What makes a “Cult Classic”?

“Blade Runner,” released in 1982, is an excellent example of what makes something a cult classic. It initially flopped upon release before gaining a new appreciation by its “cult.”



Hailey Le Roy, Entertainment Editor

   The term “cult classic” is a recent buzzword used around social media, and it makes sense; on apps like Tik Tok, the trend to consume unconventional media is still going strong, encouraging teens to seek out indie artists and the like.

   That said, “cult classic” is an honorary title given to films with devoted, borderline-obsessed fans, though it must be noted that this is not the only condition under which a film is given this name. It is a common misconception to consider any film with a cult-like audience a “cult classic,” but that is simply not the case. The film must be unorthodox, and its content usually illuminates the counterculture that went on at the time of its release.

   Another thing to consider is, despite the large audience a film has, how many everyday people are seen casually obsessing over the movie. One is much more likely to see a Trekkie than any fan of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which is often argued as having one of the largest “cult classic” audiences. Fans of “cult classics” are more likely to lurk in the shadows, spreading the gospel of overlooked movies from their corner of the internet.

   “Blade Runner,” another “cult classic” many are familiar with, meets all the necessary requirements. It is dystopian framing of then-futuristic 2019 did not initially do well at the box office and the collision of gray and neon colors offers a fraught, meta look at the future of technology and one’s relationship with it. Ultimately, it is incredibly flawed. “Cult classics” are almost never objectively perfect, and its deformities while still having standout moments is why “Blade Runner” is so renowned within its large underground fan base.

   All of this begs the question: what will the next “cult classic” be? Unfortunately, part of the thrill of cult classics is that it is impossible to predict what the next one will be. Culture is ever-changing and the media needed in 30 years will certainly be different from the media needed now.  It will take time to see the current counterculture appreciated by future generations through film, but when it comes it may present a new perspective of this era.