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Updating Film Terminology « The MacGuffin Men

Updating Film Terminology

Published on April 12th, 2011

James creates some new film terminology in order to update the way we talk about film.

It’s been a few years since I was a student in a film class. That’s why when I was in a used bookstore recently and saw an old film textbook I had to pick it up. Old textbooks are often good for a laugh, especially when they refer to the then-upcoming women’s liberation movement as “probably just all their cycles lining up.”  The publishing date stated it was made in the 70s which meant that it was prime for some accidental comedy. What struck me about this vintage film textbook was how similar the glossary was compared to the book I was required to purchase for about a hundred dollars more than three decades later. This textbook was about film theory and therefore didn’t focus much on the technical aspects of filmmaking but even so, technology has changed how we experience and view film, not just how it’s made. Film terminology should be keeping up with these changes.  Therefore, I present some terms to update the standard film glossary and reasons why these terms are needed.

Spoiler shield: Defensive measures taken to avoid hearing the ending of a film one has not yet seen.

The first part is being careful what you read or listen to. If you don’t want any spoilers, you shouldn’t read reviews of a film. The protective forcefield made around yourself to prevent people from telling you the ending of something you want to see but haven’t had a chance yet. This applies to movies you haven’t seen, TV shows still on your PVR and sports that you don’t want to hear the results of yet. These shields come in varying degrees of severity depending on the person and media product. When it is something extremely important to someone, they often wait to watch under the right conditions with the right people. This extends the amount of time between the point when the public learned the ending and when the person employing the spoiler shield will find out. This window of time is a dangerous and frightening one, as the person in the spoiler shield must be vigilant not to hear the result. This shield can take many shapes, some defensive and some offensive. Defensive strategies include limiting your visits to movie blogs, message boards and other film nerd hangouts. Offensive strategies include answering your phone with “Hi, whoever this is, don’t tell me the ending of (insert movie here)”, Facebook statuses like “I HAVE NOT SEEN THE RAPTORS GAME, DON’T TELL ME HOW IT ENDS” and mass texts informing people you are late to seeing whatever it is you wish to see. Mass texts and statuses like this are risky however. You must put much consideration into who your friends are as you are openly advertising the chance for someone to fuck with you. Many people take a lot of delight in ruining things for other people (see moviebombing below.) These people are dicks. This sort of behaviour calls for what is known as the silent spoiler shield. It involves that you still be selective of what you watch and read, but not advertising the fact you’re out of the loop.

Example: working during Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and trying to avoid finding out the result before arriving home to your recording of it. Alex’s spoiler shield involved threatening his coworkers with mortal injury if the score was ruined, and then walking from work to the bus to his house with his head down the whole way. Sitting on the bus, Alex stared at his feet and listened to excessively loud music to avoid seeing a Lakers jersey or hearing a comment like “the Cs really could have used Perk.” Upon returning home to his then-roommate saying “I know who won,” Alex ran away from said roommate while saying, “if you spoil it for me, I’ll punch you in the dick!” The lesson here? Never moviebomb/sportsbomb Alex.

Why we need it more than ever: to reduce Alex’s number of assault charges.

Moviebombing: Intentionally ruining a movie for several people at once.

This is the opposite of the spoiler shield. Instead of defending yourself from spoilers, you are actively trying to ruin movies for other people. This usually involves ruining major plot points that occur near the end of the film. This is not to be confused with acciedntally ruining the end of a film.  Moviebombing is deliberate behaviour such as yelling the end of the movie at people lined up for the next screening. This video shows somone standing up in a packed theater and ruining the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the typical reaction. Although it is possible to moviebomb any film, it is most popular with highly-anticipated, heavily advertised films. There are a few reasons to ruin a movie for someone. Simply disliking someone and wanting to ruin something they like can cause moviebombing. However, moviebombs are often less person-specific and aimed at the fanbase of a film as a whole instead of an individual. This is popular among films that have so much anticipation that you can become very annoyed at their existence without seeing them. After thousands of commercials and billboards, many people choose to take their irritation out on the fans by spoiling the ending of the film. Films such as Harry Potter, with large fanbases, avid fans and many sequels, often have large lines outside of the theatre. These lines can easily be yelled at. Although it is interesting seeing how many tears can be shed with a few words yelled at the line of costumed children outside a theatre showing Harry Potter, moviebombing is properly regarded as a dick move. This behaviours breaches what can only be guessed to be hundreds of spoiler shields. Moviebombers are definitely dicks, but they can also be persistent and sometimes very crafty dicks. They are constantly diversifying their strategies for this dickishness, such as emailing people with an innocent subject line and a screengrab of the most climatic part of the film. This example of moviebombing has spoilers for Harry Potter franchise, as well as evidence as that people are even willing to spend money on this hobby.  But I mean, you don’t want these people mad at you, do you?

