6 Famous Movies And TV Shows That Don't Mean What You Think
Important life lessons can be gleaned from pretty much anything if you squint just right and rub your English degree hard enough. Even mindless action-bukkake like the Avengers series manages to sneak in a complex anti-Nietzschean message between Robot Man and the Jolly Green Giant smashing up New York. But merely having a message isn't enough; you also need to practice what you preach. Otherwise, you risk teaching your viewers the exact opposite of what you intended. For example ...
The Dark Knight Trilogy Is All About The Triumph Of Cash Over Hope
The Message: A Symbol Can Accomplish More Than One Man Ever Could
In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne barely stops short of facing the camera head-on and giving a heartfelt lecture on how symbols are more important than individuals, followed by a "The More You Know" star-and-rainbow wipe. In the end, one man doesn't matter; all that matters is what he means to other people.
And how harshly he spit-screams that meaning down your throat.
Through the entire Dark Knight saga, the day is never saved by hope, inspiration, or star-and-rainbow wipes. It's always science and/or cold, hard cash that comes through in the end. In Batman Begins, Lucius Fox, not a prancing unicorn, makes an antidote for Scarecrow's fear toxin. And if it wasn't for WayneTech's Tumbler, Gordon would never have been able to blow up the train tracks that the League of Shadows was using to distribute the toxin around the city. In the second movie, Batman finds the Joker using magic cell phone technology instead of magic hug technology.
Focusing on his job instead of listening to millions of people doing it is why he's Batman and we're not.
Simply put, if Batman was anyone but Bruce Wayne, millionaire psychopath, then he never would have been able to save the city. But no, it's the symbol that's important, not the private stealth battle planes or armored super suits -- any schmo could have those. What really saves the day is a bat symbol on a wall.
Breaking Bad Makes Crime Look Fulfilling And Rewarding
The Message: Being Bad Ain't Good
Breaking Bad features a main character turning to evil (surely, there's a catchier term for that -- perhaps "shattering naughty"?) by getting into the meth business. Walter White's drug shenanigans cause the deaths of over 270 people, including an innocent child and, eventually, himself. There is no way to make the show's "crime be bad" message any clearer than that.
Malcolm In The Mausoleum.
Most of the deaths on the show were only tangentially related to Walter's actions. And even then, the series went out of its way to show how understandable and relatable his thought process was. Ultimately, Walter even admits that crime made him happy. And why wouldn't it? It finally gave him a purpose in life, and let him secure money for his family's future. We'd even argue that he died happy, because he was surrounded by what he most cared about: evidence of his own genius and power.
"I am the one who rocks."
In the end, it was through breaking bad that Walter White overcame his despair and became a free, self-actualized, confident man with millions of dollars who died doing what he loved. We should all be so lucky; therefore, we should all start cooking meth. Apparently.
The Newsroom Teaches That Journalism Doesn't Matter
The Message: Changing How We Tell The News Can Change The World
In the first episode of HBO's Aaron-Sorkin-created The Newsroom, millionaire news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) decides to change the world by doing "the news well." Although he's skeptical at first, the director of his news division (ACN) encourages Will to do it by comparing him to such legendary reporters as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, whom he credits with ending McCarthyism and the Vietnam War. And now he thinks it's Will's turn to make a positive impact on the world with the power of truth.
Sorkin wrote every script while locked in this exact same pose.
Sorkin decided that The Newsroom should only cover real-life events, thus instantly setting it up for failure. The only way that Will could ever report on the world getting better is if the same thing first happened in our shitty universe so that it could be written it into the show. But that wouldn't happen, because our shitty universe doesn't have ACN in it (and is also shitty, as has previously been stated).
During the fourth episode of season one, while reporting on the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, ACN is the only network that doesn't give into the hysteria and report that she's dead. Then in episode 10, Will harshly criticizes new voter ID laws. Then in season two, he takes a stand against the Tea Party, comparing them to the "American Taliban." And what does all of that crusading achieve? Nothing. Will never does a follow-up about how Americans are no longer giving in to panic, or how voter ID laws have been abolished. He certainly never sees the end of the Tea Party. That's because those things never happened in our world, and never will.
"And thanks to us newsing harder than any newsing has been newsed
before, the world is now perfect ... and we are now cancelled."
It's like making a time travel movie where someone goes back and saves JFK, but the world still ends up exactly the same, which makes you wonder about the point of it all. And we're reasonably sure that "existential despair" wasn't the emotion Sorkin was trying to tap into here ...
