Movies That Mold Us

A new episode of House of Fincher dropped today, and it was a discussion about Fight Club. As I listened back, I was struck again by how much of an impact the film had on my tastes and how much it resonated with me when I saw it.

To be clear, I wasn’t one of those guys who “joined a Fight Club” once I saw it. I knew a guy who did that, and it struck me as supremely…dumb. I’ll leave it to you to discern why I might have thought that.

But Fight Club certainly made an impact. Something in it spoke to people, especially people who were coming to terms with some of the absurdities of modern living. There was a comforting rebelliousness against a natural order that seemed terribly unnatural.

But this blog isn’t about that.

It’s more about how you can never know when or how you’ll encounter a film that will change the way you think, or affirm a feeling you’ve had. And these movies wind up molding you.

Sometimes movies mold you in small ways. Sometimes they mold you in large ways.

Rosemary’s Craigula is one of the greatest horror pictures of all time.

Sometimes, as you grow, you look back on something like JFK and think, “I became a conspiracy theorist because of that nonsense?” Sometimes you look back on The Doors and think, “Why would you lionize behavior like that?” (And I don’t mean just Morrison.)

Sometimes you realize Oliver Stone made both of those, and became a de facto historian for an age. Was that a good thing?

But they had an impact and they molded my tastes and my opinions, at least for a time. Some of that is a function of age, and some of it is just a function of taste, which is especially odd considering movies can also mold your tastes along the way.

Does a movie resonate because it reveals to you something about yourself? Can it show you who you want(ed) to be? Why do some of them salve a pain deep somewhere in your soul?

It’s humbling to realize how much a piece of entertainment can have an impact, and at times disturbing to realize the things you let sway you based on a strong emotional presentation.

There are so many moments tied to movies in my life that they’re inextricably a part of who I am. It’s both terrifying and enlightening to think of it that way.

It’s bizarre to think that movies don’t have that same sort of impact on others. It’s always an odd moment when I realize they exist in a completely different context for other people, even though we share the same cultural lexicon thanks to the ones that gained the most notice.

One of my favorite icebreaker questions with people is, “What are your five favorite movies?” It reveals a lot about them. Same with albums and books, of course, but movies have an even greater pull on the collective unconsciousness than those media, which are more likely to dip into very niche choices very quickly.

It will just always fascinate me.

A stock photo representing Inception. Only the best for you.
Photo by Ash @ModernAfflatus on

2 thoughts on “Movies That Mold Us

  1. John – I enjoyed this piece, but what I really enjoyed was going down the rabbit hole of your various blog posts, and then finding the one about the Doors movie. When I got to the part about you skipping Speech and Debate practice to see the premiere, I thought, “ wait a minute, I think that might be me he’s talking about.” Then I got to the next sentence about the unnamed person’s mother holding a grudge, and I thought “oh yeah, that’s definitely me.” And to top it all off, the only comment on your post was from my dear older brother, CELEBRATING MY FAILURE IN 1991!!! Anyway, wanted to let you know that it brought back great memories from almost 30 years ago. I hope that you and your family are well. Take care, old friend.


    1. Hey! Good to hear from you, buddy! I’m glad it could give you a smile. We’re doing well, hope you all are too!


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