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Why Don’t You Just Tell Me the Name of The Movie You Want to See

I love movies. I want to start a movie club. The problem, apparently, is that movies (the cinematic arts, to the high-brow among us) are for dummies, the uncultured and uncivilized.

Mark Eaton. Uniting professional sports and the Theory of Evolution since 1982.


Whereas book clubs and literature are for the more refined among us (print books for the truly intellectual, no e-readers).

And here, my friend, is to your nude-colored turtleneck. mmyes.


The truth is, I can’t remember half of what I read in books. I get the main gist (Tom Sawyer got some kids to paint a fence…got it). But if you ask me to discuss the literary nuances and the subtle societal undertones of the story, I got nothing. I can do that with movies, though. I can talk about the depth of the characters or why the director and cinematographers chose to film the way they did. So, when I’m invited to a book club, I offer instead to start a movie club. No one ever takes me up on it. Probably because they know as well as I do every movie club would turn into this:

If you look at this picture from a distance, it looks like Yanni.


Because I love movies, I have Netflix. I’ve gotten frustrated from time to time with Netflix. I’m not sure they really care about my feelings. Netflix asks me to rate movies I have seen. Then, based on those ratings, they make recommendations to me. For example,


Rob, based on your interest in:

What this book presupposes is…maybe he didn’t?


We recommend:

Like watching an epileptic seizure.


Clearly, Netflix just doesn’t get me (or maybe they really do get me and Yo Gabba Gabba has a deeper meaning than I’ve ever considered). Either they are basing their assumptions (making an ass out of U and Mptions) on one small part of something I said, or they aren’t even listening to me. I guess a third possibility is that their movie selection is so poor that Yo Gabba Gabba is literally the closest thing they have to The Royal Tenenbaums, in which case, I’m in the wrong line. (I can’t rule out the possibility that I’m not being really open and honest with them, but we’ll save that for another blerg.)


I’ve noticed in my time doing therapy that Netflix may not be the only poor communicator out there. I was in the kitchen with my wife the other day and she was trying to tell me something. As I am an advanced communicator and knew exactly where she was going, I went ahead and tried to finish her sentence for her. I failed, but ever resilient, I gave it another go:


Why don’t you just tell me the name of the movie you want to see?


The problem is assuming I know where she is going. I stop listening and fill in the blanks. I have clients who do this all the time. We all do it. Even if we hear the words, we stop listening when we think we got the message and miss the meaning completely. We hear “I want a movie,” and we spit out Yo Gabba Gabba.


There are 20,000 books out there about listening for a reason. If we stopped listening for what we are going to say next and really tried to understand someone’s meaning, we could have better relationships (and our intimacy with Netflix would skyrocket).


I think it’s time for an epileptic seizure.


Rob Porter, Ph.D., LMFT

Marriage and Family Therapist, Austin TX




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