Sailer In TakiMag: Are We What We Watch?
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My new Taki’s Magazine column more lucidly explains that new paper on what your taste in movies says about your personality. For example:

People who like movies about sports tend to rank high on the sociable personality traits and lower on the more artistically related traits.

For example, the two movies with the most extreme personality profiles are the polar-opposite high school cult classics Friday Night Lights, about a blue-collar Texas football team trying to win the state title, and Heathers, in which Winona Ryder is conflicted over whether or not to finish murdering all the popular girls:

Read the whole thing there.

By the way, Friday Night Lights, which went on to become a successful TV show, has the least neurotic fan base of any of the 846 movies. The second least neurotic is Mission Impossible, the action-suspense franchise in which Tom Cruise performs heroic feats of derring-do. In contrast:

Winona Ryder movies are strong in Neuroticism, with the most neurotic movie of the 846 being her hot-chicks-in-a-mental-institution Girl, Interrupted with Angelina Jolie.

That got me wondering about a fundamental question about who “likes” various movies. One plausible theory would be the “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” theory that the kind of people who like watching Tom Cruise dangle precariously are timid people who are scared of heights, and thus are extra-thrilled by the Mission: Impossible stunts.

There is some evidence for this: e.g., fans of horror movies like The Exorcist and Psycho are above average in neuroticism. They tend to find life scary and like scary movies.

On the other hand, most of the time it seems like the opposite: people tend to identify with movies about people who are rather like themselves in terms of personality, just better looking: e.g., self-confident non-neurotic people like Tom Cruise’s self-confident Ethan Hunt and emotionally fragile neurotic people like Girl, Interrupted.

Of course, this raises the question of whether Facebook “likes” translates directly to ticket sales. My guess is that people who like a movie on Facebook tend more toward the hard core fans who look forward to a Mission: Impossible 7 or whatever they are up to lately or a 25th anniversary sequel to Girl, Interrupted.

Anyway, read my new article.

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