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My Recommendation: Stop Listening to Recommendations

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

I have always had a tough time trying new things unless they have been recommended to me by people I trust. When I go to the mall, I take pictures of everything I try on and wait for my Mom’s opinion to guide me in the right direction. When I need confirmation that the furniture I found on Facebook Marketplace is actually cute, I immediately send the link to my friends. When I need to know if a movie is worth watching, I inevitably consult my favorite movie YouTubers. Throughout the years, YouTubers like Karsten Runquest, Cindy Pham and James from Nerdstalgic have helped me understand what movies are worth my time and which ones are not. 

However, If I don’t have time to consult my favorite movie YouTubers, I inevitably take what I consider to be the safe route. That is, I’ll watch movies I know for a fact I like. I would much rather watch “10 Things I Hate About You” or “Twilight,” for the twentieth time than try to watch something new that doesn’t come with the glowing recommendation of the YouTubers I trust.

The only time I will slightly bend this rule is when a movie comes from a studio I trust. For example, I know that I enjoy Pixar movies for their thought-provoking narratives and stylistic animation. So, while I do avoid watching new movies without recommendations, I will bend the rule for most Disney or Pixar movies, as they have historically failed to disappoint.

This is exactly how I found myself in the situation this past Friday, watching Disney-Pixar’s newest movie: “Elemental.” “Elemental” is set in a world where natural elements— earth, fire, water and air— coexist in Element City, with each element representing different social classes. The film follows Ember, the daughter of two immigrant fire elements, as she attempts to save her father’s business, all while falling in love with Wade, a water element. Their relationship forces Ember to challenge her beliefs about her place in Element City and her deepest desires. 

As the daughter of immigrants, I saw a lot of myself in Ember. I understood how her awareness of the sacrifices that her parents made for her informed the decisions she made throughout the film. I saw myself in Ember and I understood her desire to make her parents proud— even if it came at the expense of her own wants and true happiness.

When I finished watching “Elemental” I knew that it was one of my new favorites. The story, animation and overall themes were consistent with what appealed to me as a movie-watcher. Nevertheless, I wanted to see what my favorite movie YouTubers thought. Did they agree with my thoughts that the film accurately portrayed the experience of many children of immigrants? Did they also think the film did a great job creating a compelling love story between Ember and Wade? 

To my surprise, most of my favorite movie YouTubers disagreed with me. Karsten Runquist, one of my most trusted movie recommenders, stated that in his opinion, the design and story felt rushed, and he did not feel emotionally connected to the story of Ember or Wade. While watching his review, I realized that if I had watched this video when he published it in June, I would have most likely chosen not to stream “Elemental.” And if I had listened to him I would have missed out on a movie that I loved and resonated with. 

This experience made me wonder how many movies I have refused to watch and missed out on because of what others think. The truth is that no one knows what I like except me. Watching “Elemental” was a nice reminder that I should be more open toward embracing new things in my life, even when they don’t come with an external recommendation.