7 Beloved Characters That Were Shamefully Exploited
In the right context, even the silliest characters seem normal. A man in tights can have a fistfight with a scarecrow or a space alien can become best friends with a little boy, and it all makes a kind of sense within their worlds. But when you take them out of those worlds ... that's when things start to get weird.
For the most dramatic (that is, terrifying) examples, you need only to look at these utterly cringeworthy promotional appearances that someone signed off on:
The Star Wars Musical Crossover With Donny & Marie
If you think the Star Wars prequels ruined your childhood, check again -- Star Wars was trying to ruin that childhood almost immediately. Back in 1977, the Donny & Marie show did a Star Wars musical segment featuring the actual C-3PO, Anthony Daniels.
It also featured Daniels' intense sadness over his career trajectory.
He and R2D2 came on and performed what we refuse to describe in any other way than this: a Death-Star-like effort to destroy music itself:
In the extended segment, the Droids team up with Luke and Leia, who, in an accidental case of foreshadowing, are played by the original brother-and-sister team with awkward sexual chemistry: Donny and Marie Osmond. The bit opens with Donny and Marie launching into a disco song about how they're in trouble. To give you an idea of how true they were to the source material, Donny starts off, "Princess Leia, our goose is cooked unless we lift off of this star!"
"Which means we don't know what a star iiiiiiis!"
A Donny and Marie Star Wars has more squareness-per-second than a Mormon scrapbooking convention. It's almost like an educational scare film about whites. At least until Chewbacca comes out with Kris Kristofferson playing Han Solo.
"Man this decade just doesn't give a fuck! YEAAAHHH!"
Darth Vader even shows up to disapprovingly wag his finger at people, which is the Donny & Marie version of choking a man to death with The Force. They live in a world where violence becomes dance. To them, pure evil is a song in G minor.
"SHAME, SHAME COMMANDER. PRAY I DO NOT SHAME YOU FURTHER."
Of course the whole thing wouldn't be quite so awkward if it wasn't for the fact that these are all the real props and costumes. It's space madness set to disco, and it all seems to have the approved-by-Star-Wars stamp on it. It's obviously not an official military operation when the Stormtroopers strut in and perform The Temptations' "Get Ready," but the Empire seems okay with them doing it in their uniforms.
"Rebel scum! Behold our pulsating plastic dick baskets!"
It shouldn't have been possible, but R2D2 looks genuinely embarrassed.
"BWEEEP! FWOOO!!! FWO-- OK, that's enough! Stop! I did not suffer through a childhood of achondroplasia to sit in
a garbage can while sexless wood sprites twirl around me! R2D2 is not going to sit through another second of this BULLSHIT!"
Gene Roddenberry Talks To Spock's Dad About Vulcan Sex
In 1976, after the show was cancelled, Gene Roddenberry produced a behind-the-scenes LP about Star Trek. It was a collection of interviews with cast members, mainly about making the show. In most ways, it's exactly what you'd expect from a record called Inside Star Trek, especially if you thought about what it'd be like to have Star Trek all up inside you.
"You know, the Battlestar Galactica was telling me how great it can feel in the sensor array.
You want to try that tonight, NCC-1701?"
The highlight of the album, maybe of any album, is when Spock's dad, actor Mark Lenard, sits down with Gene Roddenberry. The interview is done entirely in character. Gene greets him as a space ambassador, then immediately -- immediately -- asks how he managed to have sex with a human woman. And it's as if Ambassador Sarek had been waiting his whole Vulcan life to hear the question. Find yourself some privacy and enjoy some of the finest erotica the stars have to offer:
If you're lucky, you already know this, but during a Vulcan sexual cycle, they undergo something called Pon Farr. It's a lustful blood frenzy where they need to mate or die. There's a loophole involving ritual combat, but we'll be here all day if we start sharing tips on getting into a Vulcan's pants. The point is that two guys had a theatrical discussion about space fucking 40 years ago, put it on a record, and it's hilarious.
