Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has explained why he chose to quote teen movie Mean Girls during an address to the nation about COVID-19.
Speaking last Friday on the easing of a number of COVID-19 restrictions effective from 29 June, Varadkar said: “Some have asked whether there is a limit to what we can achieve. My answer is, that limit does not exist. We have been here before and we know the way out.”
Movie fans will recognise the line “the limit does not exist” once uttered by protagonist Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan in the 2004 film.
The outgoing Taoiseach's use of the quote came after actor Sean Astin, who played Sam in Lord of the Rings, challenged him to do so in an interview on 2FM.
Of course, this isn't the first time Varadkar has decided to reference soundbites from popular culture's past; the Fine Gael TD has also made use of excerpts from a Dermot Kennedy song a quote from the movie Terminator 2 in recent weeks.
Varadkar’s use of the movie quote attracted a huge amount of attention, only for the Taoiseach to be challenged on it by host David McCullagh on RTÉ’s Prime Time on Tuesday night.
McCullagh when straight for the jugular by way of asking whether the use of the quote was appropriate given the context.
“I think any quote is appropriate if it’s appropriate in its context, whether it was written in a movie or by a poet," Varadkar replied.
“Yeah, in the context, it was in the context of our ambitions as a country and I know that some people may be snobbish about those things, that a quote from a movie is different from a quote from a poet or a great author like yourself, but I don’t see it that way,” he added.
"I think any quote is appropriate if it's appropriate in its context" Taoiseach Leo Varadkar discusses the use of film quotes in his Covid-19 speeches#RTEPT | @mcculld | @LeoVaradkar | #Covid19 pic.twitter.com/KiAzVK1Gs1— RTÉ Prime Time (@RTE_PrimeTime) June 23, 2020
Pressing him on the issue, McCullagh further questioned as to whether the use of the quote was warranted given the death toll of COVID-19 in Ireland.
“I think any quote in any speech is appropriate if it’s in context and, you know, I’ve used quotes from poets and other writers precisely to deal with the issue that you have raised,” Varadkar said.
“The fact that there are over 2,000 people on this island who have died as a consequence of COVID, that they have families who are grieving, and there are 100,000 people out of work.
“And I’ve used quotes that I identified with that I think explain some of the feelings that they’re having and the darkness around that.”
Finally, McCullagh asked whether the quote was used as a distraction from the serious message about COVID-19 in Ireland, Varadkar replied: “I think it was a distraction for some people, not for me.”