6 Mind-Blowing Pop Culture Questions Answered by Super Fans
We live in an era where, if you want to know more about a show, movie, book, or whatever that you like, you can simply BingTM that shit and find out that, for example, the word "fuck" is said 1.32 times per minute in Scarface, or that the population density of Springfield in The Simpsons is 1.5 people per square kilometer (and half those citizens sound like Hank Azaria). That's because the Internet is home to a relentless army of hardcore nerds who are willing to do the work of sifting through all of pop culture to come up with the hard numbers.
Among their more impressive/terrifying achievements are ...
A Complete Statistical Analysis of All 900-Plus LotR Characters
When watching any Lord of the Rings movie, a franchise that includes massive battles, giant dragons, and talking trees, one question inevitably comes to mind: What is the life expectancy of the average Hobbit? The answer is 106 years, and we know this thanks to a Swedish fan named Emil Johansson, who not only cataloged every single character mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's novels (all 923 of them), but also used this information to create a thorough statistical analysis of Middle-Earth. He then put all of this on an interactive website, LotRProject.com.
Including a Facebook page where he tagged every character in this picture.
It all started when Johansson was 14 and reading Tolkien's The Silmarillion, or trying to. There are so many freaking characters in the book that the young fan felt he needed a giant family tree to keep track of all of them. So he created just that:
At that age, we were just learning to draw dicks in Paint.
Johansson didn't just go through all the books, which are long enough as it is, but also through Tolkien's hundreds of letters, and he cataloged every detail of the ancestry of every character. On the interactive tree, all of the characters have a small link with their lifetimes and where they lived, who they had sex with, and what they created as a result. The lineage of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen in the movies), for example, is mapped for over 50 generations.
There was apparently a lot of freaky, anonymous sex going on in that family.
Using all his research, Johanssen was able to find out some pretty interesting details, such as the average life expectancy of each race (Dwarfs should live to 300, but keep dying in battle at the tender age of 195), age distribution, population, and time and distance traveled in the books. Did you know that the Hobbits traveled 1,802 miles for six months to get to Mount Doom and chuck a ring into it? Or that only 19 percent of the population in Middle-Earth appears to be female? OK, yeah, you probably could have guessed that one.
Or, if you watched The Hobbit, you probably thought it was 0.
A Graph of All of the Implied Sex on Friends
There's a special type of fan known as a "counter" -- someone who watches every single installment of a given franchise just to find out how many times something happens. Thanks to them, we now know how many people James Bond has killed, how many Superman references are made in Seinfeld, and how many times characters in Deadwood dropped the word "fuck" (it's 2,980). Speaking of which, one fan took it to the next level by not only quantifying the amount of sex each character in the sitcom Friends had, but turning those findings into a handy chart:
Anyone else uncomfortable with the way Ross' line intersects with his sister's?
Devoting more effort to the sex lives of fictional characters than most of us put into our own, Reddit user larry_b watched all 236 episodes of Friends multiple times and assigned one point to a character every time sex was confirmed or heavily implied, and half a point when there was room for ambiguity (i.e., "I once dated a guy ..."). Larry kept track of these fascinating findings through an Excel spreadsheet, which lists the name of each sexual conquest and the rationale for including them.
Where the hell is Marcel the monkey?
So what can we learn from this? Well, not surprisingly, Joey is the sluttiest member of the cast, with 51.5 sexual partners, and at the opposite end is Chandler, with 10.5 (Jesus, you could've thrown him some of your scraps, Joey). In second place is Phoebe, whose 32.5 partners include the entire lineup of Jethro Tull.
There is something undeniably sexy about a man with a flute.
On the more surprising side, Ross' total of 14 is 13.5 higher than any other paleontologist in history, and obsessive-compulsive "neat freak" Monica was actually the most promiscuous Friend in Season 1 (and the only one who had sex with a minor). Sure, you could quibble with a couple of the numbers (Joey probably deserves another 0.5 for the way his tailor measures pants), but we're just impressed with the sheer amount of effort that went into the project. Impressed and frightened.
