Film

Five Pieces Of Pop Culture That Deserve An Apology In 2017

Every weird movie and unbelievable plotline is actually coming true.

pop culture

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Pop culture is an imperfect beast. With the exception of the 1992 film Sneakers, film, television and literature rarely achieve perfection.

But neither do we! It takes two to view — the viewer and the viewee — and we the audience are often imperfect vessels. We don’t always consume art in the right way, often dismissing plot twists and central concepts as too crazy to be true, when in fact the world we live in is constantly reminding us that, no, it’s way crazier.

I’ve been guilty of this many times. And so, with all things considered in this crazy year that’s not yet done, I would like to offer the following apologies to five pieces of modern art. Standard spoiler alerts apply.


Captain America v. Hydra

I really love Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Honestly, any franchise that can make a Biggles film and then sequelise it with Three Days of the Condor is okay by me. But I couldn’t get past the film’s central conceit: super-spy good guy agency SHIELD turned out to be full of the Hydra agents that Captain America had seemingly defeated in 1945.

“Hail Hydra,” whispers Robert Redford, with the exact same conviction used in All the President’s Men when his character admits to being a Republican.

This is absurd, I thought. I’m cool with the Super Soldier being frozen in ice for 70 years, and I can handle his best buddy being a memory-wiped Soviet hitman with a metal arm, but large institutions being 50 percent Nazis without the other 50 percent realising? Sorry, too much.

So, yeah. Apologies to everyone involved in the making of this film, and to anyone living through the events of 2017. Except Nazis. You can all get fucked.


President Lex Luthor

I’ve never really been a huge comics reader, but I scratched my head when DC decided to make supervillain Lex Luthor the President of the United States. Once again, comic books stretched credulity to breaking point by featuring a businessman with zero political experience and proven links to criminal enterprises becoming the leader of the world’s loudest democracy. I mean, really.

Sorry, Detective Comics. History clearly proved you right on this one. Even though I maintain Brainiac Would Have Won. Am I right fellow, Brainy Bros?


The American President

You may be noticing a trend here. Before Aaron Sorkin was known for writing about the American President in The West Wing, he was writing about the American President in The American President (1995).

In one scene, a group of Evil Republicans sit in a smoky backroom and plot a smear campaign against the American President’s American Girlfriend Sydney Ellen Wade (American Annette Bening). Upon finding a picture of her burning an American flag, Head Evil Republican (Richard Dreyfuss) cackles and begins to sing ‘It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas’.

This was sub-Bond villain stuff, and teenage me dismissed it immediately as massively exaggerated propaganda. Then I started reading the news.

In short, I apologise to Aaron Sorkin and director Rob Reiner, and would suggest that to make the film more relatable for 21st century audiences, future editions be CGIed so that Dreyfus is punching some orphaned immigrant kittens as he sings. For the sake of accuracy.


Sun From Lost

The TV series Lost — the one with smoke monsters and time travel and mysterious buttons — pushed incredulity one step too far with the character of Sun, a Korean woman who seemed unable to speak English until the day she revealed that, surprise, she could!

It seemed like a suspiciously quick way of ensuring communication between main characters, because honestly, who would actually carry out such a ruse in real life? “Screw you, Lost!” I shouted, years before its final episode would make such a sentiment entirely fashionable.

So what made me rethink this? In July, Akie Abe (the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) was seated next to Donald Trump at a G20 dinner in Germany, and after several courses together, she left Trump with the impression that she spoke no English. “Like, nothing, right? Like zero?” orated the leader of the free world to the press.

The thing is, she is quite fluent in English, leaving us with only two explanations: either Ms Abe was taking a cue from Sun and avoiding conversation with the president, or (and this is just as likely) Trump’s English was so poor that she left with the exact same impression of him. “Like, nothing, right? Like zero?” she no doubt said to the local press.

Either way, I apologise to Lost and its writers for ever doubting you. During season one, I mean…


The Complete Works of Nicolas Cage

Every film featuring Nicolas Cage is real. I’ll say it again. Every. Film. Featuring. Nicolas. Cage. Is. Real.

There are only two types of Nic Cage films: those based on past events (The Cotton Club, World Trade Centre, It Could Happen To You) and those based on future events that will inevitably happen. There is no third category.

Look at the recent tropical storm that bore down on the US as a massive boxing match took place, as predicted in Cage’s Snake Eyes. Or perhaps you saw that pharma bro Martin Shkreli has been jailed for threats against former First Lady Hillary Clinton, echoing events foreseen in Cage’s startlingly prophetic Guarding Tess. Maybe you noticed the alert from Sydney trains about the swarm of bees on the St Peters Station platform, and realised Cage’s bee warning in the Wicker Man remake was spot-on.

You likely saw that Cage himself returned a stolen dinosaur skull to Mongolia, which isn’t precisely what happened in his film National Treasure, but kind of feels like it was if we’re all being honest. And hey, what is Face/Off but a divination of Arcade Fire’s classic ‘My Body Is a Cage’ ten years before the release of Neon Bible?

Hell, even the entire War on Terror can basically be blamed on 1996’s The Rock. No, really.

I would offer Nicolas Cage an apology here, but to be honest, I’ve never really doubted him. Now to kick back and watch 2009’s Knowing. Can’t wait to see how everyone survives the end of the world!

Lee Zachariah is a writer and journalist. He co-hosted the ABC2 film comedy series The Bazura Project, and is a co-presenter of film podcast Hell Is For Hyphenates. He tweets at @leezachariah.