Determining what'll make Twitter's trending-topic menu is hardly rocket science. Seems everyone wants to weigh in on current events (Moscow, Justin Bieber) or add their clever two cents to whatever viral sensation is making the rounds (that "Greatest Arnold Schwarzenegger Quotes" YouTube video sure has made a lot of people happy lately. Including me.) Sometimes, though, the Twitter tendrils find their way into territory so surreal it could only be spawned by the internet hive-mind.
I'm speaking, of course, of the recent #WernerHerzogvsChuckNorris trend, which may have been inspired by this 2009 Nerve.com article that dared tick off "Five Reasons Why Werner Herzog is More Badass Than Chuck Norris," itself surely inspired by the Chuck Norris facts page, which is still such a phenom that you can go there and create your own "There is no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard. There is only another fist" t-shirt. Or any other phrase that catches your fancy, for that matter ("When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris" is another good one, but really -- they're all winners).
So how does Werner Herzog, strange and singular director of films that average, multiplex-haunting moviegoers don't tend to watch (except maybe Grizzly Man), become part of an internet meme? Herzog, who has probably the greatest German accent in pop culture since Schwarzenegger, has become a bona fide cult figure just for being himself. Fans of Herzog being Herzog should seek out Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely, which got attention for its love story between a Michael Jackson impersonator and an Marilyn Monroe look-alike, but also featured Herzog -- who acts from time to time -- in a subplot about flying nuns. Really.
Anyway, according to Twitter, Herzog is the new Norris. Because, and these are just recent tweets (go check now, I bet there's more...)
* "Superman owns a pair of Chuck Norris pajamas. Chuck Norris has Werner Herzog Underoos."
* "Chuck Norris uses live rattlesnakes for a belt. Herzog uses Chuck Norris."
* "Norris knocked out a bear with one punch. Herzog telepathically commanded 400 monkeys to tear it limb from limb."
* "Chuck Norris shot Herzog in the head. Herzog pulled out the bullet & continued building a toothpick sculpture."
And perhaps the most popular: "Chuck Norris pounds nail through 2x4 with his fist. Werner Herzog does it with his dick."
Side note: Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans comes out on video April 6. Highly recommended, even if you're on Team Norris. These two should probably make a movie together, though would that make Twitter explode??
Edit: I've just found out that Roger Ebert is the creator of the above-mentioned most popular variation on the WHvsCN tag. And, of course, I found out via Twitter. Props to Mr. Ebert, who'll be in town in a few weeks to pick up the Mel Novikoff Award at the 53rd Annual San Francisco International Film Festival.