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Oldie But Goodie Etiquette – Self-Conscious Guy

The film may be vintage 1951 but the fundamental precepts of the message are still spot on for the 21st century.

How can you get over being self-conscious? Whenever he’s in social settings, Marty feels like there’s a spotlight on him, that everyone is scrutinizing him, and he freezes up. He learns to overcome his self-consciousness by practicing and putting the spotlight on others and the situation as a whole, instead of thinking of himself as all-important.


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  • Elle February 4, 2013, 10:06 am

    For fans of 1950s self-help-for-teens videos and/or laughter, I highly recommend watching this short with the Rifftrax commentary on it. It’s worth the buck.

    You can also catch the Coronet Films “Act Your Age” and “Overcoming Fear” on Hulu, courtesy of Rifftrax.

  • Carol February 4, 2013, 10:10 am

    It is good advice. I kept expecting to see Mike and the Bots at the bottom of the screen, though.

  • spyderqueen February 4, 2013, 11:09 am

    Useful, unless the core problem is Social Anxiety Disorder. Then entirely less than helpful.

  • PhDeath February 4, 2013, 11:13 am

    I, too, defaulted to MST3K. And thought of my faves: “Cheating” and “Posture Pals.”

  • Anonymous February 4, 2013, 11:17 am

    Actually, Elle, there are tons of 1950’s self-help films on YouTube, and you don’t have to buy or download anything. I think my favourite is the one with the little girl who doesn’t get an invitation to a birthday party, and then she goes to sleep that night, and she’s woken up “the next morning” by a fairy godmother who takes her to the party (both invisible), and teaches her party manners. Then, of course, the little girl discovers that the whole thing was a dream, when she’s woken up by her mother (when it’s morning for real) who tells her that she did get an invitation after all. Has anyone else seen that? It’s funny, because the special effects are almost non-existent (so, there’s no effort to make the little girl and the fairy godmother look translucent and ghostlike, or appear to float in the air), so the birthday party kids in the dream just have to ignore them, and go on with the festivities as if there weren’t two extra people in the room.

  • Joni February 4, 2013, 12:24 pm

    The blog Art Of Manliness just did a post about these kinds of instructional films. It makes a lot more sense when you consider that the rationale was to instruct a generation of teens who had grown up during the Great Depression and World War Two (basically fifteen straight years of hardship) had missed out on a lot of social niceties. Though they certainly are silly when viewed through a modern lens.

  • Calli Arcale February 4, 2013, 12:47 pm

    PhDeath — those are great, but my favorites are “A Date With Your Family” and the one about personal hygeine. “An entire day spent grooming.”

  • Nikki February 4, 2013, 12:56 pm

    Whenever I start to feel subconscious, I always try to remind myself that no one really cares about me or my appearance as much as I do. It helps to remember that my own small slip ups and mistakes will always seem bigger to me than to others (most of whom have probably been too busy with their own lives to notice anyway).

  • Xtina February 4, 2013, 1:35 pm

    Definitely plan to watch these when I can connect (on a work computer now)! Those 50’s social films are always interesting to watch.

    Agree with Nikki–my mother always used to say that I was flattering myself if I thought every/anyone was paying me THAT much attention–basically, giving myself a “get over yourself” message usually helps to get over those self-conscious moments. This is not to understate that manners and presentation always count–just that, for lack of a better term–you’re not THAT important in the room at any given moment (unless you’re the guest of honor!). Your own gaffes seem bigger to you than to everyone else.

    I do think that a lot of the world these days, thanks to social networking and the availablity of streaming video everywhere–gives a lot of people in inflated feeling of self-importance.

  • Huh February 4, 2013, 1:45 pm

    @Elle, I thought of Rifftrax/MST3K too!

    My favorite of all of those was “Why Study Industrial Arts.” The main character explain why an industrial arts education is important looks SO much like my dad at that time – and he was in industrial arts!

  • --Lia February 4, 2013, 1:50 pm

    Marty eventually tries out for the part of Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest. No etiquette faux pas in that great play!

  • Puzzled February 4, 2013, 2:21 pm

    Calli: I’ve seen that one! It’s hysterical.

  • Maggie Dickson February 4, 2013, 5:34 pm

    Actually, Marty was released in 1955, not 1951.

  • Maggie Dickson February 4, 2013, 5:36 pm

    Oops, my mistake: I thought you were referring to the movie Marty (who was also self-conscious in social situations). Mea culpa. Sorry.

  • A February 4, 2013, 9:30 pm

    I had to give a 10min speech in a business class last year. What really helped me was keeping in mind that the other people in class wanted me to do well. It’s so uncomfortable watching someone else being awkward and uncomfortable! So, I just acted like a confident speaker and as if everyone was on my side and I did pretty well. 🙂

  • Michelle C Young February 10, 2013, 1:15 pm

    I love these 50’s flicks! With or without the MST3K element, they are good fun, and every now and again, I actually learn something.