Thursday, June 16, 2005

"I'd buy that for a dollar!"

RoboCop. Great movie. Forget the sequels, or the lame tv show, the orginal Paul Verhoeven-Peter Weller epic is a masterpiece of high concept and highly stylized violence. But there is one thing about the film that has stuck with me, something that I ponder from time to time. During the movie, the people of the future are shown watching television; news, commercials, tv shows. One of the programs they watch is a sitcom starring a short, bald man with a thick moustache and thicker glasses. He bumbles through several escapades on this sitcom, usually involving large breasted women in bikinis. All throughout RoboCop, people are shown watching this sitcom, laughing out loud at what they see. And more than once in the film, the bald guy on the sitcom says, "I'd buy that for a dollar." He says this line and everybody laughs. The people in the studio audience, the people watching the sitcom at home; everyone thinks "I'd buy that for a dollar" is the funniest thing they've ever heard. One of the characters in the film even uses the phrase in day-to-day conversation. It's so popular, it's become a catchphrase. It's the sitcom's signature line. For the people in RoboCop's future society, "I'd buy that for a dollar" is part of the pop culture. So what I wonder is this. At some point in the history of this sitcom, the line "I'd buy that for a dollar" was used for the first time. It gets a huge response and it becomes a running joke. So, what happened that first time? What was the first situation for which "I'd buy that for a dollar" was the punchline? What was it that happened that first time to make the line "I'd buy that for a dollar" so damn funny?

These are the things that keep me up at night.

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