It may sound strange, but film and TV have influenced my identity for as long as I can remember. During the early years, it was movie musicals. Then, it was the Marx brothers, which flowed organically into a Woody Allen phase, which then began a “classics” period, including everything from French New Wave to “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” It could be produced by a huge Hollywood studio or by your douche–y neighbor who looks like he should eat a cookie; if someone says it’s worth watching, chances are I’m in.
I come by it honestly: both my parents are cinephiles, and I went to my first movie after only two weeks of being born (the movie was “Courage Under Fire,” and I imagine no one in the theater appreciated having a newborn cry through the Gulf War drama starring Denzel Washington). Suffice it to say, TV shows and movies have always played a role in my relationship with my family. Some families may spend their summer nights tossing a football around the backyard; mine spends it watching three episodes of “The Sopranos.” It probably started because my parents didn’t want to deal with getting a babysitter. But, more than anything else, it’s became a piece of proof that my parents have always talked to my brother and I like adults, which encouraged us to formulate our own opinions and ask questions about what we couldn’t understand. Sometimes they went a little far: I am not, for the record, recommending showing “Psycho” to your seven–year–old daughter.
During the hardest times in my life, movies and TV have been a constant. They aren’t things I get to enjoy all the time, so when I do, I try to make it count. If it’s good enough, a TV show can teach you something about the nature of human beings in the space of only 30 minutes. I know every time I watch “Girls,” I am left questioning my own future (and striving to be less of an asshole). A good documentary can open your eyes to a great band or a global issue you didn’t know existed. And if it just makes you laugh, that’s reason enough to tune in. So, as Roger Ebert always said, “I’ll see you at the movies.”
Check out our other "Living Our Lives in Film" Identity Essays: