The tough thing about staying abreast of pop culture is that they keep on making more and more famous people, and my poor millennial brain, which can never forget the name “Cisco Adler,” has struggled mightily to incorporate the likes of say, the D’Amelios. Whenever I get confused about which one’s Charli and which one’s Dixie, I feel the deep shame of my own ignorance.
Thankfully, Keke Palmer, the innovator of the “sorry to this man” meme, is really becoming an icon of not having a single clue who she’s looking at—and her grace under fire is truly an inspiration to
me us all.
Palmer, who stars in Jordan Peele’s upcoming alien film Nope, participated in a cast interview for Vanity Fair that had her and her co-stars Daniel Kaluuya, Steven Yeun, and Brandon Perea reviewing fan theories taken from the internet. “I bet we see Scully and Mulder,” said one comment that VF had Palmer read aloud.
With truly impeccable timing, Palmer took a beat and asked, “And who the hell are they?”
The rest of the cast explained that Scully and Mulder are from The X-Files, but that wasn’t enough to clear up the confusion. “And why would we see them?” Palmer asked. “Because, aliens,” Kaluuya accurately, but perhaps not entirely helpfully, replied.
Vanity Fair knew what they were doing. In 2019, Palmer participated in the magazine’s lie detector test video series and, after being shown a picture of former Vice President Dick Cheney, had an unforgettable reaction.
“I hate to say it, I hope I don’t sound ridiculous, I don’t know who this man is,” she said. “He could be walking down the street, I wouldn’t know a thing. Sorry to this man.”
Of course, “Sorry to this man” instantly became a meme.
But aside from the sheer hilarity of her delivery, there’s something inspiring about the way Palmer admits to not knowing who people are: Her reactions hold the polite suggestion that the problem does not lie with her for not knowing, but with Mulder, Scully, and Cheney for not being known to her. She is open and unashamed. This is the energy I’d like to have the next time I’m forced to Google the names of, say, half the YouTubers walking the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards. Thank you, Keke Palmer.