A new story about celebrities using their fame for some nightmarish purpose comes up, oh, every month or so. In times like these, it's good to remind ourselves that humans don't automatically use their fame and fortune to diabolical ends, so let's cheer ourselves up with a few positive examples, shall we?
Chris Jackson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
When Colin Farrell was in Toronto filming A Home At The End Of The World, which we haven't watched but did read the Wikipedia plot summary so we can fake it if we ever meet him, he spotted a homeless man smoking outside a restaurant. Naturally, Farrell decided to bum a cigarette. They chatted for a bit, although the man had no idea who Farrell was because homeless shelters tend to have shitty DVD collections.
Not that it mattered -- Farrell's handsome enough that you'd take up smoking just to have the honor of bumming him one.
The man, who went by the bizarre but kind-of-cool name of Stress, began opening up about his struggles with depression and alcoholism. When they were done, Farrell promised to stay in touch, a promise that we assumed sounded about as empty as our promise to have coffee with the old elementary school friend we ran into at the mall.
However, a few days later, a local radio station was offering listeners $2,000 if they could bring Farrell to them for an interview (and presumably not under duress). When Farrell heard about the offer, he started scouring the streets in his limousine until he found Stress. Stress might have been under the reasonable impression that this rich man was going to hunt him for sport, but instead Farrell took him to the radio station under the guise that Stress had actually convinced him to come. Stress was $2,000 richer, and when Farrell again promised to stay in touch, it now sounded pretty damn legitimate.
Colin Farrell spell checks his texts. Don't you want to be like Colin Farrell, everyone on Earth?
When Farrell returned to Toronto four years later, he took it upon himself to end Stress' homelessness. First he took him on a shopping spree for clothes and a few other essentials, and then he gave him some rent money. Stress joined an addiction recovery group, started exercising at the Y, and today is a sober man with a sturdy roof over his head who goes by his real name, David Woods. David described his life as "hopeless" before Farrell gave him a helping hand, which makes us feel kinda shitty for cracking all those jokes about how terrible he was in Daredevil.
Pictured: David, counting the number of ways Daredevil sucked.
OK, phew, we're over the guilt.
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images News/Getty Images
There are plenty of resources out there for suicidal people to reach out for help. If a friend chose to forgo all of them in favor of calling into a wacky morning radio show, you'd assume it meant they'd truly given up on life. Especially if the guy on the other end of the call was "shock jock" Howard Stern, who spent the '90s doing things like having contests in which listeners came to the studio and ate carrots out of crew members' asses. Yet, in December of 1994, Stern convinced a man to step down from the edge of a New York City bridge, and he did it live.
Emilio Bonilla had parked his car on the bridge, walked to the railing, and called into Stern's radio show on what we can only assume was a hilariously gigantic '90s cell phone.
"It was the only thing weighing me down from the high-speed bridge winds."
Initially Stern thought the man was joking about his suicidal intentions. To verify the call, Stern asked listeners on the bridge to honk their horns. He heard one in the background, so the man was either telling the truth or at least being an irresponsible pedestrian.
Now fully aware of the seriousness of the situation, Stern busted out every trick in the book to keep the man talking instead of jumping. He encouraged Bonilla to find a hobby that would get him "tuned into anything in life," reminded him that life is sometimes challenging, and, uh, told him that if he killed himself, he'd never get the chance to see Stern's movie, Private Parts.
"You see, the title is a euphemism for dicks. It's going to be hilarious."
While Stern and Bonilla continued to talk, one of Stern's listeners stopped her car, approached Bonilla, and gave him a bear hug, which is possibly the most adorable thing we've ever read. While Stern and his fan were playing good cop / profane cop, another listener happened to be an actual cop, who expedited a police response.
The only other time you'll see this many Stern newspaper clippings is MTV Cribs: Robin Quivers' Basement Shrine Edition.
Bonilla was taken to the hospital, and just a few days later, he was out and visiting the studio to thank Stern, who had milked the incident for every bit of promotion it was worth. And honestly, for turning a man threatening to kill himself into a situation where he could crack jokes about the aftermath, he earned it.
Not that Stern was the first ...
1981 was Muhammad Ali's last year as a professional boxer. He'd rumbled in the jungle, thrilla'd in Manila, and even fought a Japanese wrestler. But, much like the Rocky movies he inspired, there was time to fit in one more unbelievable twist.
In mid-January, a 21-year-old man was threatening to jump from the ninth floor of a Los Angeles building (it was the tallest building in the city at the time). Police tried to talk him down, but to no avail. A psychologist tried his hand, but he didn't get anywhere either. Possibly suspecting demonic possession, a police chaplain was called, but he struck out too. They were probably desperately looking up the number of the nearest rabbi when Ali's aide spotted the commotion and was all, "Hey, my boss is across the street, you want him to handle this shit?" Or, you know, something to that effect.
The police were torn between wanting to discourage future suicidal people from demanding to see celebrities, and the fact that Muhammad Goddamn Ali wanted to help them, and the latter obviously won out. Ali popped his head out the window and said, "You're my brother. I love you and I wouldn't lie to you. You got to listen. I want you to come home with me, meet some friends of mine," which is the greatest thing Ali could say to you short of, "Hey, do you have any bullies you'd like me to beat up?"