Bruno And Borat Set Out To Confront Bigots, Only Prove That People Get Annoyed When You Annoy Them
The Message: Bigotry Is Still Prevalent In Our Society
In Bruno and Borat and most everything else he's ever been in, Sacha Baron Cohen plays an over-the-top caricature (of a gay man and a foreigner, in these two cases) in order to interview random people and expose them as the xenophobic homophobes they are. We know that because Cohen went on record and straight-up said that Borat "essentially works as a tool. By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether it's anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism."
If you can't be an ignorant asshole around some shifty pornstacher
you found on the side of the road, who can you be one around?
The movies attempt to prove that people unjustly hate minorities by creating two characters that embody nothing which real bigots hate about foreigners and gay people. Instead, they craft annoying idiots who would probably receive some mean comments from Pope Francis himself. It's like if you tried to expose America's Islamophobia by dressing up in a thawb and running around kicking people in the shins. Obviously, some of them are going to be shitty to you as a result, but all it'll prove is that people who act like assholes get treated like assholes.
"It's OK, gay baby OJ, all these black people aren't mad at me. They're mad at themselves."
Doctor Who Shows Violence As A Great Solution To One's Problems
The Message: Pacifism Rules
The Doctor is a time/space-traveling alien who routinely swoops in to save the day by beating bad guys with his brain. He is famous for never using weapons to solve his problems, and in fact automatically dislikes people who carry anything more lethal than a stick of gum. He honestly believes that any situation can be solved by smarts instead of brute strength.
"Get back, fiend, or so help me I'll loosen the shit out of ALL your door hinges!"
The Doctor has exterminated his enemies on a frighteningly regular basis. Not "killed." Exterminated. Throughout the show's run, he has purposefully caused the total extinction of entire enemy species -- mainly the Daleks and Cybermen (both later got better, because sci-fi.) And we're not saying that they didn't deserve it. The Cybermen, for example, are basically the Borg, while the Daleks are, well, space Nazis.
And vacuum cleaners.
But the point we're making is that you're either for pacifism or you're not, and the Doctor clearly isn't, because he's smart and realizes that you can't always reason with some people. He just doesn't have the balls to be honest about it.
Harry Potter Talks About The Power Of Love, But Ultimately Solves Every Problem With Magic
The Message: Love Is The Most Powerful Magic Of All
In the Harry Potter universe, nothing is more powerful than love. It's what kicks off and ends the entire saga. Harry's mother first sacrifices herself to save her son from Voldemort, thus setting up the stage for their final confrontation. And in the end, as any HP fan can tell you, it's Voldemort's lack of love that causes him to lose a magical duel with Harry and die.
A cuddle a day keeps disintegration away.
Every single person who follows this belief in love dies. All of them. Harry's parents, Dumbledore, Sirius Black, Snape, even Harry. Sure, he comes back. But he doesn't come back because of love; he comes back because he's the rightful owner of the Deathly Hallows, the three magical MacGuffins that let you get a do-over from Death.
He who dies with the most toys does win.
The Deathly Hallows are also what let Harry win the final duel against Voldemort. Because he was the true owner of the wand that Voldemort uses, Magic Hitler's "Abraca-die-bra" spell bounces off Harry and nails Voldemort like he's plot-armored rubber and Voldemort is glue. Love had fuck-all to do with it. What truly kills the villain in the end is a magical loophole in wand law. But "Hey kids, always remember to exploit loopholes" is kind of a cynical message, so let's say it's love.
Psst ... want to give us feedback on the super-secret beta launch of the upcoming Cracked spinoff site, Braindrop? Well, simply follow us behind this curtain. Or, you know, click here: Braindrop.
Nobody knows what anything means anymore, obviously. Like how one of the most commonly played wedding songs is about mass murder. Or how the anti-vampire folks kind of have a point on True Blood. See those and more in 6 Pieces Of Music That Mean The Opposite Of What You Think and 5 Movies And TV Shows That Sent The Opposite Of Their Intended Message.
Also, follow us on Facebook, and let's discuss why Human Centipede is actually a depiction of society's lust for wealth and extreme gluttony.
Did you know cats modeled their "meow" after the cries of human babies, just because they knew us humans care about that noise? Did you know dogs can read your mind (emotionally), and live in constant suspicion that you know where the good food is (you totally do)? In the next LIVE episode of the Cracked Podcast, host Jack O'Brien leads Cracked's team of pet-loving/fearing comedians through all the ways our dogs and cats are more powerful, creepy, and awesome than we ever could have imagined. Jack will be joined by Carmen Angelica, Dan O'Brien, Alex Schmidt, and Jake Weisman at the UCB Sunset Theatre on Wednesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. Purchase your tickets here!