#2. H. Rider Haggard Invents a Literary Genre on a Petty Bet
I'm 100 percent sure that no one reading this has ever, ever heard of H. Rider Haggard (sure hope this sentence doesn't get me any angry comments!), but you've definitely heard of the stuff he's inspired. Haggard created a literary genre -- as in, he sat down to write one day and came up with something no one had ever thought of before, and then other people kept writing about that for hundreds of years. Those people include everyone from H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Rice Burroughs, to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, to the dudes who make the Uncharted games.
Here's the best way I can communicate this guy's importance: If it wasn't for him, there wouldn't be a comic where Wolverine fights mutant dinosaurs.
And what would be the point of living?
Haggard created the "Lost World" genre, in which rich white people find some exotic new land and proceed to have sexy adventures in it. Apparently, no one in the history of literature had tried to combine this magical sequence of events before, and the thing that led humanity to finally make this breakthrough was a stupid, petty bet between brothers.
Have you ever declared that something you've just read/watched/heard/tried to masturbate to sucks, only for someone to say, "Oh yeah? Why don't you make something better?" That's exactly what happened in 1885 when Haggard, then a lawyer and amateur novelist (he'd written two books which netted him exactly 60 pounds), finished reading Treasure Island and said he wasn't that impressed to his brother, whose name I don't know, so let's call him Chet.
Dario Lo Presti/iStock/Getty Images
Portrait of Chet Haggard, Esq.
Chet bet Haggard that he couldn't write a better book, and after what must have been a solid hour of "I can too" and "nuh-uh," Haggard agreed to the bet. According to a contemporary of Haggard, "The bet was made casually, to prove it possible for someone, not at all known in authorship, to do a 'thriller' as successful as Treasure Island." And so Haggard spent the next six weeks (the same time it takes you to finish a longish game) writing a book called King Solomon's Mines. Again, he wrote it just to prove any random jackass could crap out something better than the most popular book of the era, and he totally fucking did. The book "far eclipsed Treasure Island in popularity" and spawned 13 sequels and 14 movies (or 15, if you count Sean Connery's career-ending portrayal of the main character in LXG). The next year Haggard followed it up with another novel in the same genre called She, which made him popular and a critically acclaimed author.
Anyway, Chet had to tell people his name was "Farty McPoopbutt" for a month, probably.
#1. The Best Looney Tunes Cartoons Were Made to Disobey One Producer
We've all experienced that crucial moment when you're watching Looney Tunes cartoons late at night, perhaps with your mind in a slightly impaired state, and you go, "Man, this shit is great. This is high art. They should, like, give this stuff awards." Well, they did. As in, Academy Awards. In total, five Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons won Oscars in the "Best Short Subject (Cartoon)" category, otherwise known as "Most Hilarious Animal-Related Bullshit." And here's the thing: None of those cartoons would exist if it wasn't for a single producer everyone hated, and the animators' burning desire to do the exact opposite of everything he said.
Warner Club News
"Let's have Bugs dress more manly, and make out with lots of women."
"We'll get right on that."
Eddie Selzer was a Warner Bros. producer who reportedly liked barging into the animators' room, shouting random orders, and then apparently not checking to see if anyone followed them. Shortly after being assigned to oversee the Warner Bros. cartoons in 1947, Selzer decided that the animators couldn't pair Sylvester the cat with Tweety the bird in the same short -- they should use a woodpecker instead, because woodpeckers are a riot. When the short's director, Friz Freleng, threatened to quit over this important issue, Selzer relented and let him make the damn cartoon ... which gave Warner Bros. its first Academy Award for animation.
Later, Selzer announced that they absolutely couldn't do a short starring a skunk. According to animator Chuck Jones, "If Eddie said no, we knew we had to do it." Boom, Oscar No. 2. And the best part is that it was Selzer who had to go up and accept all the awards for the stuff he specifically said not to do.
Via Cartoon Research
"Did ... did you guys not see the latest Droopy?"
At different points, Selzer also came in and declared, for no discernible reason, that he didn't want any shorts with camels or bullfighting. The animators just shrugged and did exactly that, resulting in two Bugs Bunny classics. Friz Freleng then remade the camel short (without the camel), and what do you know? Another fucking Oscar. Two other Merrie Melodies shorts won Academy Awards, and both of them featured Freleng and Sylvester -- two names that probably wouldn't be at Warner Bros. at that point if anyone had followed one of the basic rules of filmmaking and obeyed the freaking producer.
And it's not like this was a guy who had absolutely no power: In 1954, he effectively banned the Tasmanian Devil from appearing on any cartoons for three years because he thought he was too obnoxious, until the president of Warner Bros. himself came down with the Taz-mania and the only cure was more Taz. Upon Selzer's death, his Oscars were distributed among the crews of the cartoons, so maybe there's justice in this world after all.
Be sure to check out 19 Game of Thrones Plot Twists That Would Break the Internet for more ideas on how to get revenge on your friends and loved ones.