Whether you're showing off your Fellini photogram collection or proudly taking a duckface selfie in front of the Entourage poster, we all think of our taste (or lack thereof) in movies as a part of our identity. That said, how much you enjoy any given film could have less to do with your unique, fascinating personality and more with your physiology, and how humans have developed over time. In other words: It's evolution, dummy.
Like it or not (and regardless of what Rotten Tomatoes says), your perception of a movie is forever tethered to the hunk of meat and hair that is your body. This influences your movie-watching habits in ways you probably never considered. For example ...
6Airplane Movies Likely Make You Cry Because Flying Is A Goddamn Nightmare
Airplanes: the cinemas of the sky. A plane is the ideal setting in which to view movies you couldn't be bothered to drag your ass out of the house and buy a ticket for. When you're stuck in a cramped seat tens of thousands of feet above the earth's surface, the fact that a mall security officer's last name rhymes with "fart" suddenly doesn't sound like such a bad premise for a feature-length motion picture.
But a lot of people seem to find that watching movies on airplanes make them more emotional. You could be a cynically-minded fuck, but for some reason, on a plane, Cheaper By The Dozen 2 has the Barbara Walters-esque power to reduce you to a blubbering mess. Believe it or not, this has become such an issue that Virgin Atlantic began issuing "emotional health warnings" before movies with potentially tear-inducing content:
"If you're still not weeping, inquire about our alcohol prices."
A survey by Virgin found that 55 percent of their customers experienced "heightened emotions" while flying, and 41 percent of men had even covered their faces with blankets like arrested businessmen to avoid being seen openly weeping at some bullshit movie. So why the hell does this happen? We're not sure, but there are some interesting theories. One possible explanation stems from a 2000 study, which explains that crying in adults "seems to occur in situations where action [as in, getting up and doing something] makes no sense." Feeling grief is a good example. Being in a plane, forcibly immobile, and having ceded all control of your life over to the pilot, is another.
That kid on the other row isn't being a little shit.
He's overwhelmed by that sudden surrender of control.
There's also the fact that a good crying episode never happens during a moment of trauma, but later on, when things have calmed down. Planning a trip can be stressful, so it's possible that when you're sitting there doing nothing, your body says, "Eh, might as well let it all out now" and turns on the waterworks. Of course, if you're watching a Pixar movie, you can't blame the plane -- those guys have a drill-sergeant-like knack for ruining your tear ducts.
5Soundtracks Fuck You Up In Ways You Barely Notice
Movie scores began back in the silent era, as a means to drown out the sound of the projector and get the audience to shut the hell up. But they've come a long way since then. After all, can you imagine Star Wars without John Williams' triumphant score? Or Deep Blue Sea without LL Cool J's song about how he's basically a shark himself because he's wearing a fun hat?
Ironically, as they become more sophisticated, soundtracks have also evolved to tap into the more primitive side of our brain. Take the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, which may have terrorized a generation and likely caused a huge societal surge in BO, but is still nothing without the music.
If you don't believe us, watch this while listening to this.
A big part of its success lies in the fact that Bernard Herrmann's score for the film replicated the animal sounds of "panic in nature," hearkening back to our primate days. This made it super terrifying, even if we didn't fully comprehend why. These types of semi-subliminal scores aren't relegated to horror, either. A study found that even dramas employ this tactic, because the goal of tragedy is similarly to unsettle (and serve as an excuse for makeout sessions).
Even crazier, some movie soundtracks are using a sneakier tactic to mess your shit up: infrasound. An "extreme bass wave" that makes Barry White look like Barry Manilow, infrasound is below what the human ear can detect. This can have a disquieting effect on people, even causing anxiety and nausea without the viewer ever knowing why. The movie Irreversible used this tactic, because apparently the producers didn't think the explicit rape scenes would be quite unnerving enough without the magic anxiety music.
So good news: Maybe you felt sick because of science, and not basic human empathy!
Paranormal Activity might have also used infrasound on the soundtrack, which could explain why people who saw it in the theater were in a constant state of fear, whereas people who watched it at home without the proper sound system wondered why they were watching surveillance footage without getting the hourly pay of a security guard.