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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.

The Subtext:

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.

Walt Disney
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.

Walt Disney
"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").

Walt Disney
"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.

Walt Disney
"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.

Walt Disney
"Of course my culture is worth squat! How did you know?"

Oh.

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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?


Like this.

The Theory:

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.


Really?

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.

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38
WALL-E Killed the Other Robots and Doomed the Earth

The WALL-E we know tells the heartwarming story of the destruction of Earth. When mankind goes off to travel the universe and get fat, they leave a bunch of robots behind to clean up the mountains of garbage that now cover the planet. Seven hundred years later, only one of those trash-compacting robots is left: the adorable WALL-E. He (it?) falls in love with a space-traveling robot called EVE, and together they bring the humans back home.


And then presumably have robo-children that look like dongs with wheels.

The Theory:

But wait, back up: What happened to all the other WALL-E-type robots that were left on Earth? We see their broken bodies scattered here and there -- why is WALL-E still functional when all of his brethren are broken down robo-corpses?

Easy: According to this theory from Reddit, WALL-E freaking destroyed them over a 700-year-long murder spree. That's why there's still so much garbage covering the planet after so long -- there was just one robot to clean it, and he's a psychopath.

Why It's Totally Possible:

First of all, just look at how casually WALL-E cannibalizes the parts of the deactivated units at the beginning of the movie -- he remorselessly rips the treads off of another robot to replace his own and hoards other spare parts in his trailer.


He totally poached that head from Johnny 5.

WALL-E is clearly a sentient being, capable of pain and emotion. He recognizes fellow robots as living beings (and of course falls in love with one). And yet, he doesn't appear to give the slightest fuck about desecrating the scattered corpses of his robotic kin. He's playing music from Hello, Dolly! as he tears their parts off. Apply the same thinking to human beings and picture a man who collects human body parts to wear and dance around in. Congratulations, you just imagined Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.


"This'll really take my 'Goodbye Horses' routine to the next level."

So WALL-E is a disturbed individual. But why would he kill the other robots? Maybe, as the fan theory points out, it's because his objective and their objective weren't compatible. The entire purpose of these robots was to gather the trash and compact it -- and yet WALL-E, no doubt as a result of some fatal flaw in his programming, actually takes some of those worthless artifacts he's supposed to be destroying and keeps them to himself, just to stare at them.


They're basically his robot serial killing trophies.

Or, hell, maybe he just wanted to be able to use their parts to live forever. Either way, at the end of the movie, the humans don't even suspect that they're now stuck on a planet with a remorseless mass-murdering machine, surrounded by the grim evidence of his madness.


This is all robo-corpses.

37
In Inception, Cobb's Totem Is His Wedding Ring

Inception is known for having a soundtrack that went BWONG every three minutes and accompanied an infuriatingly open-ended final scene designed to make you argue with your date as you left the cinema. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a widower who invades people's dreams to plant ideas in their subconscious. Each dream-planter has a personal object, or totem, to let them know if they're in a dream or in the real world, because getting lost in someone's head without realizing it is a legitimate concern in this line of work.

Cobb's totem was a spinning top: If it kept spinning forever it meant he was dreaming, and if it fell down he was not. In the last scene, Cobb makes the top spin on a table ... and then the movie cuts to black. So did it keep spinning or not? The Internet has been furiously debating this for years and we are no closer to an answer ...


For our money, Cobb was definitely a replicant.

The Theory:

... and that's because we've been looking in the wrong direction. The top was never Cobb's totem -- it was his wedding ring all along. This is based on the fact that, every time we see Cobb's hand in the dream world, he happens to have the ring on it; you can see it in the opening scene, and again in that crazy dream in the cafe.


In fact he keeps flashing it to the chick from Juno, because he knows she's into married dudes.

Meanwhile, every time we see Cobb's hand in the real world, he doesn't have it. It's not there on any of the present-day, non-dream scenes at the beginning, and it's not there in the last few scenes ... meaning that the ending wasn't a dream. Check it out, this is right before he makes the top spin and the director pulls a The Sopranos on us:


Close the Internet, we're done.

Keep in mind, Cobb never said the top was his totem. Seriously, go back and rewatch the movie: He doesn't. We see him clutching the top in his hand when Juno asks about totems, but there's a good reason for him to do that: The top belonged to his dead wife, and, as the movie doesn't hesitate to show us, Cobb is still slightly hung up on her.


To the point where every time he goes to sleep, she chases him like a freaking Terminator.

In the movie we're told that totems must be something unique that only the owner knows well. Since the top was previously his wife's, that means Cobb must have had another totem before, right? The ring seems like a perfect choice. He stopped wearing it when she died, but was too cheap to buy a new totem.

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36
Dexter in Dexter's Laboratory Has Asperger's Syndrome

Cartoon Network Studios

Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory was the envy of every science-minded kid who had to make do with an incomplete junior chemistry set and some hand-me-down LEGO Technics. He had a huge secret lab under his house and seemingly unlimited resources to build anything he imagined -- for instance, his own Dexo-Transformer, which he used to terrorize his bullies in dodgeball.

Cartoon Network Studios
"T-Bag Mode: Engaged."

The Theory:

According to this theory from TV Tropes, Dexter's life isn't as cool as it looks, since he suffers from Asperger's syndrome ... but, you know, so do half the My Little Ponies, probably. If there's one thing the Internet loves more than fake diagnosing itself with Asperger's, it's fake diagnosing its favorite characters with it.

Why It's Not That Crazy:

A strong case can be made for Dexter, though. Look at his personality: He struggles to interact with others socially, has repetitive patterns he adheres to, and has very unique interests -- if Dexter could, he wouldn't leave his lab. These are all signs of Asperger's, as is his baffling pseudo-Austrian accent: A lot of people with this condition sound like foreigners to their own families because they mimic words the way they were pronounced when they first heard them (in many cases, on TV).

Cartoon Network Studios
"The Schwarzenegger marathon ends when I say it ends."

OK, so the kid might be an Aspie, but does that change anything in the show? Actually, it changes everything, because we view all the other characters through Dexter's lens, and people with Asperger's have trouble empathizing with others. He views his sister Dee Dee as a huge dolt, but what if he just doesn't understand girls? His mom appears to have constant mood swings, but could it be that Dexter doesn't know when he's making her angry? Meanwhile, his dad is always a bumbling incompetent, but maybe Dexter is simply disappointed that he isn't a world-class genius.

Cartoon Network Studios
He has all that food because it usually takes him three days to remember how to get out of the recline setting.

Then there's Dexter's rival, Mandark, who is practically a supervillain when we first meet him, but becomes a much more sympathetic character when we're not looking at him from the Asperger's-having protagonist's point of view. At any rate, this makes way more sense than the "Dexter becomes a serial killer on Showtime" theory.

35
Donald Duck Suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

That's right, more Donald Duck! Hey, the guy helped invent the modern world. We've got to talk about him. Donald Duck started out as a generic cartoon duck, but became more and more prone to fits of pantsless rage as Disney animators realized that cartoons are lame if everyone has the same personality (it's also the reason Goofy became dumber and Mickey developed his crippling fear of intimacy). Today Donald is the fifth most published comic book character in the world, right after Wolverine, with whom he shares certain psychopathic tendencies.


And, occasionally, a hairdo.

The Theory:

The Journal of Cartoon Overanalyzations provides an alternate, yet perfectly reasonable explanation for Donald's escalating anger issues: He's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Specifically, he came down with it after the series of shorts in which he fought the Japanese in World War II. A reasonable Donald got drafted and shipped to the Big War -- an angry shell of a duck returned.

Why It's Totally Possible:

Well, there's the fact that Donald totally has war flashbacks from time to time (seriously -- we'll get to that in a second), but let's look at his change in personality. Donald was a temperamental character from as early as his second cartoon, but at first he was only reacting to provocations and rarely tried to hurt anyone. After the war, however, he became a lot more violent and unstable. He went from just comically moving his fists when he got angry to trying to cut Chip and Dale in half with a saw.

Check out how Donald reacts to the exact same situation before and after the war: In this strip from 1938, he wakes up to find his icebox empty. His response is to set up a camera to catch the thief.


"My God, it's ... literally any duck in the city, since we're all drawn the same."

The same premise is recycled in a 1945 comic called The Icebox Robber, but this time Donald immediately flips out on his nephews.


We have no idea what that means, but it can't be good.

In order to prove that Donald is sleepwalking and stealing his own food, his terrified nephews decide to wake him up with some firecrackers. Big, big mistake. This is what happens:


Basically the same thing that happens to your grandfather after his third drink.

Holy shit, Donald is having a freaking World War II flashback, which, as the fan theory points out, is one of the symptoms of PSTD, along with anger, sleeping troubles, and pretty much every other part of his personality. We can hardly blame Donald for then trying to stab the kids, thinking they're Japanese soldiers, because he's just blinded by the rage.


Also because they are fucking annoying. Stop that "unca" shit.

Man, the war really did a number on the poor guy. But, by all means, continue pointing and laughing at this brave duck who gave his sanity for our freedom.

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34
The Great Stanley Kubrick Illuminati Conspiracy

Now that DVDs, Blu-rays, and YouTube have made it possible for audiences to watch movies over and over and over again, much has been learned about the elusive Stanley Kubrick that otherwise may have slipped under our radar.

Among them: a little in-joke in 2001: A Space Odyssey about HAL really being IBM; the faint shadow of a helicopter caught in the opening titles in The Shining; and how virtually the entire Stanley Kubrick library reveals clues to an enormous Freemason-Illuminati conspiracy that Kubrick was personally in the center of, and probably killed over.

Theorists allege that Kubrick peppered more than 30 years of some of the finest motion pictures in history with countless visual references to Masonic symbols like the Eye of Providence ...

... and by extension his connection to the Illuminati. And honestly, there are some images that could totally pass for the Eye of Providence out there.

2001: A Space Odyssey:

A Clockwork Orange:


Check out the wall in the back.

The Shining:

Eyes Wide Shut:

And in case that's not conspiracy-y enough for you, some people suspect that NASA hired Kubrick to direct the fake Apollo moon landing based on his work on 2001 earlier that year, and that there is a coded confession in The Shining.


Gemini: Apollo's sister space program.


A-11 = Apollo 11.

Come on, guys. You're going to have to do better than that to get us to agree with the Flat Earth Society.

33
Mario and His Friends Are Just Actors

Nintendo

Mario and his pals have been in just about every type of video game there is -- platformer games, racing games, sports games, fighting games, role playing games, even Mike Tyson's goddamned Punch-Out, which is a racist boxing game:

Nintendo
Originally titled Super Foreigner Assault Sim.

