In an episode of the sitcom The League, the characters are playing paintball and Rafi, who is one of the more eccentric characters starts shouting "Gattaca!" as he runs into battle. This is clearly meant to be a joke, but I don't get what the joke is. I am familiar with the movie Gattaca but I have no clue what that has to do with anything. Can someone fill me in? Is the purpose simply to be completely random or is there something else I'm missing?
I'm not positive, but I think his character may be confusing the phrase "Attica! Attica!" with Gattaca. It's been many years since this happened, so I had to look it up because my memory was foggy. But in 1971, there was a prison riot at the Attica correctional facility in Attica, New York:
The Attica Prison uprising, also known as the Attica Prison rebellion or Attica Prison riot, occurred at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York, United States, in 1971. Based upon prisoners' demands for better living conditions and political rights, the uprising was one of the most well-known and significant uprisings of the Prisoners' Rights Movement. On September 9, 1971, two weeks after the killing of George Jackson at San Quentin State Prison, 1,281 of the Attica prison's approximately 2,200 inmates rioted and took control of the prison, taking 42 staff hostage.
There were at least 3 TV movies made about the incident, but the chant "Attica! Attica!" actually comes from the Al Pacino vehicle, Dog Day Afternoon:
The film was inspired by P. F. Kluge's article "The Boys in the Bank" in LIFE magazine, about a similar robbery of a Brooklyn bank by John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturale on August 22, 1972.
In the movie:
On August 22, 1972, first-time crook Sonny Wortzik, his friend Salvatore "Sal" Naturale, and Stevie attempt to rob the First Brooklyn Savings Bank. The plan immediately goes awry when Stevie loses his nerve and flees, and Sonny discovers they have arrived after the daily cash pickup, finding only $1,100 in cash.
Using the head teller as a shield, Sonny begins a dialogue with Moretti that culminates in his shouting "Attica! Attica!" to invoke the recent Attica Prison riot, and the crowd begins cheering for Sonny.
You can see the original clip here at about 1:50:
That chant shows up in countless other places. For example, John Travolta's character in Saturday Night Fever shouts it as he's getting dressed to go out to the dance club. This Vanity Fair article explains why he does the chant:
When he first moved to New York from Rochester, Pape says, “Pacino was the actor to be—he was the hottest thing. He was the presiding spirit of the movie. When Tony (Travolta) comes out of his room in his underwear and his Italian grandmother crosses herself, he says, ‘Attica! Attica!’—that’s from Dog Day Afternoon.”