Study Guide

This Is Spinal Tap What's Up With the Title?

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What's Up With the Title?

When discussing this film, you will almost never hear someone refer to it by its full title. It's always just Spinal Tap. That's hardly fair, is it? What if we all called The Wizard of Oz just Oz? Or Lawrence of Arabia just Lawrence? Or The Godfather just…The?

The likely reason we all leave off the first part is because the band itself is such a phenomenon, and has found life well beyond the movie. They've performed together, appeared on talk shows together in character, so we just think of them as "Spinal Tap." The "This Is" is there to identify the picture as a kind of documentary, so in that sense it's helpful to let us know what we're dealing with.

By the way, in case you're not sure, a "spinal tap" is an unpleasant procedure involving a big needle that's stuck into your spinal canal to diagnose illnesses by looking at your spinal fluid. But the guys probably just thought it sounded cool. Plus, it's a spoof on those random heavy metal band names like Led Zeppelin and Iron Butterfly and Mötley Crüe and Blue Öyster Cult. They even have the umlaut, but in classic clueless Tap fashion, it's over the "n" instead of over a vowel.

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