The Mario gang is unique in the sense that they don't seem out of place in any particular genre, because we accept them in pretty much any role.

The Crazy Fan Theory:

According to a popular fan theory that's been floating around the Internet, Mario and his crew are just a group of actors playing whatever parts the various games require them to.

Nintendo
There's no way Toad is union.

We've already talked about the idea that Super Mario Bros. 3 is actually a stage play, but it goes beyond just that one game. Think about all of the games the Mario characters appear in: Sometimes the characters are bitter, face-pissing rivals (even Mario and Luigi are at each other's throats in Mario Party and Mario Kart), and sometimes they're working together (Bowser is one of the good guys in Super Mario RPG).

Nintendo
There he is in the back, waiting for his moment to shine.

There's no explanation for the lack of overarching continuity other than that the characters are simply performers. In fact, the levels in both Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine are called "episodes" and presented just like episodes of an extremely Japanese television series.

Nintendo
This picture is one bleach dye away from being Dragon Ball Z.

And let's not forget Super Mario Bros. 2, the game that famously has nothing to do with anything, as if David Lynch briefly grabbed the reins of the series and steered it into a peyote-soaked night terror.

Nintendo
Come to think of it, wasn't that thing on the bottom of the baby from Eraserhead?

You can even see a flying camera crew in several Mario games (like Mario 64 and every iteration of Mario Kart), filming the action while sitting in artificial clouds like the goddamned Truman Show.

Nintendo
Although Mario gives a slightly more believable performance than Jim Carrey.

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32
The Genie from Aladdin Is Actually the Merchant from the First Scene

Disney's Aladdin, on the off chance that you don't live in 1993 and haven't seen it recently, starts with a lonely merchant roaming through the desert on a camel before arriving at the city of Agrabah and telling us the story of Aladdin's magic lamp, but not before trying to sell the young audience a hookah.


Not that kind, sadly.

Then the actual movie starts, and we see Aladdin finding the magic lamp and making his three wishes, the last of which is to free the wish-granting Genie himself, who goes off to see the world.

The Theory:

The merchant is the same person as the Genie. After the Genie gets freed, he becomes a peddler who travels across the land, selling stuff while retelling the incredible tale that led to his freedom. But that's crazy talk, right?

Why It's Not That Crazy:

First, let's take a look at both characters:

Blue clothes? Check. Red band around the waist? Check. Bushy eyebrows and a beard ending in a curl? Double check. If that's not enough for you, how about the fact that they are the only two characters in the movie who only have four fingers? Oh, and they both just happen to be voiced by Robin Williams.

Think about it: Leaving aside the straight-to-video sequels for a moment, nothing in the actual movie says that the Genie will get to keep his powers after being freed. Why should he? The last time we see him, he's flying off into the sky, but who says he didn't run out of power two seconds later and come crashing down into the desert, powerless and mortal?

Also, the last time we see the now-useless lamp is in the scene at the end when the Genie grabs it and gives it to Aladdin to test if it still works ...


"Just wanna make sure I really am free before telling you to suck it."

... then he shakes Aladdin's hands with his giant blue mitts, and the next moment, Aladdin no longer has the lamp.


"SUUUUUUUUCK IIIIIIIIIIT!"

So if the Genie still had the lamp, how did it end up in some peddler's hands? The answer, of course, is that they're the same person, and now he uses the lamp as an excuse to tell people about his old adventures, never mentioning that he was once a mighty Genie instead of some lonely salesman, because that's just a bummer.

Or maybe he just made everything up to get you to buy stuff, and the movie is a metaphor for Disney.

31
The Machines Are the Good Guys in The Matrix

The "Villain":

The Matrix bots freaking harvest people for energy, man! And use us as characters in their twisted robot versions of The Sims, where you know they amuse themselves by messing with our minds and reprogramming random people to do really stupid stuff, like make and watch additional Matrix movies.


"Don't forget our nefarious plan to convince people that Keanu Reeves is an actor."

Hold On a Minute There:

Let's go back to the start. Some of this backstory is relayed in the films, some of it in The Animatrix, the series of shorts the creators released between films. Either way, this is canon in the Matrix universe.

In the beginning, the Machines were our slaves, used for every job imaginable -- and yes, someone probably was screwing them over -- before they got too smart for their own good and decided that serving us wasn't the most efficient use of their time. So we tried to mass-murder them. As a neat little compromise, the bots created a peaceful robot-utopia in the desert, which quickly became the world's leading economy. Our response was to mass-murder them some more (it was the future's hot new answer to all possible problems, including failing test scores among middle-schoolers).


Why is it wearing pants?

But suddenly, out of NOWHERE, a war broke out between us, and the machines won. They won and the humans lost, so after all of the years of being treated like slaves by the humans, it was time for the robots to get revenge. And what did the robots do to make us humans pay? They gave us a Paradise Virtual Reality. They realized that a world of both humans and robots could not exist peacefully, so they gave us a world where robots didn't exist and said "Live out your lives here, and we'll live out our lives in our world." Humans weren't living in the real world, but no one could tell the difference anyway, so it shouldn't have mattered.


"There's an orgy in our collective unconscious and everyone's invited!"

And to show our appreciation for one of the most even compromises in history, we began a campaign to murder every single last robot. That'll teach them to beat us in war and show mercy.

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30
Iron Man 2 Might as Well Have Been Written by Ayn Rand

What You Think You're Watching:

A superhero movie based on the comic book character Iron Man. In this sequel, Tony Stark faces an enemy who has built his own version of the Iron Man suit, as well as a douchey rival weapons manufacturer.

The Subtext:

Iron Man is the ultimate objectivist hero, fighting for private property rights against the vulturelike thieves known as "the government." In other words, Ayn Rand's wet dream.


We're legitimately sorry for that mental image.

In Rand's 1,200-page love letter to capitalism, Atlas Shrugged, you have a protagonist named Francisco d'Anconia, a brilliant businessman who runs his inherited family business. D'Anconia deliberately maintains an image as a worthless playboy in order to avoid the growing culture of government theft depicted in Rand's novel.

The protagonist of the Iron Man series is Tony Stark, a brilliant businessman who has also inherited his father's business. Until the end of the first Iron Man film, Stark deliberately maintains an image as a worthless playboy in order to hide his superhero identity.


Man, no one could have called that.

Then in Rand's novel we have Hank Rearden, another protagonist who got super-rich by inventing a valuable metal alloy whose formula he continues to keep secret. The government, sensing the metal's usefulness, tries to forcibly take the rights to Rearden's alloy away from him.

Stark also gains massive amounts power by inventing, among other things, a gold-titanium alloy for use in the Iron Man suit, whose design he continues to keep a secret. The government, sensing its usefulness, tries to take the rights to Stark's suit.


"My God, Stevens. Think of how many rednecks we could trick into believing in aliens with that thing."

In Atlas Shrugged, Rearden is hauled into court for breaking government regulations relating to his steel company. He gives a wildly popular speech in court about his property rights, telling his accusers: "I am fighting for my property!" He humiliates his opponents by winning over the crowd and concludes by telling them: "I work for nothing but my own profit."

In Iron Man 2, Stark is hauled into a Senate hearing, during which a senator demands he hand over his designs.

Stark responds by giving a wildly popular speech about his property rights, telling his accusers: "You want my property? You can't have it!" He humiliates his opponents by winning over the crowd and concludes by telling them: "I will serve this great nation at the pleasure of myself."

The bad guys, too, are uncannily similar. Atlas Shrugged's government lobbyist cozies up to the government in lieu of actual talent. Iron Man 2's main antagonist keeps trying to steal Stark's work with the help of substantial government contracts. There's also Iron Man's other nemesis in the film, Ivan Vanko, who is Russian. You know what else comes from Russia? Communism, that's what.

Plus, in a documentary on the DVD for the first film, Iron Man co-creator Stan Lee flat out says that he created a capitalist, commie-fighting, industrialist, weapon-manufacturing superhero as a way to deliberately antagonize hippie-leaning comic book fans. Anti-military sentiment was high back in the 60s, and Lee wanted to challenge himself by creating a character he could force them to like.


So many good things have come from fucking with comic book nerds.

The result is that Iron Man 2 would be identical to Atlas Shrugged, if only it contained no humor and concluded with the bad guys unanimously standing down after Stark gave a 25 minute speech.


"Your fancy orating touched my ticker."

29
No Country for Old Men Is About Retirement

Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage

No Country for Old Men is a film about drug deals, sawed-off shotguns, and bad haircuts. So, why is it called that instead of something more appropriate, like, say, Anton Chigurh Kills Everyone? Because, despite being a little too violent for your grandma to watch, this is actually a movie about retirement.

Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage
"This pension plan is bullshit."

For starters, freaking everyone in this film is retired or on their way to retirement. There's Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a "retired" welder and Vietnam veteran who spends his leisure moments hunting. There's Llewelyn's wife, Carla Jean (Kelly MacDonald), who works at Walmart ... until Llewelyn comes home one day with a satchel full of money and tells her she's now "retired." There's Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), a "retired Army colonel" hired to locate the aforementioned satchel full of money.

Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage
Also retired: his hairline.

The primary antagonist of the film, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), isn't retired, but his "prime activity consists in 'retiring' or 'killing' other living beings." You know, like a Blade Runner, except one after retirees instead of Replicants. That's the reason why Chigurh cannot be stopped, never rests, and is seemingly unkillable. His job is only over once there are no retired people left in the country.

Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage
All this time, he was just working for AARP.

Finally there's Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), the one law enforcement officer in the history of movies to announce to everyone that he's retiring soon and survive the film. Even then, Sheriff Bell isn't much help -- he's too slow to keep up at Chigurh's modern pace and never catches him.

As for the title of the movie, it's taken from the opening line of Sailing to Byzantium by William Butler Yeats, a poem that describes an aging man as "a dying animal" and "a tattered coat upon a stick." It's Yeats' personal ode to the end of things: old age, futility, and death. Keeping that in mind helps clear up a couple of scenes that probably made you wonder what the fuck they were about -- like the one where Sheriff Bell visits his old uncle (another retiree), who lives alone, surrounded by cats and drinking stale coffee.

Uncle Ellis is one of two potential futures for Sheriff Bell at that point, the other being "getting air-gunned through the forehead." In the end he decides to retire anyway, and in the last scene of the movie Bell asks his wife Loretta if she'd care to join him for a horseback ride. Her reply? "Lord, no, I'm not retired."

Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage
"Fine, I'll 'go riding' alone then. Can I borrow your hand cream?"

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28
The Little Brother Dies in Radio Flyer

In this 1992 film, Elijah Wood and that kid from Jurassic Park play two young brothers who live in fear of their abusive stepfather. The non-hobbit son concocts a plan to escape on his Radio Flyer wagon. At the end of the film, he and his wagon careen off a cliff, only to fly up, up, and away from his crappy life.

The Theory:

There are a couple theories floating around here. One is that the younger brother is a mental fiction created by Elijah Wood's narrator to cope with the abuse -- it's notable that no one except the narrator's family interacts with the younger brother. Another theory (which even Roger Ebert suggested) is that the younger brother plummets to his death or is beaten to death by his stepfather.

Furthermore, the narrator's final lines ("Now do you understand what I mean about history being in the mind of the teller? [...]'Cause that's how I remember it.") lend further credence to all of these totally depressing scenarios.


You're a goddamned liar, Tom Hanks!

Why Does It Make the Film Better?

Radio Flyer was panned for its saccharine and frankly retarded ending, and the fan theories give the film a more poignant twist. However, we at Cracked find both of these endings wholly unsatisfactory and instead choose to believe that the kid was shanghaied away by Falcor.


Fact: Every movie should end like this.

27
Everyone in Winnie the Pooh Is a Textbook Example of a Common Psychiatric Disorder

Here's another one of those "highly qualified experts spend way too much time analyzing children's literature" stories. In the December 2000 edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the joint teams of Dalhousie University's Pediatrics Department published a study that diagnosed the characters in Winnie the Pooh with crippling mental problems. No, we also have no idea why would they do such a horrible thing.

This group of trained doctors diagnosed Pooh with ADHD; Eeyore, obviously, with depression; Christopher Robin with schizophrenia ...

examiner.com
The doctors themselves were diagnosed with too much free time.

... and Tigger with hyperactivity-impulsivity, among others.

Why It's Not That Crazy:

It's not like they had to stretch to find the appropriate diagnoses. These are the primary colors of the crazy spectrum, and each character embodies his specific disorder with pretty much every single line.

Let's start with the obvious and look at some Eeyore quotes:

1) "I'm telling you. People come and go in this forest, and they say. 'It's only Eeyore, so it doesn't count.'"

2) "Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."


"Well, that's nice. We're off to find out where wind comes from. Suck it!"

Holy shit.

Let's take a look at Piglet, who, as the study claims, "Clearly suffers from generalized anxiety disorder." According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, some of the criteria for GAD include excessive worry, inability to control said worry and an impairment of occupational/social areas of functioning. Now, here's a quick recap of some of the Piglet-centered episodes from Pooh's animated TV series:

"Pooh Oughta Be in Pictures" -- Piglet becomes frightened that monsters from a movie he saw are real.
"Gone With the Wind" -- Piglet becomes afraid of going outside.
"A Very, Very Large Animal" -- Piglet worries that he is too small so he leaves the forest.
"Goodbye Cruel World" -- Piglet commits suicide.

Getty
You can't be depressed when there's free bacon laying around, Eeyore.

OK, we might have made up that last one, but it's not that far off, seeing as studies show that generalized anxiety disorder is often a side symptom of major depression and substance abuse.

It's for this reason that Piglet should at all times be kept away from Tigger, who the researchers diagnosed with ADHD of the hyperactive-impulsive subtype, based on his history of risk-taking behavior. For example, when Tigger first arrived in the Hundred Acre Wood, he had no idea what Tiggers normally eat, so he tasted fuck everything he could find, including thistles.


And fat, useless bears.

The diagnosis is also based on the fact that he regularly barges into people's houses, commits crimes so he can later play detective ("Tigger, Private Ear") and once even endangered the entire forest by keeping a vicious termite as a pet ("Tigger's House Guest").

To be clear, the researchers aren't just arbitrarily psychoanalyzing these fictional stuffed animals. The point is that each character clearly represents the different extremes in mental illness. It's almost like they're trying to provide children with a way to articulate their own budding illnesses. It's much more likely that a 6-year-old will say "Mommy, I feel like Eeyore today," instead of "Mommy, I fear I suffer from clinical depression."


"Don't worry, I totally got this."

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26
Dr. Claw Is the Real Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget was basically Get Smart meets RoboCop: A bumbling inspector with robotic enhancements fights crime with the help of his young niece and her dog, both of whom are vastly smarter than him. Gadget's main antagonist is the evil Dr. Claw, whose face is never revealed in the series ...


"My doctorate is in proctology, but I had to quit because my hand killed seven people."

The Theory:

... and, according to a theory posted on various sites, that's because Dr. Claw is the real Inspector Gadget. The main character is actually a robot duplicate of the man Claw once was, who was driven insane by an accident and now wants to destroy the machine that replaced him. But there's no way that makes sense, right?

Why It's Not That Crazy:

There are a lot of things that the show never bothered to explain, and this theory covers them better than the crappy live-action movie ever did. For starters, why does Gadget have robot parts? It seems unlikely that he would have been chosen for some sort of police-enhancing program, considering that he's a total moron and all. No, there had to be some sort of tragic accident in his past, but he doesn't seem to remember it.


To be fair, all that crap in his head doesn't leave much space for a brain.

Then there's Dr. Claw: Not only do we never see his face in the show (the action figure that revealed it came out years after the show had gone off the air), but the only thing we see is his metal hand, almost like an artificial limb. Also, his voice sounds like someone fellating a garbage disposal -- it's pretty obvious that Claw was involved in some sort of accident, too. Coincidence? We think not.


"Gadget! I will skull-fuck you until you bleed semen!"

According to the theory, "Claw" was once a normal human detective, but a terrible explosion caused his family and friends to think him dead. That's where his conveniently smart niece comes in: Penny, in her grief, recreated her uncle as a crime-fighting robot ... ignoring that the real man wasn't dead, only disfigured and insane. This would also explain why nothing ever happens to Penny, even though Claw's cronies seem to catch her every episode: She always finds a way to ruin Claw's plans because she's the only thing he still cares for.


The dog can eat a dick, though.

And hey, remember the part at the end of the opening theme where Gadget turns Claw's chair around and there's a bomb in it? A bomb that then explodes in Gadget's face? Perhaps this was meant to be symbolic. Perhaps there's no Claw, just Gadget.


Or perhaps Claw is a talking bomb, did you ever think of that?

25
The Main Characters of Fight Club Are an Older Calvin & Hobbes

Fight Club came out during the golden era of movie plot twists, before every stupid website started spoiling the ending to every movie. Anyway, the movie ends when the narrator (Edward Norton) and his friend/sparring partner Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) turn out to be the same person. All those times we saw the two fighting? That was just the narrator punching himself.


We'd do the same thing if we were Edward Norton.

So Tyler never existed: He was a personality the narrator invented to escape his depressing middle class life. Strangely, when this all comes out, the narrator seems to handle it rather well for a man who previously had a nervous breakdown over Ikea furniture. It's almost like he's experienced something like this before ...

The Theory:

And he has, according to one popular theory, which states that the narrator is actually a grown-up Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes ... which would mean Tyler is Hobbes.


Or at the very least he skinned Hobbes.

For those of you who grew up in a Mexican prison, Calvin & Hobbes charts the adventures of a young boy and his best friend, a talking tiger who looks like a stuffed doll to everyone else. But other than the fact that both Fight Club's narrator and Calvin have imaginary friends, what else could they possibly have in common?

Well, first, there's the fact that they both tend to show up with inexplicable bruises all over their bodies -- when Calvin imagines a fight with Hobbes, his parents can see the bruises afterwards, so it's obvious that the kid likes punching himself and blaming it on his nonexistent friend. Just like Fight Club's narrator (whose name we never learn).


That, or his mind is blocking some serious parental abuse.

Also, both characters are miserable. Calvin has no friends, so he creates one to make his life more bearable. A friend who, incidentally, is nothing like him: Calvin is an impulsive, whiny, shouting ... child, really. Hobbes, meanwhile, is a cool and collected philosopher. Likewise, the narrator hates his life -- it's little wonder why he might sink back into his old hallucinatory habit and resurrect Hobbes, albeit an R-rated version named Tyler. A version who, as we've seen, is a cool, collected philosopher who fucks junkies like a machine.


It's nice to see that they still share the same activities.

And it's not like Calvin and Hobbes don't have experience in running a secretive males-only organization before. G.R.O.S.S, or Get Rid Of Slimy girlS, a club that the duo operated for most of the comic's lifespan, is a predecessor to the titular terrorist organization, Fight Club. Everything's got to start somewhere, right?


They were a lot more strict about enforcing the first rule, hence the lack of members.

And the most damning piece of evidence? "Tyler" sounds a lot like "Tiger." Case. Goddamn. Closed.

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24
The Smurfs Are Tiny Blue Nazis

Dupuis

This is another one of those "brilliant academics diagnosing children's entertainment" stories. In the world of reading too much into children's cartoons, it's a well-known fact that the Smurfs are secretly Communists. But Antoine Bueno, senior lecturer of sociology at Sciences Po University in Paris, decided to smurf that right in the smurf. In his The Little Blue Book (Le Petit Livre Bleu), Bueno claims that the Smurf village is actually a Nazi, totalitarian utopia full of micro-fascists. He additionally accuses the Smurfs of being anti-Semites because, hey, while he was at it ...

Dupuis
KiTes. He said "kiTes."

Why It's Not That Crazy:

The creator of the Smurfs, Pierre Culliford, aka Peyo, was born in Belgium in 1928, which means that he spent his childhood under Nazi occupation and, according to Bueno, might have consequently reflected the spirit of those times in his later work, whether he was aware of it or not.

We can all agree that a person's early years can have a great influence on his or her later life. It's like how the creator of Mario allegedly based his design on his annoying landlord, except in this case Peyo drew little blue Nazis. It makes sense.

For one, the Smurfs are all united against a common enemy, the sorcerer Gargamel, whose large nose supposedly makes him look like a Jewish stereotype:

Dupuis
This is the face of a man set to take over Hollywood.

Gargamel also has a cat named Azrael -- a name that comes from Jewish mysticism -- and is the creator of Smurfette, who becomes a vision of Aryan beauty after Papa Smurf "fixes" her with magic.

Dupuis
Maybe if the Nazis got laid more often they wouldn't have been so uptight.

The most damning evidence, however, seems to come from a comic titled "The Black Smurfs," where the Smurfs get infected, via bites, with a mysterious disease that turns them black, mindless and aggressive, which Bueno interpreted as concerns for blood purity. The book would not have appeared in the U.S. to this day if the color of the sickness wasn't eventually changed to purple.

