You Are What You Watch

Hi friends, Penn here. As some of you know, I am obsessed with all things sci-fi… Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, The Expanse, 3 Body Problem, you name it. This traces way back to my childhood during the Star Wars and Star Trek days. Captain Kirk, Luke, Han, and Leia were the protagonists who helped spark a lifelong fascination for all things space. Those movies and shows made me (well, still make me) desperately want to be an astronaut. 

I am not an astronaut. Life took me in a wildly different direction. (Plus I have occasional vertigo so I would have made a horrible astronaut.)

Dashed childhood dreams aside, the impact these movies and shows had on me got us thinking: How much of what you watched/read as a kid shaped who you are? 

The Impact of Media

Turns out, the stuff we consume has a greater impact than you think. Walt Hickey wrote a fascinating book called You Are What You Watch: How Movies and TV Affect Everything that discusses just that. In it, Hickey dives into (among many other things) the power of entertainment, how it can have an actual physical effect on us, and how it can greatly shape who we are as individuals, and as a society. So we invited him on this week’s podcast. 

In writing the book, Walt was struck by how casually people would recall movies and television as their inspiration for their jobs. (Example: I couldn’t stop watching the movie Twister, and now I am a meteorologist.) Another example in the book is the rise in dog breeds as pets around certain films. St. Bernards rose after the release of the movie, Beethoven in 1992 and pugs after the release of Milo and Otis in 1986. 

The Reigning Britney Spears Champ

I love having people like Walt on the podcast because he’s a unique and original thinker. We took the opportunity to pick his brain about everything from how much screen time is too much to the impact violent films have on our society. (Next time, I’ll have him analyze my fear of artificial intelligence. I bet we can track it back to the Matrix, iRobot, and Battlestar Galactica, but I digress…)

Listen to the podcast and tell us what movies and shows have shaped you! Also bonus–after the interview, Kim and I test our 90’s pop culture knowledge with our producer, Ann Marie. (And I remain the champ of Britney Spears knowledge…IYKYK.)  Happy listening!