"Can you send the psychologist back? I'm hallucinating that Muhammad Ali's up here."
After a half-hour conversation that included the shocked man saying "It's really you!" Ali got him inside, downstairs, and to a hospital, where he vanished into the mists of time. Ali commented that the man was depressed because he couldn't find a job and wasn't getting along with his family, so Ali promised to help him find work. Presumably this was accomplished by giving the man a resume that simply read "References: Muhammad Ali" and marching him into the nearest office.
The Grateful Dead had a long and storied career that was largely overshadowed by the fact that an ice cream flavor was named after lead singer Jerry Garcia. But the band remains beloved by potheads across America as well as, inexplicably, the people of Lithuania.
To explain, we need to go back to 1992, the Year Of The Pog. The Summer Olympics rolled around right as the credits for the Cold War were running, and while the collapse of communism was generally something you'd chalk up in the "plus" column, countries that had once found themselves behind the Iron Curtain were flat broke. Funding Olympic teams became a secondary concern to keeping power plants and hospitals running, and it looked like the newly liberated Lithuanians wouldn't be able to play Olympic basketball.
Lithuanian Basketball Federation
Those pillars might as well have been Stalin's middle finger, three times over.
This was a problem, because basketball is Lithuania's ridiculously popular national sport. This was their first chance to compete as an independent nation -- they wanted to shoot hoops for freedom, goddammit! So Lithuanian player Sarunas Marciulionis, who played for the Golden State Warriors, came up with the idea of soliciting the international community for help. Many donors answered the call, but chief among them were, for reasons that are given a tragically inadequate explanation by history books, the Grateful Dead.
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
"We'll give you whatever; just put on some pants."
The aging '60s stalwarts sent them both a fat check and a load of custom-designed tie-dye jerseys that featured a skeleton dunking a basketball. They were ridiculous but awesome, and they were a welcome change from the drab greys of the Soviet era. While the players weren't allowed to wear them during games because blinding your opponents is considered an unfair advantage, they wore them pretty much everywhere else, including practice and in bed.
Lionsgate / The Film Arcade
Deadheads though they were, they had absolutely no use for "Touch Of Grey."
If you were expecting Lithuania's Olympic journey to take the form of a cheesy inspirational movie, well, you'd be right. The team fought their way to a bronze medal, at one point winning a massive upset against their former Russian overlords. The freaking president of the country joined them in the locker room to sing the national anthem, after which the team doused him with champagne, forcing him to gamely leave in one of their tie-dye outfits like he was ready to take the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Try to picture Obama wearing those duds, to get a sense of just how absurd the scenario was.
Some of their uniforms were then sold to raise money for Lithuanian children's charities, and the team continued their partnership with the Dead in the 1996 Olympics. Man, that shatters so many stoner stereotypes, we don't even know where to begin.
Although it does prove a couple others.
The awesomely named Didier Drogba is a soccer player from the Ivory Coast. Considered one of the best players to ever strap on whatever it is they play soccer with, Drogba's impressive sporting career is still secondary to his career as a human being.
In his home country, Drogba enjoys the combined popularity of Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson at their respective peaks. Unfortunately, in 2002, while the worst thing happening in our lives was a sudden influx of Linkin Park anime music videos, Ivory Coast was spiraling into civil war. The worst was over by 2004, but sporadic violence continued and tensions were high. Drogba wanted to help, but he was an athlete living in another country. That doesn't exactly scream high-level diplomatic power. He didn't even have any shield-wearing captains or armored flying billionaires to call on. What could he do to end a civil war, just politely ask everyone to put their guns down?
RTI Sport TV
"Seriously, guys, not cool."
Well, yeah, that's exactly what he did. In 2006, Ivory Coast's national soccer team qualified for their first World Cup. Drogba and his teammates then went on television and pleaded for his countrymen to put aside their differences so they could enjoy some good old-fashioned football. Within a week, a truce had been established, because cheering on your country is a lot more fun than shooting at your fellow citizens.
The Ivorian team kept up their diplomatic work when, in 2007, they played a game in a rebel stronghold. Leaders and soldiers from both sides were invited, making it the first time in five years that opposing troops had met peacefully. The Ivorians won the game in a rout, although how shitty would Madagascar had felt if they had won and restarted the war?
Austin Merrill/Vanity Fair
Drogba had to be rushed off the field by soldiers so he could go rescue a cat that was stuck in a tree.
Not long after the game, a peace treaty was signed and the war ended. Drogba was able to secure his homeland several years of peace and optimism just by asking nicely. Meanwhile, Tom Brady still hasn't solved America's gun crisis. Come on, man.
Scott E. Baird can be found rooting for team White Walkers on Twitter at ScottEBaird. When E.M. Caris isn't writing for Cracked, he's trying to write for somewhere else. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Raoni is the Brazilian Sub-Zero, and you can challenge him to Mortal Kombat here.
Did that warm the cockles of your heart? Then read 5 Heartwarming Stories to Restore Your Faith in Celebrities and learn about how Tom Cruise is an actual superhero. Or check out 6 True Stories That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity to keep the good vibes going.
Also follow us on Facebook and just smile because smiling is fun.