Cinewitterings: the enduring legacy of Unbreakable

imageIn my home it is taken as a given (or, possibly, holy writ) that Ghostbusters is the most quotable movie ever. But yesterday I was grabbing a couple bites of grilled chicken for breakfast and I found myself saying, “I gotta get some chicken in me.”

Which is from Unbreakable. A movie I liked well enough to see several times when it was fairly new, but not enough to have watched again for years. The movie’s no longer a fave, and yet the line remains: a few times a year when we’re having or about to have chicken, or we’re hungry, one or the other of us will say it.

Media products do this: they fill your mind with heavily contextualized bookmarks, scraps of verbiage that come out when a certain situational trigger is pulled. Sometimes they’re universally recognizable; other times, they only make sense to you. Does anyone else have that chicken line embedded in their mental operating system? I doubt it. But many of you probably know and possibly use “Nuke the site from orbit!” or “They just keep pulling me back in!” or, more recently, “May the odds be ever in your favor,” to form connections with the people we’re talking to by drawing on our shared cultural experiences.

This morning when I was changing the sheets, Kelly asked if I needed help. “I have help,” I replied, which was my way of making a joke of the fact that Rumble had embedded himself in the process. He looooves to play with bed linens. He climbs under the fitted sheet and tries to see through it and bat at everything that passes overhead.

As I said this I thought, as I always do when someone’s being unhelpfully helpful: Good Smeagol always helps.

Thanks, Gollum.

So. “Gotta get some chicken in me,” is the bit of Unbreakable that I carry around. If Bruce Willis’s character hadn’t been so taciturn, maybe I’d have something more memorable.

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About Alyx Dellamonica

After twenty-two years in Vancouver, B.C., I've recently moved to Toronto Ontario, where I make my living writing science fiction and fantasy; I also review books and teach writing online at UCLA. I'm a legally married lesbian, a coffee snob, and I wake up at an appallingly early hour.

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