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Of Mice and Men in Popular Culture

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Daniel Zeiter-Smith

on 2 October 2013

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Transcript of Of Mice and Men in Popular Culture

Of Mice and Men in Popular Culture
Music and
Film and prints
Television
Cartoons/Other
If the success of a novel – or novella – was based on how many references are made to it in popular culture, Of Mice and Men would incontestably be considered one of the most
successful
stories in of the
XXth century
. The author and Nobel prize winner,
John Steinbeck
, has created a
character duo
that ignited an immense response in
popular cultures such as music, video games, films, prints, television shows, and popular cartoons
. The novella, published in 1937, has been made into many films. The first time being just two years after the book was published in 1939; This film knew great success as it was nominated for four Oscars. The book has also been adapted to a theater production just after it was published; The play also knowing great success being chosen as Best Play in 1938 as well as being remade into a Broadway production in 1974.

Sitcoms
Friends:
Joey is playing with a little chicken. Chandler alludes to Of Mice and Men by saying "Easy, Lennie" to Joey.
Miscellaneous
Power Rangers In Space:
Cassie is fast-talked into a date with a big guy named Lennie, with help from his smaller, smarter friend George. Basically, George is Lennie's wing man which relates to the book in many ways because George helps Lennie get jobs... etc.
Saturday Night Live
James Franco (season 34):
there is a sketch about the alternate ending of Of Mice and Men where Lennie (played by Bobby Moynihan) discovers that George (James Franco) has been sugarcoating reality and lying to him about death (he also notices George's weapon and points out "I'm pretty sure that's a gun!" leading Lennie to blame George for killing Curley's wife.
(Continued)
Family Feud:
the host asks a contestant (whose team has already won but doesn't know it), what the name of Curley's wife is, which is never mentioned in the novel. It's a trick question.
How I Met Your Mother:
Marshall imagines Robin comparing his style of love making to Lennie.
My Name is Earl:
Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee star as brothers: Suplee is a dumb-witted gentle giant and Lee is the small yet wiser one who makes all of the decisions and watches after his brother.
John Malkovich (season 19):
includes a sketch about creating a version of the story for Disney film. The narrator informs the audience that the character 'George' has been eliminated because he tested poorly. That character will be replaced by a second Lennie. The two Lennie's are played by Malkovich and Chris Farley.
Lost:

Season 3 - In a flashback, Sawyer is reading the book in a prison. While on the island, Sawyer quotes the book to Ben.
Season 6 - Sawyer confronts the fake John Locke by retelling the story of Of Mice And Men in a nutshell and then pointing a gun at him. Sawyer admits the book is his favorite.
CSI: NY:
Gary Sinise stars, a primary suspect (Tim Guinee) is auditioning for the part of George in the play adaptation of Of Mice and Men. Sinise played George in the 1992 film adaptation of the novel.
From Pop to Metalcore...
There are often lines or quotes from the novella itself used in song lyrics or even in
band names, song titles and album titles
This includes artists of many different genres, ranging
from pop to metalcore.
For example, in the song
“Pearl”
by Katy Perry: "This love's too strong like 'Mice and Men'" and "Squeezing out the life that should be let in" which references Lennie Small, in that he’s very strong (this love’s too strong) and that he doesn't know his own strength and often squeezes the life out of small animals unconsciously
Video Games
"The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion"
, if you ask about a non player character in the game, he will tell you that said character had a pet rabbit as a child, however he pet it so hard that he crushed its skull

"Fallout 2"
, if the player is using a mentally handicapped character, when speaking to a woman in a brothel, the player has the option to respond to the woman with "George sayz we gonna haf a few achers of our own an' I shud keep away from you or he won't lemme play wit the rabbitz so me go now."

There are many more - direct and indirect - references to the novella in many games, including quotes, reference to characters from the novel as well as quests or missions being named after the novella itself or something of that nature
Band Names/Song Names
Certain bands have named themselves/their songs after the novella:

"Of Mice and Men" : a metalcore group from California

"Of Monsters and Men" : an indie-pop group from Iceland slightly modified the Novella's name

Some bands have named songs after the novella as well as well as make reference to it in their songs... (Example: Of Mice and Men by Megadeth)
(Continued)
The song “Cleanser” by Brand New (an alternative rock group from Long Island) they reference the novel thrice in the lyrics.

