Television isn't just some inconsequential, mindless diversion. It is that, sometimes, yes. But not always. Television can be meaningful, and not just in that hokey "makes you think" way, like when you realize that you really would like to go where everybody knows your name. No, television can have actual consequences; its history is filled with examples of it affecting the real world. And we must study these occasions, lest we be doomed to repeat them.
Try that line out in school sometime to see if you can get the teacher to just turn on the TV for a couple days.
Here, then, for your viewing pleasure, are six examples of television affecting the real world.
#5. Super Bowl Bathroom Party
People have needs. Food, clothing, and shelter are the classics, but there are so many more. Water. Air. Human contact. A safe place where the demons can't reach us.
Martin Barraud/OJO Images/Getty Images
"You OK, Tim? Because the meeting isn't over yet."
One particular need we all have is the need to relieve ourselves at semi-random intervals. Most people can put these urges off for a few minutes when circumstances require it. (Or, with the right yoga, and a will of iron, hours.) But outside of tired jokes about women going to the bathroom together, humans generally don't synchronize our bathroom time with each other, and indeed there's all sorts of etiquette on how to not do that.
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"You look tense. You tense? Why you tense?"
The only real exception is during massive group events where everyone is either restricted from or trying their best to avoid using the bathroom until the event is over, like at the movie theater or during a concert -- or the Super Bowl. The largest televised event in the world, the Super Bowl can attract significant percentages of a city to all watch the same show, inadvertently syncing the bathroom habits of millions of people. Rumors have long circulated that in the minutes after the Super Bowl, water pressure drops dangerously in cities around the country as everyone uses their toilets at once.
And it's (sorta) true! Both potable water and sewage flows increase significantly during halftime and the minutes after the game. The danger part of the rumor is definitely overblown, the dip in pressure only around 10 percent or so, which isn't that different from what can be seen every morning or night. But that is enough for engineers to have to be at the ready with standby pumps, as well as cause a noticeable dip in reservoir levels, accompanied by what we can only imagine is a really hilarious noise.
"Did ... did anyone else just hear a 'SPLORP' sound?"
So don't feel too bad tinkling after the Super Bowl. It definitely causes an effect, but somewhere a guy with a hard hat and a stinky job has our back.
#4. The Rachel
Friends was a show about six people who lived in a fairy-tale version of New York. That's not an exaggeration; the insertion of a wicked stepmother or enormous beanstalk would probably have made the show more realistic.
"The One Where Joey and Phoebe Fight a Dragon"
The other notable thing about Friends was that it was a monster hit sitcom from an era when such a thing still existed. It was watched by a scale of audience most current shows would envy. Among young adults it was especially popular, and it inspired many trends in the real world, such as drinking coffee, conversing with friends, and adultery.
"The One Where Ross Somehow Sleeps With Yet Another Unattainably Attractive Woman"
Perhaps the most famous trend launched by the show was "The Rachel," the name given to the haircut worn by Jennifer Aniston's character in the first couple seasons. Here at Cracked we're not really qualified to describe the hairy qualities that made it so popular. It had layers, maybe? Looks like it was also probably done with scissors, we'd guess.
It sure concealed the skull, we can say that much.
Whatever the hell it was, it inspired millions of women around the world to get the same thing for themselves, so many that, for a time, it seemed like we all lived in a fairy-tale version of New York, just nonstop dancing in fountains. The trend died out, mostly, as trends so often do, not helped by the fact that The Rachel was apparently a real nightmare to maintain. Aniston herself has said multiple times how much she hated it.
She wouldn't be allowed to wear her signature dreadlocks until Season 8.
And so the world learned that sometimes fiction works best just as fiction, even for hair. And no one made a shortsighted hair-styling decision ever again.
#3. The Delia Effect
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It shouldn't be news to you that a recommendation from a celebrity can massively boost the sale of a product. For example, a nod from Oprah Winfrey's book club was widely considered a surefire way to land a spot on national bestseller lists. But it's not every celebrity who gets their name in the actual dictionary for this effect, and we have to journey to the strange, foreign land of England to find such a case.
A typical Englishman in downtown England.
Delia Smith is an English television cook whose programs were famed for her simple, straightforward recipes. And because until quite recently there were only like four channels in England, certain programs could be watched by almost everyone in the country, which Delia's shows often were. This led to the curious phenomenon of products she recommended one night being swept off of supermarket shelves the next morning. This is called the Delia Effect, and we weren't lying about it being in the dictionary, either. Recommendations from Delia have caused national cranberry shortages, prompted the maker of one omelet pan to increase their production by a mere 45,000 percent, and instigated stampedes for eggs. Yes, just basic white eggs. We guess England had forgotten about them until she reminded them.
So keep that in mind if you're ever in England and can't find, like, bread or something. One of their celebrities may have reminded them about it.
"I'd better get there before it's all gone!"