Are Kubrick and Spielberg Renegades? (And Other Odd Film References in Pop Music)

There’s a new song on the radio by a band I hadn’t heard of. It’s called “Renegades” and they’re called X-Ambassadors.

In this song, they celebrate “running wild and running free” and “living like we’re renegades.” I like the song a lot more than I would expect to. But hey, I never claimed to have great taste in music.

But what gets me is this verse:

All hail the underdogs. All hail the new kids. All hail the outlaws. Spielbergs and Kubricks

And it’s strange, for two reasons. The first is that it comes in the midst of a lot of very odd film references in pop music (which I’ll get to in a moment.) The second? Well. Would you actually say that Spielberg and Kubrick are a) underdogs b) new kids c) outlaws d) renegades.

Hmm. Maybe? There’s another part of the song in which we are told “long live the pioneers.” And sure, maybe, yeah, that’s what Kubrick was and Spielberg is.

It’s been a very long since either Kubrick or Spielberg was anything resembling an underdog or a new kid. Kubrick made films from the ’50s to the ’90s. Spielberg has been cranking them out for equally as long, into the present but with a different start date.

As for outlaws? I’ll take that one. Maybe. Kubrick was, at least, with Lolita and Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut. He had decades of being an outlaw, even if he was also an establishment, backed-by-the-man, wealthy outlaw. (And yes, it’s preferable to be the kind of Kubrick outlaw than the Polanski sort).


But Spielberg? Spielberg was barely any kind of outlaw. He might pioneer and push things forward but the guy isn’t a renegade. He is Empire.

It makes you wonder where these lyrics come from.

And that’s not the only strange film reference being thrown around on the radio these days. Fall-Out Boy is invoking Pulp Fiction with a song about a woman who wants to dance like Uma Thurman. Vance Joy and Mark Ronson are both singing about Michelle Pfeiffer.

What does it all mean? Every one of these songs has teenagers as their target audience. Michelle Pfeiffer’s peek and Uma Thurman’s dance with Travolta both predate the memory of any of the teenagers that these musicians are singing for. So why are we getting these allusions on the radio?

This happened over 20 years ago. But have no fear: it is available on Netflix Instant.
This happened over 20 years ago. But have no fear: it is available on Netflix Instant.

The answer is: I don’t know. It’s some kind of cultural appropriation, taking actors or filmmakers and changing their meaning to fit that of the song. Whether or not it actually means something, actually matters, is what I do not know.

The better answer is probably that these are just meaningless lyrics to silly songs. Maybe I should go back to dissecting Jason Derulo songs.

Interested in reading some fiction by the author of this article? Buy the short story Wildcat by D. F. Lovett for only 99 cents. 


  1. The line bugs me too and I think your answer is correct, it is just changing it to fit the song. Talented and successful means renegade and outlaw I guess but thats kind of stupid when you think about it. Michael Jordan is a basketball renegade and outlaw because he won games, “that fucking renegade I told him to go out there and lose!”

    1. It doesn’t bug me at all. It’s perfect.
      The renegade is someone who releases sets of principles once used to define who you were, what you must think or what you must do.
      X Ambassadors seem to send out a call to lost souls held in reverie or trance.
      The renegade breaks old boundaries, drops retaining walls.
      Free like young kids, with no expectations all.
      Fearless, pioneers, rebels and mutineers, all considered radical, have to find courage to live outside the mainstream.
      But to start any new life, another must come to an end.
      Welcome to the underdog who may have wanted to venture out only got ridiculed.
      Welcome all the new kids who want to explore this new territory.
      And greetings to all the outlaws who already knew what they could not do.

      The renegade, is the director, the producer and the writer of this epic journey, like Kubrick and Spielberg.

      X Ambassadors seem to be exclaiming:
      It’s our time for real change.
      It’s our time to move out of old patterns.
      It’s a time to make things right.
      It’s time, even if it means breaking all the rules.
      Let’s begin!

