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Lots of movies try to send messages. Some are obvious, some are subtle, and some are so ham-handed you end up hating the movie even though you agree with the sentiment. On the other hand, we've pointed out before that a few messages can be so nuanced, pretty much every viewer misses them. Feel free to disagree with us, but we think we've found compelling cases that ...

5
Star Trek Into Darkness Is 9/11 Conspiracy Theory Propaganda

Paramount Pictures

What You Think It's About:

Star Trek Into Darkness is basically a remake of Wrath of Khan, except its subtitle sounds like the title of an Evanescence album and its grammar looks like it came from the MySpace page of a 13-year-old Evanescence fan. It's basically a nonsense action movie full of awesome space battles fought entirely by hot people.

What It's Really About:

Because Star Trek fans aren't known for their casual enthusiasm, it didn't take long for the Internet to point out that Into Darkness looks an awful lot like an allegory for the worldview of 9/11 "Truthers," who believe that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by the American government to justify an invasion of the Middle East, and whose brains may be full of spider webs. That obviously makes Khan space Osama bin Laden -- literally the first thing we see him do is convince a desperate man to become a suicide bomber.

Paramount Pictures
Although we don't think anyone has ever masturbated to bin Laden.

Before we get into the details, keep this in mind: this movie -- which is about a space terrorist being used as an excuse to further a secret space military agenda (in space) -- was co-written by Roberto Orci, who's espoused Truther sentiments on Twitter, the official platform for legitimate political debate, as well as on Star Trek message boards, the second-most-official platform for legitimate political debate. How these conspiracy theory ramblings managed to manifest themselves as a Star Trek motion picture and not just a convoluted blog post, well ... that's the magic of Hollywood. Did we mention that in the credits, the film was dedicated to "Post-9/11 Veterans?" A nice sentiment, but a little out of left field, right?

Now look at the plot: after Khan attacks a meeting of Starfleet big shots in a conspicuously Pentagon-like location, he transports to the Klingon home world faster than anyone can say, "Hey, that guy looks way too white to be named Khan." Kirk is ordered by Admiral Guy Who Played RoboCop to pursue Khan with an armament of 72 experimental torpedoes, but Kirk eventually learns the truth: Admiral RoboCop had been forcing Khan to develop weapons to secretly give Starfleet a military overhaul and jumpstart a war with the Klingons, which he considered inevitable. That's basically the Truther narrative: that bin Laden was nothing but a patsy used by American warmongers to justify the Middle East invasion they wanted anyway.

Paramount Pictures
It's not like there were already dozens of previous terrorist attacks that could have been used as a flimsy pretext to invade.

If funding the enemy of an enemy only to later have that first enemy attack sounds familiar, that's because it's basically the gritty origin story of the Taliban, who originally fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan with weapons and training from the US. Hey, did we mention that Kahn's origin story is that he was a genetically engineered soldier designed to fight an old war?

Paramount Pictures
The Soviets didn't stand a chance.

Also, 72 torpedoes may seem like a totally random number, but it's different from the totally random number the original Star Trek series came up with. The torpedoes in Into Darkness contain Khan's cryogenically frozen crew, but his crew complement was originally 84. It seems like either an arbitrary change or a fact-checking error, but 72 also happens to be the number of virgins that people who don't understand Islam very well believe are promised to suicide bombers in the afterlife. Coincidence? That's your call.

4
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Wants You to Reconsider Eating Meat

Bryanston Pictures

What You Think It's About:

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an iconic horror movie about a van full of teenagers breaking down in the middle of backwater ... Idaho, we think. They find themselves the victims of the Sawyer family, an inbred cadre of hillbillies who nourish themselves exclusively on sweet, tender, teenage flesh. They dismember their victims through the alternative use of power tools, although we can't remember precisely what kind (it's been a while since we've seen this).

What It's Really About:

The Sawyer family may be killers, but the real murderer is you (if you eat meat). This famous flick is aggressively pro-vegetarianism, and if you think about it, it's not even very subtle. The teens pick up a hitchhiker who tells them about how his family used to work at the local slaughterhouse, which film experts consider to be a case of "foreshadowing." They also talk about how gruesome it is to kill animals with sledgehammers and prepare them for consumption, to which one of the girls responds, "That's horrible. People shouldn't kill animals for food."

Bryanston Pictures
It turns out the real animal is man.

A while after that, the first victim is dispatched with the exact cattle-killing method that was described. The next victim is impaled on a meat hook and stuffed in a meat locker, while the third is butchered with a chainsaw in the same way that animals are sliced into different delicious cuts. We believe this is known as "symbolism."

Bryanston Pictures
Tasty, tasty symbolism.

