6 Secret F-Yous Lurking In Famous Pop Culture
Creative types can be petty, and they tend to not be shy about taking their grievances public. That's why it's so common to find that creators have used their work to take thinly veiled shots at their enemies, even in cases where said enemies are their employers. For example ...
The Fantastic Four Cartoon Was So Bad The Comics Mocked It
Hey, remember that terrible adaptation of Fantastic Four? Sorry, we should be more specific. Remember that terrible adaptation of Fantastic Four from the '90s? Shit, that still doesn't narrow it down. OK, remember that terrible Fantastic Four cartoon that aired as part of the generically named Marvel Action Hour? If you don't, consider yourself lucky. It was bad. Really bad. "We half-suspect whatever God-forsaken sweatshop it was animated in also wrote and acted in it" bad. Even just listening to the intro music they stole from an '80s jazzercise video makes it clear how dumb it was.
The "Screw You":
Don't just take our word on its lack of quality -- Tom DeFalco thought it sucked, too. Don't recognize the name? He's one of the most influential comic book writers you've never heard of. He was even one of Marvel's longest serving editors-in-chief, a position we're told is important. He was writing Fantastic Four comics when the cartoon was on the air, and like everyone else over the age of 3, he thought it was the animated equivalent of a raccoon bite to the genitals. But you can't diss a show based on your own franchise, can you?
Well, not out loud. You can, however, have Ant-Man react in mock horror at the show's quality before laughing at The Thing as he turns away in shame.
Instead of quietly fuming and pouring himself a bottle of Jack every night like a good employee, DeFalco had Ant-Man stage an emergency to summon The Thing just so he could mock what a shoddy cash grab the cartoon was in the pages of the comic it was making money for. Look at Ant-Man's face in the bottom panels. Actual trolls that live under bridges and harass goats could learn a thing or two from him.
And speaking of biting the hand that feeds you ...
The Creator Of Invader Zim "Tortures" His Own Network
Jhonen Vasquez is best known as the creator of Invader Zim, a show about an alien incompetently trying to conquer the Earth that's beloved by hyperactive 13 year olds. Before that, he created the cult comic Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, which is pretty much exactly what you'd expect it to be.
Nickelodeon wanted Zim to target a slightly older audience, but presumably didn't familiarize themselves with Vasquez's work beyond "he does cartoons" and therefore failed to realize he would interpret that request slightly differently than them. To be fair, the show did feature people's eyes getting burned out, someone being killed via Looper-esque time travel and a demon made of ham, among much other insanity. But Vasquez still called working with Nickelodeon "absolute misery," "horrible," and "hell," and mocked the network for not getting the chaste show they wanted while having unrealistic expectations about working with him. Needless to say, he hasn't become a staple at the network.
The "Screw You":
To really stick it to the company that gave him his own television show and lots of money, Vasquez created a character named Nick. Nick wore an orange shirt with his own name on it, which happened to look exactly like Nickelodeon's logo.
Nick is used as a test subject by Zim to investigate human "happiness centers." Thanks to the giant probe shoved into his brain, Nick maintains a cheery smile no matter what suffering is inflicted on him.
That's how Vasquez saw Nickelodeon -- always wanting to be happy and upbeat no matter what, as if the critical thinking part of their brains had been hijacked. If Vasquez had been given total creative control, Nick would have presumably been publicly decapitated with a rusty chainsaw and then had his body crucified in the town square as a warning.
The Creator Of The Wire Skewers Journalists He Worked With
You know The Wire as either the greatest show ever made or that show your pretentious friends haven't shut up about for the past decade. It's about police, drug dealers, the media, and pretty much everything else that exists in Baltimore. Series creator David Simon used to be a crime journalist in the city and much of the show was based on what he observed during that time, which means there's an alternate universe where Simon covered the sports desk and HBO went bankrupt after a failed drama about how much the Orioles suck.
But this also means Simon's observations included corruption at his own office. While working at the Baltimore Sun he held a grudge against two editors who, according to him, protected journalists who made shit up. He called them out on it online, but he didn't have nearly the audience that he did when The Wire was on the air. So he decided to bring it up again.
The "Screw You":
First, Simon created a corrupt cop named Marimow, after the more heinous of the two editors, William Marimow. But that was just a prelude to the fifth and final season of the show, where Simon didn't so much burn his bridges as order the entire city the bridges were in to be scorched from the face of the Earth.
Large parts of the season are dedicated to examining the workings of a Baltimore newspaper, and those "workings" function about as well as a jet engine that has just inhaled an elk that wandered onto the runway. The paper fails to cover huge stories, chases sensationalism in the name of profit, and outright falls for easily disproven bullshit.
In particular, a detective invents a serial killer to secure funding for an investigation, and bombastic reporter Scott Templeton claims to have made contact with the killer he doesn't realize is fictional. His stories get more and more sensational, and the only reporter who calls him out on his bullshit, Gus Haynes, is constantly overruled by his superiors. Templeton eventually wins a Pulitzer for his nonsense, while Haynes is demoted for insisting on an adherence to facts.
The reporter was apparently based on Jim Haner of the Baltimore Sun, who Simon insisted was fabricating stories and quotes. Meanwhile, a copy editor (the guy whom checks to make sure your using words write) who's terrible at his job, Jay Spry, was based on a real copy editor named, uh, Jay Spry, who used to give Simon grief. The guy wasn't exactly subtle in his insults, is what we're saying.
One of Marimow's other real-life co-workers called the depiction "psychotic," and it does seem a little cold to shit all over a dude who once nominated you for a Pulitzer, as Marimow did for Simon. Thankfully, newspapers became completely irrelevant shortly after The Wire ended, so this can all be looked back on as a historical curiosity.
