6 Classics Despised by the People Who Created Them
Despite their creations remaining celebrated to this day, some people live out the rest of their days hating the things they made, sort of like George Lucas and the Star Wars Christmas Special, or Leonard Nimoy and that hobbit song.
But it's not just embarrassing YouTube-fodder that makes creators wish they'd never set pen to paper. It even happens with works that are considered classics, like...
Ang Lee's 2005 film was both a commercial and critical success, going on to win three Academy Awards and its rightful place in history as the definitive movie about gay cowboys in Wyoming. Meanwhile, the collection of stories it was based on by author Annie Proulx was nominated for a Pulitzer.
We found these when we were cleaning up the office.
So it's surprising that Ms. Proulx has repeatedly told interviewers that she wishes she'd never written it.
Why She Regrets It:
The reason for her bitterness is Brokeback Mountain fanfiction.
And this. Mostly this.
According to Proulx, since the release of the movie she has been inundated with alternative scripts, sequels, sexually explicit retellings and "fixes" that change the ending of the story so that the two star-crossed cowboys end up together. And unlike most fanfiction writers, who tend to keep their habits confined to niche message boards, Star Trek web rings and other shame ridden corners of the Internet, Brokeback Mountain fans apparently like sending their work directly to the author's address.
"After the lightsaber fight, Jack and Ennis have sex on top of a Diplodocus."
Surprisingly, Proulx says most of the fanfiction is written by people claiming to be straight males. So ladies, now you know what your boyfriend is doing on the laptop late at night when he claims to not be looking at porn.
What a relief.
A Clockwork Orange
The violent dystopian film A Clockwork Orange remains one of Stanley Kubrick's best-known works. In the U.S. it was nominated for several Oscars, but in the UK A Clockwork Orange was withdrawn barely a year after its general release. It never came out on video there or aired on television, and 20 years later the ban was still strictly enforced to the point that a London cinema was sued by Warner Bros. for screening the movie.
The theater owners were then savagely beaten by Malcolm McDowell and tossed into a river. But that probably would have happened anyway.
A Clockwork Orange only became widely available in the UK after Kubrick's death in 1999, ending a stream of furtive trips to France for young British hipsters. In a bizarre twist, the man behind the ban was Kubrick himself, who used his high standing with Warner Bros. to get them to voluntarily withdraw the film.
However, Eyes Wide Shut is still readily available.
Why He Regretted It:
The film appeared at an unfortunate time in British history. Crime rates were on the rise, and several lawyers defended their clients by saying they'd been driven to rape and violence by emulating the hero of Kubrick's film.
Hundreds were killed while riding bombs under similar circumstances.
According to Kubrick's wife in an interview after his death, his family also began receiving numerous death threats. Hurt and appalled by the public reaction and concerned for his family's safety, Kubrick made a personal request to Warner Bros. that they withdraw the film and they obliged.
Now that we mention it, Anthony Burgess, the author of the book the movie was based on, didn't think much of the movie either (Kubrick chopped off the book's happy ending where the protagonist straightens up and realizes the error of his ways), and hated the additional attention that it brought to a book he wasn't crazy about himself.
"Seriously, you people are basically paying for my farts."
In most people's minds Alec Guinness is Obi-Wan Kenobi. But despite gaining eternal nerd worship and a percentage of future Star Wars earnings for his role (thus making him rich for life), Guinness wasn't a fan of the character.
In his autobiography, he mentions a small child coming up to him and saying that he'd seen Star Wars 100 times.
And that little boy became Harry Knowles! Probably.
Guinness replied that he'd give the kid an autograph if he promised to never watch the movie again and the boy burst into tears.
The only thing he hated more than Obi-Wan was children.
Why He Regretted It:
When it came to Star Wars, Alec Guinness pretty much filled the role of a snooty British person. He called the movies "banal" and "mumbo-jumbo," and would throw out Star Wars-related fan mail unopened. Guinness also claimed that it was his idea to get Obi-Wan killed off because he wanted a smaller part.
"F#@king swing the lightsaber, Alec! Fight back! Do something! Ah, f#@k it!" - George Lucas
That's right, one of the most tragic and mentally scarring scenes from your childhood came about because Alec Guinness thought George Lucas was a talentless hack.
Winnie the Pooh
British author and playwright A. A. Milne wrote the two original Winnie the Pooh books in the 1920s for his young son, basing the stories on the boy's stuffed animals. By the 1930s, Pooh was a multi-million dollar business, and after Milne's death the rights were sold by his widow to Disney. Approximately eighty thousand movies later, Pooh now earns Disney over one billion dollars a year.
