#6. Here's Lady Gaga Without Her Lady Gaga Shit Glued to Her Head
Via Daily Mail
That would be Lady Gaga, without 6 pounds of fake eyelashes, cotton candy wigs, and hats made of stuffed lemurs stuck to her cranium. For reference, this is her after she's all painted up:
Pretty sure there's some spackle thrown in there for good measure.
And, again, without it she looks fine, like a person you'd run into behind the counter at Walgreens. If your brother was dating her, you wouldn't be impressed or disgusted. She's a normal person. Here's one she tweeted from her own bathroom:
Duckface Myspace pose and all.
That is also what she looked like back when she was Stefani Germanotta, a musical prodigy who gained admission to an exclusive theater training program at New York University before quitting to form her own band, in which she wrote her own songs, sang, and played keyboard. Then at some point she had the revelation that she probably couldn't become a superstar while looking like a regular human being you might run into at a shoe store, so around 2007 -- after her first record deal had fallen through -- she hid her normal-person face behind a bunch of plastic bullshit and the world said, "Yes, that's better. Now we shall allow you to sing songs to us."
But even stars who don't wear thick layers of bullshit become different people when they make one minor change ...
#5. Zooey Deschanel Is Unrecognizable if She Brushes Aside Her Bangs
Jamie McCarthy / Getty
Who the fuck is that? Are we really to believe that some dangling bangs are the only thing standing between that total stranger and America's sweetheart, Zooey Deschanel?
Yes, because those bangs are her thing.
It must be a lot of pressure to have a "thing." I mentioned in the previous edition of this article that Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harlan "Colonel" Sanders basically turned himself into a human logo on purpose -- he started wearing that trademark white suit and bolo tie everywhere he went, specifically because it was easy to notice and remember. Put him in shorts and a T-shirt and you don't recognize the man, the same as if Elvis Presley had let his hair return to its natural blond and grown a goatee. In Zooey Deschanel's case, it's her trademark bangs -- brush them aside, and she's a total goddamned stranger.
Jamie McCarthy / Getty
She was severely beaten by security for being on the red carpet. Even after producing ID.
It'd be like if, I don't know, you were to see Charlie Chaplin without his trademark Hitler mustache and bowler hat ...
WHO THE FUCK IS THAT?!
#4. Barack Obama Was Once a Toddler Dressed Like a Little Pirate
I have a weakness for pictures of powerful people as children, hopefully doing something ridiculous. This one is just about perfect.
That there is President Barack Obama, living as a toddler in Hawaii with his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, dressed in a shitty pirate costume. I guess it's probably Halloween (that appears to be a trick-or-treat bag on the ground behind him), but damn it, I prefer to think he insisted on dressing like this all the time. For like two straight years, like it was a phase he went through.
Again, on a purely logical level, it shouldn't change your opinion of anyone to know that he was once a child and did silly child things. But I can't help it -- all I can do is wonder if that little kid in the cardboard pirate hat perceived even the early traces of the traits and desires that would one day make him the most powerful human being on earth. If not, at what age do those thoughts start? Or do people like that not even think in those terms? Did Ronald Reagan think it was weird to wear sweatpants on Air Force One?
"When we land, you'll have to surround me until I get to the podium because I'm not changing."
#3. This Photo of Richard Nixon and RoboCop Is Not Photoshopped
When President Richard Nixon made the historic decision to step down from office in 1975, could he have known that a mere 12 years later he would be in the same room with RoboCop?
I guess there's no logical reason why the above photo would be impossible -- RoboCop debuted in 1987, and Nixon lived until 1994 -- they inhabited the Earth at the same time. You just wouldn't think Nixon and RoboCop would travel in the same circles.
In order to answer the obvious questions this photo raises, Mental Floss tracked down its origins and figured out that Nixon was attending a Boys' Club of America event in December of 1987 (see the logo behind him), and the studio behind RoboCop decided to do a tie-in promotion with the charity, because what film could possibly send a better message to a bunch of troubled youths?
"Mr. Nixon, could you re-enact the rape scene where RoboCop shoots that guy's dick off? It's for the kids."
So, they sent some random dude in a surprisingly shitty RoboCop costume, and probably confused the hell out of an ex-president.
#2. Pre-Star Wars Mark Hamill Was a Groovy TV Actor Looking for Work
"His name is Mark Hamill and you asked to know more about him after his dynamite appearance on 'Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law.' Now, for the first time, here are the facts on groovy Mark!"
That press release from the agent of a young bit player named Mark Hamill allegedly dates back to 1973 (the year that he apparently played two different minor characters in a long-forgotten TV legal drama). This would be a mere three years before he would be cast in Star Wars and become one of the most recognizable faces in the history of civilization. And I've got to say, seeing him there, eye-fucking me in his tank top and seashell necklace, gives me a weird feeling.
Understand, I saw the original Star Wars in the theater when I was 3 years old. I saw Return of the Jedi when I was 9. I don't know at what point in that span that I figured out these were fictional characters, but it was definitely a few years into it. So for a significant part of the crucial period during which my new brain was forming inside my skull, I believed that Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were real people living out in space somewhere. And sure, at some point I figured out they were just actors reciting lines on a sound stage, but I was still completely in awe of these people. In no way was I thinking in terms of how good a job they were doing acting, or how well they were cast -- the idea that someone else could ever have played Luke Skywalker, or played him better, was just unthinkable. It'd be like speculating if some other mother could have been more your mother than your actual mother.
So to go from that to accepting the reality of a struggling 22-year-old Mark Hamill scraping by in Hollywood, hopping from one audition to the next and trying to convince casting agents he was America's next sexy dreamboat ...
"Don't refer to your genitals as 'my crotch Wookiee'."
... is something I just can't wrap my head around. He is Luke Skywalker! The most heroic person who ever lived! Luke Skywalker didn't have unprotected sex at skanky '70s cocaine parties or pass out after puking in the pool! This is the mythology of my youth, damn it!
#1. Gandhi Wasn't Always Gandhi
That is "Mahatma" Gandhi in 1906, back when he was merely Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and working as an attorney in South Africa at the age of 37. We mention Gandhi a lot in our articles, and I often wonder if our readers even know who he is. His face is iconic with people my age mainly because of an Academy Award-winning biopic that was one of the most acclaimed and well-known films of the 1980s. He was the face of nonviolent social change in the world, but that face looked like this:
And that chest. Don't forget that chest.
Anyone my age can draw a rough Gandhi from memory -- bald, round glasses, emaciated, white shawl. And while I would never dream of comparing Gandhi to Lady Gaga, well ... you can see once again the power of iconography. His goal was to become a symbol, so he made himself into a symbol, with a distinct look that could not be forgotten. He created a character. The same as Colonel Sanders, or Batman, or Macho Man.
That's not to make light of what he accomplished at all. The same means can be used to achieve different ends, and the game is the game.
Via Wikimedia Commons
"And you either play or you get played, motherfucker."
Read the first five chapters of David Wong's upcoming novel Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits when you buy the paperback of his NY Times Bestselling tale of dong horror This Book is Full of Spiders. Pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Indie Bound.
For more from David Wong, check out 17 Images That Will Ruin Your Childhood and The 10 Most Important Things They Didn't Teach You In School.
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Extra Credit: Read Wong's last list of photographs that shatter your image of famous people here. If your favorite famous person existed before cameras, the Cracked forums have a list of quotes that will change your opinion of iconic figures. Marx didn't consider himself a Marxist- but learning that isn't half as surprising as learning the man didn't exist. So when we tell you Betty Crocker and William Tell never existed, you'll be suitably shocked.