6 'FUN FACTS' About Movies That Are Extremely Not Facts
We all know that one guy who loves to share pop culture trivia that obviously isn't true, like "Did you know that the Yoda puppet in Empire Strikes Back was made entirely out of used condoms?" or "There are 666 balloons lifting the house in Up because Pixar worships Satan!" But the following pieces of trivia have been repeated so often that they've all been accepted as fact, even though they're just as stupid.
Myth: Disney Fills Their Movies With Subliminal Sexual Innuendo
Click on any article (or, more likely, slideshow) about movie secrets, and you'll quickly learn that classic Disney films were made by shameless sex fiends who filled them with hidden dirty jokes. Or maybe you've seen one of the 12,000 badly edited YouTube videos that call out these perverted Easter eggs.
The controversy dates back to at least 1995, when the American Life League pushed for a boycott of Disney over their supposed subliminal adult content. Among the most frequently cited violations are the wedding scene in The Little Mermaid, in which the priest looks a little too excited to be performing the ceremony ...
... as well as the movie's cover art, which features an underwater palace built entirely out of erect penises.
We can't show you King Triton's original trident design.
In The Lion King, Simba stirs up a puff of dust that spells "SEX" in the sky ...
Appropriate for the only Disney film featuring full penetration.
... and in Aladdin, the title character supposedly tells teenagers to take off their clothes.
Even The Rescuers features a scene wherein they whiz past a photo of a naked lady in the background. And of course, we all know that the sequel's title is a reference to "Rescuing Down Under," a common euphemism for oral sex.
Did we make that last one up? Decide for yourself!
Jeez, it's no wonder every child is obsessed with Disney.
The Huffington Post interviewed former Disney animator Tom Sito, who worked on all of these movies, to get to the bottom of this sexual subterfuge. Unfortunately for anyone constructing an elaborate chart with red string in their basement that points to Walt Disney conspiring to sew seeds of depravity in our youth, there are mundane, decidedly unsexy explanations every time.
For starters, Sito was the guy who drew the priest in The Little Mermaid, and the seeming crotch-bulge is explained away when you view him from literally any other angle.
Although packing that much heat would have explained the slouch.
As for the penis tower, the artist was rushed and hadn't noticed that he'd drawn a grand undersea tribute to boners, which sounds like a lazy copout until you consider that the castle was already pretty phallic -- as many, many objects are.
Sometimes, we can't see the penis for the penis.
The Lion King scene is an Easter egg, but it's supposed to say "SFX." It was inserted by Disney's special effects team, and good penmanship apparently isn't their strong point. Aladdin telling teens to strip comes down to bad audio. He is in fact saying "Good tiger, take off, go," but it sounds dirtier when you're told in advance to listen for something else, especially if you're a bored teenager or a hand-wringing, possibly repressed moral crusader.
As for the naked lady in in The Rescuers, that's nothing but a case of ... hold on, no, that one really happened. To this day, Disney has no idea where the offending picture came from, which means that somewhere out there is an old animator who's still laughing his ass off about how he was able to sneak some boobs into a Disney cartoon.
Myth: A Stuntman's Death Was Kept In The Final Cut Of Ben-Hur
1959's Ben-Hur has stood the test of time as one of the most epic movies ever made. If nothing else, it definitely has one of the all-time great action sequences:
Holy shit, did you see that guy get trampled? Yeah, that chariot race scene is so over the top that it's frequently said that a stunt double died during shooting, and the filmmakers decided to leave the footage in, because the 1950s didn't give a shit.
There's a solid source here, too. The story comes straight from the biography of stuntman Nosher Powell. ("We had a stunt man killed in the third week, and it happened right in front of me. You saw it, too, because the cameras kept turning and it's in the movie.") So you're seeing an actual human fatality during that thrilling sequence, all in the name of cinematic realism! Are you not entertained?
Look at those cold, dead hands.