An Investigation into What Day Was Ice Cube's "Good Day"
Back before Ice Cube was a fun-loving family-movie star, he was a fun-loving gangsta rapper. One of his hit songs was "It Was a Good Day," which featured him waking up and listing off all the things that made the day so great, like intercoursing a lady friend and not being kicked in the face by any cops.
While most fans assumed that Ice Cube just made up the "good day," this wasn't good enough for Tumblr user Donovan Strain. Strain analyzed the song's lyrics and broke down the clues that could help determine the exact date Cube was talking about, like a rap fan version of Tom Hanks' character in The Da Vinci Code.
Clue one was a lyric about an MTV show ("Went to Short Dog's house, they was watching Yo! MTV Raps"), which first aired August 6, 1988. "It Was a Good Day" was released on February 23, 1993, so that narrows down the date some.
Although with all the cocaine in the '80s and '90s, a "good day" might actually be several weeks.
The next clue is about basketball -- Cube says "The Lakers beat the Sonics," so Strain looked at the stats for the Los Angeles Lakers and listed all the times they beat the SuperSonics between 1988 and 1993, ending up with 12 dates. This was narrowed down to five dates by only taking into consideration the days where the sky was clear and there was no smog in Los Angeles, as seen in the video.
Days in which Ice Cube drove a ridiculous bouncing car: all of them.
Next is the lyric most likely to baffle young listeners: "Got a beep from Kim, and she can fuck all night." Cube mentions a beeper pager, which didn't become widely available until the '90s. That leaves us with two dates: January 18, 1991, and January 20, 1992. However, it turns out that Cube was busy shooting the movie Boyz n the Hood in early 1991, and presumably didn't have time to spend a whole day screwing around in his silly car.
Seriously, how did people keep a straight face back then?
So, in the words of Mr. Strain:
Time well spent!
There you have it. Of course, Ice Cube is a bajillionare by now, so they're probably all good days.
Determining How Many Days Bill Murray Was Stuck in Groundhog Day
In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a weatherman named Phil Connors who gets stuck in a time loop and is forced to repeat the same day over and over. While it's impossible to calculate how many times this movie has played on cable, one blogger answered another just as important question: Exactly how much time did Phil spend stuck in the loop?
By our calculations ... one day.
We've pointed out before that, according to the original script, Phil spent 10,000 years repeating the same day, but a lot changed between that version and the finished movie. And the film skips over most of it in a montage, during which Murray's character masters a number of complex skills, taking advantage of all of the extra time.
So in order to determine how many days Phil actually repeats, blogger Wolf Gnards (we hope to dear Jesus that's his real name) started by counting the ones that are shown in the film -- the answer is 36, which frankly doesn't sound that bad. Oh, but we're just getting started. The blogger then took into account lines in the movie that suggest the passage of time. For example, at one point Phil tells Rita that he has been "stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned" -- of those, only the electrocution was shown on screen, so, assuming all the others didn't happen at the same time, that brings the minimum total to 42 days.
Not to mention all the time spent seducing the various women about town.
Gnards then took into account the skills Phil learns throughout the movie: throwing cards was six months (according to the dialogue), robbing a bank was probably a month, playing the piano takes at least three years, ice sculpting is about the same, and learning French probably took about two. Did Phil take on all of these one at a time? Probably, since ice sculpting is pretty difficult to master, and it's not like he's in any rush.
This brings the total amount of time Phil Connors was trapped in the time loop to an astonishing 3,176 days. Gnards summed up his findings in this chart:
The white space around the graph represents the days it took to figure this out.
The movie's director, Harold Ramis, actually commented on this theory, saying the estimate seemed too short and declaring that people like Gnards have "way too much time on their hands." Yeah, probably.
Charting Every Reference and Connection Between Stephen King Stories
Stephen King loves slipping references to his own work within his novels, because let's face it, if we had written as many books as he has, we probably wouldn't read anyone else's crap either. While other fans just smiled at the little in-jokes and kept reading, one blogger named Gillian decided to go through all of the tens of thousands of pages in King's books and detail how they connect to each other. The result is this monster:
Trust us, the full-size version isn't a whole lot clearer.
However, even if you've never read a Stephen King book, these connections have some interesting implications for movie fans, since King is probably the most adapted author ever after Shakespeare. For instance, his book Misery revolves around psychotic nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates in the movie), who at one point mentions the Overlook Hotel ... the same place where Jack Nicholson lost his shit in Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining.
"That's where I found this!"
Another character in The Shining is psychic chef Dick Hallorann, who also makes a cameo at the end of King's novel/TV miniseries It ... meaning that these characters exist in the same universe as Pennywise the clown. Of course, Pennywise is actually an alien being who simply takes the shape of a clown -- we see another shape in Dreamcatcher (that shitty movie with Morgan Freeman), where the same being possesses one of the characters.
Was this before or after he led Easy Company to victory?
Want more? Apt Pupil (adapted by Bryan Singer) stars a former Nazi named Kurt Dussander (Ian McKellen) whose past is discovered by a young neighbor. In the short story that The Shawshank Redemption is based on, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins' character in the movie), the genius banker who was wrongfully imprisoned, worked for Dussander. Another character in Shawshank mentions the city of Castle Rock, where several Stephen King stories take place ... including the one that was adapted into the movie Stand by Me (starring every '80s child actor).
"Hey, Kurt, I found another Nazi apprentice for you."
And so on. Thanks to Gillian's chart, we could probably do this all day. And because she's braver than any of us, she's now working on an updated version that includes King's Dark Tower books, too.
Where does Maximum Overdrive fit in here?
A Complex Analysis of the Physics in My Little Pony
So, apparently, some bros like watching ponies -- more specifically, the ones in the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. One of those "prothers," as we like to call them, is high school student Stephen Thomas (aka Beatledude64), who decided to express his fanaticism in one of the few forms we never would have seen coming: a completely logical and even compelling physics presentation.
Stephen named his academic study "Physical Impossibilities in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic," and the strangest part is that it actually makes sense. For starters, none of the "physical impossibilities" involve human/horse romance, which is what we're always afraid we're going to see when pony fandom is involved. It's more about the way the characters' powers work, or don't.
"Proof: I need a hobby."
In his 10-minute presentation, Stephen analyzes minute details like the angle of the mach cone generated by Rainbow Dash in executing her "sonic rainboom," concluding that she quickly accelerates to speeds of 1,635 meters per second (mach 4.8) and experiences 11.1 Gs, which should have caused blackouts and bodily organ failure. He also hypothesizes that to launch a fellow pony off a see-saw as far as she does, Applejack should have been composed of dark matter. His thoughtful analysis not only got him a perfect score on the project, but also got over a million views on YouTube and media coverage by respectable publications like the Los Angeles Times. Stephen was then invited to give a new presentation about the physics of My Little Pony at Equestria LA, a My Little Pony convention, where we can only assume it will be the subject of fierce and unsettling debate.
Meanwhile, video game website ScrewAttack! used Stephen's calculations in an animated death battle, pitting Rainbow Dash against Starscream of the Transformers and concluding that with the speed, maneuverability, and endurance attributed to her, this little girls' cartoon character would triumph over the embodiment of phallic warmongering.
In our version of the same fight, the pony ended up in the toilet and our sister told our mom.
Josh wants your Facebook love and for you to read his column This Ain't Amateur Hour at Man Cave Daily. Robert is a columnist for Freakin' Awesome Network and would like for you to follow him on Twitter. You can experience Drew's wit and gastrointestinal fortitude at The Impulsive Buy.
For more overzealous fans, check out The 5 Most Baffling Sex Scenes in the History of Fanfiction and 6 Insane Fan Theories That Actually Make Great Movies Better.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Innocent Ricin Suspect With the Supervillain Backstory.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover which of our super mans figured out what happened to Ross.
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