It's how Winnie the Pooh funds his crippling "hunny" addiction.
But Milne wasn't a fan of Pooh. Annoyed enough by the bear to attempt to kill him off at the end of the second book (that's right - he tried to kill off Winnie the Pooh), he complained about him in his autobiography and spent the remainder of his life resenting the creature. His biographer wrote that the fictional-bear-based reputation Milne had earned by age 50 was "not the one he wanted."
A real-bear-based reputation would've been way more awesome.
Why He Regretted It:
Milne was a serious author and playwright before writing the Pooh books. He published seven novels, 25 plays and several works of non-fiction. Pooh was just meant to entertain his son, and once the boy grew up he tried to return to adult fiction, which went over about as well as when David Caruso left NYPD Blue and tried to make movies.
Even worse, Milne had also made Goethe's mistake and used his son's real name (Christopher Robin) in the story. Poor Christopher was relentlessly mocked at school, and apparently never had much success with the ladies because most girls don't want some dude that's famous for spending his time hanging out with two-foot tall bears.
Ranger Smith was constantly getting cock-blocked by Boo Boo.
The Pooh curse doesn't end there, either: The books' original illustrator, E.H. Shepherd, also hated the bear for overshadowing the rest of his life's work as a political cartoonist.
The lesson here is clear: Putting bears and young children together usually doesn't work.
The Famous Vietnam Execution Photograph
It's one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. The man who took the photo, Eddie Adams, won a Pulitzer in 1969 for the picture, which strengthened the peace movement with its graphic depiction of wartime brutality.
Much like Stripes.
Adams, however, repeatedly expressed regret about the picture until he died in 2004, saying it "destroyed" the life of South Vietnamese General Ngygen Ngoc Loan, the man doing the shooting. According to Adams, two people died the moment he took the photo: "The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera." Sort of like that guy that took all the pictures in The Omen.
When Loan died in 1998, Adams sent a bouquet of flowers to his widow. Judging by the photo, one can imagine that while he was alive, Loan reacted to Adams's repeated apologies by swiftly kneeing him in the groin and then killing several puppies with his bare hands.
Why He Regretted It:
At the time the picture was taken, Loan was Chief of Police and the guy getting shot was the leader of a Viet Cong assassination squad tasked with murdering South Vietnamese police officers, and if those officers couldn't be found, their families would be killed instead.
The man Loan shot had been caught near a ditch containing 34 murdered men, women and children, among them were the wife and six children of one of Loan's closest friends (the six murdered kids were also Loan's godchildren).
Adams's real problem with the photo was that those that saw it were so caught up in the horror of the image that they took it out of context, sort of like when you burst into your parents' bedroom at the exact wrong moment.
As for Loan himself, when he wasn't gunning down bad guys, he was into building hospitals and giving presents to orphans. After he immigrated to America, he spent several decades running a remarkably non-murderous pizza parlor until his identity was leaked and death threats forced him to close his business.
Some kid probably knocked his mascot head off.
In response to Adams's repeated apologies for ruining his life, however, he expressed forgiveness, saying that Adams was just doing his job. Maybe, but couldn't he have stuck a caption on there, explaining the context? Maybe an lolcat-style speech bubble?
Anna Jarvis started a campaign to make Mother's Day a national holiday in the U.S. in 1907, two years after the death of her own mother. The campaign succeeded beyond her wildest dreams, with Woodrow Wilson soon signing a Congressional Resolution endorsing it and over 40 different countries soon following.
Wilson would egg anyone that didn't approve.
Jarvis, however, didn't sit back and live in contentment like most of us would have after creating a god damned day. She spent the rest of her life and her considerable fortune fighting against the holiday, eventually dying penniless.
Is there a card for that?
Why She Regretted It:
Jarvis was disgusted with the commercialization of Mother's Day and the idea of florists and candy makers taking advantage of her holiday for profit. Most of all she hated the greeting cards, which according to her meant "nothing except that you are too lazy to write for the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world."
"OOOOOHHH. Flowers and a card. That makes up for the crotch trauma you put your mother through."
At one point she even got herself arrested while protesting the holiday, calling her enemies "charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites," which suggests that Mother's Day was far more awesome in the 1920s.
"The termites are on their way."
Find more from C. Coville at http://bloodslides.livejournal.com.
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For other people's creations that we regret, check out 7 Inventors You Didn't Know You Wanted to Punch In the Face. Or learn about some creations that you can MacGuyver (and regret) in your house, in 5 Deadly Sci-Fi Gadgets You Can Build At Home.
And stop by our Top Picks to see Jack O'Brien confessing his regret at keeping Swaim and DOB on the payroll.