Posted by: Alan | December 23, 2008

The 10 Worst Cultural Phenomena Courtesy of Movies


Movies have become a pretty universal thing throughout the world. They are the great unifier. Very few people don’t like movies, and watching them has become a social standard. Therefore is is inevitable that certain aspects of movies are going to spread throughout the world and become ingrained in our heads as a part of our culture. There are many, many quotes from movies that have become universally recognizable. If used properly, these quotes can be clever, fun, and enjoyable for all involved. However, there are certain quotes and references to films that have become so unbearable and so ridiculous that anytime someone tries to pull it off, it just comes off as a desperate plea for attention. I have compiled a list to publicly voice my displeasure of these 10 ‘cultural phenomena,’ so take note. And stop doing it.


10. Hot Topic

Offenders: The Nightmare Before Christmas, Donnie Darko, any movie popular under the ‘Goth’ culture

I love Nightmare Before Christmas. Always have. So it really pisses me off that it’s become this huge cultural phenomenon among Goth teenagers who probably only saw the movie once. It’s the same with a lot of movies out there, if they have some ‘dark’ feel to them, the clothing chain Hot Topic snatches up some merch rights and starts selling t-shirts, belt buckles, lunchboxes, underwear, lipgloss, pencil sharpeners, anything you can think of really, featuring characters from these movies. And then people buy them by the barrelful because it’s ‘hip.’ I’m sure there are people who legitimately like the movies, but there is not a doubt in my mind that the majority of people who wear Hot Topic clothes/accessories do not.


9. Austin Powers

Offenders: Austin Powers Movies

The first Austin Powers movie didn’t catch on right away. It did fairly well at the box office but nothing outstanding. But it eventually became a ‘cult classic’ and it spawned two sequels, which essentially had the exact same jokes and plot ideas from the first one. Eventually the many catchphrases from the film became ingrained in culture and people started quoting them non stop. Want to get a laugh at your next office get together? Mention something about ‘one million dollars’ whilst holding your pinky to your mouth. Awkward first date? Just say ‘Yeah Baby’ in a British accent and you’re guaranteed to have a fun time. Because remember that movie? It sure was funny! Take note: if David Brent from The Office thinks it’s funny and clever, it is not.


8. “That’s What She Said”

Offender: Wayne’s World

The same goes for Michael Scott from the American version of The Office. This saying has become a hugely popular phrase, and as far as I can tell, it originated from the 1992 film Wayne’s World (although it definitely peaked more recently thanks to The Office). I mean, sometimes it can be legitimately funny, if used in a clever, new way, but other times it’s just tired and annoying. Even worse, a lot of people have taken the habit of saying it when it makes absolutely no sense and thinking it’s even funnier that way. If used sparingly it can be funny. But used too often it becomes lame. Also, why doesn’t anyone ever say ‘That’s what HE said?’ Come on people, let’s think about equality shall we?


7. Seeing Dead People

Offender: The Sixth Sense

Thanks to Haley Joel Osment and his creepy delivery of, you know, that line, people all over started using it as a way to easily explain the movie The Sixth Sense. But then people started using it as a joke, and eventually it became such an iconic line that it crept its way into spoof movies and other ‘humorous’ takes on the line. There is really nothing much else I can say about this except that it is stupid and annoying, and that Sixth Sense isn’t even that good of a movie.


6. Heath Ledger Adoration

Offender: The Dark Knight

This one might get me some backlash, but hear me out. Heath Ledger was very much an ‘up and coming talented young actor,’ but for the most part didn’t get much recognition. He got some admiration for his role in Brokeback Mountain, and then he landed the role of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s anticipated sequel to Batman Begins. Unfortunately, after the film’s primary shooting was done, tragedy struck and Heath passed away. Almost immediately, people flooded the internet talking about how great Heath is, and the media went crazy covering his unexpected death. All that was pretty much expected, and it is indeed a tragedy to see him go so suddenly. But then The Dark Knight was released, and suddenly, he was deemed one of the greatest actors ever, his performance was named the greatest of the year, and the movie became one of the highest grossing, and most critically praised films of all time. It became NUMBER ONE on IMDB’s Top 250 list. NUMBER ONE. Which means within a few weeks of it being released, people decided it was the GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME.

