5 Movies And Shows With Bizarre Influence IRL
Most people understand that fiction is just that -- an important but imaginary divergence from reality. The real world inspires our stories, not the other way around. Unless it is the other way around. And it is. So very, very often. We don't know why we even bothered to pretend otherwise. It's just ... we get lonely, sometimes, up here in the intro. Most people skip over it. Thank you -- thank you for staying with us. To show our gratitude, here's an article about bizarre ways fiction influenced reality ...
Soldiers Think Torture Works Because It Looks So Cool On 24
24 is a TV show where Kiefer Sutherland miraculously avoids using the bathroom for a whole day. If you've seen even a couple episodes, there's no denying that the program has an obsession with torture. Over the course of the first five seasons, there were 67 torture scenes, which averages out to more than one every other episode. In most examples, it's the good guys doing it.
"Tell me what I want to know or I'll heroically gouge your eye out."
Americans loved the show. Specifically, military personnel loved it. And the most important thing they learned was that torture is both an admissible and almost 100 percent effective method of extracting information. Neither of those things are remotely true, but on the odd occasion that 24 does ruminate briefly on the illegality of torture, Jack Bauer still manages to stab the correct information out of his illegally detained captives every single time, and anyone who questions him is treated with as much derision as the sneering police chief who keeps demanding Harry Callahan's gun and badge.
After the fifth season ended, the fussy old dean of the U.S. Military Academy, Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, requested a meeting with the show's producers in California. His complaint: teaching the next generation of the armed forces wasn't easy, what with his lessons being contradicted every week by America's favorite Lost Boy. While Finnegan was trying to instruct his students in the art of actual effective interrogation techniques, his pupils just wanted to know when they start shooting bad guy limbs, and how hard.
"Whoops, hit an artery!"
"That's all right, this is why we practice. Let's try again on his kneecap."
Finnegan wasn't the only educator at West Point with complaints. Professor Gary Solis, who teaches wartime law, exasperatedly explains to his students how Jack Bauer would actually be the biggest war criminal who ever lived -- we're pretty sure even Saddam had trouble violating international law over 10 times in 24 hours. But trying to convince his students that torture was not just illegal and immoral, but completely ineffective was, in Solis' words, "like trying to stomp out an anthill."
A sexy anthill with killer cheekbones and eyes -- oh, Kiefer -- eyes you could just drown in.
James Bond Invented The Day Of The Dead Parade
In 2015's Spectre, James Bond travels to Mexico City, where the famous Day of the Dead parade is taking place -- think Macy's Thanksgiving Parade designed by Tim Burton. And that's appropriate, since Bond invented the Day of the Dead Parade. Just then. In that movie.
Continuing a long tradition of British people "fixing" other cultures.
Audiences outside of Mexico didn't question it for a second, because the holiday itself is a real thing, and what kind of savages don't love a parade?
Mexicans, apparently (and uh ... ixnay on the avagesay, Billy-Bob).
But full steam ahead with the parade part!
No, there were never gigantic cigar-smoking skeletons marching down the main street of Mexico City before Bond. See, the production of a new James Bond film is kind of like Hollywood's version of the Olympics -- cities all over the world bid huge amounts of money to have Bond visit their neck of the woods, and, hilariously, pay even more to ensure that their country isn't the villain in this one (an additional fee that North Korea presumably couldn't afford in Die Another Day). Having Bond rappel around your skyline means massive tourist dollars and a huge boost to the economy.
But when Spectre came out, Mexico worried that the movie's completely fabricated parade made them look cooler than they could actually pull off. So in 2016, Mexico City held its first ever Day of the Dead parade, including props from the movie, all to draw in tourists who didn't know it wasn't a real thing.
The parade was a big success, and the city hopes to make it an annual tradition, so that decades from now, nobody will know that the whole idea came from one of the more forgettable Bond films.
"It's more than Lazenby ever did for you!"