No one died during the making of Ben-Hur. Charlton Heston's stunt double did get a gash on his chin, but thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, chin injuries are rarely fatal. Aside from Mr. Powell trying to spice up his bio, film historians seem to agree that the rumor spread because people were getting the movie confused with the 1925 version. Oh, you didn't know that there was a 1925 version? Yeah, it was a remake of the 1907 original. Which was based on a book from 1880. Hollywood's obsession with remakes is not new, kids.
It's just newly horrible.
1920s Hollywood was a lot looser on both safety standards and record-keeping, but it's generally agreed that there was one fatality when a chariot wheel broke and the driver was thrown into a pile of lumber. The story of some poor stuntman's death persisted right up until the 1959 version swept into theaters and won almost every Oscar they had a category for. So naturally, that became the movie everyone pictured whenever they heard "Ben-Hur."
So generations of movie enthusiasts have giddily but inaccurately pointed at the chariot scene and said to their friends, "You totally watched some poor asshole die, isn't that cool?!"
Myth: Anthony Hopkins Never Blinks In The Silence Of The Lambs
Anthony Hopkins is one of the greatest actors of our age, thanks in no small part to his most famous on-screen character: Thor's Dad, Mr. Thor. But today we're going to talk about this character:
Spoiler for Hearts In Atlantis.
Hopkin's chilling portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs earned him an Oscar for Best Actor and a solid decade of people giving him a wide berth at the supermarket. It's no wonder his role was so unnerving -- according to a popular piece of trivia, he was so committed to creeping us out that he doesn't blink a single time in the entire film.
Wow, that's not even close to true.
His eyelids are the MOST active part of his face.
This is the kind of rumor that could easily be tested by, you know, watching the movie. But people see a factoid, perhaps stated authoritatively by Morpheus or a Minion, and think "Yeah, that sounds about right," before continuing to browse Facebook and getting distracted by kittens before their brains can truly process it. But he blinks. He blinks all the damn time. He blinks like a man who's trying to fight back tears caused by his disappointment at only finishing second at the World Blinking Championships.
It's unclear where this rumor came from, though it doesn't help that Hopkins freaking "confirmed" it in an interview. But to be fair, that was years after Silence came out, and it's distinctly possible that when it was brought up, he thought to himself, "Yeah, that sounds like something I would do. Man, I kick so much ass at acting."
Myth: Donald Duck Is Banned In Finland Because He Doesn't Wear Pants
Americans love a good story about absurd foreign laws, because it reaffirms our suspicions that when it comes to freedom, the rest of the world might as well be North Korea. So when we hear about Iran banning Pokemon Go or Singapore banning chewing gum, we laugh heartily while firing two guns in the air. And we fired them with extra glee when we heard that Finland made the ridiculous decision to ban Donald Duck because -- get this -- he doesn't wear pants!
He's a bad influence! He leads to Donaldkacsazas!
Hell, we've got another tab open right now with a GIF of Sonic the Hedgehog banging Princess Bubblegum and using SpongeBob SquarePants to clean up afterward. Our forefathers died for that, dammit!
Look, there's nothing about Donald Duck's wardrobe that makes sense. Why does he cover his crotch when he loses his shirt? He's the weird one.
Or maybe he's using his elbows to shield his duck tits.
But he's never been banned in Finland, or anywhere else, for waving his nonexistent junk around. American media simply picked up on a "hilarious" weird story about prudish foreigners from a big game of telephone.
The mundane truth is that Helsinki was looking to make budget cuts in 1977, and decided to cancel its subscription of Donald Duck comics for youth centers. That's a story that normally wouldn't even make the local paper, let alone international news. But when the politician who proposed the idea stood for reelection, his opponents, desperate to dig up any kind of dirt, made a big deal out of how he wanted to kill fun by depriving children of Donald Duck. The story was that Donald was too "lowbrow" for the prudish politician, and international newspapers interpreted this as "Finnish politicians ban Donald Duck for not wearing pants!"
Now feel free to misinterpret the story as "Finland is cool with nudity in kids media."
Of course, nobody bothered to notice that Donald's mush-mouthed shenanigans were being enjoyed perfectly well by children throughout Helsinki, though not on the government's dime. Nobody was ever concerned about his lack of Underoos. Maybe the story should have been "Finnish politicians are so much better than ours that this is the sole complaint people can make about them."
