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Representation of Popular Culture in the Movie Inception

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The 2010s is filled with representative elements of popular culture. A notable film was 2010’s Inception. Directed by Christopher Nolan, it made ~US$828 million and debuted number one in the box office on its opening weekend. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a thief who steals secrets from people’s subconscious. He is offered eradication of his criminal history in exchange of planting an idea into someone’s mind. Inception is the representative text of the 2010s decade because of its original take on the science-fiction/action genre, the theories it generated that are still being discussed today, and the amount of popular culture it influenced after its release.

Inception is representative of the 2010s because it was a different way of interpreting the science-fiction/action genre. Previous movies included concepts like extraterrestrial life, robots, technological takeovers, and other action scenes. While Inception also had action-based scenes, everything was experienced inside a character’s mind. Catastrophes were illustrated as emotional catharses and personal development was displayed in a therapeutic sense while still eliciting the same excitement and adrenaline that science-fiction/action films usually elicit. This unique way of interpreting a genre is representative of how Inception helped shift this decade’s popular culture to start thinking outside the box, inspiring movies such as Shutter Island and Source Code and influencing a new wave of popular culture to emerge following the previous decade.

Inception’s plot also had a massive impact on the audience. The movie incorporated many details and difficult concepts which required a deeper level of thinking. The ‘dream in a dream’ notion and the mechanics of each dream state had people confused but intrigued. It elicited imagination from the audience as they even started questioning if their reality was actually a dream. The theories that came about after the movie are still an ongoing debate. Inception ended on a cliff-hanger as everyone was left wondering whether the main character was still dreaming since his top continued spinning when the camera cut. The discussions on this were substantial, and Nolan has been extremely vague about it, even years after the movie’s release. The secretive and unusual aspects of the movie keep it relevant in popular culture. Inception implemented the concept of critical thinking into this decade.

Lastly, Inception influenced many other aspects of popular culture after its release. References began emerging in songs including The Black Eyed Peas’ “Just Can’t Get Enough,” Jennifer Lopez’s “On The Floor,” and the video for Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left to Cry.” TV shows such as South Park also referenced the film. Inception even coined an alternate meaning to the term “inception,” which is used in popular culture to describe a layering effect that is occurring, similar to the dream layering in the movie. The term soon became more generalized into the suffix “-ception.”

To conclude, Inception is a representative text of this decade because of its unique interpretation of science-fiction/action, its complex plot that provoked many long-lasting theories, and the influence it had on other popular culture elements.

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Representation of Popular Culture in the Movie Inception. (2020, October 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 11, 2021, from
“Representation of Popular Culture in the Movie Inception.” GradesFixer, 31 Oct. 2020,
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Representation of Popular Culture in the Movie Inception [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 31 [cited 2021 Jun 11]. Available from:
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