Biff Tannen Is Based On A Producer Who Was "Aggressive" Toward Robert Zemeckis
Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale are the creators of a number of beloved films, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and one of the few franchises that was actually deserving of a trilogy, Back to the Future. But before they created the property that single-handedly keeps Cracked in business, they were working on I Wanna Hold Your Hand, a movie about Beatlemania.
Studio executive Ned Tanen ... didn't want to hold their hand? He didn't seem to like their work very much, because during a meeting he "behaved aggressively" towards Zemeckis and Gale. You can interpret that Hollywood euphemism for yourself.
The "Screw You":
So, what famous movie character does the name Tanen remind you of? On the off chance you've recently suffered a massive head trauma, every single Back to the Future movie features members of the local asshole dynasty, the Tannens, doing their best to ruin the McFlys. Whether it's bully Marty ...
... bully Marty's dad in the past ...
... bully Marty's dad in the future ...
... turn the town into a dystopia ...
... threaten to murder Marty ...
... attempt to murder Marty ...
... or attempt to rape Marty's mom ...
... the Tannen men are portrayed with about as many redeeming traits as Jeffrey Dahmer. And when they're not attempting to commit a grievous sin, they're getting covered in shit.
All it took was one bad meeting for Ned Tanen to be immortalized as an infamous sexist, cheating, lying, raping criminal asshole. Jesus, is Judge Doom a guy who cut them off in traffic?
DodgeBall Makes Fun Of Its Forced Ending
DodgeBall, a movie you probably forgot you watched because you were stoned or drunk at the time, follows a ragtag group of losers who try to save their gym from being bought out by Ben Stiller by competing in a dodgeball tournament. The film ends with, as you can guess from the previous sentence, the good guys winning. The gym is saved, no fewer than three characters get various girls, Stiller's character loses his job, and your friends ensure that you forget 99 percent of the movie by quoting "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball" endlessly.
You've also probably forgotten that the movie's full title is DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, and that's what Rawson Marshall Thurber, director and winner of America's Best Name five years running, wanted it to be. It was supposed to end with the Joes losing the final match in a hilariously anti-climactic letdown. You know, a "true" underdog story, as in, "This is what really happens to underdogs." That was supposed to be the whole central joke. But, to no one's surprise, studio executives nixed that finale.
The "Screw You":
When the money Vince Vaughn wins that allows him to buy Stiller's company is brought out, the box has an interesting label on it.
For those of you who didn't get beat up in high school, a deus ex machina is a ridiculous plot device that swoops in from out of nowhere to save the day in thoroughly unbelievable fashion (like when the Eagles rescue Frodo and Sam at the end of The Lord of the Rings despite refusing to help earlier, or when Yahoo! saved Community). Thurber basically slapped a big "I think this is dumb" sign on the studio-enforced story.
Then, deciding that a blink and you'll miss it literary reference wasn't enough, Thurber filled the end credits with Stiller's character ranting about forced happy endings that don't make audiences think.
Though to be fair, it could be argued that a Vince Vaughn slapstick comedy about dodgeball wasn't the best medium in which to convey a stark lesson about the cruel nature of reality.
Other Marvel Writers Make It Clear They Hated Civil War
WARNING: May contain spoilers for Captain America: Civil War, coming in 2016 to every single theater within 3,000 miles of where you're sitting.
Despite Marvel having the common sense to make movies out of surefire hits like Howard Hughes with guns and a raccoon hanging out in space with his talking tree sidekick, sometimes they chose to adapt a comic that's less popular. The upcoming Civil War movies are based on a series that we're going to generously call contentious.
Written by Mark Millar (the creator of Kick-Ass, Wanted, Kingsman, and 15,000 upcoming movies), Civil War was a huge event that drew in pretty much every Marvel character on the books, even if their writers didn't want them to be associated with a comic where Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic become fascists, the goofy Speedball turns into the gloomy Penance and Captain America gets shot in the head.
It would take far too long to summarize the whole thing, but basically it was a very dark, depressing seven-issue series in which the public turns against superheroes after an ugly incident in which several said heroes (including the lighthearted character Speedball) do battle with a supervillain that results in the deaths of 600 bystanders, including 60 children in a destroyed elementary school. So, yeah, it was a bit divisive.
The "Screw You":
Here's Speedball making out with Squirrel Girl before Civil War:
And here he is in Civil War as Penance, whose suit is full of blades designed to cause him constant pain in ... repentance for failing to stop the lethal explosion that killed all those kids:
Dan Slott, the writer of that cute kiss, didn't much care for a teenager that was a fun-loving ball of energy named after a lethal drug getting slapped with the responsibility for dozens of deaths and turned into the poster child for Hot Topic. So, after Civil War, he wrote a scene where Squirrel Girl tries to convince him that it wasn't his fault ... and in the process talks through all of the many ways the whole Civil War storyline made no goddamned sense.
Between Penance struggling to hear through his helmet, the introduction of P-Cat, the Penitent Puss and Squirrel Girl coming right out and saying "You shouldn't be dark," it's not hard to read between the lines. She points out that the explosion was caused by a villain and that the Avengers destroy a city every Wednesday, but it's too late for Penance, who proceeds to bash his head into a wall while talking about how deep he is now. It's the most scathing indictment you can get of mistaking dark and edgy for thoughtful while having it come out of the mouth of a girl who's half-squirrel.
Warren Ellis, meanwhile, did a tongue-in-cheek cover of his comic Nextwave proudly proclaiming that it had nothing to do with Civil War, complete with a picture of protesting fans insisting that Mark Millar licks goats. Hey, do you think that guy's arm might be blocking another letter?
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