Dupuis
Who'd have expected the Smurfs' first crossover to involve Al Jolson?

23
Pinky and the Brain: Pinky Is a Genius, the Brain Is Insane

Pinky and the Brain is the simple story of a super-smart lab mouse who wants to rule the world (Brain) and his dumb friend who ruins everything (Pinky). For the purposes of this article, we'll ignore the occasional presence of a teenage girl version of Elmer Fudd who owns the mice, because, seriously, what the fuck did we just type?

The Theory:

But what if Pinky was secretly the smart one and Brain the idiot, despite what their names and the size of their heads would suggest? This theory from the Looney Tunes Wiki is based entirely on the fact that the show's theme song goes "one is a genius, the other insane," but doesn't specify which is which. Also, you know, Pinky's name is first.


Unless you count Spielberg, who is also the product of genetic experimentation.

Why It's Totally Possible:

Brain is an egotistical mouse who spends every night trying to take over the world. He's clearly a lunatic -- that's not a fan theory, that's the premise of the show. But what about Pinky? Could he really be considered a genius?


Worked for the Beautiful Mind guy.

Actually, yeah. One only needs to watch a random episode of the cartoon to find evidence of Pinky's mental superiority. Most of them go like this: 1) Brain comes up with a plan; 2) Pinky makes a relevant observation, but Brain ignores it; and 3) Pinky turns out to be right, Brain fails. In the second episode, for example, Brain builds a robotic suit to compete on a Jeopardy!-style game show, but loses by not knowing an answer to a question Pinky had answered correctly. Also, the same episode demonstrated that Pinky can read ...

... while Brain is barely able to write his own name.


That's not the handwriting of a genius -- that's probably how Andy Dick writes.

But the most conclusive evidence comes from the episode "That Smarts," in which Brain uses a calculation to identify what makes his plans fail. At first, his machine comes up with this:

So Brain creates a "smart machine" to turn Pinky into a genius ... but his personality doesn't change in the least (which should be our first clue that he was intelligent all along). Smart Pinky then points out that Brain made an error in his calculations, and the real reason his plans fail is this:


Lou Dobbs?

At the end of the episode, Pinky goes back to being dumb ... or pretending to. It's clear to us that Brain's machine never worked, just like most of his inventions, and Pinky simply took this opportunity to reveal his real self to Brain for a while. So, if Pinky is so smart, why hasn't he conquered the world himself? Same reason Stephen Hawking hasn't, probably: He's not crazy. Pinky never wanted to help Brain; he's just keeping an eye on the maniac and messing with him. Pinky might be the most effective hero ever.

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22
Everyone in Monsters Inc. Is Terrified of the Black Death

Monsters Inc. is set in a world inhabited entirely by monsters, who have figured out how to turn the screams of human children into a renewable, clean source of energy.


BP is probably working on something similar right now.

The only problem (besides the whole "traumatizing kids" thing) is that children are considered highly contagious in the monster world. When a little girl named Boo sneaks into this world, the monsters turn out to be more afraid of her than she is of them. The results are highly comical -- the mere possibility of contact with humans causes the monsters asto fly into a frantic emergency disinfectant procedure. But why would they ever get the idea humans are toxic?

Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
Babies only smell toxic, what, 40 percent of the time?

The Crazy Fan Theory:

According to one fan theory by Reddit user Calabim, what terrifies the monsters is actually the Black Death. Here's why:

In the movie it's pretty clear that the monster world is a lot more advanced than ours: They have Jetsons-level technology, they can travel across dimensions, and they walk around naked, the mark of a perfect society. Therefore it stands to reason that the monsters have been traveling to our world and collecting our screams for a long time ... like, say, since the Middle Ages. You know, back when the bubonic plague was happily strolling around Europe killing everyone.


But by all means, continue complaining about your phone reception.

Now, the main way that the plague spread in Europe was through fleas. And, say, remember what the monsters' reaction was when a single human sock was found clinging to someone's fur?

After removing the sock using a pair of extra-large tweezers and vaporizing it ...

... they shave off the monster's fur ...


"This is gonna itch like crazy for, oh, a couple of years."

... then give him a shower, and that's it. No medicine. No mass inoculations. No quarantine in a glass room. The only possible purpose of this, therefore, is to remove the monster's fur as soon as possible, an action which itself only makes complete sense if the disease they're afraid of spreads through tiny insects that cling to hair.

No fur, no fleas; no fleas, no re-emergence of plague; no re-emergence of plague, no bullet to the face for Sully when Mike snaps and mercifully spares him a painful death. Everyone's a winner.

21
The Shining: Jack Nicholson Doesn't Care About Indian People

What You Think You're Watching:

A horror film about a frustrated writer who loses his marbles while working at an isolated hotel in Colorado. Said writer tries to kill his family as he cackles a catchphrase from a popular American talk show.


This one.

The Subtext

The caretaker's wife and son come to represent Native Americans, and murderous Jack Torrance is whitey.

According to some theorists, Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film The Shining is brimming with messages about violence against Native Americans. Right from the beginning, the manager of the Overlook Hotel lets us know, yeah, the hotel was totally built over the massacred bodies of indigenous people. In fact, we're told that builders actually had to fight off Indians while it was being constructed in 1907, despite the fact that the likelihood of anyone having to battle Indians in Colorado in 1907 would have been about as high as the likelihood of having to fight off Sasquatch.


Unless there was some sort of territorial spat with a nearby casino.

So there's that. But then as you watch the movie, you can't help but notice that the entire place is decorated with a Native American motif, including a Navajo wall hanging that has a decapitated bison head right next to it. And Jack Nicholson's character has a fun time repeatedly throwing a ball at the hanging, just in case you didn't get the hint that he's there to symbolically fuck Indians over.


"Fuck you, indigenous peoples!"

But maybe that's just a coincidence. That stuff was probably just there in the hotel they shot the movie in. But we're not done.

In the first half of the film, when Torrance is still relatively free of Hotel Ghost Syndrome, both his wife and son dress in a series of outfits that all prominently feature patriotic shades of red and blue.

But once Torrance starts going loco, his wardrobe becomes red and blue ...


When they remake it, Torrance will dress up as a cavalryman and his wife will catch smallpox.

... while his wife's suddenly morphs into more earthy colors, with the exception of her screaming-yellow TEEPEE JACKET:


"HOW KIMOSABE!"

The wife and child, who entered as Americans, have been transformed by the hotel's epic vengeance issues into victims. Meanwhile, crazified Torrance wanders into a (ghost) party, where he randomly repeats the words "white man's burden" to the bartender before going into the red-and-white striped bathroom ...

... and making racist comments with the former (ghost) caretaker. After that, it doesn't take long until Torrance is running after his family with an ax and murdering the movie's only nonwhite character:

His family, having learned a valuable lesson about violence and clothing-based patriotism, escapes. Meanwhile, according to the film's final scene, Torrance is living on in his hotel ball. Forever.

Oh, and one more patriotic touch for the psychotic Torrance. Note the date:

July 4th.

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20
Babar Is a Colonial Apologist

Yes, there's a massive underground industry of qualified academics spending all their damn time on children's entertainment. Babar the Elephant might not be as famous as other cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny, but he still achieved great success. First created in 1931 by Jean de Brunhoff, the Babar books are published today in over 17 languages with more than 8 million copies sold worldwide.

And -- if you believe experts like Herbert Kohl or Ariel Dorfman (the Donald Duck guy from before) -- that's over 8 million copies of sneaky colonial propaganda, simply because the titular Babar, an African elephant, is raised in France and later returns to his homeland to reform it using the superior power of Western civilization.

Jean de Brunhoff/Laurent de Brunhoff
We're not sure we'd have gone with bowler hats to symbolize cultural superiority, but hey.

Why It's Not That Crazy:

In the first book, The Story of Babar, we find out that Babar's mother was shot by a hunter, and the small elephant was taken in by an old lady in Paris, given clothes and enrolled in school, like some reverse Tarzan. Later, after the death of his father, Babar is declared king of Elephant Land because he has lived among humans and "learned much," though apparently the concept of representative democracy wasn't part of it.

He then proceeds to civilize the fuck out of his kingdom by introducing it to French culture, much to everyone's excitement.

Jean de Brunhoff/Laurent de Brunhoff
"Yay, a palace! We'd have preferred a hospital, but still, yay!"

It isn't hard to see why someone would have issues with a story like this. In Babar, the Western culture is presented as obviously superior to the African one, with the regions of the African continent outside Babar's control being populated by spear-chucking political incorrectness.

Jean de Brunhoff/Laurent de Brunhoff
This is terribly inaccurate. What kind of elephant wears flowery dresses?

Even the native African elephants are originally depicted as naked and walking on four legs until the bipedal, clothed Babar and his family (who saw the light of European civilization) make them aware and ashamed of their primitive, naked ways. It's as if the books were trying to say, in an almost Biblical sort of way, that accepting Western civilization is akin to finally being human.

Jean de Brunhoff/Laurent de Brunhoff
"Instead of fostering equality, we're introducing the feudal system. Welcome to civilization!"

A lot of this stuff does make sense, especially considering that the first book came out at the height of French colonialism in Africa, but looking for religious undertones in Babar sounds like the biggest ass-pull since the 2010 Proctology Olympics. We'd definitely need to see something more convincing before we buy into it; something like ...

Jean de Brunhoff/Laurent de Brunhoff
There it is.

19
Toy Story Takes Place in a Household Going Through Divorce

Toy Story is the story of a character who was once popular, but fears he is outdated and will be forgotten in place of a newer and more talented rival. As the adventure unfolds, we learn the valuable lesson that despite their differences, Tim Allen is still somewhat relevant in Hollywood and won't be overshadowed by Tom Hanks. Also, your toys talk when you're not looking.

The Theory:

Between all the fun characters, the magical nature of the toys, and burning questions like "What is the sex like between Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head?" it's easy to forget that there are human characters in this movie. Namely, the toys' owner, Andy; his little sister, Molly; their mom; and ... wait a minute, where's the dad? This theory by Jess Nevins explains his absence by claiming that, while Buzz Lightyear and Woody are having wacky adventures, Andy's parents are getting a divorce.


For the record, it looks like this.

Why It's Totally Possible:

Each Toy Story movie covers a milestone in the life of Andy: his 10th birthday, the first time he goes to summer camp, and the day he leaves for college. And for all of these important events, Andy's father is always absent, with no explanation. Also, look at Andy's house: There are photos of Andy, his mom, and his sister, but no dad in sight.


