I’ve always been fascinated by Napoleon Dynamite. Shot on a shoestring budget with a cast of unknowns, the film was the indie breakout sensation of summer 2004. It grossed $44 million, but that number doesn’t quite capture just how all-encompassing the Dynamite cult was for perhaps six months, if you were a college student or a high school student with an older brother or a twentysomething with a little sister. Everyone could quote the movie backwards. Ligers regularly came up in conversations that had nothing to do with wildlife. In hindsight, the film was astoundingly well-timed, reflecting a whole host of mid-00s cultural revolutions: The reappropriation of ’80s music by hipster culture, the rise of geek culture, the simultaneous rise of shameless geek-baiting merchandise. Relatively speaking, not too many people were on Facebook in summer 2004, but I think it would be fair to call Napoleon Dynamite the first social-media megahit: The comedy was entirely composed of reverse-ironic non-joke stupid humor, with lots of dialogue that would have been retweetable if Twitter had existed in those primordial days.
The fact that Napoleon Dynamite was terrible shouldn’t matter, since most things that are successful are terrible, and at least Napoleon Dynamite was terrible in an interesting way. READ FULL STORY