The birth of a pop culture trend

26 Jan 2006|Leah Hunter

If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can’t see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.

If at first you don’t succeed, you’re obviously not Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris is the only human being to display the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle; you can never know both exactly where and how quickly he will roundhouse-kick you in the face.

Do you ever wonder how pop culture references take root? When the first Rocky Horror fans started shouting lines at the screen? Why “survey says” and “they’re greeeaaat!” became ingrained in our collective unconscious? How every self-respecting gamer knows that “all your base are belong to us”? What makes seemingly ordinary sayings and events balloon into pop-culture phenomena?

Take a look at the latest email trend for a clue…

Inboxes across America are rotten with Chuck Norris messages, and it all started with a simple TV sketch that caught on with the college crowd.

According to Journerdism, a blog for journalists and nerds, Chuck mania all started with a Conan O’Brien sketch that then ended up on, a site that’s popular with students and the military. That led a group of 17-year-old web designers to create a classic if under designed satire site dedicated to Chuck-facts—a site that reportedly has gotten more than 28.7 million hits in January. That, in turn, spawned last week’s Spinal Tap-meets-Springsteen “Young Chuck Norris” music video on SNL, which explains why E! Online and the Washington Post (!) are covering the Chuck craze, and one can’t turnaround on the internet without someone asking: “What would Chuck Norris do?”

In this case, pop culture success was was a simple recipe: Take an aging action hero; add media coverage, a dash of college cred, and a programmer with a sense of humor. Bring to a boil with email and stir… or roundhouse kick… ’til combined.


Cashing in on the cult of Chuck.
Off-the-cuff predictions on how this might affect the consumer world—things that probably won’t happen, but could:

Hot Topic launches a line of Chuck Norris ringer tees
Karate becomes the cool new sport for tweens
“Delta Force” DVD sales spike
Beards come back into fashion
Norris tops Yahoos! Buzz index of top search terms
Sales of Chuck’s autobiography still remain disappointingly low—no really one is sure why.

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