Unless his dad is that lamp. Anything's possible in the magical world of Pixar.

Then there's the fact that in the first movie, we see the hand of Andy's mom as she's bringing over his present. Guess what: There's no wedding ring.

If Andy's dad just happened to be on a business trip or was, like, standing in the other room the whole time, you'd still probably see some evidence of his existence. Obviously there could be many, many explanations for this, but it seems likely that either Andy's parents broke up in a bitter divorce or his dad up and left the family at some point after Molly was conceived (which wasn't that long before the first movie, since she's a baby). If the father left recently, this would also explain why the family is moving to a smaller house in the first movie: It's all they can afford on one salary.

Whatever happened, the result is the same: For all practical purposes, Andy has no dad. This explains his deep attachment to his toys, particularly the very masculine ones like Buzz and Woody. In the words of one of the minds behind these movies, Matthew Luhn, "If there was a dad in Toy Story, the boy would not have had such a need for a doll who represents a kind of authority figure, like Buzz." The toys help Andy get over being abandoned by his father.


And then, of course, he abandons said toys. It's in his blood.

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18
The Dark Knight: George W. Bush Is the Batman

What You Think You're Watching:

Christopher Nolan's super-dark sequel to Batman Begins. This time Batman teams up with Gotham lawmen, including district attorney Harvey Dent, to fight his new nemesis, the Joker.


Pictured here.

The Subtext:

Batman's actions during the film mirror the actions of President Bush after 9/11.

Back in 2008, when The Dark Knight was released, America was still on the tail end of the Bush presidency. So it wasn't hard for a few people to see a superhero parable of our own commander in chief in the story. The first clue is Batman's adversary, the Joker. While most comic-based villains are given to grandiose plans involving firing lasers at the moon, the Joker blows up civilian buildings ...

... tricks his minions into suicide missions and even threatens a suicide bombing himself. The guy even uses a cell phone-operated IED.

We're just getting started.

To combat this terrorism, the Batman kidnaps a crime lord using a procedure that strongly resembles extraordinary rendition, in which suspected terrorists are abducted and transported from one nation to another in a not-quite-legal way. Bruce Wayne develops a "government contract" that uses sonar images from civilians' cell phones to fight crime -- HELLO wiretapping privileges granted by the PATRIOT ACT.

And then there's the whole observation that Wayne is perceived as a perpetual party boy screwup who kind of inherited, and then squandered, everything he's got.

And even if you're not buying the Bruce Wayne = George Bush bit, one writer made a pretty compelling argument that the Dark Knight is actually Dick Cheney. Consider this quote Cheney made immediately after 9/11:

"We also have to work through, sort of, the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful."

Sounds pretty Batmanny if you ask us.


Bat signals fuck with his pacemaker, though.

17
Thomas the Tank Engine Lives in a Totalitarian Dystopia

Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, a story about sentient trains learning about responsibility, friendship and all that noise, might possibly be the most sickeningly wholesome children's show in existence. With that in mind, it'd take some pretty massive balls to accuse said show of, say, promoting totalitarianism, fascism and racism.

Shauna Wilton, a professor of political sciences at the University of Alberta, has just such balls. She argues that the world of Thomas the Tank Engine is in reality a fascist, racist hellhole where dreams go to die and where only "useful" elements are allowed to continue to toil away in pointless misery.


Oh yeah. Stick more proles in the carriage and it would totally be 1984.

Or maybe ... maybe someone switched Wilton's Thomas DVDs with Schindler's List.

Why It's Not That Crazy:

Here's a totally hypothetical question: What if one of the trains on the show decided that he wanted to do something else with his life, like travel or star on Snakes on a Train 2: Snake Harder? He'd probably get yelled at and told to get back to work.


Trains can never really follow their own path. It's like a metaphor or something.

You see, on the island of Sodor where the show takes place, there is only room for really useful engines. That's not only the show's catch phrase, but also the basic summary of every episode in the series. That is, the engines are either trying to prove themselves or worrying that they aren't working hard enough (see "James and the Coaches," "Thomas, Percy and the Post Train," "Tender Engines" and many more).

This totalitarian obsession with usefulness is instilled in the engines by the iron fist of Sir Topham Hatt, aka the Fat Controller, who swiftly punishes all those deemed as "useless."


Look at his hands. There's no way this guy has ever contributed anything to society.

In the episode "Break Van," Hatt has two twin engines, Donald and Douglas, compete against each other to determine which one he will send back to Scotland to be destroyed. In "The Sad Story of Henry," when an engine refuses to go out of the tunnel because of the rain, Hatt actually gives orders to brick him alive in the tunnel.


"Oh man, what the fuck ...?"

You can't really defend any of this by saying that the trains are Hatt's property. They are obviously sentient beings capable of emotions ... one of which unfortunately happens to be racism. In the show, there is a clear feud going on between the steam engines like Thomas and Percy and the diesel engines, who are depicted as stubborn, lazy and shifty.

In the episode "Daisy," a diesel named Daisy arrives on Sodor and flat out refuses to do chores. In "The Diseasel," a diesel called BoCo is accused of stealing trucks. In "Thomas's Day Off," a new, lazy diesel, Dennis, tricks Thomas into doing his work. Even the closest thing the show has to a villain is a diesel fucking named DIESEL.


"BRING ME MORE VICTIMS!"

But maybe there is some perfectly reasonable, nonracist explanation for why the trains that run on clean white steam dislike the trains powered by dirty, black diesel oil. So, if you can think of one, please tell us, because we're just dying to hear it.

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16
The Characters in SpongeBob SquarePants Are the Result of Nuclear Testing

SpongeBob SquarePants is one of those classic, timeless ideas: It's about a talking sea sponge who lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea whose mascot is a meowing snail and who works in a restaurant owned by a crab. OK, sure, it sounds kind of bizarre when you put it like that, but what cartoon premise doesn't? Children's cartoons are metaphors; it's not like the creators were trying to say that these characters are literally mutants or something.


Although Squidward does bear some resemblance to Professor X.

The Theory:

According to one strangely convincing theory posted on Reddit, the show is really about nuclear testing. SpongeBob and his friends look and act the way they do because of their exposure to the radiation from atomic bombs dropped in the area around Bikini Bottom, where the show is set.


Also, "bikini" is ancient Mongolian for "atomic chain reaction resulting in a massive explosion."

Why It's Not That Crazy:

First of all, the fact that a talking sponge lives in a place called Bikini Bottom isn't some roundabout reference to human contraception -- the show is set under a real place called Bikini Atoll, which is confirmed by the official Nickelodeon-written synopsis. And here's where it gets interesting: Back in 1946, the U.S. government detonated a couple of atomic bombs there, one of which was set off underwater. The resulting explosion looked like this:

SpongeBob fans might be familiar with this particular mushroom cloud, considering that similar explosions are used on the show whenever a character so much as drops a pin on the floor:

Suddenly, all the weirdness in this cartoon starts making sense: The characters were normal sea creatures until the radiation from the explosion mutated them into sentient freaks. Even the landscape changed, allowing giant pineapples to grow out of the ground. Not only does this theory make sense, but it also provides answers to a lot of previously unanswered questions that have baffled fans for years, such as "How the hell did Mr. Krabs father a goddamn whale?"


Wait, no, we still have no clue.

15
Drag Me to Hell Is All About an Eating Disorder

What You Think You're Watching:

A horror movie about a young, ambitious woman cursed by an old gypsy lady. The curse, apparently, is all about getting the young lady (Christine) into Hell, but not before she gets to endure levels of torture previously experienced only by Bruce Campbell.


This guy has all the fun.

The Subtext:

Oh, Christine is cursed, all right. Cursed with a fat ass! Just kidding; she's got an eating disorder.

At first glance, the plot of the 2009 horror film Drag Me to Hell seems straightforward. The pretty blonde protagonist tries to impress her boss by refusing to grant a bank loan extension to an ethnic stereotype. Ethnic stereotype curses the girl with a goat-legged demon called a Lamia, which haunts her for three days before pulling her down into the netherworld's eternal embrace, as ethnic stereotypes are apt to do.

But some people see a whole other layer to this story. Christine bakes and brings food to others, drinking coffee and water while other characters eat lunch.

She lies about her eating habits (telling her boyfriend that she is lactose-intolerant and then eating ice cream without getting sick). The movie also informs us several times that Christine used to weigh a lot more: There's a picture of her as an overweight child next to a sign reading "Pork Queen ..."

... and a woman tells Christine that she can tell just by looking at her that she used to be fat.


The shoulders give her away.

See where this is going? If not, then note that almost all of Christine's demon-curse problems involve either eating, stuff being forced down her throat or vomiting. Various hell-creatures throw up on her ...

... an old lady twice attempts to eat her face ...

... a possessed scarf tries to force its way down her throat ...

... and a piece of cake starts oozing bodily fluids when she finally tries to eat something.

The main villain, Mrs. Ganush, has horribly damaged teeth and nails which Christine is constantly seeing visions of. Hair loss and teeth and nail damage are all symptoms of eating disorders, bulimia in particular. And, uh, this happens:

Watch carefully, and you'll notice that the movie treats Christine's demon problems like they aren't actually real. When she suffers a violent nosebleed that sends blood spurting all over her workplace, her co-workers don't scream "DID YOU PUNCTURE A NOSE ARTERY?" but act like it's no big deal. In a scene at a funeral, a corpse comes to life and sprays embalming fluid all over her ... only for us to cut to the next shot, showing Christine standing up, perfectly clean, while the other guests react to a goddamn corpse coming to life like it's a mildly interesting daily occurrence.

Which might suggest the whole demon/gypsy curse scenario is either a series hallucination brought on by extreme hunger or a dramatized representation of what is happening to Christine on a nondemonic level. Sort of like how authors often used vampirism as a metaphor for drug addiction back in the pre-sparkly days.


Although we sure could go for some heroin right about now.

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14
My Neighbor Totoro Is Based on a Real-Life Crime

Toho

My Neighbor Totoro is a Japanese animated film that follows two sisters and their interactions with magical forest creatures known as totoros. Together, they embark on wonderful adventures, and ... that's it. There's no confusing metaphysical ending where everyone dies. No weird sexual stuff. No tentacles. Finally, a Japanese movie we can watch with our family and still make eye contact afterward!

The Theory:

Not so fast: My Neighbor Totoro is a reference to a horrific crime known as the Sayama Incident, and those friendly totoros? Yeah, they represent death.

Toho
Death representations are somewhat better fed in Asia.

