WHEN: 7:55pm EST, December 1st, 2012

WHERE: At my parents’ house in Western Maine

FORMAT: VHS on a tiny TV/VHS combo

COMPANY: My mother.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Had just spent a day at my parents’ house. Had watched part of a TV edit of Public Enemies and the entirety of Earth vs The Flying Saucers.


I have spent over 90 hours watching High Fidelity so far this year. I have spent countless more thinking about it and writing about it. I have made a long term commitment to this piece of film. I have a date with it at least once a week. This week, I took it home to meet my mother. She was not impressed.


We watched it on a tiny old VHS/TV combo. The screen was dark and the sound was tinny. It was a long, painfully awkward viewing. It isn’t fun watching a comedy with someone who finds nothing about it funny, and my mother laughed maybe two times during the duration of the film. To tell the truth, I can’t really blame her. If you take a hard, serious look at the events of High Fidelity, they tell a sad, depressing story.

After maybe two minutes had elapsed, my mom noted that Rob is very self-centered. After that, she didn’t have all that much to say.  She did note that Rob is a “very miserable character.” She wondered: “Who would wan’t to spend time with him?” “How can he afford a record shop?” and “What is wrong with him?”

She didn’t think much of Barry either. He’s “a strange guy.” She was able to (without much confidence) identify Jack Black as the actor playing Barry, but observed that as an actor, he’s always kind of the same.


I come from a conservative, religious family. Sex is not a topic that you bring up in conversation (polite or otherwise). It certainly isn’t something that you want to watch a movie about. It’s also popping up all throughout High Fidelity. Rob doesn’t seem able to look at much of any situation without tying sex in, to some degree. This may be why my mom is absolutely unable to connect or sympathize with him.

It made the viewing very, very uncomfortable. Our cat Betty came into the room just in time to draw attention away from the scene where Charlie strips while walking up the stairs. Thanks, Betty.

Betty didn’t enjoy the viewing either. Rock music seems to irritate her.

It is touched upon briefly within the movie itself (more so in a deleted scene featuring Harold Ramis), but our culture’s attitudes regarding sex have shifted significantly in the last fifty years. The landscape is different, and to some degree that’s what the movie is about. What does it mean to have a stable relationship in these times? How far does commitment go, and what is it based on? No one in the movie seems to have a very good answer to these questions, and in the end many of them are pretty miserable. Maybe that’s why this movie makes my mom uncomfortable.


It may or may not be telling that the only two characters middle-aged or upward in the film are yelled at or mistreated till they leave.

I guess it is Pick on the Middle-Aged Square Guy Day.

Bruce Springsteen aside, the aged have no wisdom to give the world of High Fidelity. They don’t “know what happens now,” and their taste in music sucks. Or like Laura’s dad, they die, allowing the Robs of the world to noncommittally swoop in. Get your lucky quarter and your cattle bolt gun, cause this is no country for old men.

Does any of this have any bearing on my mom not liking the movie? Maybe. All I can say is that High Fidelity is broadcasting on a channel she just doesn’t pick up.


In the end, my mom claims not to have hated the movie. In her words, “it was sort of sad,” but she’s “seen worse.” I don’t disagree, and that’s probably why (along with the whole awkward thing) I didn’t watch High Fidelity with her sooner. She probably already thinks I’m a little crazy, watching the same movie every week for a year, without knowing it’s a movie she dislikes. It’s kind of embarrassing being stuck with High Fidelity. But, at this point, I’ve got my eye on the horizon.

Don’t tell High Fidelity, but I’m planning on breaking up with it in a month.