The first time referencing the poem of which the novel was named after "the best best best best plans where both mice and men can go terribly wrong/and probably will”,

The second speaking of a lady who is vain (referring to Curley’s Wife)

The third being a line in the chorus of the song "Weighing the cost of the love you make/Feeling the weight of the bones you break", referring to Curley’s Wife’s wandering eye and Lennie killing her.
Video Games
Parody/Remake
The reference that is most often used in parodies is the « which way did he go George, which way did he go? »
(Continued)
Lennie and Pinky

Lennie Small, is anything but small physically. His brain and ability to reason
are the only « small » things about him. His body is large and is used for work. Which makes him very smililar to the characater « Pinky » because Pinky is the stronger one and he just follows along and does what
he is told to do much like Lennie.
More Cartoons!
The King of the Hill: episode "Of Mice and Little Green Men," At the end of the episode, Bobby asks Hank to "tell me about the farm," in the same manner that Lennie asked George.

American Dad: episode "Of Ice and Men".

The Cleveland Show: episode entitled "Of Lice and Men".

Cat and Girl: episode "Of Mice and Men", two mice play the main characters. Cat appears to eat one of the mice just after it asks "Tell me about the rabbits, George", but then announces "he got away" in an apparent reference to a desired ending for the story.

South Park: episode "A Million Little Fibers", Mingee and Gary have a friendship similar to that of George and Lennie - this is most noticeable at the end where, after being shot, Gary asks Mingee to tell him about Paris and much like in the novella, Mingee tells him about it as Gary dies

Futurama: episode "Love and Rocket", Bender plays with the ship's control
panel. The ship then says: "Stop it! You're mussing up my trajectory!", as Curley's wife does in the novel (her hair).

Robot Chicken: a Rocky and Bullwinkle spoof has the duo playing George and Lennie respectively, acting out some of the major moments of the story.
Activity (Part two)
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Of mice and men, was published in 1937, and as you know, the Warners Bros. (Looney Tunes) were also very popular at that time (1930-1969).
Another famous remake is the one about Lennie’s love for soft and furry animals, mostly rabbits, and also his underestimated strength.

«Lonesome Lenny»
Pinky and the Brain
The ultimate allegory: Pinky = Lennie
The Brain = George
George and The Brain

George is small and quick-witted
man. He’s the one in control and the
one that takes the dicisions. He also tells Lennie what to do all the time. Which makes him exactly like « The Brain » because The Brain is smaller the Pinky but he is the master mind behind all the work.
Twilight Zone:
Rod Serling's closing monologue, mentions Of Mice and Men. (The original quote is, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an men often go awry").
Twilight Zone:
Rod Serling's closing monologue, mentions Of Mice and Men. (The original quote is, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an men often go awry").
Veronica Mars:
Episode entitled Of Vice and Men (Lord of the Pi's...)
Jeopardy!:
Subject of a $2,000 clue in the category "Compose Yourself"
Challenge: The Famous Duo
Do you know any television or movie characters that resemble
George and Lennie
?

Hint:
Don't narrow your knowledge to only size differences. Think of the difference in power/intelligence/etc...
Films
Small Town Crooks (Woody Allen):
- "All that's missing from this guy is a piece of velvet and a pet mouse." (reference to Lennie)

Gremlins 2:
Two of the gremlins are named Lenny and George, they both have the same personalities as the characters

Role Models:
In a blooper (improvised dialogue about the novel)

Straw dogs (Dustin Hoffman):
A teenager Janice is accidentally strangled by the tall, big and intellectually challenged Henry Niles while they are alone in an outbuilding, with several parallels to the killing of Curley's wife by Lennie
(Continued)
Gremlins 2:
Two of the gremlins are named Lenny and George, they both have the same personalities as the characters
Prints
The Green Mile:
John Coffey is similar to Lennie (large, unintelligent, and innocent at heart). In both stories, mice fall into their care and at the time of their deaths, both Lennie and John Coffey were executed in the most compassionate way possible under the circumstances that occur in both novels.
Hotel For Dogs:
Two dogs, a small dog named Georgia and a large dog named Lenny
The Dark Tower V, Wolves of the Calla:
Father Callahan sizes up the Hitler Brothers as George and Lennie, although the large one was the smart one of the pair.

Blaze:
the story's protagonist Clayton Blaisdell bears several similarities to Lennie. His deceased best friend was named George, and was a small and quick-witted man.

Hearts in Atlantis:
the 'farm with the rabbits' is mentioned by Bobby Garfield once describing a “happy life”.
The Talisman:
George and Lennie's relationship seems to be paralleled by Jack and Wolf's relationship. Wolf also crushes the hand of another character.

11/22/63:
A teacher puts on Of Mice and Men as a school play.
Full transcript