Real quote: "And since it is known that we pay for our sexual repressions during these years with an almost
animal madness, this has aroused a prurient curiosity among humans."
Imagine a casual fan of the show buying this record to enjoy some Walter Koenig anecdotes about prop design and suddenly hearing an actor explain in a stilted Shakespearean accent that an Earth woman could not enjoy Vulcan lovemaking during Pon Farr, and "if she survived" she'd be "severely" injured, both physically and emotionally. Who could be prepared for such a boner?
And the sex interview keeps going. Just when you think that they may move on to a different topic, Sarek goes on to describe how human sex and Vulcan sex are similar, though "physical contour, mass, energy, and duration" vary. It's as if he deliberately chose the least descriptive words he could, yet you somehow feel like you're there, being physically and emotionally torn apart by his Pon Farr passions. This record should have come with a warning that Sarek's words will Pon Farr your fragile Earth uterus until it spills with half-Vulcan babies.
"My semen has been pressurizing for several of your planet's cycles. You must mate with me or ritually battle me. Ladies."
Batman Asks Children To Help Fund The Vietnam War
For the young people: War bonds are how America crowdsourced its wars before we started borrowing money from China. War bonds are like a Zack Braff movie Kickstarter, only more humane. And in 1966, when they were asking kids to invest in a war as ridiculous as the one in Vietnam, they found the perfect spokesman in Adam West's Batman.
Note: Robin wasn't anywhere to be found, presumably because he was already drafted and halfway to Saigon.
"Communists aren't afraid of bats, but they are terrified of your money, kids. Send it to me!"
In the tightest, most conspicuously rubber-like corner of the Batcave, Batman acts as the middleman for President Lyndon Johnson, awkwardly reciting from a cue card as if Scarecrow hit him with fear-of-reading gas. To Batman's credit, anyone reading a sentence asking children to fund the Vietnam war has to deal with their own brain screaming, "What are you readi- OHMYGOD stop! Stop doing this!"
"With a donation of $20 or more, we'll piss your name into the burning remains of their- hrk! Got to fight ... Mad Hatter's vile hypnosis!"
The biggest problem with the ad, aside from its very concept, is that the 1966-era Batman was so drenched in satire that it made the whole thing seem like anti-war propaganda. And even if you bought it and didn't think it was crazy for Batman to need your help, isn't he a billionaire with a weapons factory? How about you send Vietnam a bunch of your boomerangs and we leave the third graders' lunch money out of it, Batman?
Doc Brown Travels To Argentina, Things Get Weird
In 2011, an Argentinian electronics store created a series of truly bizarre ads with Christopher Lloyd in character as Doc Brown:
They begin with the DeLorean crashing into a Garbarino, the Radio Shack of Argentina, where Doc emerges to awkwardly pause over the course of what seems like 20 minutes. Apparently, attention spans and commercials last forever in South America, because Doc delivers his lines with the same urgency he'd use to digest a peanut.
"Great ... Scott!
... What were we doing again?
... Who are you?"
The commercials continue with clumsy short films where Doc does things like hold a press conference for future reporters:
They not only seem unimpressed with the concept of time travel, they seem to know him from the film Back To The Future, since they ask about his dog Einstein. The laws of science were shattered in front of these people's eyes, and they're asking the man responsible if he found a dog sitter? And wait, does that mean these stories technically take place in a world where time travel and these movies are real?
"Oh. Then I guess that means I also killed all those cartoons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
But no, it doesn't mean Bigfoot is real. You're thinking of John Lithgow. Next question."
The press conference is full of awkward pauses where Spanish-to-English translation and Lloyd's shaky understanding of what the hell is supposed to be happening create a word salad experience no one in any country can enjoy.
In one press conference, a reporter spends several minutes fanboying out, reciting half-remembered lines with worse-remembered English, and Lloyd is forced to stay in character through this abuse like a teenage girl in a Chuck E. Cheese costume or that teenage girl later at the strip club. At one point, he asks Doc to go back in time and tell his 13-year-old self that he won't lose his virginity until he's 20.
