A Map of Movie Preferences Reveals That Massachusetts Loves Itself

Arts, entertainment, and more.
May 7 2014 7:27 AM

Massachusetts Loves Itself

The Departed, Gladiator, and the Bay State’s self-regard.

14050_CBOX_MattDamon

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker

Last week, I wrote about the fun and the pitfalls of viral maps, a feature that included 88 super-simple maps of my own creation. As a follow-up, I’m writing up short items on some of those maps, walking through how I created them and how they succumb to (and hopefully overcome) the shortfalls of viral cartography.

First up, here’s a map that looks at the state-by-state popularity of all the Best Picture Oscar winners since 2000.

gladnew

Data source: Public Facebook data. Map by Ben Blatt/Slate.

For this map, I used Facebook’s Audiences calculation, which lets you determine the number of Facebook users in a given area who like (or who are talking about) a certain movie, album, book, or anything else. This map leaves you with two obvious takeaways: 1) America loves Gladiator and 2) Massachusetts loves The Departed, a movie set in Massachusetts.

Advertisement

Unless you’re a Massachusetts hater or fanboy, this isn’t very thought-provoking. If you were hoping to assess the popularity of The Hurt Locker or Argo, this map is not for you.

To drill down further, here’s a map of the most distinctly popular Best Picture winner in each state. This was calculated by looking at the Oscar favorite that’s the most popular in each state as compared with its level of popularity across the entire country.

gladiatordist

Data source: Public Facebook data. Map by Ben Blatt/Slate.

These results show a lot more regional variation. The Artist is popular in New York and California, 12 Years a Slave has a lot of fans in the Deep South, the Midwest digs Chicago, and New England is all about The Departed.

It’s important to remember that the map above shows distinct, not absolute, taste, so while Argo is marked as the most distinctly popular Best Picture winner in Texas, it is not that state’s most-“liked” Oscar honoree. In fact, a movie with a large and broad audience like Gladiator will be unlikely to have a high likability ratio in any state. And that’s how you can make data tell two totally different stories. One map leads you to believe that Gladiator is everyone’s favorite, but another doesn’t include Gladiator at all.

Here’s one more map for you, Massholes and Masshaters. This time, let’s compare the popularity of Massachusetts-born (and star of The Departed) Matt Damon to that of another famous actor.

mattdamon

Data source: Public Facebook data. Map by Ben Blatt/Slate.

Yep, that seems about right.

See more of Slate’s maps.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?