As pointed out by film theorist Rob Ager, the house where the Sawyer family lives is basically a slaughterhouse run by animals for humans. The half-feral Leatherface wears a mask made from human skin, and he even dons a butcher's apron (and a surprisingly well-coordinated tie) as he goes about cutting up some succulent humans.

One of the film's most iconic scenes is when the Sawyer family sits down for a dinner of teenager tartar and taunts their surviving captive with animal noises. It's an allegory for the horrendous conditions of meat processing, with the fear of the victim mimicking the fear of animals who are getting slaughtered.

Bryanston Pictures
There's also some symbolism in their house, but we can't quite put our finger on it.

If you think we're reaching, keep in mind that PETA endorses the movie, and director Tobe Hooper flat-out said that the film is about meat, although he also thinks the 2003 remake was pretty good and the best part was the focus on Jessica Biel's ass, so he may not quite be an auteur. Still, he gave up meat while making the movie, and it's not hard to imagine why. To our knowledge, animals aren't slaughtered by psychopathic Texans, but they aren't dispatched with rainbows either. As to why more people haven't picked up on what seems like an obvious theme in retrospect, well ... as Slate points out, that early conversation on slaughterhouses ends with the line "I like meat, please change the subject!"

Bryanston Pictures
Admittedly, this is a pretty good topic to change to.

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3
Prometheus Is About Self-Sacrifice and Space Jesus

20th Century Fox

What You Think It's About:

Prometheus is like Alien(s) without the Alien(s) -- a crew kept in the dark about their mission gets whittled down by the very thing they were searching for. At the end of the film, we have a familiar-looking monster bursting out of a human's chest, the protagonist escaping in the last available spaceship, and an audience left confused and upset about the fact that they were tricked into watching an Alien reboot where the characters were too dumb to understand the concept of dodging.

20th Century Fox
"Dodge? Nah, I was always a Ford girl mys-"

What It's Really About:

According to a theory posted by LiveJournal user Cavalorn (Current Mood: Analytical) we were all too busy complaining about the dumb characters to catch that the movie is about the cost of sacrifice versus survival. Also, the whole thing is about Jesus Christ, according to ... a theorist with a bit more authority.

First, remember the first scene of the movie? One of the alien Engineers consumes the same black goo that lands our bumbling adventurers in so much trouble, which causes him to disintegrate and seed life on a dead world. Cavalorn argues that good things happen when the black goo is used willingly, but when selfish humans use it, the end result is rape monsters and untimely death.

20th Century Fox
So it's kind of like alcohol.

With that context in mind, a lot of the "dumb" deaths actually make sense -- the crew members are being punished for their selfishness. The geologist and the biologist bail on the crew to save themselves, then get stranded and encounter a penis-monster that's not in the mood for cuddling. Meredith Vickers wants her father dead so she can take over the family business of waking up biological nightmares for no apparent reason, and her selfishness gets her killed in the most comically stupid way possible.

20th Century Fox
We cannot stress how dumb this is.

Some characters do make noble sacrifices, and they're the only reason the film has any survivors. Speaking of which, can you think of any famous humans who preached self-sacrifice? Maybe one who died a little over 2000 years ago, the estimated time of death of all the Engineers the crew found?

Yup. Jesus was an Engineer sent to teach us how to not be dickbags. That's not a theory; the original draft straight up said it. But Ridley Scott (the man who, a year later, would film Cameron Diaz fucking a windshield) thought that was too on the nose, and changed the script to merely hint at the connection.

20th Century Fox
In filmmaking, this is called an "allusion."

That also explains the otherwise arbitrary-seeming climactic conflict, where Peter Weyland gets his dick smashed in by a literal god. Without this theory, it seems like the re-awakened Engineer is throwing a hissy fit so the movie can have a monster. But he's being asked to extend the life of a wizened troll of a man, which is an affront to his basic life philosophy. Beating the old man to death with the head of his own robotic creation now seems like poetic justice for the Engineers being doomed by their creation.

20th Century Fox
Thanks a lot, Pontius Pilate.

2
Mary Poppins Wants Women to Know Their Place

Walt Disney Pictures

What You Think It's About:

If you didn't watch Mary Poppins as a child, your parents probably didn't love you (we're sorry you had to find out this way). A magical nanny comes to take care of Jane and Michael Banks, and in the process teaches the family to appreciate each other. She sings excessively polysyllabic songs, feeds the children sugar-laced tranquilizers, leaves them in the care of chimney sweeps to run across the roofs of London, takes them into a fever dream where they dance with penguins, and is generally whimsically but horrifically irresponsible.

What It's Really About:

Do you remember why Mary Poppins comes to town in the first place?

Walt Disney Pictures
Oh yeah, wasn't it to, like, start a fight club or something?

"Of course I do, Cracked! The parents are busy and need a nanny. Mr. Banks is a workaholic banker, and his wife is, uh ..."

