In the right context, even the silliest characters seem normal. A man in tights can have a fistfight with a scarecrow or a space alien can become best friends with a little boy, and it all makes a kind of sense within their worlds. But when you take them out of those worlds ... that's when things start to get weird.
For the most dramatic (that is, terrifying) examples, you need only to look at these utterly cringeworthy promotional appearances that someone signed off on:
7 The Star Wars Musical Crossover With Donny & Marie
If you think the Star Wars prequels ruined your childhood, check again -- Star Wars was trying to ruin that childhood almost immediately. Back in 1977, the Donny & Marie show did a Star Wars musical segment featuring the actual C-3PO, Anthony Daniels.
It also featured Daniels' intense sadness over his career trajectory.
He and R2D2 came on and performed what we refuse to describe in any other way than this: a Death-Star-like effort to destroy music itself:
In the extended segment, the Droids team up with Luke and Leia, who, in an accidental case of foreshadowing, are played by the original brother-and-sister team with awkward sexual chemistry: Donny and Marie Osmond. The bit opens with Donny and Marie launching into a disco song about how they're in trouble. To give you an idea of how true they were to the source material, Donny starts off, "Princess Leia, our goose is cooked unless we lift off of this star!"
"Which means we don't know what a star iiiiiiis!"
A Donny and Marie Star Wars has more squareness-per-second than a Mormon scrapbooking convention. It's almost like an educational scare film about whites. At least until Chewbacca comes out with Kris Kristofferson playing Han Solo.
"Man this decade just doesn't give a fuck! YEAAAHHH!"
Darth Vader even shows up to disapprovingly wag his finger at people, which is the Donny & Marie version of choking a man to death with The Force. They live in a world where violence becomes dance. To them, pure evil is a song in G minor.
"SHAME, SHAME COMMANDER. PRAY I DO NOT SHAME YOU FURTHER."
Of course the whole thing wouldn't be quite so awkward if it wasn't for the fact that these are all the real props and costumes. It's space madness set to disco, and it all seems to have the approved-by-Star-Wars stamp on it. It's obviously not an official military operation when the Stormtroopers strut in and perform The Temptations' "Get Ready," but the Empire seems okay with them doing it in their uniforms.
"Rebel scum! Behold our pulsating plastic dick baskets!"
It shouldn't have been possible, but R2D2 looks genuinely embarrassed.
"BWEEEP! FWOOO!!! FWO-- OK, that's enough! Stop! I did not suffer through a childhood of achondroplasia to sit in
a garbage can while sexless wood sprites twirl around me! R2D2 is not going to sit through another second of this BULLSHIT!"
6 Gene Roddenberry Talks To Spock's Dad About Vulcan Sex
In 1976, after the show was cancelled, Gene Roddenberry produced a behind-the-scenes LP about Star Trek. It was a collection of interviews with cast members, mainly about making the show. In most ways, it's exactly what you'd expect from a record called Inside Star Trek, especially if you thought about what it'd be like to have Star Trek all up inside you.
"You know, the Battlestar Galactica was telling me how great it can feel in the sensor array.
You want to try that tonight, NCC-1701?"
The highlight of the album, maybe of any album, is when Spock's dad, actor Mark Lenard, sits down with Gene Roddenberry. The interview is done entirely in character. Gene greets him as a space ambassador, then immediately -- immediately -- asks how he managed to have sex with a human woman. And it's as if Ambassador Sarek had been waiting his whole Vulcan life to hear the question. Find yourself some privacy and enjoy some of the finest erotica the stars have to offer:
If you're lucky, you already know this, but during a Vulcan sexual cycle, they undergo something called Pon Farr. It's a lustful blood frenzy where they need to mate or die. There's a loophole involving ritual combat, but we'll be here all day if we start sharing tips on getting into a Vulcan's pants. The point is that two guys had a theatrical discussion about space fucking 40 years ago, put it on a record, and it's hilarious.
Real quote: "And since it is known that we pay for our sexual repressions during these years with an almost
animal madness, this has aroused a prurient curiosity among humans."
Imagine a casual fan of the show buying this record to enjoy some Walter Koenig anecdotes about prop design and suddenly hearing an actor explain in a stilted Shakespearean accent that an Earth woman could not enjoy Vulcan lovemaking during Pon Farr, and "if she survived" she'd be "severely" injured, both physically and emotionally. Who could be prepared for such a boner?
And the sex interview keeps going. Just when you think that they may move on to a different topic, Sarek goes on to describe how human sex and Vulcan sex are similar, though "physical contour, mass, energy, and duration" vary. It's as if he deliberately chose the least descriptive words he could, yet you somehow feel like you're there, being physically and emotionally torn apart by his Pon Farr passions. This record should have come with a warning that Sarek's words will Pon Farr your fragile Earth uterus until it spills with half-Vulcan babies.
"My semen has been pressurizing for several of your planet's cycles. You must mate with me or ritually battle me. Ladies."