From: The Matrix
Who said it?: Morpheus
The story behind the quote: Released in 1999, The Matrix was a groundbreaking film that was unlike any other. First, the trailer did not reveal a single thing about the plot. It only asked “What is the Matrix?” Because of this, people were hooked! They just had to see it! Before I go into the plot, people that haven’t watched it yet should go watch it first… this will get kinda spoiler-y. Don’t worry. I’ll wait.
Watched it already? Good!
So the plot of the movie is that machines have actually taken over the world and the world that human think they’re living in is just a computer simulation called The Matrix. All of humanity are plugged into machines where our bio-chemistry gives energy to the machines. Essentially, we’re all just giant living batteries. Only a small segment of humanity know about this and are trying to fight the machines.
The hero, Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) gets an audience with Morpheus (portrayed by Lawrence Fishburne). Morpheus gives Neo a chance to take a blue pill (which will just knock him out but he will never learn that we’re just giant batteries) or a red pill (which will make him wake up from The Matrix).
Geek wisdom: Throughout life, we are given the choice of taking the blue pill or ignorance or the red pill of knowledge. While there is a saying that ignorance is bliss, having knowledge is always going to be better. Now, the thing is, every thing that we learn is actually through our own choice.
All of us have a great capacity to learn new things on a daily basis. However, a lot of us don’t even try. Even reading a geeky site about wisdom you can find in pop culture (ahem!) adds to one’s knowledge about life. What we become educated on is wholly dependent on our own choice to educate ourselves with what is available in the world.
Who said it?: Columbus
The story behind the quote: Zombieland is a 2009 film about, well, zombies. However, unlike previous films of the genre, it is not a horror movie. It’s more of an action-comedy movie about a group of people trying to survive after the zombie apocalypse. Another thing that makes it different from other zombie films out there is that the survivors are actually pretty good at going about living in the world. One of the reasons why they are so successful is because of the rules Columbus (played by Jesse Eisenberg) created. He created a whole list of them and they all proved pretty effective in ensuring that he lives.
The quote comes from the 4th rule, which is “Double Tap.” In most zombie movies, the survivors shoot at zombies and, when it falls down, they do the stupid action of getting close to check on the supposedly dead body. Columbus suggests that people shouldn’t be stingy with their bullets at a time when survival is the main goal. Shooting the zombie once more make sure that they’re downed.
Geek wisdom: Like in real life, people should always make sure about stuff. There’s no harm in checking and re-checking if what you did is correct. For students, it could be the answers for a test. For people at their jobs, it could be the work you’re gonna submit to your boss.
“Double tapping” just takes a few minutes of your time and it’ll give you peace of mind that you did your job right.
Who said it?: King Leonidas
The story behind the quote: 300 is a stylized retelling of Battle of Thermopylae. Based on the comic book of Frank Miller called, well, 300, the story revolves around how 300 Spartans from, well, Sparta, took a stand against an huge invading army from Persia. While the odds were definitely against them, since the Spartans were trained to fight since birth, they were very successful in killing off a huge swath of Persian soldiers. While they did lose in the end, their story (or the story that was told to the rest of Greece anyway) inspired the country to stand up against the invaders.
The quote comes from a scene where the 300 Spartans come across a huge number of Arcadians who are willing to fight off the Persians. The Arcadians are initially dismayed as there are only 300 Spartans; that number is just too small when compared to the invader’s army. King Leonidas, played by Gerard Butler, asks several of the Arcadians what their jobs were. They replied that they were simple workers, such as potters and sculptures. King Leonidas then turns to his fellow Spartans and asks them what is their profession. The Spartans all howl in several fearsome bellows in reply. The King of Sparta then states that he actually has more soldiers than the Arcadians assembled there.
Geek wisdom: We have to select the right tool for the right job. Like the Arcadians in the scene, a substitute can do in a pinch. However, if you want the job to be done and done right, the right equipment will beat out the substitute anytime.
The Spartans were bred to be warriors and that’s what they’re good at. They were the right tool to use for fighting and holding off an invading army of thousands, even if they were only 300. Accepting substitutes is okay, but nothing beats the real thing.
From: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Who said it?: Tuco
The story behind the quote: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is a classic spaghetti western. Probably best known for its soundtrack (the whistle song… its kinda hard to describe) and starring Clint Eastwood before he made it big. It’s pretty easy to make a summary of the story: three guys that don’t trust each other are searching for buried gold. However, that summary doesn’t really do the story justice. There are a lot of twists throughout the film that keeps it interesting.
