The PopWatch Dictionary: Cineparanoia

The overwhelming fear of being judged based on a film selection.

Origin:I was recently tasked with renting a long list of movies so that ourphoto editors could make screen grabs for the latest gallery: Watching the Unwatchable. I skipped merrily through the video rental store, and happily plunked my movie picks on the counter. The clerk took a long, hard look at me, followed by an even longer look at my film selections. I followed his eyes over the titles:

American History X. Pulp Fiction. Saw (starring Tobin Bell, pictured). The Hitcher. Blade Runner. Reservoir Dogs. The Ring. Requiem for a Dream. 

It dawned on me. I was being judged. And, guessing by the look on the young employee’s face, I ranked somewhere between disturbed and psychopathic. He seemed momentarily lost in a reverie, and I knew. I just knew he was picturing me running home and hosting a graphic movie marathon, a weekly event celebrating film in its unrated, grotesque, and downright offensive glory, a night culminating in some sort of sacrifice, ending in a toast with a glass of my own blood.

And if it wasn’t the selections that offended him, it’s quite possiblethat he questioned why anyone would need to rent eight moviessimultaneously. It was as if I had handed him an announcement that Iwas engaged to my DVD player.

Shuffling the movies around with my hands, (as if this would somehowdistract him) I tried to explain myself. "It’s work!" "For my job!""It’s a gallery!" "Screen grabs!" "Really!" "Not my thing!" "Gosh, thisis awkward!" "Sell any Sno-Caps here?!" His eyes narrowed. I guess theother thing that made my movie choices so atrocious is that I barelylook old enough to rent an R-rated film.

So, I have to ask. Have you ever had a case of cineparanoia? Do you experience a heightened sense ofanxiety or depression around theaters and video rental stores? Do youinvent cover stories should your Blockbuster clerk notice you’verented Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights seven times in the past month? "Oh, [chuckle] my mom just lovesthis junk!" Right. Remember, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Comments (38 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3
  • megC

    My friends and I love getting together for cheesy, sub-standard horror movies. So,yes, I have gotten looks of disgust…or pity, I guess…for checking out Skulls 1, 2, and 3 at the same time, as well as my personal favorite, When a Stranger Calls (the new one with Camille Belle).

  • Catherine

    I love cheesy (read bad) movies, I rent them all the time!! However, I do get a little paranoiac when I rent a Steven Seagal movie…which I stopped doing about 2 years ago!!
    I used to work in a video store, and I confess I got judgemental when someone rented a XXX movie…and brought it back about 45 minutes later…It was just like “really?! We don’t know what you were doing…”

  • Wings

    Slasher flicks. Friday the 13th, Halloween, etc. I like them. And I know people judge. But whatever. I am a happily married father of three great kids.
    Don’t judge a renter by their DVD case?

  • Eric Friedmann

    I stay away from many popular blockbuster movies when they hit theaters because they attract too much of the masses! Movie audiences have gotten too rude and inconsiderate for me to deal with anymore, so I keep away from them whenever possible!

  • Ceballos

    Pretty much anytime I’ve bought anything with Hugh Grant in it (or any other fluffy romantic comedy). And seeing as how, off the top of my head, I know I have Notting Hill, Four Weddings, Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Nine Months and About a Boy…that’s quite a lot of cineparanoia.

  • Em

    I used to rent from a tiny little independent store, and I was a regular, so the employees got to know me pretty well. I tend to watch pretty dark/sad films, and once, when I rented Requiem for a Dream, the guy behind the counter said “Do you EVER watch happy movies?”

  • JMC

    One word: Netflix.

  • Dave

    Your paranoia is totally justified. In High School my friend managed a video rental store, and they absolutely judge you, although their taste is probably more questionable than yours. (As in, they’d sing your praises if you rented Highlander: The Quickening.)
    But how about record store clerks? Movie snobs are one thing, but Jack-Black-in-High-Fidelity type judgment is pretty much par for the course when you’re buying music.

  • Catherine

    Like I wrote earlier, I used to work in a video store and it is true, we used to make fun of clients and judge, but I’m with Dave, record store clerk are worst. Once I bought Crazy Frogs (for my brother I swear!!) and the look I got was very meaningful…

  • Ep Sato

    Many of my friends give me props for knowing a decent share of pop culture’s underground subcultures. These same friends have given me some odd looks when I’ve admitted to liking movies like “the Princess Diaries” or “Mean Girls”. So I’m inclined not to talk about movies that I’ve liked if they don’t involve mutants, explosions or the undead.

  • Laura

    I rented Saws II and III together last October in preparation for the opening of Saw IV (which I didn’t get to see in theaters anyway). Definitely got an interesting look. What I really get paranoid about is the movies that I rent but don’t get around to watching. Some of them I really do want to see, but I always think that if I rent them again the clerk will think I’m weird.

  • dj snowflake

    the time i rented the unrated showgirls and basic instinct at the same time for a paper (i swear!). the looks from the tla clerks were pretty horrifying

  • MC

    I’m a 30 year old, hetero male and I recently got some very judgemental looks from friends when I asked to borrow the first 3 seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD from one friends wife. But I quit caring about that stuff a few years ago, I like what I like.

  • Hamburger Royal

    I used to be cine-/audioparanoid, but after realizing that you can build any case angainst anything, it just ended. The same Blockbuster/record store guy applauding you today will look down on you tommorrow. Rule of thumb: If you go for a Leonard Cohen/Mandy Moore (or The Usual Suspects/Mean Girls for movies) combo you *will* be remembered, but if you’re this cool, you don’t make excuses.

  • glg

    The day I rented Last Action Hero (on an insisted recommendation from a friend), I was completely afraid of being judged. I never even watch that kind of flick, but then found myself guilty of the same when I judged the clerk in return when he mentioned that it was a pretty good movie – I had already decided that wasn’t even remotely possible.

Page: 1 2 3
Add your comment
The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject - or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field.

When you click on the "Post Comment" button above to submit your comments, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to the Terms of Service. You can also read our Privacy Policy.

Latest Videos


From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by VIP