"At a time when people are looking to you as Taoiseach for leadership, do you really think it’s appropriate to be using a speech to quote teen movies, as an in-joke with an actor?”
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has responded to questions on whether using a line from Mean Girls in his recent public address was appropriate behaviour. Appearing on RTÉ's Prime Time last night, Varadkar spoke to journalist David McCullagh who asked him if quoting "teen movies" is belonging of a man in his position.
Responding to the question, Varadkar said:
"I think any quote is appropriate if it's appropriate in its context whether it was written in a movie or by a poet."
Rising to the challenge set to him by Hollywood actor Sean Astin, Varadkar quoted a line from the cult classic movie Mean Girls when addressing the public last week. Opting for one of the more subtle quotes from the movies, he included the line "the limit does not exist". Defending his choice to quote from the popular film, the Taoiseach said that the quote was appropriate in the context of our "ambitions as a country".
"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.
Not the first time the Taoiseach has quoted well-known figureheads and pieces of literature in his speeches, so far he's taken snippets from Lord of the Rings (quoting Sean Astin's character Samwise Gamgee - which is how the whole challenge came about), Irish singer Dermot Kennedy and even Seamus Heaney.
"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
Conceding that while it is a "trivial issue" in the grand scheme of things, McCullagh pressed Varadkar on the matter asking again if he really considered it to be appropriate at a time when many have died and have seen their livelihoods destroyed.
However, Varadkar stuck to his guns - reiterating that he believes any quote in any speech is appropriate if it's in context.
"I've used quotes from poets and other writers precisely to deal with the issue that you've raised. 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."
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