There are many reasons to moviebomb. Many teenage males hate Twilight because the effect it has on their female peers. These males are suddenly expected to either have 8-pack abs or to glitter, both of which require a lot of practice. They suspect if they can make Twilight less enjoyable that perhaps they will become more sexually viable candidates.  Most of the people you speak to who actively hate these films have not seen them and simply dislike their fanbases. Many dislike the Harry Potter franchise without reading a book or seeing a movie.  Their issue is with the Pottermania that makes its way onto the news, causes lines at the bookstore and seems inescapable every time something new in the franchise is released. I’m not sure what would make someone want to ruin the ending of Marley & Me, but this spoiler-filled picture shows someone does. Regardless of the motive, moviebombing is a dick move.

Why we need it now more than ever: There is more advertising now than there ever has been. I’m not one to romanticize the past but I don’t know how many people would disagree that marketing has been becoming more and more ubiquitous for a while now. There are simply more messages about upcoming media products, which leads to more hype, which leads to more people getting frustrated and moviebombing.

Movie Jew: A non-Jewish actor who is frequently cast as a Jewish character.

These people are known for dark, curly hair, larger than average noses and ability to complain well on-screen.  John Tuturro is probably the best contemporary example. This is not to say John Turturro is nothing but a movie Jew.  He is so good at playing both Jews and non-Jews that he can be in all 3 Transformers movies and still command respect from cinephiles.

Why we need it now more than ever: Well,  because now we have this website, great for telling us whether your favourite Jew is a real Jew or a movie Jew.  They also have a section for athletes so you can see if your favourite sports star is Jewish.  (Hint, they’re not.)

Rainbow: A racially ambiguous actor who will play any race needed.

The best contemporary example of this would probably be Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen.  His repertoire includes characters that are black, white, Asian, native American and a variety of nationalities.

Why we need it now more than ever: Despite being credited as the first Asian SNL cast member, Armisen currently plays the first black American president.

Retroactive appreciation: the improvement in your opinion on a film after you are done watching it.

This can be the result of reading positive reviews, finding yourself arguing someone who really enjoyed it who brings up good points or simply reflecting on it more. This does not apply to simply choosing to like a film because it is popular. Many people question the validity of retroactive appreciation and argue that if you had to think about it or read about it to decide whether or not you liked a movie then you probably didn’t like it. They argue that if it’s not enjoyable when you watch it, it’s not a good movie.

Why we need it now more than ever: Because I was wrong. Angels in the Outfield is a cinematic masterpiece and I was too young to realize it until I read academic literature about it.

Quote tourettes: quoting movies uncontrollably.

People suffering from this affliction repeat lines verbatim without knowing it. Only when someone else points out that they enjoy the quoted film do people suffering from quote tourettes realized they reflexively quoted something. This happens almost exclusively with hardcore film fans who watched movies so often they have difficulty distinguishing which phrases in their head they came up with and which were taken from a film.  Oh well, I guess there are worse things than quoting Anchorman a lot…

Why we need it now more than ever: With Youtube, cheap DVDs, millions of streaming movies online and pop culture taking control of more of our vocabulary, this phenemenon is on the rise. You can only hear someone say “I’m kind of a big deal” so many times before you think the phrase has been around since the dawn of humankind.

Movievation: motivation experienced by viewing a film.

This is recognizable by the temporary desire to make more of your life and live every minute to the fullest. This is often suffered after watching films such as Dead Poets’ Society, Happy-Go-Lucky and most things with Zooey Deschanel. It usually only wears off in about 2 days.

Why we need it now more than ever: To have something to call your friends out on after they tell you they don’t want to play Nintendo 64 with you again.  This is a lie.  EVERYONE wants to play Nintendo 64 with you.  I mean, come on, you just got the Rumble-Pak.

Zooey's Bangs

(This image was not created by The Macguffin Men but instead by someone who calls themself Wolf Gnards.  Further explanation as to what makes the archetypal indie girl can be found here.)

Cinegogue: the favourite theatre of a movie fan.