"You're speaking to a 73-year-old working actor reprising a legendary film role for a chain of retail stores.
Way to make this about you, dick."
There's no rhyme or reason to anything. It's as if Garbarino, which Christopher Lloyd always pronounces like someone trying out a racist impression for the first time, came up with the idea "SOMETHING WITH BACK TO THE FUTURE" and Christopher Lloyd agreed to everything, under any circumstances. He did one that was a Mother's-Day-themed ad, in which he showed up in the DeLorean with himself as a little kid in the passenger's seat.
You might be asking what the fuck is happening here. Well, Doc says he's bringing back his childhood self to make it the "best Mother's Day ever." Oh, that didn't answer your question? Well, he drops off his kid self with his mother, in the past, but possibly the future for the kid. She gives him a big hug and future Doc says "Isn't it beautiful?"
"Mr. Lloyd, before you take that dementia medicine, we'd like you to sign off on a few scripts."
It's not clear if he's talking about himself as a child, or the bag of electronics he is carrying. Then Doc looks at the camera and says "Very special ... very special ..." It really makes you wonder if senility and a time machine are the best combination.
"Here's a sack of future technology and a second version of your kid! Enjoy the quantum paradox!
Wait, why is another me pulling up? And another? Mom? Why are you me? What have you done, Garbarino!?"
If you think your brain and the spacetime continuum can take it, you can watch all the commercials smashed together below:
Regis Arouses Deep Space Nine's Quark While Kathie Lee Watches
To the confusion of middle-aged women across America, Quark, the Ferengi from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine appeared as a guest on Regis and Kathie Lee. It actually happened.
Though he's introduced simply as Quark, he answers a few "out of character" questions about the makeup, as if the hosts know he's a human actor in a costume. It's during the "in character" questions when things get weird.
"Yes, Earthers. I've penetrated both of you on the holodeck."
Regis, who seems genuinely confused about what the words on the cue cards might mean, asks Quark about women and money. The conversation quickly derails when Regis starts rubbing Quark's ear. If you're not a fan of Star Trek: Members of the Ferengi race have their clits on the side of their heads. The erotic practice of rubbing a Ferengi's ear is called Oo-mox, and it's vaguely comparable to a human footjob. And Regis Philbin just went in there finger-first without gloves.
"OH GOD, STOP! DON'T STOP! AARRGH! REGIS PHILBIN WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MMHHHKK! HHUHHHHFF!!! Mmmmm ..."
Understandably, but maybe inappropriately for a morning chat show, Quark starts panting. He is way, way into it. Regis responds "Easy does it," as if he's not the man fingerbanging a space monster on national TV. And when Quark finally explains his ears are erogenous zones and they almost got to third base, Regis' response is, "I gotcha." Which seems like a strange thing to say when you find out you've been accidentally rubbing an alien on the dick in front of American families.
"Quark, on our planet, it's customary to ... *ahem* return the favor."
A clip of the interview was recently scrubbed from YouTube, which is too bad, because it single-handedly boosted extraterrestrial tourism by 320 percent.
Creepy E.T. Helps A Boy Cheat At The Special Olympics
In this promo spot for the Special Olympics, E.T. is hiding in the bushes by an athletic track. He pulls back the foliage the only way he does anything (slowly and creepily) and sees a young boy and his coach practicing.
"Yeah. You jump that stick, little boy. Hsss ..."
E.T. secretly watches the boy practice the high jump and fail, over and over and over. It's a never-ending montage of failure, and it's hard to tell what E.T. is feeling. His space tortoise expression hides whether this is sad, hilarious, or erotic for him. But one thing is certain: This boy fell a lot:
If the producers of this commercial used every single take, it's still the equivalent of falling down several thousand flights of stairs.
