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What if success came through memes?

Nicholas Cage teaches

What if success came through memes? Nicholas Cage teaches

«Between something that can be a blessing or become a meme» is a line spoken by the Italian artist Marracash in the track Diluvio A Luglio, found on the album La Divina Commedia by Tedua. It reflects a contemporary dilemma that celebrities often face: is it worth risking their image in the pursuit of fame? What does it imply to become a web meme? In the landscape of the new celebrity culture, which blends movie stars and web personalities, there are those who have sold their souls to gain their moment of fame, but there are also those who not only haven't chosen to become memes but haven't even considered (rightly so) the "risks" of exposing themselves so much. Without a doubt, Nicolas Cage falls into the latter category, an actor who symbolizes a sort of "memification" reserved for the most famous among the famous. In fact, some people only know Cage through memes, and the actor himself has addressed this issue in a recent interview published in The Guardian, expressing his discontent. He has found himself in this embarrassing situation more than once, as reported in this old article from Consequence of Sound, where Cage spoke about the "You Don't Say?" meme, describing it as a lack of respect not only toward his image and the acting profession but also toward the director and the film Vampire's Kiss.

@theknittervention Today I found a #memeinthewild #vampireskiss #nicholascage #youdontsay original sound - Erin • TheKnittervention

Certainly, Nicolas Cage probably didn't view the spread of this wave as a positive phenomenon for a specific reason: a career spent dedicated to portraying unconventional roles, insane characters, drug-addicted individuals, or super-powered personalities isn't meant to be rewarded with memes circulating the web. Far be it from us to advise Cage on how to react, but it's important to emphasize that memes have the intention (and potential) to be much more than mere foolish jokes, and it's unfair to reduce them to simple jests. Memes are, in all respects, a very modern and inclusive form of communicative language that can be understood by more or less everyone. Of course, they still have some limitations, and they may never be entirely free from the prejudice of being seen solely as cheap jokes. While in 2021 Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire, and Tom Holland recreated the Spider-Man meme (in "Spider-Man: No Way Home"), Cage himself has commented on the subject, albeit in a different and slightly more open manner than before.

Cage has once again broached the subject, discussing how he's only recently been trying to come to terms with this phenomenon, emphasizing how he has never accepted being primarily known by the public for being the face of numerous memes (remember, in addition to "You Don't Say?", there's also the spread of "Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit," a compilation of meme clips in which the actor loses his temper during his films). One cannot definitively judge what may or may not bother a public figure, regardless of their level of fame, but it is reasonable to attempt to lighten and lucidly evaluate the meme topic in today's world. Especially if they are not offensive, there should be an effort towards self-education on the matter, focusing particularly on the fact that, in one way or another, they are indeed a self-promotional tool. You don't become more iconic to Gen Z solely through indie films. It probably isn't the case for Nicolas Cage, and yet, more often than not, memes manage to become a lifeline for lesser-known faces in the global film industry. It's not the case for Gerard Butler with the 300 meme, nor is it the case for Sean Bean with "One Does Not Simply..." meme, but imagine if a meme featuring a declining actor went viral worldwide: how much it would benefit their reputation? Perhaps Nicolas Cage isn't the typical individual to leverage the motto «as long as people are talking about me,» but we hope that as he approaches his 60th birthday (just two months away), he might find it in himself to have a good laugh about it.