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Monday, February 11, 2008

Milkshake

Saturday night, while visiting relatives, I skimmed through the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly and came across a small article on an apparently popular catchphrase. The catch is, I hadn't heard anyone use it and am rather suspicious of its popularity. The following morning, I read Tasha's entry (where publicists came by her office to drop off something tied directly to the line) and I found the timing even more suspicious.

The line is from There Will Be Blood and it's from the final scene: "I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!" says Plainview to his rival Eli Sunday. Of all the powerful quotes from that movie, this flimsy little line is what people appear to gravitate towards. Yes, rather than "I am finished" or "I am a false prophet and God is a superstition," it's this.

Searching on Google, there are plenty of amusing results: idrinkyourmilkshake.com is at the top of the list, along with message board threads, and even a MySpace username changed to it. Now looking at these results, I get the feeling this is not some lame attempt by the studio to get some more box office revenue. The film's Oscar nominations alone have given more people reasons to see it. Why a vanilla milkshake would be dropped off at the AV Club is probably just the publicity department playing along with a pop culture catchphrase. End of story, right? Well, for me, I think about what draws people to phrases like this.

Not so much like the "more cowbell" line, but I think about a certain phrase from The Silence of the Lambs: no, it's not the fava beans line or "I'm having an old friend for dinner," it's the lines about rubbing lotion on skin and putting the lotion in the basket. I had never heard anyone ever quote these lines between the film's theatrical release in 1991 and 2000. A short little insertion of it in the short-lived Clerks cartoon made me wonder. From then on, it seems to be one of the most recognized lines. My question: how and why?

I guess the parallel between these lines is this: inconsequential line that has a weird, demented and witty tone to it. Why people say it is really of no deep reason, and that's totally fine. I'm just curious what people find so appealing about lines like these. Do they reduce a great film to a fun catchphrase or is it just a way of remembering a great film?

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