And speaking of "wacky dumb foreigner" urban legends ...
Myth: A Japanese Woman Died Looking For The Fargo Money
Fargo starts with a disclaimer that it's based on a true story -- which is a complete lie, because it's against both Minnesotan and North Dakotan law for anything interesting to happen. But there's a widespread story about a Japanese woman who was so convinced that Fargo was real that she caught a plane to America and went looking for the case full of money that Steve Buscemi's character leaves buried in the middle of nowhere, only to freeze to death in her search.
If the headline ends in a question mark, it must be true.
Ha! The Japanese clearly aren't savvy enough to realize that if the filmmakers knew the exact location of the treasure in order to accurately recreate it being buried on film, they'd have dug up that shit themselves.
There was indeed a Japanese woman, Takako Konishi, who traveled to Fargo in 2001 and was then found dead. You might notice that none of that has anything to do with the movie. But when Konishi turned up in a North Dakota police station asking for directions to Fargo, people assumed she was referring to the film, because why would a Japanese woman who didn't speak any English come looking for a Midwest town that's whiter than a Tim McGraw concert, unless she had learned about it from pop culture?
The misconception was made worse by her carrying a crude, hand-drawn map, which the people she met interpreted as a treasure map -- rather than, you know, a map to the place she kept saying the name of. Hey, she was foreign, pirates are foreign, it was all falling into place.
Now we only need to blame someone's death on watching the movie based on the urban legend for a complete bullshit ouroboros.
After Konishi was found dead in the snow outside of a small town, the story that everyone latched onto was that she had died in search of the mythical Fargo money, being too foreign and stupid to understand that the movie was fiction. But eventually, someone decided to do some research and discovered that Konishi had mailed her parents a suicide note, and her landlord in Japan confirmed that her life had somehow fallen apart. The most anyone could piece together was that it probably had something to do with a former lover, an American businessman who had lived in Tokyo. Konishi had visited Minnesota a few times with him, and she called him not long before she died.
There's nothing to suggest that Koneshi ever even saw Fargo, let alone became obsessed with it. But the movie made the town famous, and when someone crossed the world to look for it, "Wacky foreigner gets herself killed because she didn't understand that movies are fake" made for a more entertaining story than "Foreigner kills herself because she was cripplingly depressed and the world is a sad place."
Myth: The "Rain" In Singin' In The Rain Was Milk
Singin' In The Rain is a beloved family film fondly remembered for the scene in which Gene Kelly does what the title says and also ... you know ... all that other stuff the movie is about. There's no need to rehash a plot that everyone is obviously familiar with.
If you ask your annoying movie-trivia-obsessed friend about the scene, they'll tell you that, due to the relatively primitive filming technology of the '50s, they had to mix the water with milk to make the fake rain visible to the camera. And imagining Gene Kelly reeking of lukewarm dairy products kind of destroys the scene's whimsy.
No one is quite sure who started the rumor about the rain not being vegan-friendly, nor has there been an adequate explanation of why that would help. It just seems like there are a few drops that look white and milky.
"Don't worry, Gene, it's milk. Just don't, uh, open your mouth so much."
But that's because of the way the scene is lit. The filmmakers did have a lot of trouble making the rain prominent, but they found a way to do it without resorting to dairy alchemy. The director, Stanley Donen, debunked the rumor in a 2009 interview, explaining that he found a way to backlight the rain. This is backed up by Patricia Kelly, Gene's wife. It was just good cinematography. It's also why you don't see gross, cloudy white puddles at his feet. But hey, it makes a good story.
Adam Koski wrote Forust: A Tale Of Magic Gone Wrong, an exciting and hilarious story of fairies turning into monsters. There's plenty more surprising info to be found on Markos' Twitter. Nathan is also called Treegnome, and he has a site right here.
For more mixtures of bullshit and Hollywood, check out 6 Absurd Pirate Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks To Movies) and 6 Myths About Famous Places You Believe (Thanks to Movies).
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