2010

I feel like I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time in life as the lone woman in a large group of dudes.  I traveled around Europe with 5 smelly dudes, took a road trip to Tennessee in the middle of the summer with 7 really smelly dudes, and I take a yearly trip to Colorado with yet another pack of dudes.

After all these years of research, here is the main observation I can report: When dudes run out of real things to talk about with each other, which usually occurs about 5 hours into a trip, they begin to incessantly quote movies.  They’ll quote Lebowski, they’ll quote Anchorman, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Wedding Crashers, Snatch, Ferris Bueller, Trainspotting— just about anything that’s not widely considered too “chicky.”  And what’s even stranger is that they seem to gain some kind of social stock with each other based on their ability to not only remember these lines word for word, but to recite them with exceptional gusto and in the accent of the character being quoted.

I remember sitting at a pub in London with a bunch of guys I was traveling with, and we were in the middle of a city square with a million things to observe and discuss.  There were Aussies to our right and Irish people to our left, eager to make new friends, and we were on the second day of the first time any of us had been to London.  So where did the conversation go, almost immediately?  Movie quotes.  I would say something like, “Wow, this city is beautiful.  Anybody wanna check out Big Ben tomorrow?”  And one of the guys would shout, “Oy, keep your fingers out of my soup!” in a horrible cockney accent, and the rest of the dudes would crack up and cheers him with their beers while I sat there, totally unamused.

What’s weird about it is that men can’t seem to remember the details of anything else.  They can’t remember birthdays or anniversaries or the fact that you asked them to pick you up from somewhere at 3 o’clock, but they can recite Kevin Costner’s entire “I believe in the small of a woman’s back” speech from Bull Durham, word for word.

It blows my mind.

What is so great about being able to quote movies? To me, it just looks like a very obvious avoidance of having to actually converse with each other, talk about what’s going on in their lives and actually express any kind of (eek!) feelings.


I wanted to give men a chance to explain themselves before I posted this blog speculating about their weird social habits, so I asked 3 men what was up with the movie-quoting thing.

The first man answered, “Because it shows our devotion to the films we love and the prowess of our memory.  We also use quotes to describe how we feel because we think the actor/actress we are quoting probably felt a similar way.”

The second man said, “It creates commonality.”

The third man said, “It’s evolved into a method of social interaction that actually serves a complex function, which is figuring out who you’ll probably get along with and who you won’t.”  In other words, it creates commonality.

So, I guess my question is, why is the ability to quote movies the main thing that you guys feel like you need to have in common in order to be friends with each other?  I don’t immediately feel the need to quote Dirty Dancing upon meeting a new potential girlfriend, nor would I be impressed if I asked a girl how her mom was doing and she quoted some line from The Graduate.  That wouldn’t be cool; it would be weird.

I really think that some men need to work on developing an original emotional vocabulary that allows them to express themselves outside of badly written movie scripts.  It’s a real, palpable problem for the confused women like myself who are consistently put in the position of having to observe these severely stunted interactions.  I’m actually concerned about the emotional future of mankind.

So men, what do you have to say for yourselves?  And quoting a movie in the comment section does not count as a legitimate response.

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24 responses

20 01 2010
Sara

my roommate and i quote movies/tv shows/songs all.the.time….and we’re girls. No real reason, other than the fact that we clearly enjoy relating current situations to fictional characters/situations. hmm.

20 01 2010
graber

OWNED!

20 01 2010
districtramblings

sara, the fact that i’ve never heard you quote a movie means you probably don’t do it as much as the guys i’m referring to. i enjoy quoting movies sometimes too, but i don’t make it my primary mode of conversation. there’s a difference.

21 01 2010
Sara

ummm LB, I’d have to disagree….I will redirect this convo to Ariel, who will attest. It dominated most of our conversations.

20 01 2010
Man talk good

Wasn’t it generally agreed upon since, oh I dunno, BIRTH that it is impressive and sexytime to be able to speak multiple languages?

On my resume:
English
Ebonics
Construction Spanish
Moviequotespeak

Had to drop a little man knowledge on your ass.

Love,
Me

20 01 2010
Critter

I love the topic lb, as I suffer from this problem. However, quoting a tv show or movie often let’s you address a situation without actaully talking about it. My wife and myself use tv show quotes to make fun of awkward social situations as they happen, and we love it. I agree, quotes along with the rest of pop-culture creates commonality, and can be used to convey ideas when normal talking is just, well, lame. So lb, just embrace what men have done to social interaction, it’s more fun that way.

20 01 2010
districtramblings

Oh hello critter!!!! I disagree that normal talking is necessarily lame, but I’m thrilled that you have decided to weigh in on this important topic since, if I remember correctly, you are one of the biggest movie quoters on the planet.

20 01 2010
bros

LB, who did you interview for those quotes? a bunch of social anthropologists? sounded so stiff and dusty. I imagined them speaking with a british accent and monocle. quite so, quite so old man, I do say chap, commonality!

I greet my office mate every morning with a “herroo hans brix” (I have no idea if he knows its from team america world police but it amuses me)

I know every line of reality bites and frequently pepper things I say with classic lines from that. but I guess all of my movie talk is private amusement and nothing social. I mean, Im clearly not bonding over it with anyone. im not getting any point across.

men are weird and my theory is that it fills space because they have more boundaries with other guys in terms of things they can acceptably talk about, whereas women have less boundaries and perhaps greater leeway in terms of intimate sharing. I dont know except that every time I hear guys do this I feel like its compensating for something. it may be a form of acceptable intimacy in another, more acceptable, and more gender safe register.

