Nic Cage

Hey Big Spender

Nicolas Cage is an inspiration to uptight, financially conservative Asians everywhere

Words by Stacy Nguyen

Nguyeners and Losers: A weekly JoySauce column full of hot takes and emotional deep dives on pop culture and celebrity news. This column is a manifestation of the countless hours of ‘research’ and ‘analysis’ of stuff like Reddit AMAs and YouTube convo threads that writer Stacy Nguyen likes to obsess over at 11pm.

I went through my adolescence during the era of Nicolas Cage, the Movie Star.

Nicolas Cage 90S GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It was an era where my male cousins convinced their parents to splurge for Blockbuster three-day rentals of Face Off, Con-Air, or The Rock, so that they could watch these movies over and over, memorizing lines that they could quote back and forth to each other, in the midst of excluding my dorky female ass from their make-believe adventures. 

Truthfully, I got really into Nick Cage because they were into Nick Cage. I just wanted to be cool like them, but my mom was constantly sabotaging me because she was so cheap. My mom wouldn’t ever rent from Blockbuster because rentals were not a dollar. I never got to watch movies when they were freshly out. I had to wait like, a few weeks later, for Safeway to finally get their new release VHS tapes in.

Unfortunately, the delay meant it took me too long to understand, “What do you say we cut the chit-chat, A-Hole!” It was too late for me to be cool. The boys had already moved onto Snake Eyes.

That was not the only time in life that money-hoarding made me uncool. It wasn’t the only time a scarcity mindset prevented me from experiencing unencumbered joy.

Our money personality types

According to super scientific resource Investopedia, there are five money personality types. Here are the two most important ones:


This is me. This is the person that turns off the lights whenever they leave the room, even though lights are so energy-efficient now that if you leave your lights on for 16 hours a day, it costs like $.36 extra on your electricity bill. 

Like, I know the exercise of turning off lights and saving dirty bathwater is basically pointless, but to be honest with you, I have been very scarred as the eldest child of two Vietnamese refugees. These are hard habits to break.

Big Spenders

I bet Nick Cage is this type. Even though I don’t personally know the man, I can extrapolate that a dude that outbids Leonardo DiCaprio for a Tarbosaurus skull, a dude who bought a Lamborghini from the then-Shah of Iran, a dude who acquired two castles just for the hell of it—just has to be fairly loose with money.  

Pedro Pascal Money GIF by The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent - Find & Share on GIPHY

Plus, there were all the reports from over a decade ago, stating that he was in trouble with the IRS and owed them $14 million

My idolization of Cage also soured around this time because of his dip in quality. The last Nick Cage movie I watched on purpose was 2007’s Ghost Rider. I remember going into it expecting a good time from an Oscar winner. I also remember the sinking feeling halfway through the film, when Cage uttered, “Yeah, I’m good—it feels like my skull is on fire, but I’m good,” as I realized that Ghost Rider wasn’t a good movie at all.

I was in my early 20s when Cage’s filmography started its downward trajectory, and I was super judgmental about it. The guy kept churning out shit movie after shit movie. There was Bangkok Dangerous, the National Treasure franchise, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, a sequel that no one asked for, and so much more direct-to-video terribleness. I told my friends that Nick Cage was a sellout, a person who was wasting his talent doing movies just for the paychecks because he doesn’t care about art anymore. 

Nicolas Cage Shrug GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

My friends didn’t particularly care about the hot takes because Asian women typically don’t care about Nick Cage—but I did, and I vowed to them that I would take this as a cautionary tale. I wasn’t gonna be irresponsible with money like my parents didn’t teach me better. I wasn’t gonna live beyond my means. I was gonna be wiser than my years and always remember that paychecks are never guaranteed.

I was actually young and dumb

Guys, it’s been 15 years since Bangkok Dangerous. I still go around turning off the lights, wasting hours of my life trying to optimize hot water, and buying ugly broken shit all the time just because it was marked on clearance and I am so susceptible to anything that is 50 percent off or more. I am constantly buried under work because I say yes to too much, because I’m too scared to take a break. I spend hours every week irrationally worried that nobody will hire me ever again because I secretly suck at my job so bad. Sometimes, I feel like I dream small because I don’t know how to have fun with money. 

And Nick Cage! Well, Nick Cage finally finished paying back the IRS in the last year

Hell Yeah Gets Excited High Kick GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

He gave interviews and shared stuff about how he worked really hard to not declare bankruptcy, never phoned in a performance even though he knew certain movies didn’t work, and how he was spending a lot of money trying to help his late mother with what sounds like serious mental health issues during the same time he was in the public eye for his tax woes. 

Like, he went through so much hardship with a lot of grace! 

And Cage’s filmography has even started self-correcting after that super long dark period. He’s been doing acclaimed movies like Pig and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. There are even rumblings of a freaking Face-Off sequel, a follow-up everyone is absolutely excited about.  

Today, I don’t look at Cage and see someone to haughtily pity and cast judgment on. I feel sheepish that I ever saw him like that. 

These days, I see a person who is a big dreamer and wildly creative, who probably wasn’t ever great at numbers, who probably put his trust in money managers who proved to be untrustworthy. I see a person who has an appetite for risk and adventure and for trying different things. 

Make Up Win GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

And say what you will about working for a paycheck—but even when that dude was working for his money, he was still Nick Cage. He kept risking going over-the-top in true Nick Cage fashion, versus going the route of Marlon Brando, who couldn’t even memorize his lines toward the end of his career.

I look at Cage these days, and I wish I was more like him. I wish I could believe that I have it in myself to toil for more than a decade to chip away at debt, instead of shrinking away into nothingness. I wish I had the guts to do my version of Ghost Rider and its sequel, instead of always running every potential project through a pragmatic fear-based ROI filter. I wish I could name my hypothetical child Kal-El and not worry about the mockery for years and years afterward. I even wish I feel free enough to wear leopard print pants in daylight.

In summary:

Worrying too much about face-saving: Loser
Constantly doing stuff your peanut gallery says is silly: Nguyener
Naming your kid after Superman: OMG HARD TO SAY

Published on May 27, 2022

Words by Stacy Nguyen

Stacy Nguyen is a Seattle area-based Vietnamese American writer, artist, and designer whose work explores the ways race and gender are reflected within the lens of popular culture. She makes a lot of logos and moves shapes around in a pleasing manner in her day job. She used to be a journalist and news editor, but now she mostly writes hot takes on celebrities. This is because she watches an obscene amount of TV that she should be embarrassed about, but is inexplicably not.