It isn’t just Zimbio of course, there are any number of ‘organisations’ out there creating these ill educated and lazy ‘which character are you’ quizzes so that bored or procrastinating people can clutter up our social media feeds with banality. Recently though I have come to see another side to these quick questionnaires and I am starting to find it all a little insulting.
Zimbio, incidentally, is an entertainment website. Their lead story at the moment is: This is how Jennifer Lopez sits on a couch, so I don’t think any of us can argue with the journalistic integrity behind that.
Getting back to the quizzes, it is natural to hope we might emulate some of the characteristics of those we see up on the big screen. Movies have been designed and marketed around this idea for years: the publicity for the early Bond films famously used the line ‘women want to be with him, men want to be him’. By giving people something that pretends to confirm these shared personality traits though, it stops being simple empathy and starts to encourage something else.
When I was a kid I genuinely wanted to be Han Solo. I’d have happily put a penny in the slot of a creepy Zoltar fairground machine and wished for that to happen. As it was I always had to play Luke in the playground because I had fair hair and my brown haired friend Simon was more pushy than me.
Now that I am an adult though, I am happy being me. Isn’t it a little alarming that Zimbio is trying to make me believe that still isn’t good enough.
Suddenly it isn’t about giving me something to do for five minutes on the train, it is about stoking a sense of inadequacy and encouraging self pity. Aren’t these quizzes trying to offer gratification that in a different set of circumstances you could have been someone a whole lot more impressive. In the wrong hands the Zimbio quizzes could be the thin end of a wedge that leads to going full Single White Female.
Besides, being Han Solo is dangerous. It has just hospitalised Harrison Ford.
Mind you, if the quizzes had been around at the time then they could have sorted out my argument with Simon. It turns out I’m actually Leia and you are right Zimbio, I am ‘a Princess who isn’t afraid to fight the power’.
This is the other thing. The character definitions at the end are written like horoscopes. On the Harry Potter quiz I was carefully scrutinised by a series of searching psychometric questions such as ‘what’s you favourite Revel’ and was classified as Ron Weasley. (I am both relieved and a little bit disappointed not to be Hermione.) The reason for my selection is that I am ‘the funny one in my group of friends, but sometimes I use humour to hide my insecurities’. Wow, it knows me so well.
Am I supposed to find this affirming? Am I really so weak that I will look for truth in the words provided and in some way know that my life choices are the right ones to have made. It would be more accurate if it said ‘your friends are all better looking and more talented than you but you get things right eventually and you are quite a good bloke’. There I go again, trying to use humour to hide my insecurities.
They are also really badly researched and this is probably what annoys me more than anything else. Have the people writing this stuff even seen these movies? Apparently out of all of the Avengers, I am Thor. Of course, you only need to look at me to make that call. I, like Thor, am ‘a bold, take charge leader with an eye for adventure and a knack for getting into trouble’. What? Captain America is the take charge kind of guy and Iron Man is the one who won’t play by the rules and gets into trouble. Thor is the arrogant one who becomes a better man through the love of a good woman. Actually, that is a little like me.
Talking of good women, Zimbio was able to tell me who would be my perfect celebrity girlfriend. Oh my God! How creepy is that? Hey stalkers, finding it hard to choose which young Hollywood star to fixate on? Look no further, Zimbio can help you out.
Don’t get me wrong, Emma Stone seems like a really nice young woman and if I weren’t already happily married to a wonderful woman I’m sure we’d get on fine. Oh yes, and I’m old enough to be her Dad! Didn’t they think to ask me my age, would that have not been a good thing to find out before selecting me a life partner? Julia Roberts and I would be far better suited.
On the other hand, maybe it’s all just a bit of fun but best stop doing them just to be sure.
Unless you are doing them for research purposes you understand, that is totally fine. I also did a ‘Which Thracian Slave Leader Are You?’ Test. I’m Spartacus.