      1. Thank you so much for posting this. I’m using this song with some teens I work with who have high ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) scores. This pre-disposes them to substance abuse, health issues, and early death. I say they should break those rules and thrive. I’m learning that a caring adult can come into their lives and break that cycle. I’m actually going to use your comment with them when I explain the song this week. It’s time to make amends. It IS their time for real change.

  2. I suppose you could refer to this like that : (Outlaws,Renegades,Rebels,Mutineers,Underdogs,Kubrics) and (Pioneers,New-Kids,Spilbergs) Which I would say Spielbergs sort of was a pioneer and in his early time a New Kid as with for example Star Wars nobody was entirely sure this was possible and that it will be such a huge success he brought plenty of new ideas to the cinema and shaped the way for the cinema we have today. He wasn’t the new kid himself but his movies sort of were new kids as never before anyone filmed things the way he did. Sort of a strange comparison but it’s excusable I’d say,

  3. It makes sense if you look at it from the top. Many executives in the music industry have ties to Hollywood. In my opinion this is all very much cross-branding for the new generation. “Who’s Uma Thurman? I’m gonna check it out”.

    And I agree, as talented as they are, Kubrick and Speilberg are anything but renegades.

  4. I agree with you. This is a pathetic line and annoys me to the point of wanting to spew up. I heard the song for the first time and had to pull over and do a google search to see if anyone thought the same. Good job. Thanks.

  5. Nice call. That line had always bugged me too as just something they felt rhymed (rhyme-ish.) I have nothing against Kubrick or Spielberg, per se. (Well, I blame Spielberg for some lame movies like AI, Minority Report, and War of the Worlds whose endings torpedoed the movie.)

  6. thanks for your great review, I struggled with exactly the same thing. However, I see something much darker here. I am researching popular culture and it is beginning to get obvious that especially movies and popsongs are being used to transmit certain messages. Many of these movies and videos are loaded with occult symbolism, which on the surface do not seem to mean a great deal, but looking at these more closely reveal meanings that can only be understood by a small elite. This elite tries to control most of the entertainment industry to steer certain events and influence the masses in a more subliminal way. Good examples are The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games or videos and songs from Lady Gaga and Katie Perry. Once you know what to look for, it becomes very obvious and you start wondering why you did not notice it before. But some movies were made to reveal these occult conspiricies like The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut and AI, also in a sublimal way. As you may notice, these are all Kubrick movies, AI was started by Kubrick and finished by Spielberg. After the first take of EWS was ready, Kubrick died just a few days later, officially of a heart attack. His wife still denounces this as she cannot believe that. EWS was edited ( some say butchered) to cover the most obvious revelations, but the movie is still very disturbing if you know what to look for. Possibly the elite, of which Kubrick was part but later he decided to become a Renegade, thought he a too big risk….and Kubrick was killed for that. Spielberg is still there and may pose less of a threat, or he knows that too much risks would mean the end for him too. As the X-Ambassadors are part of the same entertainment industry, they may have decided to stop ‘selling their souls’ and become renegades in a more careful way. Therefore they mention Kubrick and Spielberg in a song, targeted at a public that probably mostly does not even know these guys. For me a sign of hope, that not the complete entertainment industry is infiltrated yet.

    Best regards/Tim

  7. Top 3 Directors in order.

    2. Spielberg.
    3. Kubrick.

    Still a good song but he left out number one! Miyazaki.

  8. What the singers are saying as Spielberg and Kubrick are the one’s who went off from the normal and did something that back then wasn’t popular. Spielberg is a pioneer, Kubrick is one who might fit as an outlaw but I think he is also a pioneer. For those who don’t know pioneer means some one who develop or be the first to use or apply (a new method, area of knowledge, or activity). I think that is what the song is trying to say. I wouldn’t say it’s because of a cult or because this is how music is now. If it is it doesn’t work for a teen. I am one for example and i dislike songs that don’t use real meaning in their songs but this song does have a great meaning.

  9. I* Sorry for grammar I am not the best at it and I know I am late, but still.

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