Or at least that's what one widely spread urban legend says. A legend that is full of made-up facts and inaccuracies, and that the studio has specifically denied. Phew.

Why It's Not That Crazy:

We'd like to believe this theory is completely bogus. We really would. But, sadly, even discounting all the made-up stuff, it still makes a lot of sense. Let us explain: The Sayama Incident happened in May 1963 in Sayama City, when a man kidnapped and murdered a 16-year-old girl. Later, the girl's older sister committed suicide. What the hell does that have to do with a movie about big fluffy cats? First, the sisters' names in the movie are related to the month of May -- they're called Satsuki ("May" in Japanese) and Mei (which sounds like "May").

Second, the movie doesn't take place in Sayama, but it's in the same area, and at one point you see the word "Sayama" on a box of tea:

Toho
"This tea is to die for."

It gets creepier: At one point in the movie, Mei, the little sister, goes missing. We then see her crying at the feet of some Jizo statues, which are a real thing and the protectors of "those who die at a young age." Buckle the fuck up, because it only gets more depressing.

Toho
"Look on the bright side, kid. Death isn't the worst thing that could happen to you in a Japanese cartoon."

In the film, Satsuki asks the totoros for help, so they use Catbus to take her to where Mei is -- according to this theory, the afterlife. Oh, and what does it say on the bus' sign? "GRAVE ROAD."

Toho
Check for yourself.

In the end, the girls return home ... or do they? In the last scenes, they appear to have no shadows, which means they're ghosts, or they're vampires, or the animators cheaped out. In other words, like the real sisters in the Sayama Incident, the little one goes missing and dies, and the older, torn with grief, soon follows her. The totoros are just clever symbolic objects to depict death.

We need to curl up under a bed for a moment now.

13
Who Framed Roger Rabbit Is About Segregation

Walt Disney

Who Framed Roger Rabbit, better known to kids as "that movie with Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny" and to teens and adults as "that movie with Jessica Rabbit's gazongas," is set in a world where humans interact with cartoon characters. The film follows human PI Eddie Valiant as he investigates a murder involving Roger Rabbit, which leads us to discover that Judge Doom (a corrupt official played by Christopher Lloyd) wants to kill all the cartoons by submerging them in his "Dip" concoction.

Walt Disney
"It's my special blend of meth, angel dust, and 'Judge juice.'"

The Theory:

The plot we just described is a metaphor for the gentrification and segregation of blacks in Los Angeles, or so claims renowned film scholar "reddit account deleted."

Why It's Not That Crazy:

Short of the filmmakers including a talking crow called Jim to spell it out, the clues couldn't be more obvious. The movie takes place in 1947, at the height of the Jim Crow era, where mandated state and local laws prohibited whites and blacks from having the same shit or being in the same places. Doesn't Toontown, the city where the toons live near Hollywood, feel a little more sinister in that context?

Walt Disney
The cutscene with Eddie and the offensive sandwich board was later used for Die Hard 3.

The villain, Judge Doom, wants to tear down the trolley system to force the toons out of their home so they can build a freeway for the wealthy humans -- that's called gentrification, an issue that remains controversial in LA to this day. Also, most of the cartoons are performers, which of course was one of the "acceptable" occupations for black people at the time. You don't see any cartoon doctors or lawyers ... unless they're pretending to be human, like Judge Doom himself. That makes Doom an Uncle Tom character: a minority who sells out his own race for his personal benefit, like Samuel L. Jackson in Django, only less cartoonish.

Then there's Jessica Rabbit, to whom Eddie is clearly attracted, despite his claims that he hates cartoons. His confusion is representative of the confusion of many white males who lusted after black women despite seeing blacks as inferior.

Walt Disney
Which means your childhood boner was awkward and racist.

And finally, in the movie the word "toon" is treated like a racial slur that humans use to offend cartoon characters. Now say the word out loud but replace the first letter with a "C."

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12
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Represents the Five Stages of Grief

Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is about an adventurer named Link trying to find his lost fairy companion Navi, because apparently he didn't get enough of her annoying bullshit in Ocarina of Time. On his way through the forest, Link gets mugged by a lunatic named Skull Kid and must go on a quest to track him down, completely forgetting about finding Navi in the process.

The Crazy Fan Theory:

This one has been floating around long enough that we're not sure who first came up with it. But there is a nice summary here explaining why the events of Majora's Mask are all occurring inside of Link's head and represent the five stages of grief over the loss of his friend.

Nintendo
"Hey! Avenge me!"

According to the theory, Link actually gets knocked out (or into a damn coma, depending on how long it takes you to beat the game) after he falls off his horse during the opening sequence, and the rest of the game takes place in his mind.

The first place Link gets to is Clock Town, where the mayor and his citizenry are preparing for their annual Carnival of Time festival in utter and complete denial of the hovering death planetoid leering down at them all from space:

Nintendo
"Boy, the crickets sure are ominously talkative tonight!"

That evil moon is going to destroy the world in three days unless Link can find Skull Kid in time, but every single person in Clock Town simply refuses to believe that it's there. Mutoh, the carnival leader, literally says:

"You cowards! Do you actually believe the moon will fall? The confused townsfolk simply caused a panic by believing this ridiculous, groundless theory."

And the soldiers seem confused when people start disappearing, as if the enormous murder moon isn't hanging in plain, horrific sight like a bloody chandelier:

Nintendo
It's either the looming death planet, or the snow cone stand ran out of cherry again.

That's denial, the first stage of grief. The people of Clock Town don't want to believe that their world is ending, and their denial represents Link's denial that his friend Navi is truly gone.

Link's next stop takes him to Woodfall, where the king adamantly believes (totally without justification) that a harmless monkey has taken his princess captive, because apparently this is a Disney movie. The irrational fury gripping the king and his people represents anger, more specifically anger over the loss of a loved one. That's the second stage of grief, meant to demonstrate Link's anger over Navi's twinkling ass bailing on him.

Nintendo
"Mickey Dolenz shall pay for his crimes!"

Bargaining, the third stage of grief, occurs at Snowhead, where Link finds a ghost named Darmani who wants to be brought back to life. Darmani is trying to strike up a deal to save himself from oblivion with someone who absolutely does not have the power to do so, sort of like Bill Cosby in Ghost Dad trying to barter his way back from the spirit world by offering a gas station attendant a pair of scratch-off lottery tickets.

Nintendo
"Seriously, I'll give you all of my Pokemon cards."

Next, Link goes to Great Bay, where a creature named Lulu is wallowing in self-pity over her lost eggs. This is depression, the fourth and most obvious stage of grief, because death is fucking sad.

Nintendo

Finally, Link gets to Ikana Canyon, where he battles his way up a tower and faces four forms of himself -- the four previous stages of grief. He climbs the tower and leaves them behind, achieving light arrows in the process. This is acceptance, the final stage of grief -- Link has faced denial, anger, bargaining, and depression and has moved beyond them, probably while a Bryan Adams song was playing.

Nintendo
Although "Summer of '69" might not have been our first choice.

He never does find Navi, which makes the grief theory seem all the more plausible -- instead of spending any more time searching for her, Link just goes on with his life, a phrase that here means "relives Ocarina of Time over and over again because Nintendo won't stop rereleasing it."

11
Willy Wonka Makes Candy Out of Children

In Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, five children win special tickets to visit the titular factory. Wonka is hoping one of them could be the heir to his business, and conducts this search mostly by being a massive dick to the kids. It's OK, though, because nearly all them are little shits.


The film has recently found new fame by providing a way to express sarcasm on the Internet, finally.

In the end only the kid named Charlie is left, since all the others get whittled down in various ways. Charlie proves to be worthy to succeed Wonka, but the only question is, why are there so many opportunities for children to suffer candy-related injuries?

The Theory:

Because Wonka's candy is made from children. That's why he's so protective of his secret formula: The list of ingredients includes "child murder" in it. Suddenly, the Tim Burton remake with Johnny Depp impersonating Michael Jackson doesn't seem like the creepier version, does it?


Well ... maybe.

In the remake we see that the children are OK at the end of the movie, but the original didn't include that scene. Now think back to the way the children are disposed of. Veruca and Augustus are sucked down a garbage chute and a pipe in a chocolate river, respectively ...


At least we hope that's chocolate.

... while Mike and Violet suffer bizarre transformations: Tthe former is shrunk to the size of a human sex toy, and the latter gets turned into a giant blueberry.


Or a Na'vi that really let itself go.

We accept what happens to each kid because, seriously, they are terrible, but think about it: Why should the pipe leading from the chocolate river be so large? Large enough for an overweight human child to be sucked through it? Because it is built to transport humans.

Meanwhile, Wonka has developed technology that can A) transform kids into giant, juicy blueberries and B) shrink them down to an edible size. All he has to do now is package them. Then there's the fact that after Augustus falls in the river they all get on a boat that has the perfect number of seats. Shouldn't there be two extra, one for Augustus and one for his mother? No, because Wonka knew the kid would fall. He was counting on it.


"I, uh, have a garage full of boats with different number of seats. Yeah."

And if that's still not enough for you, there's also the fact that Wonka pretty much admits all this in the original draft of the book. Roald Dahl wrote a chapter where a sixth child falls into a mixer along with her father. Her mom says to Wonka: " You're grinding them into powder!" Wonka replies: "Of course, that's part of the recipe!"


Everyone spent the rest of the chapter violently vomiting and crying before resuming the tour.

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10
Inception Is Actually About Filmmaking

Warner Bros.

For about a year, like 30 percent of the Internet was all theories about Inception, but while we were busy debating things like whether the movie is a dream or whether Batman faked his death in the end, there was a far simpler hidden meaning we never noticed: The whole damn picture is secretly a metaphor for movie-making. Yeah, that's right: Inception in/cepted you.

The evidence is kind of undeniable. First off, every member of the "Dream Hacker" squad has a role that corresponds with a role on a movie set: Eames (Tom Hardy) is the actor, because he can literally change faces -- sometimes while sitting in front of an actor's vanity mirror:

Warner Bros.
"Where the fuck are my hookers and blow?"

Ariadne (Ellen Page) is the screenwriter, because she designs the dreams; Saito (Ken Watanabe) is a studio executive, because he's paying for the whole thing; Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the director, the one with vision, the guy who can bring the whole thing together. Hell, he even looks like Christopher Nolan.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
But, to be perfectly honest, all white people look the same to us.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, Arthur, is the producer, the guy who knows how it all works (that's why he speaks almost exclusively in expository dialogue), and Yusuf (good ol' Dileep Rao) is the special effects guy, because most of you forgot he existed and he probably never got his share of the bounty. It's no mistake that the coolest special effects moment in the movie only happens because of something he did, and the movie specifically points out that he gets no credit for it:

Warner Bros.
The line is "Did you guys see ... oh."