This isn't the only time a movie changed a city: The 1957 movie The Bridge on the River Kwai told the true World War II story of Allied prisoners of war forced by the Japanese to build a railway bridge in Thailand. After the film's release, tourists flocked to the country to see the ruins of the famous bridge. But the film wasn't entirely accurate -- in reality, the bridge was built over the Mae Klong River, not the Kwai. Rather than move the remains of the bridge to the "correct" movie river, the Thai government simply renamed part of the Mae Klong to the Khwae Yai, so that reality would line up properly with fiction. That's the kind of inventive laziness we can get behind.
The Deer Hunter Popularized Russian Roulette
The Deer Hunter is about American soldiers driven to madness during their time in a Vietnamese POW camp, where they're forced to play Russian roulette against each other for the entertainment of their captors. After their release, they're so traumatized and miserable that they join an underground Russian roulette gambling den. Also, one of the characters is known to enjoy hunting deer on occasion. P-probably.
The script originally started out as the live-action Bambi remake.
In the decade following the movie's release in 1978, there were 43 individual cases of death via Russian roulette in the United States that could plausibly be tied to people watching The Deer Hunter. The victims spanned all age groups, from teenagers to the elderly, many of whom had expressed suicidal tendencies beforehand, but some of whom just felt straight-up lucky that day.
We're not film scholars, but we're pretty sure the message we were supposed to take away from The Deer Hunter was that the Vietnam War was a tragic waste of life with long-reaching psychological consequences. Instead, what we, as a culture, took away was this: Russian Roulette looks like a blast!
"Let's give it a shot!"
Horribly morbid pun absolutely and unrepentantly intended, you crazy, death-wish-owning sons of bitches.
Wedding Crashers Nearly Killed Several People
In Wedding Crashers, Owen Wilson spikes Bradley Cooper's drink with Visine so he can have a better chance at hooking up with Cooper's girlfriend (in movie land, this is fine, because Cooper turns out to be a bad guy, anyway). The hilarity that follows could only be described in two words: Diarrhea. We know that's one word. It wasn't that hilarious.
Hehe, it's funny because it's a serious crime!
People, being idiots, immediately seized on this prank, and the movie was followed by an epidemic of poisonings. While one of the real symptoms of Visine poisoning is diarrhea, the movie glossed over other symptoms, like heart problems, difficulty breathing, coma, and death. The active ingredient in Visine is a neurotoxin that works fantastically at decreasing redness when applied directly to the eyeballs, but sends your nervous system into panic mode when applied directly to the digestive system.
One woman spiked her roommate's drinking water with Visine after seeing the film, causing her to suffer life-threatening symptoms that doctors couldn't explain, until the perpetrator 'fessed up to the gag and got a hilarious three months in prison for it.
"Jeez, lighten up."
In 2006, five high school students were arrested for nearly killing a classmate with the prank. In 2013, a Nevada man tried the joke on his girlfriend, hospitalizing her and leading to a domestic violence prison sentence, of which we're sure he saw the funny side.
Gay Leather Culture Was Inspired By An Old Marlon Brando Movie
Homosexuals and leather are bound together like ... well, like homosexuals and leather. It wasn't always that way: Gay culture first became all hot and bothered by leather back in 1953, when Marlon Brando played biker outlaw Johnny Strabler in The Wild One, one of Brando's breakout roles. Brando was the original leather-clad outlaw biker, who epitomized the rugged manly man, and he did so at a time when post-WWII gay culture was looking for a way to define itself.
From BRMC to LGBT.
Being gay in the 1950s was tricky: You had to present yourself with as much masculinity as possible, putting aside any doubt whatsoever that you might be attracted to men. And yet, you also had to let other gay men know that you might be attracted to men, otherwise how would you net yourself an attractive man? So they needed a code. And the code they came up with was Brando's undeniably masculine Wild One outfit, as well as the symbolism of the motorcycle itself, which, as a powerful machine held between a man's legs, symbolized ... well, we don't have to spell everything out for you.
Scott Elizabeth Baird can be found on Twitter. BentRaven's hidey-hole at Twitter is here. Kyle is a former journalist who lives in Korea (the good one). He writes about the expat life on Medium and likes to retweet people funnier than him on Twitter. Micky McMichaelson occasionally writes moderately funny things on the Internet. You can read more of them at his Twitter.
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