Random Pop Culture Question of the Week
Yardstick Movies
the Staff
Random Pop Culture Question of the Week is a bi-weekly journey into the headspace of the Review to Be Named gang, in which a pop-culture question is posed, answers are sought, and discussions are generated about issues and hypotheticals from throughout the realm of pop culture.

This week's question comes from our own Rachel, who asked,
Do you have a yardstick movie? One that you make new friends/romantic prospects watch and then judge their reaction meticulously, potentially reevaluating their attractiveness based on their opinions? Anecdotes are welcome (and encouraged, really).


Gosh, I am so great at coming up with questions that I don't really have a single answer to! As a naturally judgmental person, I use any means necessary to make my decisions on people--pop culture preferences, choice of clothing, ability to speak in accordance with the rules of proper English grammar.

I have different yardstick movies for different purposes, I guess. Not to harp on my love of Coraline , but really, I will judge you as a friend and as a potential love interest according to your reaction to my recommending we watch Coraline . If you dismiss it as a cartoon or "just" a children's movie and therefore uninteresting, I will immediately reconsider my attraction to you, platonic or otherwise. If you say this without having seen it, I'll give you a second chance, but if you still refuse, I will hesitate to ever call you again. That being said, if you watch it and have a positive reaction to it, I will probably love you forever.

Another great barometer for me is Conversations with other Women , starring Helena Bonham Carter in maybe her only normal, non-period role ever, and Aaron Eckhart doing his best impersonation of a golden retriever. The movie is filmed entirely in split screen, and if that's something you don't have the acumen to handle, I probably won't want to have conversations with you ever. The twisted, damaged, history of this complicated love story always speaks to me, and if you don't think that that right person is the villain by the end of the movie, I will be very upset.

Other yardstick movies for me include Almost Famous , if only because of my extreme love for that movie, Love Actually (really, it isn't that complicated and yes, I do believe each individual story is well developed), and The Royal Tenenbaums , because if you don't think this movie is hilarious there is clearly something seriously wrong with you. Also, as a friend and particularly as a more-than-friend, you must also be down to watch basically any Disney movie without complaint and with the proper amount of appreciation, as well as shitty sci-fi movies like Lake Placid , because honestly, I often live so much in my head that it is nice to escape for a while.


I'd have to answer this question with a no. Simply because I can't really pick one or two or three movies to show someone that will reveal, much like a magic 8 Ball, if we're compatible as friends. If this were true I think I'd miss out on many friends in my life because they didn't like Brazil enough or better yet, because I didn't like Amadeus enough.

Generally my friends have a decent taste in film and television because I naturally gravitate towards those people. But if I showed you 8 ½ and you didn't enjoy it, who am I to say you are unworthy of my friendship? Maybe you really like Network and think it's the apex cinematic satire of the media, I don't. Am I wrong? Perhaps. But that is no reason not to be friends with someone. In fact, many of the films I like are not always viewer friendly. "What, you DIDN'T LIKE The Piano Teacher ? Please leave. Anyone who can't enjoy a film with genital mutilation and a healthy dose of rape is no friend of mine!"

See how silly that is? Granted, if you have completely different tastes in all things pop culture, it's likely indicative of being VERY different from someone. This could be bad or it could be good. I have a friend, one of my best friends in fact, who does not like The Simpsons .

In fact, he openly says it isn't a funny show. Anyone who knows me can imagine my shocked face upon hearing this. Yet he's one of my best friends. If there's any proof that this idea of a cinematic barometer is bullshit, it's this. But seriously guys, you should like Wall-E .


Ok, as this is my very first submission to this esteemed site, I am hoping that I do a good job. Wish me luck!

The first movie that comes to mind when I consider the idea of yardstick movies is Dazed and Confused , the movie by which I base a number of my decisions. Whether it's deciding what I want to do with my life (just keep livin') or which colored jeans would be least flattering but most awesome (salmon, obviously), I look to Dazed and Confused for the best advice available. And in terms of judging potential romantic interests and friends, Dazed and Confused is also a very helpful tool. If someone has seen it already and liked it, and especially if they've seen it upwards of twenty times like myself, I know they'll probably be entertaining, slightly (or more than slightly) lazy, nostalgic (even for times before their own), hilarious, and maybe even loyal. Because if someone loves a movie wherein this is the most famous and most quotable scene:

I know I'll probably get along with them. And in the interest of anecdotal evidence, I have actually used Dazed and Confused as a test, to see if I might consider keeping a man-friend around for an extended period of time. We watched the movie. He did not appreciate it, and didn't even laugh at this:

If you don't find an extended history of the Founding Fathers planting fields of marijuana, with Martha Washington as the "hip, hip lady" behind it all, then I'm not sure I want to be around you. That man-friend didn't appreciate it, and I like to think that this disinterest was an important warning sign of our incompatibility. In any case, Dazed and Confused is, and will continue to be, amazing, and I will continue to love it and use it as the basis for many important life decisions. Because this scene right here, well, it includes some of the best life philosophies I've ever encountered:


Partially, I agree with Sam here, but I don't think the total idea of a cinematic barometer is bullshit. I do, however, think one yardstick movie is just unfair to any person I hope to have a future with. There are any number of reasons why a person might not like any given movie that would be completely valid, and I wouldn't feel comfortable having a one movie test.

That being said, I tend to use the entire realm of pop culture as a potential barometer for compatibility, creating the idea of a complex equation out of what my friends and potential love interests do and don't like. Can't get behind Finding Nemo? That might take 5 invisible points away from you. Love Arrested Development? Here's 1,000 points to make it up to you. Some pieces of pop culture are so important to me that I will defend them against argument, and that I hope any close friend or love interest can come to appreciate, but no one movie is enough for me. I might use last week's Random Pop Culture Top Ten List as a starting point like Rachel has (though I think When Harry Met Sally is a far better judge of character than Coraline. Maybe Rachel and I shouldn't be friends?), but ultimately there is no singular "cinematic yardstick" for me. At the end of the day, I think what you like is never nearly as important as why you like it. But if you don't like When Harry Met Sally you're a demon beast from hell and you should get out of my house.


Yeah I'm gonna have to side with Jordan and Sam on this one, while I might use certain pop culture favorites to test the waters, movie/tv compatability has never been a major factor for me when I'm interested in someone. In fact, the longest relationship I've ever had comes to mind when thinking of this, as she and I had almost no similar tastes in movies or television, and we got along just fine. As the site's resident comics guy and someone who lists Battlestar Galactica and Angel within my top ten television favorites, I feel like most of my nights would be very cold and lonely if I had a certain quota of favorite movies, shows, and even comics to check off before deciding to pursue a relationship with someone. That being said there are certain things I look for in a person that certain movies or shows can help me get a better reading on. A love of Arrested Development , Party Down , or Community will suggest we have a compatible sense of humor, which is a big thing for me. If American Psycho makes you laugh as much as it does me, you probably won't be offended by my dark and morose sense of humor, which is a plus.

Also if you don't like Pixar movies, you probably don't have a soul, and I could see that being a major issue down the road.

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Note from Rachel: Unfortunately, my brilliance is sometimes a finite resource. Send us your ideas for future installments of Random Pop Culture Question of the Week on twitter @reviewtobenamed (follow us here), or shoot us an e-mail at reviewtobenamed@gmail.com.
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