5 Unrealistic Movie Cliches That Are Scientifically Accurate

#2. Singing With Someone Else Makes Your Brains Synchronize

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As tacitly noted by Futurama, musicals are the only narrative form in which you can get away with having characters straight up tell you their emotions. In Les Miserables, for example, after watching Fantine suffer pretty much every degradation a person can suffer, she looks right at the camera and sings the classic ballad "Everything Is Shitty (And Can I Please Just Go Home Now?)." Who knew a movie called "The Miserable People" would be so goddamn depressing?

But it's when they throw additional characters into the mix that it gets more complicated than that, and it's actually pretty clever: When the creators want the characters to fight, they show them singing opposing melodies that don't seem to fit together, and when they want the characters to agree, they show them singing together.

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Duets: Music's pick-up artist.

OK, so it seems pretty trite when you explain it like that. And it's also very silly -- The Simpsons' famous "monorail" episode mocked this when the fast-talking salesman sells the town on an expensive scam just by getting everyone to sing about it:

If getting onto the same mental wavelength as others were really as simple as firing up a catchy little ditty together, all of the world's problems could be solved with one global hippie chorus of "Kumbaya."

But in Reality ...

We've already told you about how singing with other people makes you empathize with them, but a different study pointed out that when you play a musical duet with someone, your brain waves synchronize with each other. It doesn't even matter if you're playing the same parts of the song: You can be hitting completely different notes at different times, but as long as you're grooving to the same jam (as the kids say), your brain waves will be almost identical.

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"Maybe it's just the Journey we're singing, but why wouldn't people watch a show based on someone's Twitter feed?"

But perhaps the most interesting part is the difference between a leader and a follower: The person who sets the rhythm of the song has a stronger "internal synchronization" that's actually present before they even start playing. What this means is that when two people play music together, the person leading the song is unknowingly molding the other person's brain waves to match their own.

Which suddenly makes that scene from Annie where an orphan convinces FDR's cabinet to support the New Deal by making them all sing "Tomorrow" with her seem fraught with sober realism.

Columbia Pictures
But perhaps less so when Cartman sings Asia.

#1. Aliens May Really Look Like Star Trek Cosplayers

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One of the hallmarks (and, arguably, best parts) of early sci-fi was the complete lack of convincing special effects. When Star Trek showed us an alien, all they could really afford to do was throw some pointy rubber ears on Leonard Nimoy and insist that no, really, he's from another planet. Some younger fans might not know that instead of having rigid scrotums for foreheads, early Klingons just looked like white people who fell asleep in a tanning bed and then sculpted their facial hair to look like horribly racist Asian caricatures:

CBS
"Look at us! We are alien as balls."

But that's just due to a lack of technology -- it's not an actual prediction. As we recently pointed out, aliens evolving on a different planet would have an entirely different set of circumstances to develop in and adapt to -- they would look less like humanoids and more like, say, pink clouds of gas that communicate with various forms of farting.

But in Reality ...

We don't want to completely shatter the hopes of those of you who were longing for the day when you could bang a green alien chick like Captain Kirk did. So we'll admit that, yes, there are some theories out there that when we run into aliens, they'll look a lot like us.

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
"Shopkeep! ALL the condoms!"

For instance, here's a scientist from Cambridge Friggin' University saying that, despite the idea that evolution provides limitless opportunities, the "survival of the fittest" rule is actually pretty restrictive about, for example, how many arms you can grow and still be adept at that whole "survival" thing. He goes so far as to insist that if or when we meet aliens, they'll have eyes and walk on two legs and even share all of our shittiest personality traits, like violence and a tendency to exploit others' resources. After all, we developed all of those things for a reason.

Or you have this scientist, who's found evidence that, he claims, indicates that human life may have been sparked by amino acids found in the cores of meteorites that crashed into the Earth. He argues that those same amino acids, which contain the building blocks of all life, may have crashed on other planets as well, like interstellar artificial insemination or ... the ending of Battlestar Galactica, we guess. So everyone would be starting from the same building blocks, which means life on the next inhabited planet may possibly be made up of green, busty alien girls. They might also be giant slug monsters. It could go either way.

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
"Meh, I've gotten laid on worse odds."



J.F. Sargent is a workshop moderator for Cracked. He has a silly little blog and a really great Twitter.



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For more ways movies are actually pretty close to real life, check out 6 Mind-Blowing Ways Zombies and Vampires Explain America and 6 Bizarre Real World Versions of Fictional Monsters.

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