How the movies you watched as a child can shape your personality
Ever since I was a little kid there was this looming suspicion that the movies I watched shaped my personality a bit too much. Your imagination at the age around 6 or 7 is still very vivid and your mind is a perfect soil for idea seeds.
But shaping your personality for the rest of your life… isn’t that a little far fetched?
One of the best examples I can find is in the TV show “Mr. Robot”, heavily inspired by Fight Club and Matrix. There are also fan theories that there will be some heavy time travel in the next season ;)
Elliot, the main hero, is a white hat hacker by day and black hat by night. The show is very strict to be as real as possible (no CSI: Miami hacking bullshit). Everything you see since episode 1 is how it is done in reality.
Throughout his life he attained skills that could bring down the whole society down. One short movie he watched as a child with his sister gave him the whole idea. Elliot, his sister and a few friends form a group called fsociety (FUCK SOCIETY, or maybe.. fun society ;) Elliot is aware how crooked the modern society is and wants to go back to the roots by destroying the structure of it, in a same way Tyler Durden does. Introduce a little anarchy.
He and his group use masks from an old horror flick called
The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie he watched as a child. You can find the short 8 minute movie online, just do a quick search. It’s a very graphic story about a masked man brutally murdering spoiled brats.
I am actually afraid to write about the Matrix. It changed the movies forever and it contains so much depth that it would give for 5 articles. It made me want to become a hacker, so at least I became an IT security guy. Who wouldn’t want to stop bullets with his mind? My 7 year old self certainly would. The movie is so well done and full of details. In the very first scene featuring Mr. Anderson, Neo goes for the book Simulacra and Simulation and opens it on the page titled “On nihilism”. It reflects his current outlook on life. It isn’t until his red pill from Morpheus that he wakes up to reality.
Between the real people that I know of, that openly talked about the influence of movies on their life, is Quentin Tarantino, the director of Pulp Fiction, Hateful Eight, Inglorious Basterds and other masterpieces. He speaks about being a little kid and watching movies, enacting and directing the scenes he saw with action figures for himself. And where is he now!
Another example is Edmund McMillen, creator of extremely popular indie games such as Super Meat Boy or The Binding of Isaac. In his childhood he was heavily influenced by Christianity, and he noticed the morbidity of the Christ on the cross, covered in blood, that was hanging on every wall. By 3rd grade his teacher recommended a psychological evaluation because she thought he was mentally disturbed. One of the first horror movies he watched was Toxic Avenger, a very violent movie; he watched it many many times because it fascinated him. He himself is aware that it molded him into who he is today.
I don’t have any scientifically proven analysis, only thing I can really summarize this with is my own experience.
As I foreshadowed, my life was for a most part influenced by the Matrix. I also liked to think about that we are in a Matrix and it is somehow possible to get out — that came away after I realized that Neo follows the same path as Gautama Buddha and Jesus. At the end he wakes up from the dead (Jesus) and attains Enlightenment (Buddha). Matrix is and always was just a mirror of our societal structures and the world as it is today. And today, I am an IT guy who takes interest in eastern spirituality.
Other movies I watched are certainly no less fucked up. Films like 12 monkeys, Truman show, Identity, Mummy, Minority Report, The Thing, Terminator and Predator.. and when I was a bit older it was Lost and Pulp fiction.
Let’s see — 12 monkeys was a first real mindfuck I remember. Maybe it even woke me up to consciousness. I kept staring at the TV screen after the VHS stopped. We have no free will. Everything will repeat. Apocalypse will come.
Truman show. Oh well. Movie so strong that there is a mental illness named after it. It made me very very paranoid for a few months as a kid. Sentences like “I know you are watching me” were pretty normal.
Identity… a horror flick about a schizophrenic murderer with another mindfuck twist. Probably where I first learned what having multiple personalities means.
Mummy. Just a adventure comedy, right? Not for my 6 years old self. I was scared by the undead for a few weeks, saw them in the dark. Kid’s imagination, eh?
Minority Report. Movie based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, a guy who took so much LSD that at the end of his life he thought he became Jesus and then died in paranoid schizophrenic stroke. Yeah, the movie couldn’t fuck up anyone :D
The Thing. A classic horror I like to this day. I would’t say it scared me, more like fascinated me. My uncle bought the VHS and watched it with me; perhaps I wanted to show some balls and not get scared in front of him, so I just experienced the fear. And then there was none.
Lost. “See you in another life, brother”. Again, question of free will. Every 108 minutes press this button or world ceases to exist. Was that meant to be a Sisyphus metaphor? Doing futile work, but at the same time it is the best antidote do nihilism?
And Pulp fiction — I was way more mature for that. The movie is a classic and so so good. Today if someone tells me they don’t like Pulp Fiction I immediately know that they know nothing about movies. Also, it made me want to become a director, on top of everything.