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4 Smug Predictions That Were Hilariously Wrong

#2. Film Critic Says Groundhog Day Will Never Be in the Library of Congress; That Exact Thing Happens

Columbia Pictures

I've talked about Groundhog Day in three articles so far, and will probably do it again in many more. It's as if I'm stuck in a time loop, like in that movie Edge of Tomorrow. But one person who didn't think anyone would still be talking about Groundhog Day today was Washington Post film critic Desson Howe, who went so far as to declare that "Groundhog will never be designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress."

In other words: Come on, Bill Murray is funny and all, but he's no Ben Stiller in The Heartbreak Kid (a movie that same critic loved).

Columbia Pictures
"Andie MacDowell doesn't queef even once."

In his review, Howe says that the movie starts off well, but then turns "creatively frigid." He also complains that, while "zany" and at times "pretty good," it gets repetitive -- since, you know, it's not like trapping the protagonist in a time loop is the entire premise. Exactly one sentence after decrying the lack of progression, Howe says he's disappointed that the character is headed for "the usual Hollywood Life Lesson." Ah yes, the old "mean journalist experiencing an endless cycle of rebirth grows as a person after being confronted with the inevitability of death" cliche. I think Billy Madison used that one, too.

But Then:

Hey, guess what '90s comedy got selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2006?

Columbia Pictures
Billy Madison?

No, it was Groundhog Day, you dumbass. Being included in the National Film Registry means not only that Groundhog Day has been declared "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," but also that centuries from now, when all other movies have presumably crumbled into dust or been melted down and turned into shoes (there's a shoe scarcity in the future), people will still be able to watch the film, over and over again, and reflect on how awesome it is. I'm submitting a petition to have Desson Howe's review preserved as well, so that all those people will also be able to reflect on how wrong he was.

#1. Newsweek in 1995: "The Internet? Bah!"

Gajus/iStock/Getty Images

Clifford Stoll might be one of the coolest people ever. Besides being an astronomer, radio operator, and maker of logic-defying glass bottles, he was one of the earliest hacker hunters in history. He figured out how to catch a German KGB-related computer spy in 1986, back when hackers could act with impunity because no one knew what a hacker was (Angelina Jolie hadn't taught us yet). Stoll even looks exactly like what Hollywood movies promised us scientists would look like:

Erik Butler/Scientific American
If he says "Wubba lubba dub dubs," I'm gonna faint.

Oh, and he also wrote the most impressively wrong article about the Internet ever published. Even he seems to think so. Everything about this 1995 Newsweek piece by Stoll reads like something written in the present to make fun of those dumb mid-'90s cavemen, starting with the title:

Newsweek
I'm pretty sure this was the only time the word "nirvana" was used in that sense in the entire '90s.

That's just the tip of the grumpy iceberg. Stoll starts off by recapping all the far-out things people were predicting for the Internet, like virtual communities, online shopping, or helping democracy, and sums them up with one word: "Baloney."

Newsweek
That last one isn't true yet, but we're getting there.

Next, he asserts that if anyone with a connection can post whatever they want, most of it will be dumb, which is ... 100 percent correct, but also one of the major draws of this Internet thing (if dumb people didn't get an online voice, Cracked.com wouldn't exist). He follows that up with another cantankerous gem:

Newsweek
I don't think he means that "sure."

I'm gonna give him the benefit of the doubt and believe "Intenet" there isn't a typo, but the name of a different thing on which you can't currently read every newspaper ever. He continues, skeptical:

Newsweek
Yes, having to talk to a sweaty employee to get my Dinosaucers DVDs would make Amazon so much better.

So it's not just "electronic books" (electro-bs for short), but the very concept of buying anything online that's like wizardry to him. And safely sending money over the Internet? Get outta town!

But Then:

Well, you're looking at it.

You can now buy a digital edition of that same 1995 article through the Newsweek app, and while you're at it, you can order stuff from Stoll's website using PayPal. Incidentally, Stoll lives in Oakland, California, and I'm guessing the shopping center eight minutes from his home is no longer doing more business than the entire Internet, since this is what it looked like in 2010:

mccarthyoakland.com
This stupid joke took me four hours of research, so I hope someone got a silent chuckle out of it.

Obviously, this isn't the only old magazine article to doubt that the Internet would catch on (or the only time Newsweek got something tragically wrong), but what makes this one special is that Stoll 1) is really smart and should have known better, and 2) got super snarky about his wrongness. With the old-fashioned arrogance and the "Shyeah, right" sarcasm, it's like he turned into a one-man Frasier/Wayne's World crossover.

Unless, of course, he did write this as a joke article in the present and then used astrophysics to radio it back in time through one of his impossible bottles, in which case we take everything back.


Maxwell Yezpitelok has a free comic you can read and a Twitter you can follow.

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