Gotcha! Mrs. Banks has no time to rear her offspring because she's fighting for her right to vote.

Walt Disney Pictures
"Women voting? What's next, gays marrying?"

Remember, the movie's set in 1910. Mrs. Banks is introduced with the song "Sister Suffragette," which seems like a powerful bit of feminism until you notice that the women she's singing it to aren't taking her seriously, and the moment Mr. Banks comes home, she turns into a subservient wife who doesn't talk about her passion because it annoys him.

Mr. Banks hires Mary Poppins because a string of nannies who couldn't stand their kids quit. Those nannies were hired by Mrs. Banks -- her failures forced Mr. Banks to take matters into his own hands, because all his silly wife can do right is apologize.

Walt Disney Pictures
"You know how my vagina makes me so emotionally volatile."

As for Poppins herself, Disney's take on her is nothing like the original character. P.L. Travers, a possibly bisexual flapper who never married and raised her adopted son on her own (worst Disney mom ever), wrote Poppins as a homely, lower class nanny clumsily attempting to fit into upper class London culture. Yet Disney's Poppins is the perfect nanny; she knows how to care for the children, knows her place, and has seemingly no personal life. Hell, even though she teaches the Banks brats some goddamn respect, they don't bother saying goodbye to her when she leaves, and when her talking umbrella complains, she says it's cool because what's really important is that they love their father -- the same father who up until like a week ago was ignoring them completely.

Walt Disney Pictures
"Rocking this mustache is a full-time responsibility."

You may remember that Mr. Banks loses his job, but he ends up getting it back in an offhand moment that could only be lazier writing if God reached down from the heavens and personally named him the new Pope. So while he learns to warm up to his hellraising spawn, his role in the family doesn't change. Mrs. Banks, however, appears to renounce her frivolous desire to vote in order to spend more time with her children, removing the need for a nanny.

Walt Disney Pictures
"Eh, I'll just cut every corner."

If she had known her place, none of this would have happened. In the last scene, we see Mrs. Banks readily hand over her suffragette sash to use as a kite's tail. The moral? Only silly women want to vote. Go fly a kite. Chim Chim Cher-ee.

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1
The Lego Movie Is a Criticism of Copyright Law

Warner Bros.

What You Think It's About:

Besides being the longest and most expensive advertisement in history, The Lego Movie is about an everyLegoman named Emmet who gets caught up in a war between Lord Business and the Master Builders. Lord Business wants everyone to always follow the rules, while the Master Builders believe that people should be free to create whatever they want (as long as they use Lego). In an ending you saw coming since the moment the movie was announced, the moral is "creativity is awesome, and Lego makes it possible!"

What It's Really About:

The Lego Movie can also be seen as one big ol' allegory for copyright law. We can't promise that our theory is correct, but we can promise that it's far less wrong than when Fox News called the movie anti-capitalist.

Fox News
They're probably going to give the $468 million it made to North Korea.

Here's the logic: Lord Business' plan is to freeze the entire Lego universe with Krazy Glue so that "everyone will stop messing with [his] stuff." The creations of the Master Builders are amazing, but he only sees them as perversions of his property. If you imagine Lord Business as a symbol for modern media conglomerates and the glue as the industry's heavy-handed application of copyright law, can you see what we're getting at?

As Emmet explains in the climatic word fight, Mr. Lord Business has built countless awesome Lego creations (just like Hollywood has made tons of iconic films). All the Master Builders are doing are taking his creations and recombining them to make more cool things. The real world parallels to this are endless -- YouTube videos, fanfiction, erotic fanfiction, fan art, video game mods, those Batman shirts and sex toys we sell, and so on.

Cracked.com
Really, we're doing YOU the favor by selling them.

Despite what the guy who runs your local poetry slam keeps arguing, copyright laws are important. But if companies go nuts with them, they risk stifling creativity. Sampling and parodying existing work is a practice as old as creativity itself. Yet YouTube clips containing snatches of copyrighted video or audio often get struck down the moment they go viral. The popular YouTube series How It Should Have Ended was forced to change the song in their Frozen parody from "Let It Go" to "Where Did It Go?" because Disney apparently thought there were hardcore Frozen fans who wanted to listen to the song constantly, yet would have been content to hear one mangled section over and over again instead of paying for the real deal. You know what a more likely scenario is? The fans enjoying the parody and then deciding they want to own the original.

If people are taking something from your art, they must like it. If it inspires them to do something creative with it on their own, even better. Lots of creative people get their start this way, and trying to restrict them is ultimately bad for the culture. Also, buy Lego.

Rob Stothard/Getty Images News/Getty Images
K'nex is for fascists.

For more messages you probably missed, check out 6 Famous Movies With Mind-Blowing Hidden Meanings and 6 Popular Songs You Didn't Know Have Dark Hidden Messages.

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