Anyway, the quote in question comes from one scene where Tuco, the “Ugly” noted in the title, is taking a bath. A bounty hunter who was injured during the start of the film, manages to track down the wanted man. Since he has Tuco (presumably) corners, the bounty hunter starts to ramble about how he was searching for him for months. What he didn’t know was Tuco was pretty much prepared for that situation.
Geek wisdom: You’ve seen supervillians do this all the time. Before they kill the hero, they brag about their plan and how they’re gonna kill them. What usually happens? The hero escapes! Simply put, if you gotta do something, just do it! Don’t waste time talking about it. Execute whatever you need to do and let your actions speak for themselves.
From: Superman II
Who said it?: General Zod
The story behind the quote: Superman II is, obviously, a sequel. And this is actually kind of important to note since we actually get to see what happens to the three criminals that were sent to the Phantom Zone during the first Superman movie. So, if you’ve watched the 1st Superman film and wondered, “Hey! What happened to those guys that were encased in a floating square?” then you really need to watch this movie.
Anyway, the leader of the criminals, General Zod, tried to take over Krypton, which is why he and two of his followers were jailed in the Phantom Zone. Because of the events that unfolded during the 1st film, Zod and his group managed to escape and, this time, try to take over Earth. They actually succeeded for the most part. However, with the timely return of Superman (long story, just watch the original or the Richard Donner cut, with the latter being more serious in tone), the Man of Steel challenges the General to battle. This is when General Zod yells and orders the Last Son of Krypton to kneel before him.
Geek wisdom: There is going to be a time, when pushed too far, we have to fight back against what we hate. While we do symbolically kneel before those things sometimes (following orders from a boss you don’t like or stuck in a hurtful relationship), we have to gauge when enough is enough. We do eventually have to stand up, say that we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.
Speaking of which…
(God, I just love this clip!)
From: Street Fighter: The Movie
Who said it?: M. Bison
The story behind the quote: This quote comes from the “so bad its good” movie adaption of the Street Fighter video game. But first, let’s go through a little history behind the film. With the success of Street Fighter II, it was highly inevitable that someone in Hollywood would get the idea to cash in on its popularity and develop of movie about it. However, like most of the early video games turned movies (Super Mario Brothers, Double Dragon), this really didn’t turn out very well. The story doesn’t follow much of the plot of the game. Well, to be honest, the game doesn’t really have much of a plot to begin with, but there were too many liberties taken regarding all of the characters’ backstory, such as Ryu and Ken being smugglers and Chun-Li being a reporter. This movie also has the “privilege” of getting an even more horrible video game based on it (Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game)!
Now that’s out of the way, the quote comes when Chun-Li (played by Ming-Na) gets captured by M. Bison (portrayed by the late Raul Julia) and retells the story of how Bison murdered her father a long time ago when the warlord tried to take over her village. Bison simply tells the reporter (not an Interpol officer like in the games) that he has no recollection of the matter since it was just an ordinary day for him.
Geek wisdom: We normally think of how people would react to things based on how we would react to them. This is, of course, flawed. The way a person reacts or remembers something will be different for each and every one of us. They were raised differently so their manner of thinking is different. Even identical twins will have some very notable differences on how they would handle certain issues.
We cannot just substitute their mindset with ours. Simply put, we put other people in our shoes when we should be thinking of putting ourselves in theirs. For Chun-Li, the death of her father was the memory that molded her into what she is today. For Bison, it was just another day in the office.
From: The Karate Kid (1984)
Who said it?: Mr. Miyagi
The story behind the quote: The Karate Kid is actually one of the quintessential geek movies since it seems to be written like a piece of wish-fulfillment of a geek. A new kid named Daniel (played by Ralph Macchio) moves into a new town and is picked on by a bunch of bullies. He then finds out that the groundskeeper of the building he lives in, Mr. Miyagi (portrayed by Pat Morita), actually knows karate. Daniel manages to convince Mr. Miyagi to teach him karate to defend himself. If you were a nerd back in school, you do know the feeling of being bullied and dream of actually being strong enough to defend yourself. So, this movie sort of touches on this dream. More than that, however, the film itself has a lot of memorable scenes like the crane kick and the karate tournament.
This movie is also remembered because of the unconventional way Mr. Miyagi would train Daniel. Mr. Miyagi had Daniel do a lot of chores, such as painting a fence, sanding the floor and, of course, the memorable “Wax on. Wax off” scene where he tells Daniel that he has to wax and shine a bunch of cars. While all of what Daniel may have seemed to be useless, Mr. Miyagi actually shows him (and the audience) that it all had a purpose.