21 01 2010
luke

hey Bros I’ll own up to that last quotation, and your swipe is well-taken. given that the question was posed seriously, rather than rhetorically, i figured a somewhat considered answer would be better than explaining that “people like to quote movies cos it’s fuckin fun!” (which also happens to be true) even though i had no idea i was going to be quoted.

that said, not 10 days ago you were commenting on a different thread and appeared unable to decide whether you were making a structural-functionalist or theory-of-collective-unconscious argument about rape, but don’t worry; it was really interesting! And you didn’t sound stiff or dusty at all.

21 01 2010
bros

yeesh Mr. Peevish. it was a joke, knowing that she had to have asked people in her own generational contingent. it was meant more as a mental image than a swipe-i just pictured people standing around in a mahogany paneled room with a glass of brandy wearing tweed jackets with elbow pads, but i guess it didnt translate that way.

21 01 2010
CB

Well it beats talking about who can fart the loudest, which is what the guys in my household talk about.

21 01 2010
Geof

boys: many (most?) boys have a need to impress others with their own factual knowledge. the more socially awkward and less developed their communication skills, the more obvious and painful this is to a disinterested party. quoting movies may be a form of this. the spouting of sports, car, hunting/fishing, investment, homeowner maintenance facts almost always is.

the ability to apply the facts is much less important, and since circles of boys are rarely doing anything productive, its anyone’s guess as to whether any of their assertions are true, but, when you quote things at appropriately funny times, it is a form of application which earns social points.

girls: i have no idea. some are great at playing the boys version of this, but my suspicion is that groups of girls just don’t have the time to practice b/c they are too busy having slow motion pillow fights

both: my general take on the subject (based on 14 years of marriage that started when i was 19, and 4 years working in high schools) is that boys on average are several years behind girls in developing the kind of communication skills most girls expect out of a normal person, e.g. a 23 year old girl is probably going to enjoy talking to a 30 year old boy more than a 23 yr old boy

21 01 2010
BS

Compare that with a far more popular FEMALE past time: mulling over various magazines and blogs for pictures of the very same actors and actresses to see who they happen to be fornicating or which LA salon happened to wax their pubic hair that week and whether that means that they should go get the same wax themselves.

I think it’s a far healthier impulse to try and relate to the actual art itself.

Owned.

21 01 2010
districtramblings

First of all, you can’t declare someone “owned” by your own comment, unless you’re a douchebag.

Second of all, I’ve never met a woman who based their personal hygiene habits on the hygiene habits of celebrities, nor would that be relevant to the fact that men use movie quotes to relate to each other even if it were true.

Anyone can make shit up and declare someone else “owned,” but I don’t see anyone here disputing the fact that men use movie quotes as social lubricant.

21 01 2010
Phil

I think Craig Finn and the rest of The Hold Steady might agree with you.

“Two Handed Handshake” (2008)
His two handed handshake
Says he’s so glad to meet you.
His one silver earring
Says he parties on weekends.
He churns through the channels
When he’s watching the TV.
He recites lines from movies
When he’s trying to be funny.
Guys, it’s like we’re not even trying

21 01 2010
districtramblings

haha, a music quote to validate my point about movie quotes! clever

21 01 2010
swirlz

Probably the effect of testosterone on the brain of developing male fetuses. Something about it severing the linkage between the hemispheres. Consequently, men just don’t care about birthdays and other similar events. And women expect us to not care. So it’s easier. For now.

21 01 2010
kathy

Caddyshack ought to be obliterated from the face of the earth. If these guys really heard the idiocy they are one-upping each other with, they would be appalled. It starts when they are children- a lifetime of Caddyshack quotes for those just reaching their adulthood now. Quite scary.

22 01 2010
Roosh

This is just a SWPL thing. I don’t recall myself or a friend ever quoting a movie as part of a male bonding ritual.

22 01 2010
districtramblings

Roosh- you’re absolutely right, now that i think about it. totally SWPL.

22 01 2010
22 01 2010
tb

I have a friend who was so obsessed with Ace Ventura that every word he said was a quote from the movie. He says every thing he did and said for like 2 years came directly from the movie. He was particularly fond of the “rover sit!” mental hospital part. His parents had never seen the movie and took him to see some counselors to see what was wrong with him (all true). After a long time, something like 2 years, they happened to see the movie on TV, and he walked into their room and they were on the ground laughing.

Probably the funniest part to me is how he tells it… he describes his parents as being so relieved once they figured out that it was a movie and there was a reason he acted so ridiculous all the time. Like, “oh, thank god!, this past two years he has only been ACTING like he was Ace Ventura! I thought something was wrong with him….”

22 01 2010
गैब्रियल

“…you’re not how much money you’ve got in the bank. You’re not your job. You’re not your family, and you’re not who you tell yourself…. You’re not your name…. You’re not your problems…. You’re not your age…. You are not your hopes…” you are what quotes you remember from great pieces of art in the form of film.

(I love the photos you chose for this post; Especially the one from Anchorman.
“‘I think I killed a man,’…’yeah, I saw that! You might want to lay low for a little while.”)

23 01 2010
DP

coffee’s for closers LB. coffee’s for closers.

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