Slate Writer Concludes Massachusetts Is Self-Centered Because We Like The Departed and Matt Damon on Facebook

Versus Gladiator and Owen Wilson.


Data from: Common Sense

In a new Slate piece called “Massachusetts Loves Itself,” writer Ben Blatt posits that residents of our fair state are the self-centered Massholes we’ve never tried to deny being.

His claims are based on—drumroll please—three U.S. maps he made using Facebook data that seemingly show that we are totally obsessed with ourselves.


The first map shows that the most popular 21st-century Oscar-winner in Massachusetts is The Departed, while everywhere else in the U.S., people prefer Gladiator.

Um, OK, sure… Let’s raise an eyebrow, reminisce about Russell Crowe’s glory days, shrug, and move on…


The next map shows the most distinctly popular 21st-century Oscar-winners, where states’ favorite movies are put in context against other states. In Massachusetts, The Departed wins again.

Does this mean we’re full of ourselves? Only if you disregard a whole bunch of other tidbits one could glean from the map:

a. The Departed also wins in several other New England states, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Are Michigan residents Massholes too? Welcome to the family!

b. The movie Chicago is most popular in Illinois and surrounding states. Imagine that…

c. The South has an appreciation for 12 Years a Slave. Shocker.

d. Boston native Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning film Argo is the favorite film in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.


Finally, Blatt presents his smoking gun: a map that compares the popularity of Boston native Matt Damon, who wins Massachusetts, against Texas native Owen Wilson, who wins the rest of the country.

Well there you have it. According to these Slate maps, Owen Wilson is more popular than Matt Damon in every U.S. state except for Massachusetts. Does that make us self-deferential? Er, maybe. But it also makes us right.

RELATED: Maps show Massachusetts ‘distinctively’ likes Neil Young, but is listening to Daft Punk.


  • Miles Blackwood

    Urm… I hope you’re being tongue-in-cheek, because I think the author was trying to make a point about how “Viral Maps” are fraught with misleading data and noise.

    Hence the first paragraph: “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.”

    and a link to the original post: