We admit it; we have an addiction. Actually, a lot of addictions, but the only relevant one here is our addiction to mind-blowing fan theories about famous bits of pop culture. For years, we've collected crazy (and compelling) theories about our favorite movies, TV shows, and video games, and now we present our "greatest hits." Whether you're new to the site or you just missed these the first time around, the following pages have enough mindflippery to obliterate hours of productivity. Enjoy!
#42. RoboCop Is a Stand-In for Jesus
What You Think You're Watching:
A fun sci-fi romp through a near-future dystopian Detroit. Peter Weller plays a good cop who is murdered in the line of duty and is therefore the perfect candidate for inaugurating the RoboCop program. As the first RoboCop, RoboCop does many robocoppy things, including single-handedly robocopping the city's crime element, and robocopping corruption within the corporation that robocopped him.
Also, whatever you call this.
RoboCop is actually RoboJesus.
Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop, much like The Matrix, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and other movies all strangely connected to Keanu Reeves, uses its hero as a metaphor for Jesus Christ. Let's start with the obvious: The story of Christ is that Jesus is alive, then he's wrongfully killed, then he's resurrected. The story of RoboCop is that good cop is alive:
Then he's wrongfully killed:
Then he's resurrected as RoboCop:
OK, now let's get into the iconic scene, in which Detroit policeman and RoboCop-to-be Alex Murphy is tortured and killed by a gang of bad guys. First, his arm is spread out in a cruciform position. Next, the gang leader blows off his right hand with a shotgun -- a modern, gore-amplified version of being nailed to a cross. Finally, he receives a deadly gunshot wound to the head (the crown of thorns, durrrr).
Not convinced? Near the end of the movie, in his final showdown with the crime gang that killed him, RoboCop is shown moving across ankle-deep water, almost as if he's walking on top of it.
"Ask and it will be given to you -- in bullets!"
Oh, and if you're still not convinced, director Verhoeven actually confirmed the whole theory in a 2010 interview, saying that he fully intended to portray Murphy as a Jesuslike figure.
"It is about a guy who gets crucified in the first 50 minutes, and then is resurrected in the next 50 minutes, and then is like the supercop of the world."
Verhoeven also pointed out that the character's somewhat un-Christlike violence was deliberate, since RoboCop was meant to be an American Jesus.
And we're sure Verhoeven will tell us what the fuck Basic Instinct was about one of these days.
#41. Donald Duck Is Atlas Shrugged for Children
Aside from being an uncredited creator of Inception, Donald Duck is one of the most beloved cartoon characters in the world. But Ariel Dorfman (an Argentine-Chilean novelist/activist) and Armand Mattelart (a Belgian sociologist) have this crazy theory that the comic book adventures of a violent, pantsless sailor might actually be inappropriate for children.
Like a hysterical news story, we present this out-of-context screenshot as evidence.
According to the authors, Donald Duck cartoons might as well be the talking-duck version of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. In their book How to Read Donald Duck (Para leer al Pato Donald), the Dynamic Deconstruction Duo claim that Donald and friends teach kids that a person's value is dependent entirely on how much money he or she has, and that in the pursuit of money, there is no room for things like family or love, only for blind self-interest.
"He knew no weapons but to pay for what he wanted. While pantsless."
Why It's Not That Crazy:
Have you ever noticed that there aren't any parents in Donald Duck cartoons and comics? Scrooge, for example, is Donald's uncle, who in turn is an uncle to Huey, Dewey, and Louie, a first cousin to Gladstone Gander and a boyfriend (but never husband) to Daisy, who herself has three nieces, April, May, and June (because fuck it, picking out baby names is hard). That means that the world these characters live in is essentially devoid of any real families and populated solely by orphans. Without parents and nepotism, each duck is left alone to constantly compete against the others for wealth and status. That's basically an ideal stage for, yes, really sad nightmares, but also capitalism: If you start with what you believe to be a completely level playing field (in this case, a world without parents where everyone starts out with the same chances in an orphanage), those who are strongest and smartest, and work the hardest, have the best chance of succeeding (where "succeeding" here means "making all of the money in the world").
"And while you're at it, see if you can't bump up the Mouse's copyright a few years."
The anti-capitalist characters in Atlas Shrugged are portrayed as spineless, worthless moochers. Likewise, Donald is depicted as an eternal loser because he can't hold a steady job and is always in debt to his uncle. Scrooge, on the other hand, is the richest duck in the world, happily spending all of his free time becoming even richer. In DuckTales, every single episode is basically about Scrooge and the nephews hunting for treasure or protecting Scrooge's money or diving into giant swimming pools of coins (something that almost certainly would have happened in Shrugged had it not been cut to make room for 25,000 words about the tensile strength of railroad tracks).
