Hey, he’s Christopher Lambert — the man doesn’t have a ton of range. But he does know how to chop someone’s head off.
And now, apparently, so do the season’s Democratically ordained Princes of the Universe, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Oh, I know the temptation is to dismiss the citizenry of the overthinkingit phantasmagoria — guys like Connor MacLeod of the clan MacLeod (who has a lifetime membership) — but if current trends continue, you’re likely to hear a lot more of this guy in the darnedest places.
The cover, and the future, after the jump —
Without further ado —
Kind of gives you chills, doesn’t it?
Well, maybe you haven’t seen Highlander or any of its sequels or spinoffs (big breath) —
- Highlander II: The Quickening (widely considered the worst sequel to an at least halfway decent movie ever made)
- Highlander III: The Final Dimension (which has a climactic fight between Good and Evil in Jersey City, natch!)
- Highlander: Endgame (the only movie I ever bought tickets to but didn’t have the heart to actually see)
- Highlander: The Source
- Highlander: The Series (actually very good — sometimes excellent)
- Highlander: The Animates Series
- Highlander: The Raven
- Highlander: The Adventure Begins
- Or the excellent sort-of-Highlander-inspired episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force
For the 0.5% (I think that’s pretty much just my girlfriend) of Overthinking It readers who know nothing of Highlander, here’s the gist —
There are certain people in the world who, once they die (for whatever reason), wake up again and realize they can live forever and no longer age. The only thing that can kill them? Decapitation.
This of course leads to these immortals running around trying to chop each others’ heads off with swords.
The protagonist is known as The Highlander because he is from the Highlands of Scotland. He is trained by Sean Connery, who in this movie is Spanish for some reason.
There is a kickass sountrack by Queen, which, with a few tweaks (like removal of all references to the word Highlander), became a #1 hit record in the U.K.
And now, because it would be cruel for anyone to be denied its awesomeness, here is one song from that soundtrack:
And one last thing — the central rule of the Highlander universe, the thing that motivates all the characters and presents all of their challenges and moral dilemmas, is the decree of uncertain origin that resonates across all properties and spinoffs — There can be only one.
Now, back to the matter at hand. This Time cover is either a direct reference, an homage (unlikely, since it came out two weeks ago), or a blatant ripoff of a recent NBA ad campaign:
But there is no doubt in my mind that the awkward phrasing these both use and the imagery of everybody having their heads “chopped,” shows that whoever came up with the NBA ad campaign was conscious of Highlander and operated under its influence.
“There can only be one” is grammatically awkward — it splits the verb phrase and weakens the sense of paring down to a single combatant. “There can be only one” is cleaner, clearer and catchier, which is why the Highlander folks used it. The NBA advertising person didn’t use the better phrasing because it would be disrespectful to Highlander.
Sure, maybe it was a lawyer who told them not to do it. That is possible, but begs the question — maybe the lawyer saw Highlander too — although hopefully, for his or her own sake, the lawyer did not see Highlander II.
The point is, somewhere in the group of people making advertisements for the NBA there’s a guy aged 20-35 who saw Highlander at some point and really liked it. Now, things said in Highlander are affecting the cover of Time Magazine — something usually reserved for idiotic gimmicks and brutal dictators.
They walk among us
I’ve been noticing references like this cropping up more and more — a Boston Metro review of Basic Black: The Essential Guide to Getting Ahead in Work (and in Life), by Hearst Magazines President Cathie Black was titled “Always Bet on Black” (for the 0.5%ers, that’s a reference to this):
I doubt Cathie’s a fan.
And I’ve already noted how A.O. Scott of the New York Times couldn’t get through a pissy rant about the Oscars without invoking Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The point is that yesterday’s teenagers become today’s adults, and they bring with them the memories, symbols, language and culture on which they were raised. President Bush may consider himself a cowboy, but if he were thirty years younger, he’d consider himself a Jedi Knight (or maybe not).
And today’s adults — in other words, speaking as an overthinkingit writer, us — were raised on a broad body of cultural material that is widely dismissed as dreck. And yet it lingers on — on cable TV, in random blogs like this one, and now, increasingly as a contributing influence to the vocabulary of mainstream American marketing and discourse.
Barack Obama’s head speechwriter is a random dude in his mid-20s. With that in mind, is it that much of a surprise that his speeches sound exactly like those of WWE Superstar The Rock? Sure, the voice helps, and there’s a common ancestor to the rhetorical style here, but I can’t help but think that these random dudes, with their dude culture, are out there, adding their own culture subliminally to everything around us.
Have you seen any examples of this latey? Post them to comments!
And I would like to say I am officially afraid of 15 years from now, when our political leader start making sideways references to Hannah Montana.