20. John Connor Wears A Public Enemy T-Shirt in Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Date: July 3, 1991
The Moment: In what was billed as the biggest action movie of all time, there was 14-year-old southern California teenager Edward Furlong playing 14-year-old southern California teenager John Connor, protected by a robot sent from the future—as played by future California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in what would go on to become his most iconic film role—as he is hunted down by a much angrier robot sent from the future to kill him (so he doesn't go on to lead the human rebellion against the machines).
Just a little under a year before the Rodney King riots would set L.A. ablaze, the robot trying to kill John Connor, the T-1000, was donning the disguise of totalitarian authority incarnate: an LAPD cop. How perfect, then, that John Connor sports a shirt blasting one of the most politically rebellious music groups (let alone rap acts) of all time: Public Enemy, who also happened to have a DJ named Terminator X.
The Impact: The most politically vocal rap group of all time had suddenly been blasted into the consciousness of anyone who'd see the movie, which, as it turned out, was everyone. The movie made $519 million worldwide, and every single one of those people got a pretty clear message: White kids from the suburbs who go on to save the world in the robot wars of the future are really into Public Enemy, so do with that what you will.
The Upshot: While the movie was bashed by conservative culture critics (remember those?) for its epic gun violence and not-always-family-friendly language, John Connor became and remains one of the most memorable teenage movie heroes (or sidekicks) of all time.
A few months after the movie came out, Public Enemy released the critically and commercially successful Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Back, which charted all the way up to the fourth spot on the Billboard 200. It also happened to feature a metal band of white Jewish guys (Anthrax) tearing up a re-release of Public Enemy's "Bring Tha Noize" with the group at the end of the album, which, while not diluted from the group's signature styles, handily reached a larger audience than any Public Enemy album before it.