Illustration for article titled Why I Hate Biopics
Screenshot: BET (YouTube)

So the title is a lie.

Any list of my all-time favorite movies would include both Goodfellas and Malcolm X in it—both of which are biopics—and there many others that I’ve enjoyed watching. So, as a rule, I do not actually hate watching movies that are based on a real person’s life and the events that occurred during it. Me and the biopic can be friends.


What I hate, perhaps more than any non-sentient thing is nostalgia. I get bored with reminiscing, I get irritated with stories about how things used to happen during a time that I vividly remember, and I’d rather do colonoscopy prep than spend more time than necessary recollecting for recollection’s sake.

The reasons for this are simple. I think nostalgia—which is ultimately the process of looking back, settling in, and (sometimes) preferring those unreliable memories to the very real present and future—is dangerous. It clouds vision and makes people pathological liars. The reality of the thing you experienced or witnessed that you remember so fondly has been morphed by your positive feelings for it. Things didn’t really happen the way you remember them happening, but that doesn’t matter because the memory makes you smile. Nostalgia, essentially, is a mechanism for reverse engineering and altering reality, which doesn’t make it much different than a tweet from Trump.


Also, personally, I don’t want to relive shit. My childhood and teenager years were cool, I guess, but I stopped needing to feel the way I felt when I was 16 when I turned 17.

Anyway, what I hate is not the biopic. It’s the biopic based on people and acts I remember. Because the only purpose of them—when video footage and newspaper clippings and fresh-ass memories of the famous people depicted in them already fucking exist—isn’t to tell stories or to set the record straight. It’s to stir nostalgia. Which I hate.


Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a columnist for, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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