How Men and Women React to Their Own Reflections in Movies

Mirrors are a well worn device in movies. They provide an extremely literal moment of self-reflection that often during a film’s emotional peak. So why do we see characters repeatedly reacting in the exact same way?


Fandor explored 46 films from the last 60 years and discovered a bizarre trend: women cry and men freak the fuck out. There were a few outliers of course. In an otherwise deeply violent movie, American Psycho’s mirror scene is foreboding but emotionally neutral. Heathers conversely shows a woman spitting on her own reflection out of self-disgust. But the vast majority of these films conform to this unusual gender-based dichotomy, which might be more a result of Hollywood’s gender disparity than human nature.

Wrong or right, good luck not seeing this trope stick out like a sore thumb the next time you sit down to watch some Netflix.

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Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// Keybase: Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/



Fun fact: response to a mirror is a test of self-awareness*. Humans, a few other primates, and a few examples of other species show markedly different behavior toward their mirror image than the vast majority of other species. Sadly, no dogs have passed this test.

*Mirror Self-Recognition (MSR) test.