"Cut! Great fall! Alright, reset the stick and let's get 2,700 more just like that. God, I love helping kids!"
You're probably wondering why anyone would be making fun of a commercial for Special Olympians learning how to jump with the power of determination and hard work. And if this commercial had anything to do with that, we'd agree. But listen to what happens during the day of the big match. The kid, whom they have shown can absolutely not jump over this freaking stick, is getting set to make his attempt. But what's this lurking nearby? A pair of pantyhose filled with elbow skin? No, it's E.T.!
This is what makes every unexplained noise at night, kids.
As the boy approaches the bar to a swelling of the E.T. theme music, E.T. uses his telekinetic powers to launch him over it! For the first time in his life, the boy makes the jump!
"What the shit!? GHOSTS! GHOSTS!!!"
That's right; E.T. used his space magic to help a kid cheat at the Special Olympics. Was it some kind of cultural misunderstanding? Maybe he comes from a planet where the handicapped children are the equipment, not the participants. But no, he watched this kid for weeks. E.T. is probably more of an expert on the Special Olympics high jump than any living being in the galaxy. He knew exactly what he was doing. But why? Goddammit, why!?
We may never know. This slimy Muppet has the ability to cure ailments with his finger, and the first time he meets a handicapped boy, he stalks him for a month and throws him into a high jump pit. That's not inspirational. That's criminally insane.
The Ninja Turtles Talk Bestiality On Oprah
We've talked before about the abject horror that was the Ninja Turtles Coming Out of Their Shells Tour. It was a musical stage show so indescribably terrible that the CDC declared it a Category A cultural disease. It featured the Turtles in jean jackets, lip-syncing and pretending to keytar songs you wouldn't play for your worst prisoner. Every child who saw it left to travel the globe, acquiring the training they needed to avenge music's death. And even more strange than the show tour itself was the Turtles' appearance on Oprah to promote it.
"First off, how the hell does something like this happen?"
Most of the interview was as pointless and stupid as you'd expect ...
... but it became especially awkward when Oprah asked the Turtles if they ever wished April O'Neil was a turtle. They all ravenously said yes, and Raph chimed in that he'd been trying to talk April into an "interspecies relationship" for months. He then added how the "biggest problem" is that she can't hold her breath long enough -- which is either a turtle joke, a blowjob joke, or both.
"Also, when my phallus is doubled up on itself inside my cloaca, it gets a little briny for human tastes. And this isn't bragging,
but at our size, our turtle penis retractor muscles can rip a non-tortoise pelvis in half. Next question?"
Nothing sums up the program like the confused, horror-stricken expressions of the children in the audience.
Actually, that girl seems kind of into it.
Maybe to change the subject from mutant turtles defiling her, April informs everybody that the reason kids like the Turtles is that they're not black or white -- they're green. It's the kind of infantile understanding of race relations you'd expect from a white person, but taken to the next level. This idiot may legitimately have cerebral hypoxia from all those half-finished underwater blowjobs.
"I don't like to call myself a civil rights hero, but we did make the turtles green, and that ended racism."
It's hard to get stupider than a turtle-sucking bimbo explaining how certain colors aren't other colors, but they came pretty close when Shredder burst in and mildly scolded everyone. And while the Turtles wear painstakingly articulated animatronic muscle suits, Shredder looks like a cheese grater at his junior prom.
"This is who I am, dad!"
A terrifying battle never happens; the audience simply banishes Shredder by booing at him. When the barrage of ridiculous nonsense finally comes to an end, Oprah, the Turtles, and a bunch of kids whose heroes are definitely not the Ninja Turtles anymore close the show with a dance party. Oprah shows herself to be impressively spry, but it's hard to say if all her cardio work will be enough to satisfy Raphael at the after party.
"How you livin', girl? You got nice lungs on you for a mammal."
For more bastardizations of beloved characters, check out 6 Appearances by Iconic Characters That Ruin Your Childhood and 5 Childhood-Ruining Appearances from Famous Characters.
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