The comics aren't any better: In Dorfman and Mattelart's analysis, the entire plot of 75 percent of the comics centered around the ducks looking for money and gold. The other 25 percent were about "competing for fortune," which is apparently considered different.
"Maybe start by handing over that crown."
In Atlas Shrugged, extraordinary people demonstrate their extraordinariness by making all of the money in the world and sharing it with no one. The conclusion reached by the end of the novel is that anyone who isn't a superman should either worship the supermen or stay out of their way, and if the unfortunately average people die in the process, oh well.
This must be where Scrooge differs from Shrugged, right? It's not like Scrooge would ever be that heartless, right? What's that? Scrooge acquired his wealth by conducting genocide in Africa? Oh.
"Of course my culture is worth squat! How did you know?"
#40. Zion Is Part of the Matrix
Do you remember The Matrix: Revolutions? No? It was, like, the final film in the trilogy? Still no? Hey, we haven't watched it since 2003 either. Wait, you don't even remember it coming out? Dear reader, we think you might have a case of PTSD: Post-Trilogy Stress Disorder. Don't worry; you're not alone in your suffering -- it affects Star Wars fans too.
Would it reaffirm your faith in the Wachowskis, dear Matrix fan, if we told you the mindfuck from the first movie was just one mindfuck inside one huge matryoshka doll of mindfucks?
In Revolutions, Neo's powers from the Matrix have seemingly transferred into the material world. For instance, he can "see" (despite having charbroiled his eyeballs) and also manifests the power to blow up machines with his mind. This has been a pet peeve with fans who note that this makes absolutely zero sense in the context of the Matrix universe.
But one theory posits that Neo's sudden, convenient-to-the-plot superpowers were possible since he never left the Matrix at all.
These fans figure "Zion" and the whole world Morpheus and the other "free" humans lived in was a separate Matrix unto itself, a second layer of the computer program to let some people think they had escaped. Thus it makes perfect sense that Neo would have magical powers in what he thought was the "physical" world.
Why Does It Make the Film Better?
The theory keeps the sci-fi film sci-fi and not heavy-handed messianic fantasy. Neo's new powers are never explained in Revolutions (hand-waved away by The Oracle in one sentence) and therefore seem like a cheap cop-out tacked on simply to end the damn movie. This explanation also prevents the now-tarnished Wachowskis from looking like a bunch of lazy jack-offs who are still cruising on the first Matrix film.
"From the team who brought you Speed Racer and Ninja Assassin!"
The theory gives a somewhat credible explanation instead of a deus ex machina plot device. Interestingly enough, deus ex machina literally means "god from the machine." Double whoa, brah.
#39. Mario Is a Jealous Ex-Boyfriend Who Can't Let Go
Mario's the most recognizable family-friendly hero this side of Mickey Mouse, yet he's fighting to defend his home against a villain who is better at that as well. Bowser has a bigger family than Catholic sumo wrestlers, while the most famous hero in gaming is a 40-something bachelor, presumably still living knee-deep in mushroom pizza boxes, since we know he doesn't own more than one set of clothes. There are college students more mature than him -- at least they don't have to gather coins on their way to meet their girlfriends.
And all those gold stars take up an obnoxious amount of shelf space.
We know Bowser's home life has to be good, because even in the most annoying embodiments of the "rebellious teenager phase" possible, Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings still hang out with their father, learning the family trade. We never see his wife, probably for the same reason that Tony never brought Carmela along when he was staging a gangland takeover. Bowser keeps the woman he loves safe from harm and out of the games.
"My husband is a garbageman!"
The closest thing that Mario has to a stable relationship is the perpetually kidnapped Peach. While the game presents her prolonged disappearances as something between a shell game and a hostage situation, she's never as thankful as you'd hope when you rescue her.
Meanwhile, she's perfectly happy to race Go-Karts against Bowser. Their continual kidnapping/getting rescued game of cat-and-mouse seems more flirtatious than anything. In the real world, after the third time a woman disappears with the same man, either common sense or the police usually tell you to stop filing missing-person reports, let alone smash up his place trying to get her back.
So Bowser's got Mario's girl and a Mrs. Bowser somewhere tending a beautiful three-bedroom castle.