American Psychological Association
Washington DC, August 4-8, 2000
4153 Paper Session: Contemporary Issues in Media Psychology Cal State students presenting "Popular Movie Quotes: Reflections of A People and A Culture" (Left to Right: Jarod Young, Ana Franco, Stuart Fischoff, Esmi Cardenas, Korey Wyatt, and Angela Hernandez)
The photo above is from a Division 46 paper presentation on August 5, 2000. Below is the report which was filed "asycnchronously live" from the APA's Convenion 2000, to the Current Topics list-serv.
An afternoon paper presentation by Drs. Roger Klein and Stuart Fischoff, along with several graduate students (see photo above) focused on research about how the public perceives the role of television media, and how we as a culture absorb the language of movie quotes. Dr. Klein began by presenting a recent study which explored attitudes among University of Pittsburgh students about the media's depiction of violence. As a context, it was noted that a recent CNN poll found 63% agreement with the statement that "media is a cause of violence", and a widely held opinion that the media was a contributing factor in the 1999 Columbine High School tragedy. Among the students in this study, there was a significant sentiment that television news should somehow be censored, with almost 1/3 indicating that they felt the government should censor all media. Opinion differed according to gender and marital status, with female and married respondents more likely to favor censorship. Almost 20% believed that violent shows should be banned. The study found, additionally, that 40% of the Sample believed that parents were to blame for the tragedy at Columbine, this belief again breaking down along the lines of gender and marital status. Sixty percent felt that the parents were at the least, "negligent". Interestingly, those coming from private schools were particularly prone to point the blame at parents, while 80% who had attended public schools identified peer pressure as the major cause of adolescent violence. Next, Hollywood Media Psychologist Dr.Stuart Fischoff, and his student researchers, presented a study outlining how movie quotes have become part of our popular culture's lexicon, across ages, gender, and ethnic groups. This was a study with a diverse Sample of 1083 respondents, aged 10-90, and in soliciting favorite quotes the research team wound up with an amazing 5652 quotes. As Jarod Young noted, the volume of data was just overwhelming and could not possibly be fully analyzed for every possible interaction. Still, they were able to develop several working hypotheses, such as how there is a tendency for movie-goers to recall mostly negative quotes (particularly males) while females tend to recall more romantic quotes, and also how both males and females are more likely to recall (and repeat) quotes from same-gender characters in the movies. (This of course makes sense, as since the earliest days of the movies viewers have looked to the screen for role models, often sparking national crazes in fashion, hairstyles, and of course the one-liner.) Many memorable lines, of course, stick in our cultural memory and find their way often into daily conversation, with some lines so apparently universal that they transcend age and other demographics (e.g., "There's no place like home!" and "Here's looking at you, kid!"). At the same time, clearly there were some age and gender differences which were readily apparent. As an example, one of the most frequently cited quotes by females was "You complete me", while males were more prone towards "Hasta la vista, baby" and "Are you talking to me?".
The most frequently-named "Top 20 Quotes" were analyzed in terms of the frequency of specific lines named as favorites, as well as which movies produced the most memorable quotes. The #1 Quote, according to this study, is "I'll be back...", from 1984's Terminator, which was also the number one film source for favorite quotes. Number two was the classic Gone With the Wind's line, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" (1939). Other often cited quotes were "Go ahead, make my day!" (Sudden Impact, 1983), "May the force be with you" (Star Wars, 1977), "Yeah, baby"(Austin Powers Films, 1998), and finally, one of my own favorites: "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."
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