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. 


Not Stopping, White Walls, and Double Standards: Miley Cyrus vs. Macklemore.

Note: this blog post is actually something I wrote last summer, but never posted on here.  I figured I would share it here now.

A few days ago, I heard “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus and “White Walls” by Macklemore on the radio. And I noticed something.

Both songs have been around for a while, so this is not exactly topical, but it struck me that in “We Can’t Stop,” Miley is censored when she sings about “…trying to get a line in the bathroom…” Oddly, Macklemore is not censored when he refers to a female passenger in his vehicle “doing line after line like she’s writing rhymes.”

Not even going to address the racial dynamics here.
Not even going to address the racial dynamics here.

Seriously, Cyrus says “line” once and it’s edited out, but Macklemore says “line” twice and both are allowed. Why? Continue reading “Not Stopping, White Walls, and Double Standards: Miley Cyrus vs. Macklemore.”

Why Madonna is The Joker

If there is one thing the internet agrees on regarding Super Bowl XLVI, it’s that Clint Eastwood sounded like Bale does when Bruce Wayne is being Batman.  That’s about it.

But to me, the strongest Batman connection throughout the entire Super Bowl was not Eastwood.  It was the Madonna Spectacle and the ways in which she resembles The Joker.  Do you not agree?  Allow me to explain.

1. They have both been around forever.

The Joker debuted in 1940 in “Batman #1,” while Madonna was born in 1958.  Perhaps this does not qualify as “forever” in everyone’s opinion… but 72 years is a long time for a fictional villain to have new stories told about him on a monthly basis,  just as 53 is a funny age to be dancing around in a cheerleader outfit at a football game.  Even weirder when you consider that she is not employed as a cheerleader.

The first appearance of The Joker.

Madonna has been “active” since 1979.  She has released twelve albums, made a bunch of movies, and married both Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie.  This means that, with roughly 23% of Super Bowl viewers being under 35, almost a fourth of the viewers of the Super Bowl cannot remember a world without Madonna.  With two blockbuster films of the last several decades featuring The Joker as a main villain, accompanied by a constant barrage of comic books and animated television shows, The Joker is in a similar boat.

But it’s not just their ability to keep existing that makes Madonna and The Joker so alike.  There are much deeper, more sinister similarities between these two…

Continue reading “Why Madonna is The Joker”