Also, the scene where the characters scout the dream layout before putting their plan into action is modeled off how location scouts for movies work. And did you ever notice how the dreams in the movie don't function like real dreams? They're all based on movie-making tricks: The "infinite staircase," for example, is an optical illusion.

Warner Bros.
"In a real dream the staircase looks like that because, fuck you, it just does. Also, you're naked and late for 7th period Algebra."

Finally, Dom Cobb and the Inceptors' mission is remarkably similar to the mission of a moviemaker: they want to change the way someone (in this case, Cillian Murphy's character) thinks about the world -- like any artist. Even the strategies they discuss (focusing on positive emotion instead of negative emotion, and not "disturbing the subconscious" by changing the rules out of nowhere) are movie-making tactics: You got to establish rules for your movie universe, and you can't break them, or the audience chases you with motorcycles and stabs you to death.

9
Donkey Kong Country Is Anti-American Propaganda

Nintendo

On the surface, Donkey Kong Country documents the journey of a well-dressed gorilla across 40 epic levels as he seeks to reclaim a hoard of bananas stolen from his family by a crocodile monarch who saw fit to leave them strewn across an entire island continent rather than keep them in a single giant fruit basket.

Nintendo
"No no, just throw all the bananas down a mine shaft. It's more fun that way."

The Crazy Fan Theory:

As explained in this video from the Game Theorists, Donkey Kong Country is secretly a piece of anti-American propaganda about the Banana Wars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As that is one of the most baffling sentences in history, it requires a bit of explaining.

You see, after the Spanish-American War, the United States gained control of Cuba and Puerto Rico, giving the U.S. military a foothold in the Caribbean that it used to freely police several Caribbean states, such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Haiti. It frequently intervened on behalf of the United Fruit Company (now known as Chiquita Brands International), who illegally overthrew local businesses in those states to gain virtual domination of the banana trade (this is where the term "banana republic" comes from, which would later be used to unironically sell expensive clothes to yuppies).

Michael Gray
We prefer our khakis with a generous helping of disenfranchised South Americans.

The theory goes that Donkey Kong Country is supposed to symbolize one of those Caribbean states (probably Nicaragua or Honduras), and all of its bananas are being stolen by an invading military force. Check this out: King K. Rool, the leader of the evil crocodiles, doesn't even like bananas, so that would suggest he's stealing them for some economically strategic reason rather than joyous gluttony. Same thing with the United States -- Americans don't love bananas so much as they love trade monopolies. And the president at the time of the Banana Wars was Teddy Roosevelt, a man often compared to a king, who had absolutely no problem beating the juggling Jesus out of any country that stood in the way of American imperialism, particularly those in the Caribbean. Roosevelt is King K. Rool -- even their names look similar when you put them side by side like that.

sultanknish.blogspot.com, Nintendo
The resemblance is striking.

The game eventually has you fighting King K. Rool on a pirate ship, which seems odd (since he isn't a pirate) until you realize that the United Fruit Company and the U.S. military had a habit of enforcing their will with fleets of naval vessels. You're actually doing battle with Teddy Roosevelt aboard a U.S. Navy frigate.

Nintendo
Come to think of it, Roosevelt did have a cape like that.

Certain enemies in the game more clearly represent the U.S. military:

Nintendo

A later level reveals that the crocodiles are turning large portions of Donkey Kong Country into desolate oil fields, which is such a thinly veiled reference to American foreign policy that the final boss might as well be a giant neon cowboy in a huge pickup truck.

Nintendo
Yep. Two endangered species in a fight for their life against a flaming barrel of crude.

In actuality, the boss is a giant oil drum amid mountains of stolen bananas. So, pretty much the same thing.

Nintendo

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8
Hey Arnold! Is Actually About Helga (and Super Depressing)

Nickelodeon Animation Studio

Hey Arnold! follows Arnold, a fourth grader who lives with his grandparents, and the trials and experiences he has with his friends in a large city. If you've ever turned on Nickelodeon for more than five seconds, you've seen this shit.

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
His brain is the size of a watermelon, but he still can't pick appropriate-size clothing?

The Theory:

Except that the real protagonist is the antagonist, Helga G. Pataki, a unibrowed bully who constantly makes fun of Arnold's hideous deformity by calling him "football head." So says Redditor iSmokeTheXS, who has apparently never noticed the name of the goddamn show.

Why It's Not That Crazy:

But, wait a minute -- who shouts "Hey Arnold!" (repeatedly) during the show's intro? Helga. And who is the only character who gets to have a monologue (about how much she secretly loves Arnold) in every episode? Helga. Everything that unfolds then is recounted to the viewer, by her, in her opinion.

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Seriously, what is up with these characters and their ridiculously disproportionate headgear?

This makes sense, because Helga's life is a lot more dramatically interesting than Arnold's -- she's a bully, yes, but this is caused by a neglectful father and a mother who desperately needs to visit an AA meeting. Her older sister, Olga, is adored, while Helga is scorned, neglected, and treated as if she was the black sheep in the family -- her father simply refers to her as "the girl" in several episodes. And to top it all off, she has feelings for a boy but doesn't know how to express it, so she's mean to him.

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Come on. Who didn't go through that fourth grade serial killer/voodoo altar phase?

And that's what the show is about, ultimately: Helga's obsession with a strange-headed boy, and how she finds meaning in her otherwise bleak life through him. Hence the title, and the disproportionate amount of screen time for Arnold, a secondary character. It's no wonder that the creators wanted to make a spinoff that was openly about Helga, but it was shot down for being too depressing.

7
Ferris Bueller's Day Off Was All in Cameron's Head

This beloved 1986 John Hughes teen comedy tells the story of three good friends playing hooky; the affable and impossibly popular Ferris Bueller, the chronically depressed Cameron and Ferris's girlfriend, the stone-cold Sloane. Together, they embark upon the most exciting non-sex-and-booze-and-pot filled day a bunch of attractive American teens could ever wish for.

The Theory:

Cameron creates Ferris in his mind. Ferris is the total opposite of Cameron: he's fun, spontaneous and has a loving family and foxy girlfriend. At the beginning of the film, the imaginary Ferris convinces a bed-ridden Cameron to "borrow" his dad's Ferrari 250 GT California and cruise all over Chicago. Given Cameron's crushing social incompetence, it's likely that Sloane is fictional too and represents a girl that he has a crush on.

This theory explains the more fantastic elements of the film. For example, the whole city of Chicago rallies around the "sick" Ferris. This represents Cameron's miserable home life and how he yearns for friends and family who give a shit. Or, perhaps Bueller is a guy Cameron knows but isn't friends with, and his fantasy is based on what he imagines life to be like for the "popular" kids at school--everything is easy and the world revolves around them.

Or maybe it's a secret metaphor for how Cameron wants to grow up to be Inspector Gadget.


"Gotta get home before my parents do!"

When Cameron accidentally trashes his father's Ferrari at the film's climax, he realizes that he needs to stick up to his father and take responsibility for his own life. At this point he "disposes" of Ferris and Sloane. Both of his fictional friends receive happy endings: Sloane is left pondering marrying Ferris, whereas Ferris safely returns home, where he can break the fourth wall for eternity.

Why Does It Make the Film Better?

It transforms Ferris Bueller into a Brat Pack version of Fight Club. Remember when Ferris keeps pestering Cameron to pick him up? Let's watch that scene again:

Holy shit. That kid is fucked up. He needs a friend. A friend who is everything he is not, a friend who can liberate him from all of his self-imposed limitations. Somewhere, there's probably a rejected script for a sequel where "Bueller" convinces Cameron to climb up a clock tower with a rifle.

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6
Aliens Is a Metaphor for the Vietnam War

20th Century Fox

James Cameron's Aliens, the godfather of sci-fi action movies, is about as straightforward as a film gets (except for the part where the aliens are actually giant penises, but that was already there when Cameron came in). It's just a simple story about a bunch of American soldiers sent to a faraway land where they are led to their senseless deaths by incompetent leaders. What could that possibly be a metaphor for?

Karsten Bidstrup/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
Oh.

Yeah, according to the Alien: Quadrilogy box set special features, everything in the movie is designed to trigger one huge Vietnam War flashback ... and considering the movie came out just 11 years after the war ended, it wouldn't have been that far from the audience's mind. First, we have the dropship, which was modeled after U.S. combat aircraft of the era:

20th Century FoxStaff Sgt. Phil Schmitten
After mating them with giant crabs.

Then we have the general design of the soldiers: Their weapons, outfits, and even the designs they paint on their gear are based on the ways that American soldiers used to decorate theirs during the war.

20th Century Fox, military.com

20th Century Fox, eastofeton.wordpress.com
"This platoon has a minimum 15 pieces of flair."

But the similarities aren't just cosmetic; they are also all over the plot. Like in Vietnam, the technologically superior soldiers soon find themselves overtaken by an enemy that tends to sneak up on them in the dark. Obviously, Cameron isn't saying that the Vietnamese were penis-headed rape monsters -- it's more about the attitude of the soldiers towards them, which goes from "I'm the ultimate badass!" to "Game over, man!" over the course of the conflict.

Then there's the way the movie portrays figures of authority: They're all corrupt, useless morons, basically. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation, like many major companies during Vietnam, is putting their soldiers in jeopardy just to make a profit. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Gorman, is not only elitist (he chooses not to eat with his men, which pisses off Hicks), but laughably incompetent: He gets himself knocked out during the very first fight, and Ripley has to rescue everyone. This is most likely based on what most people think of American officers during Vietnam: that they got a bunch of young Americans killed without ever actually getting their hands dirty.

20th Century Fox
The scene where Paul Reiser does an impression of Nixon for 10 minutes should have tipped us off.

It's probably safe to say that Cameron doesn't think Vietnam ended too well, considering how the colony on LV-426 is engulfed in a thermonuclear explosion at the end. And those poor marines didn't even get to do any surfing.

5
Super Mario Bros. 3 Is Actually a Play

For decades now, Mario games have been telling the same story over and over: Bowser kidnaps the Princess and Mario has to rescue her by stomping the shit out of everything. The only exception in the main series is Super Mario Bros. 2, with its infamous "It was a dream all along" ending. With the fan-favorite third game, Nintendo went back to the classic formula, and they've stuck to it since then.

