Much to the Internet’s delight, a photo of Nicolas Cage wearing a graphic tee shirt emblazoned with his own face has surfaced on the Interwebs. The photo was taken at a Guns N’ Roses concert, and shows Cage dressed as if he’s a cowboy rockstar from a distant galaxy, standing rather nonplussed, holding a large goblet of wine, next to a grinning Andrew Dice Clay.
For those unawares, Nicolas Cage is a bit of phenomenon online, which is putting it mildly. While the actor has been critically acclaimed for several of his cinematic performances, his sometimes over-dramatics and varying quality of movies has made him a mainstay of Internet culture, spawning several sub-memes that are all funny because, you know, it’s Nicolas Cage.
The joke has even breached the thin membrane dividing virtual reality and real life, as people prank their roommates, family, or coworkers with pictures of Nicolas Cage. Some may replace all the faces in a coworker’s photo with Cage’s. Others may even go through the trouble of printing out enough pictures of the Wicker Man to re-wallpaper a roommate’s room. Others may even hide pictures of Cage in their brother’s or sister’s belongings where they’ll least expect them, like in an ice cube tray.
“Gag gift t-shirts are all relative to the audience,” says Elise Harding of Tee Compressed. “Shirts use humor all the time. A play on pop culture to get a message across is a great way to tie in your branding and company culture.”
In an interview with The Guardian last year, Cage was asked about the thriving Internet culture that seemed to revere him as some sort of comedic idol, to which he responded: “Oh my god. I just can’t keep up with that stuff,” said Cage. “The internet has developed this thing about me – and I’m not even a computer guy, you know? I don’t know why it is happening. I’m trying not to… lemme say this: I’m now of the mindset that, when in Rome, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
It’s one thing for a person to be aware of a joke, but it’s another thing for a person to be in on a joke, which is why the picture was met with such digital rejoice. It’s a clear sign that yes, Nicolas Cage gets the joke, and that he approves.