Similar to the name of a Jewish house of worship, it is the theatre you frequent most often. This may be because it is closest to your house, the cheapest, or has the best selection. Extreme cases of this can lead to the moviegoer knowing the names of theatre employees and sometimes even their schedule.

Why we need this now more than ever: A massive majority of movie theatres are now owned by a very small number of corporations. It’s important to go the ones that you like in order to support them so they don’t disappear entirely. Such theatres provide a more unique theatre going experience, allow you a chance to see a classic film on the big screen and sometimes have ticket prices that don’t have to be spread over 2 credit cards. They typically have a much better sense of humour than the chains as well.

Cinemasochism: Pleasure derived from watching a movie one knows is poorly made.

While the definition of a bad movie is an issue of personal taste, cinemasochists know they will not enjoy these films in the traditional sense. Films viewed for sadomasochistic reasons are enjoyed as somewhat tongue-in-cheek, in a “so good it’s bad” kind of way. Talking during these movies is more socially acceptable, espcially if the talking is to point out bad acting, visible filming equipment, continuity errors and to point out how humourous some character’s death was. Steven Seagal, while perhaps taken somewhat seriously at a point, owes most of the longevity of his career to cinemasochists who are surprised that he keeps getting work but are still entertained. American action films are likely the favourite genre for this type of film viewer but certainly not the only genre. Independent horror movies are rather popular due to their low budget, inexperienced actors and noticeably poor special effects. The Room has recently enjoyed an explosion in popularity despite no one taking it seriously.

Troll 2, sometimes regarded as the worst movie ever made, has reached such popularity that there is even a documentary about its cinemasochist fans. Another popular type of film for these viewers is dubbed films or, even better, foreign remakes of popular American films, such as the infamous Turkish Star Wars.

Why we need it now more than ever: Several reasons: 1)People watching movies this way is on the rise.  People have been aware that some movies were awful but lately have been more likely to embrace these films than ignore them. 2) Cheaper filmmaking technologies has allowed more people to make films, especially those with little understanding of film and little time to devote to making one.  This gives us a massive influx in the number of films out there, especially in the genre of “We didn’t think this through.” 3)  Ironic appreciation and hipsterism has allowed for many self-aware people to see themselves as better than these movies and its genuine fans by watching them fully aware of their cinematic shortcomings. Also the older Seagal gets, the funnier he accidentally gets.

Steven Seagal Emotion Chart

Maximum Allowable Skippage: the number or frequency of skips in a digital copy of a movie that can be tolerated.

This is how much your movie skips before a) you take this disc out and wipe it down OR b) you stop watching it all together. M.A.S. can vary significantly between different people. If a movie skips once an hour, almost everyone will still watch it. However, if it skips once a minute, less people will put up with that.

Why we need it now more than ever: This term is gaining popularity as a result of the current forms of film distribution. DVDs and Blu-Rays are both susceptible to smudges and scratching on their surface which causes choppy playing. While VHS certainly wasn’t the most consistent format, when it failed the picture and audio suffered but there was rarely the risk of the film jumping an hour ahead and ruining the end of a film, as we can see with digital formats. Programming being beamed by satellite or being played off a personal video recorder can be very tempermental. Improperly downloaded files as well as streaming video with a weak signal can cause pausing and jumping around.

The GTA Effect: The way one looks at the world after viewing an action movie or playing violent video games.

While this phenomenon certainly applies to action and sci-fi films, it is usually the strongest in people who have just played a Grand Theft Auto videogame. People suffering from the GTA Effect look at the world as a series of destructible objects and people begging to be killed. Dave Chapelle has suffered from this and even made a sketch about it on his too-shortly-lived TV show. Damaged bridges appear as inviting jumps, not dangeous hazards.  Police officers are seen as inconveniences to the path of your car, not defenders of social justice. Star Wars and Matilda both caused me to spend several hours of my childhood sitting still trying to move objects with my mind, and I often find Alex yelling into his cell phone at some woman named Chloe about needing schematics or something when he’s knee-deep in a season of 24.

Why we need it now more than ever: Because I seriously tried to jump a broken bridge with a bus. Apparently that doesn’t work without Keanu Reeves in the vehicle.

Snack jacket: A baggy winter coat you wear to the movies in the August to sneak in more candy.

Why we need it now more than ever:  Because despite decades of stand-up comedians bemoaning the price of snacks at the movie theatre, nothing has changed.

Am I missing anything? Do you have any terms you like to use to describe recent trends? Comment below or send us an email at


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