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I Can’t Watch Movies

It’s Sunday night. We’ve been watching football all day and are ready for a change. (Correction: Jack did, I fell asleep within the first quarter because the Pats were losing and I was bored. Plus I get scared of people getting injured like Damar Hamlin did).

Jack: “Want to watch a movie?”

Me, wary: “Sure…”

Jack: “How about Top Gun Maverick?”

Me: “Ok ok, but I don’t really like the flying…”

Jack: “That’s kind of a big part of the movie.” He audibly laughs, and messages our guy friends about it.

We proceed to flip through Netflix. Everything just seems boring and uninteresting to me. I don’t ask to watch anything. Jack knows the only movie I’ll watch is Good Will Hunting, which I have seen a total of 17 times now. Maybe, on a good day, I’ll watch Where the Crawdads Sing, because I read the book and know what happens. But even that seems like an emotional investment.

Jack loves James Bond. He suggests Skyfall.

“Sure!” I say. “Let’s try it.”

Immediately the first scene opens to James Bond holding a gun and people shot and bleeding on the floor.

“JESUS CHRIST. Shut it off!!!” I shout.

Jack recoils. “Ok, ok, sorry. I didn’t know if you could handle that.”

“It’s okay…it’s okay…” I mumble, as I take a sip of wine. James Bond isn’t exactly a horror film, but a mainstream action movie. I should be able to watch this.

Jack mentions he wants to watch the new Christian Bale movie, The Pale Blue Eye. After all, it’s number one on Netflix. I apprehensively agree.

The scene opens to a fog. A visual comes forward of a man being hanged.

“UGH….UGH….I CAN’T DO THIS!!” are the words I manage to get out as I start to go into a thick panic, brain in shock.

Jack sighs in frustration. “Sorry…sorry…I didn’t know it would start like that. Jesus…it’s like I can’t watch anything.”

I take a deep breath. “It’s okay…I want to listen to music anyway, I’ll just go into the bedroom, you can watch it! Sorry.” I bring the wine with me.

Here I sit alone, wine glass empty by now, hence the title of this blog post. I can’t watch movies, especially normal adult movies that have violence and guns in them. This isn’t because I am blind, but rather because of the psychological effects. Whenever I’m in a social situation and people want to watch a movie, I usually just stare at my phone or leave. Friends get frustrated.

To take it a step further—I can’t even watch the news without hearing or seeing something triggering, like a murder story or other violence. I always found conversations starters such as “Did you see the news?” and “I saw on the news that…” a bit assumptive because not everyone can watch it and be okay. I watch the Today Show each morning—positive and uplifting—and that’s my limit (Hoda is my queen).

I am writing this because I think it is a lesson in “neurodivergence,” a term I’m getting to know every day. I think—I think—I identify as neurodiverse after everything I’ve come to learn about myself and have written about in the last 5 years. I know it’s a touchy word, and I’m educating myself daily on the limitations of the term: what it encompasses and what it does not. For example, I know that “neurodivergent” does not necessarily mean “disabled,” and vice versa. (Thank you LinkedIn disability advocates for teaching me this.)

This started when I was a kid. I watched Harry Potter 2 at a friend's house and I didn’t sleep for two days because I was so scared. My parents drew the line—absolutely no scary movies for Allie. Years later, as an adult, my Dad wanted me to see the movie Just Cause. I tried to watch it, and failed. No way. No can do.

So yeah, I don’t like watching (most, adult) movies. I don’t like how they make me feel, and I don’t like what they do to my mind. If someone doesn’t want to watch a movie with you, don’t take it personally—they may just be navigating something you can’t see.

(But if anyone wants to watch Encanto or Cinderella, hit me up...)

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