U.S. Capitol Attack Has Pop Culture Fans Thinking of Nicolas Cage

The connection between real-life events and pop culture portrayals has always been a complicated and meaningful one. We use pop culture to make sense of the world around us when the events we’re facing get heavy and difficult. In addition to exploring real-life incidents from the past, we also use fictional explorations of what could come to pass as a way to teach lessons about the fates we want to avoid.

From post-apocalyptic explorations of what makes humanity function to political dramas that pull back the curtain on the inner-workings of democracy, pop culture serves an important role in understanding and shaping current events. 

After the tragic attack on the U.S. Capitol, fans are turning to pop culture once again. This time, it’s Nicolas Cage who is standing center stage in the memes that have followed. 

Attack on the U.S. Capitol is being called an ‘attempted coup’

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, America was expecting to see some unusual dramatic flourishes in what is usually a routine finalization of electoral votes to officially make Joe Biden the President-elect after his success at the ballot box in November. Leading up to the event, Donald Trump had been using his social media platform to sow false accounts of voting fraud and urge his supporters to take action on his behalf.

Writing for The Washington Post, Eugene Robinson explained in an opinion piece: “Trump told his MAGA legions that he didn’t really lose the election, that in fact he could not possibly have lost, and that somehow he would manage to remain their president for a second term.” 

With that influence close at mind, several of Trump’s supporters did as the President asked and gathered outside the Capitol to protest the election finalization. What happened next will go down in history: “crowds storming the security barricades, overwhelming outnumbered and seemingly unprepared Capitol police, and breaking windows to pour into the seat of American power.” Robinson and others have labeled the insurrection — which left four dead and dozens arrested — as an “attempted coup.” 

Nicolas Cage has a Constitution-related filmography

Nicolas Cage poses during a photocall on day three of the Sitges Film Festival 2018 on October 6, 2018 in Sitges, Spain.
Nicolas Cage | Robert Marquardt/Getty Images

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What does this dark day for American democracy have to do with actor Nicolas Cage? The notably iconic actor has a truly impressive filmography that stretches across genres and includes bizarre indie films as well as smashing blockbuster hits.

Among his achievements is his role as Benjamin Franklin Gates, the protagonist of the National Treasure films. The original National Treasure released in 2004 and features Ben, a treasure hunter with a legacy to uphold, following a series of clues.

The plot takes a turn for the strange — and thrilling — when Ben must steal the Declaration of Independence in order to protect it from his former accomplice. The results are a whirlwind of campy action and plenty of scenes that have left today’s social media feeds full of tongue-in-cheek connections between the fictional Ben Gates and the real-life criminals who threatened national security at the Capitol. 

Nicolas Cage memes are flooding the internet

In the aftermath of the tragedy at the Capitol, there is a wide range of responses. While lawmakers and public officials are calling for order and accountability, many citizens are using social media to assuage their frustrations and fears with humor.

This is where Cage and his portrayal of Ben Gates comes in. As Film Daily reports, many people saw the siege at the Capitol as an excellent time to remind America of the hero they didn’t know they needed — Ben Gates.

Some wrote about how those at the center of the thwarted coup attempt should have watched the film to learn some lessons about the complexities of storming the Capitol. Others joked that they wanted to know where Cage was and if this was all a distraction so he could steal the Declaration of Independence.

One Twitter user wrote: “This is all a distraction so Nic Cage can steal the Declaration of Independence.” Another asked rhetorically: “do we know exactly where Nic Cage is right now?”

In general, Cage’s body of work on National Treasure gave fans a moment of levity during a very serious day.