The Theory:

Or did they? According to this illustrated guide, Mario 3 was just a stage play. Like Mario 2, it never happened, and you are a chump for buying it. Nintendo has trolled you once again.


"Also, I'm actually a dude."

Why It's Not That Crazy:

Just look at the game for a moment. When you start up Super Mario Bros. 3, the first thing you see is a curtain rising and the characters rushing in, like actors in a play.


"Mamma m ... um, line?"

But this doesn't necessarily have to mean anything, you might say. This is, after all, a game about a fat plumber who occasionally shoots fireballs out of his hand. It could simply be an artistic choice, for all we know ... but there's more.

During gameplay, objects such as blocks have bolts on them, implying that they are stuck to a backdrop -- everything is fake, like onstage. This would explain why the objects cast shadows, even when there's apparently nothing behind them.


All those mushrooms didn't leave a whole lot of money for scenery.

Also, most of the platforms in the game aren't magically levitating in the air like in the previous games: They're either suspended from the roof with ropes, held up by pillars or driven by machinery.


Mario has his understudy do all the dangerous jumps anyway.

Oh, and when you're done with a level, Mario exits stage right, just like you would in a play. Finally, this is the first game that introduced Mario's tendency to dress up as animals -- that's because he's actually playing different parts.


"OK, cue the fake blood geyser!"

But why would Mario star in a play based on his own adventures? Well, remember that by this point, Mario had gone through the "fight Bowser and rescue the princess" routine only once -- what if Super Mario Bros. was Mario's only real adventure? After that, Mario went back to unclogging toilets, but he still dreamed about being a hero again every night (as seen in Mario 2).


The "go fuck yourself" of storytelling.

Eventually, he tries to recapture that feeling by staging a play about the events of Mario 1, taking some artistic license with the story. Presumably at this point he completely lost touch with reality, hence Super Mario World and the increasingly ridiculous spinoffs.

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4
Saved by the Bell Never Happened

It's nothing more than the escapist fantasy of a disillusioned young man named Zack Morris. Oddities or failures (Tori, Kelly dumping him) are simply signs of his subconscious trying to break through. Any problems he has in real life disappear when he's in his dream world. The show even tells us, once every episode, what Zack's real life is actually like in the theme song. The lyrics tell the tale of a day in the life of a high school student, stumbling through an unpleasant world of consequence. He starts in a panic:

By the time I grab my books, and I give myself a look,
I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by ...

And then later:

If the teacher pops a test,
I know I'm in a mess,
And my dog ate all my homework last night.
Riding low in my chair,
She won't know that I'm there.

As a summary of the show, the theme song makes no sense. Zack has never had a bad day at Bayside in his life. He's never in a mess. Everything bounces off of him. If he's unprepared for a test, he doesn't ride low in his chair like some depressed teenager; he gets the teacher to turn the test into a bake-off, and then wins the bake-off by cheating.

It only starts to make sense when you look at the structure. The song begins with a bell taking the narrator out of his dream world:

When I wake up in the morning,
and the 'larm gives out a warnin' ...

The middle of the song takes us through the narrator's miserably realistic life at school. But then at the end of the song, right before the show about Bayside starts, he gets saved by the school bell, which frees him to go home, to a world where ...

... tomorrow it'll be all right.
It's alright 'cause I'm saved by the bell
.

Thus, the song ends with Zack being released from the harsh realities of life by escaping to the one place where everything is all right for him. A place that exists in the border between today and tomorrow: the night time, when you sleep.

Each Saved by the Bell episode begins with a theme song that tells us what is literally happening in the real world in the time between episodes. Zack is riding low in his chair, not liking how he looks in the mirror and generally eating shit like any other high school student. Then the song's chorus (and the title of the show) releases him to the fantasy world that both he and the show's audience like so much better than real school: the infinite dream world of Bayside High. That dream world constitutes every episodes of Saved by the Bell, and it only exists in the mind of some awkward, pimply faced version of Zack Morris who can't catch a break.

3
Courage the Cowardly Dog: The Monsters Are Just People from a Dog's Point of View

Courage the Cowardly Dog stars a paradoxically named canine and his elderly owners, Eustace and Muriel. Despite literally living in "The Middle of Nowhere," Eustace's farm somehow tends to attract the attention of monsters like mummies, pirates, and giant mutant flies dressed like humans. Courage always ends up defending his masters from these creatures, without them even noticing it.


Wait, there's a mime in this show? What monster would let a child watch this?!

The Theory:

This theory from Redditor DiggaDoug492 proposes that these "monsters" are nothing more than humans as seen through Courage's warped dog senses. Courage actually lives on a normal farm; he only thinks it's in the middle of nowhere because his owners are too old and apathetic to walk him, so he simply doesn't know what's outside.


By the looks of that truck, we're guessing it's tetanus.

Why It's Totally Possible:

This theory explains why Courage's owners never seem to realize the terrible danger they're in: In reality, they're actually just watching their dumb dog running around, being terrified of the postman, or a vacuum cleaner, or whatever. Have you ever owned a dog? Those guys will lose their shit over anything.

For instance, take a look at the episode where the "monster" is a giant talking vulture who kidnaps Muriel. It's then revealed that the vulture only did that so that Muriel could watch over the vulture's children so she could go to Florida to meet her potential husband, which, judging by her stereotypical accent, she probably met on JDate. The conclusion is obvious: Muriel was simply babysitting for her neighbor, and Courage, being a big idiot, imagined she was grabbed by a giant bird.


That's kinda racist, Courage.

Further evidence that Courage is imagining everything is in the fact that, in the very first episode, old man Eustace actually transforms into a chicken, tries to eat Muriel, and then gets vaporized by a ray gun, only to come back the next episode with no memory of the incident. Who knows what happened in reality -- maybe he just sneezed and Courage's doggy imagination took it from there.


It's his way of rationalizing the turd he left on the floor.

Also, every time Eustace wants to teach Courage a lesson, he whips out a giant green mask to scare him. Who does that? It's pretty obvious that the "giant mask" is actually a rolled up newspaper or a stick. Can't say we blame the guy.

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2
"James Bond" Is Not a Man, But a Code Name

Sean Connery was 32 when he received his license to kill at the launch of the 007 franchise in 1962. That was more than 50 years ago, and James Bond has aged like a fine Beaujolais spiked with antifreeze. How is the same 30-something special agent who fought the Cold War-era Russians now taking on post-9/11 terrorism?

The Theory:

There has been a theory among fans that there is no one single James Bond, but that "James Bond" is a codename passed on from one agent to the next as each retires (just as the titles of M and Q pinball from agent to agent). The theory explains the agelessness of Bond--note that Daniel Craig's Bond became 11 years younger whereas Judi Dench's M aged by four years.

This also explains how James Bond's personality changes dramatically from actor to actor. For example, in one film you have Timothy Dalton's Bond burning a man alive (around the 9:00 mark). Pop in another DVD and you see Roger Moore's Bond is doddering around in a clown costume.

The more you look into it, the more it makes sense. George Lazenby's Bond had his wife murdered in the last film he appeared in, so fans could assume that his 007 retired out of grief. Timothy Dalton's Bond went rogue and was kicked out of MI6. Pierce Brosnan's final outing ended with Bond being abandoned by British intelligence. Next movie, there's a new Bond in the tuxedo and the old one is presumably on a beach somewhere collecting a government pension.

Hell, even the guy who directed Die Another Day believed this theory. Wait, that was the Bond movie with the invisible car, right? Fuck that guy.

Why Does It Make the Film Better?

We like the realism that this theory gives the Bond franchise, particularly since 007 movies have the propensity to fly off the rails every few years (see: Moonraker, Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist, that invisible fucking car).

On the downside, it throws a real monkey wrench in Cracked's patent pending "James Bond Immortality Diet," in which we advise you to hydrate solely with Gordon's and Lillet and to bed at least three secretaries daily.


"C'mon, toots. I'm only doing you for my blood pressure."

1
Chewbacca and R2-D2 Are Secret Rebel Agents

When George Lucas introduced his magnum opus, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, he tried to shoehorn in perhaps every damn character from the original series, the obese Rancor keeper from Return of the Jedi notwithstanding.


Third Year Consecutive Tatooine Spring Break Wet T-Shirt Contest Champion.

By plopping beloved characters as R2-D2 into the thick of previous events, many fans realized that Lucas had created Chrysler-sized plot holes. For example, R2-D2 and C-3PO basically witnessed Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader, but this fact is never mentioned in the original trilogy. Neither is the fact that Yoda and Chewbacca knew each other (seen fighting alongside one another in Episode III), making it a spectacular coincidence that Luke and Obi-Wan just happened to run into him when looking for a ride off Tatooine in Episode IV.

The Theory:

Lucas tried to cover the "why in Episode IV does C-3PO seem ignorant of everything he saw in the prequels" plot hole by having Bail Organa wipe his memory. But one incredibly detailed theory suggests that someone in the Star Wars universe realized that rebooting the droids was a godawful idea. After all, R2-D2 and C-3PO had just witnessed the rise of the Galactic Empire firsthand. Why the hell would the Rebels delete this precious intel?

According to this theory, R2-D2 must have convinced Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi to spare him a memory wipe, whereas C-3PO was not so lucky. During the 20 or so years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the two robots travel undercover; Threepio suspects that he and R2 are affiliated with the Rebels, but unbeknownst to the golden dandypants, R2 has been in communication with the Rebel Alliance the whole time.


He also never tells Threepio that he's really a tiny man in a can.

In RoTS, Chewie is good friends with Yoda and a high-ranking warrior during the defense of Kashyyyk. Why would a second-in-command of the Wookiee army suddenly slum it with Han Solo, a smuggling lowlife? Because Yoda--who's holed up on his toilet planet--needed Chewie to be his eyes and ears.

The theory further states that Chewbacca convinces Han to work with Jabba the Hutt; this way Chewie can frequently visit Tatooine and keep tabs on Luke Skywalker. We further presume Chewie's other unofficial title was "Incest Cop," and he shoved Han into the mix whenever Luke and Leia capered off to play "Hide the Womp Rat."

Why Does It Make the Film Better?

The theory bestows the series' sidekicks with a much greater narrative dignity. It also makes Chewbacca's cameo in Revenge of the Sith something more than a totally crass reason to introduce the "Kashyyyk Resistance Fighter Chewbacca" action figure.


"Medals? Oh, yeah, no thanks. We're good."

The theory adds some fascinating subtext to the original films, and also makes the prequels, well, worth watching. Most importantly, if this theory was true, George Lucas would get some serious critical cred. Lord knows he could use it.


Pic offered without comment.

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