Look, The Dark Knight is a good movie. Heath did an excellent job as The Joker. But just because he met an untimely death does NOT mean he is the greatest actor that ever lived. There were plenty of talented people that died this year, and every year for that matter. So enough with all the Joker merchandise, costumes, posters, EVERYTHING. Just let the man rest in peace.


5. Borat Impersonations

Offender: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

This is similar to the Austin Powers one, except this is more recent and therefore I predict it will only get worse. As soon as Borat was released in theatres, people started impersonating him. I think one reason this happened is due to the fact that Borat’s accent is so easy to mimic. Everyone seemed to think that they had the best Borat voice and incorporated it often into every day speech. ‘Very nice!’ is probably the most oft used expression of his, and it’s so fucking annoying. Even Sacha Baron Cohen probably hates doing the character now.


4. Star Wars Love/Hate

Offenders: Star Wars movies

This is the kind of thing that’s been around for such a long time, and yet it still gets incorporated into too many things. Spoofs, discussions within movies, and homages are all over the place, and while this is understandable since it’s become such a large franchise, it can still be irritating. Really, how many times can Kevin Smith let us know how much he loves Star Wars? Does he really have to incorporate something about Star Wars in every single one of his movies? And on that note, I get it: people didn’t like the prequel movies. I didn’t either. But things like Robot Chicken and Family Guy having Jar Jar Binks get murdered or making fun of Anakin’s angsty-ness makes things like that get old fast.


3. Bullet Time

Offender: The Matrix

At the time, I thought The Matrix was one of the coolest action movies ever. Of course, on continued viewings I began to realize it really wasn’t that great of a movie, let alone an action movie. There was a couple pretty cool scenes though, notably the first instance of ‘Bullet Time,’ where Keanu Reeves dodges bullets. It was pretty cool to see in 1999, and obviously a lot of other people thought so too because it became one of the most parodied film instances ever. Not only that but people began doing it in real life, basically just bending backwards and flailing their arms to imitate the way it was done in the film. It can be fun at times, but for the most part it is such a tired reference that when people do it I die a little inside.


2. Children think Shrek is a fairy tale

Offenders: Shrek movies

I’m sorry, but I hate the Shrek films. The terrible jokes, the lame references to pop culture, and the (mostly) bad voice acting make the few parts that I do enjoy fade from my mind. But the thing that came out of these movies that really made me angry, was the fact that kids today seem to think Shrek is a legitimate fairy tale. I’ve done children’s drama camps in the summer and when asked what their favorite fairy tale is they all seem to go with Shrek. I just think it’s depressing, honestly, that this is the movie that they grow up with. Not only that but there are plenty of GREAT children’s movies out there (namely anything Pixar makes), and yet kids seem to prefer an ogre farting and Eddie Murphy as a donkey. And of course, the franchise is getting milked with two sequels made already and a third one planned. It’s ridiculous and I don’t see any end to it.


1. Total Eclipse of the Heart…with Swearing

Offender: Old School

A memorable scene in the movie Old School has a band singing the Bonnie Tyler classic, ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ but inserting their own ‘twist’ to the song…by adding profanity. It was pretty funny when I first saw it, but I quickly wrote it off as a silly gimmick. Most people however, decided this was something that should always be added to the song. Therefore, I guarantee you that if you go to a karaoke bar, or karaoke night at a pub, you’ll get at LEAST one asshole who decides that performing this song with the swears is the funniest thing in the world and that they are so clever for doing it. Not only that but everyone in the bar will probably applaud and eat it up with a spoon. It’s so ridiculous and such a plea for attention that it pisses me off to no end. Not only that but The Dan Band (the one’s who did it in the movie) were brought back for Starsky and Hutch and did something similar in that film. They have also, in an eerie coincidence, popped up on Much More Music’s 20 worst holiday music videos while I was writing this. I think The Dan Band have found me and are angered. So I will leave you with that.

I like the original version of the song better anyway.



  1. Napoleon Dynamite? Is that anywhere on your radar?

  2. Actually yes. It was on the list originally but got replaced with Borat because I found Napoleon has died down more or less, and Borat has become the ‘new’ Napoleon.

  3. Nnnnaice.

  4. I love that picture of Han and Lando.

  5. […] Borat: I thought it was funny the first time I saw it, and I love the character on Da Ali G Show but the character quickly became annoying and less funny as the movie went on. Plus it led to one of the worst cultural phenomena ever. […]

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