Geek wisdom: There are actually two bits of wisdom we can get from this quote. One, practicing something really pays off. The more you do something, the better you become at it. Daniel probably had to do the same circular motions more than a million times on that one day! Because of this, he was able to perform the right and proper motions on instinct. Great martial artists do amazing things, such as breaking boards or performing triple kicks. They probably weren’t able to do these things their first go at it, but they kept on trying until they actually could do it consistently.
The second thing we can learn from this is that, while something may seem useless when we learn something, it can prove to be very useful later on. Take the “Wax on. Wax off” part. Daniel (and the viewer) had no idea that there was an actual reason why the motions had to be circular. By the end, we all knew that Mr. Miyagi knew what he was doing. This happens when we study in school. We have subject that we don’t care about and we question why we have to learn it. Still, its best to learn it because we don’t know if it may wind up being useful in the future.
From: Office Space
Who said it?: Michael Bolton
The story behind the quote: Office Space is a cult classic movie from Mike Judge, the creator of Beavis and Butt-head. The story generally focuses of a group of frustrated office workers who work for Initech, a software company, with their manager, Bill Lumberg. One of them gets accidentally hypnotized to enter a state of complete relaxation. So much so that he openly displays his lack of motivation while in the office. Oddly enough, this gets him promoted to a managerial position while his friends, despite trying their best to keep their jobs, are set to be downsized. This is a very rough summary and I know I’m not doing justice to this film describing it. Suffice to say, it deserves its cult classic status. There are a lot of scenes in this movie that are hilarious and memorable.
In one particular scene, one of the disgruntled office workers, the tragically named Michael Bolton, is talking with his friends Peter Gibbons (they guy who eventually get promoted) and Samir Nagheenanajar (a guy with a name no one can pronounce) while printing a document. The printer delivers a PC Load Letter error, at which Michael exclaims that he has no idea what the error is supposed to mean.
Geek wisdom: A lot of times, people can speak and use words that are hard to understand, like the error message given by the printer. This can be either accidental or intentional. If you’ve ever read a EULA, licensing agreement or a legal document, you know how frustrating this can be. Life is already complicated as it is. Let’s not add to it.
From: Star Wars
Who said it?: Darth Vader
The story behind the quote: Ahh, Star Wars. One of the most impressive movies of all time. Released in 1977, the film boasted special effects that was previously unseen before. More than that, however, it was the imaginative universe which included worlds, aliens and technology that could only be found in a galaxy far, far away. This film also introduced the Force. As described by Obi-Wan, the Force “…surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” While the Force can be used for good and helping people, there is a dark side to it which can be used for evil.
In one of the first scenes of the film, the Empire has just completed the construction of the Death Star, a massive space station capable of destroying a planet in a single blast. Darth Vader comments that, while the station is powerful, it pales in comparison to the power of the Force. One of the lieutenants scoff at this claim saying that it is a very antiquated concept. Vader, however, will have none of it and proceeds to choke the lieutenant using the Force while stating the quote above.
Geek wisdom: Let’s talk about faith. Faith does not have to be about religion. You can have faith in your family and friends that they’ll be there for you, faith in your general community that, deep down, they’re all good people or even faith in yourself.
Having faith is important: we all need something to believe in. It may be in God (or Gods), in other people,with yourself or even an intangible Force that is all around us. We all need to have faith in something to keep us going in order to push through the tough times in life.
From: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Who said it?: Bill S. Preston, Esq.
The story behind the quote: This quote comes from the excellent movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (see what I did there?). In the future, Earth enjoys living in a utopian society based on the ideas of The Two Great Ones named William “Bill” S. Preston, Esq. (played by Alex Winter) and “Ted” Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves, before he knew “kung-fu”) who, together, form Wild Stallyns. However, this future is endangered as the duo, in the present (well, 1989 in the film), are failing history class. If Ted fails, he will be sent to a military academy, breaking them up. In a mission to prevent this, Rufus (played by the late George Carlin) goes back in time to help them.
In order to pass the class, Bill and Ted convince historical figures throughout time to come with them to the present (still 1989 in the movie). However, at one point, they get sidetracked and visit the future. When they arrive, the residents gather around for a chance to see The Two Great Ones in person. Unsure of what to say, Bill manages to give the line before Ted closes it out by saying “Party on, dudes!”
Geek wisdom: No truer words could have been spoken. The idea to be good to everyone is something that we should all do. If we did, there would probably be no wars or hate, no famine or no pain. The world would actually be a utopian society. Sometimes, even the most simple of minds can produce the most thoughtful of wisdom.