How Is Santa Real?? 6 Movies Where No One Notices Anything
Not everyone in a movie can be a genius. If they were, every horror film would be 30 seconds of a 911 call followed by 90 minutes of driving away from a murderer. Every zombie movie would be well-armored military squads easily eliminating the undead. And every romantic comedy would be a brief explanation to clear up a misunderstanding. We've come to accept that most plots require a few conveniently stupid characters. Sometimes, though, a movie's internal logic requires such profound, universal stupidity it starts to feel insulting.
What Do The Parents Think Is Going On In Santa Claus Movies?
Every Christmas, Santa sneaks into our homes, eats our cookies, and leaves presents for all the good boys and girls. This continues right up until parents decide it's unethical to lie to children. The point is, there aren't a lot of mysteries on Christmas morning. Not only did your parents already know "Santa" got you a GI Joe Mobile Command Center, they stayed up all goddamn night helping "him" put it together. So what the shit do the parents in Santa Claus movies think when completely unexplained presents show up under the tree?
There are lots of examples of this bizarre paradox, in which every single adult refuses to believe in Santa Claus despite the fact that in the universes of these films, Santa does huge, public, magical things every Christmas. Presents appear in their homes, addressed to their children, and they're okay with having no recollection of buying them? It's like they're trying to not believe in him at any cost. Take, for instance, The Santa Clause. Scott Calvin loses custody of his children because the other adults think he's insane for telling kids to believe in Santa. And yet in that same universe, here's what one family got for Christmas:
They got a fucking kayak. Moving beyond the fact that no little kid wants a kayak, where do the parents think this thing came from? Do they brush this off as a gift from one of the kid's friends or something? Something they ordered on Amazon while they were drunk? Who do they think is buying their children water sport equipment, and why don't they care?
It gets weirder. In Elf, adults themselves apparently receive gifts from Santa. When Michael reads Santa's big list on-camera, it includes the names of adults ... like a day of pampering at a spa for this guy:
How was Santa going to give him that present? Does he sneak coupons into this guy's junk mail? Fake a sweepstakes win? That would never work -- he would absolutely think it was a police trick to bring him into custody.
Actually, why would a real Santa want to cover up his own existence at all? This one needs magic for his sleigh to run. He should be airing commercials about how real he is. Think how many charity organizations would pitch in to spread Santa awareness in a world in which magic is a real thing you can witness. It's as if everyone in a Christmas movie is willfully denying Santa's existence for no reason but to spite wonderment. And that's fine, but then why is nobody concerned when they and their children receive expensive, unmarked presents from a stranger?
And another thing: Santa would have a massive, unignorable impact on the economy. Decent kayaks can cost hundreds of dollars, and a "spa day" for a man with that much hair in need of removal could run into the thousands. These are high-market items spread across every non-naughty household in the world. That's billions, maybe trillions of dollars of lost revenue. Wait ... is big business trying to cover up the existence of Santa Claus to protect profits? Is it possible Santa existed in our own universe all along, but Big Christmas killed him with corporate greed? Is that what you were trying to tell us, Will Ferrell and Tim Allen? We're sorry, Will Ferrell and Tim Allen!
People Should Be Terrified Of The Terminator Even If They Don't Know It's A Cyborg
The conceit of the Terminator franchise rests on a triple-legged stool of concepts: time travel works if you're nude, predestination is a thing, and robots are so persistent it's kind of silly.
One thing the series also relies on is that when encountering a massive wall of muscle and flat dead eyes, nobody gives a shit. After all, if you didn't know a 270-pound bodybuilder with murderous intent was a robot from beyond Judgment Day, why would you be scared of them?
Sure enough, throughout the movies, people largely treat Schwarzenegger's T-800 as a clown. In the first Terminator, Bill Paxton and his fellow '80s punks immediately try to mug him. He's the size of all three of them put together, crazy enough to go for a nude stroll at night, and very obviously not carrying anything of value. Why in the hell are they messing with him?
Even if their gang was ten times that size, they'd cross the street to avoid this guy on the sidewalk. Then in Terminator 2, the first thing he does is walk into a biker bar -- again, fully nude -- and demand a man give him his clothes and motorcycle. It's a man two decades older than him with at least 25 percent more body fat, and he immediately puts a cigar out on his rippling bare chest. The social situation demanded some kind of manly display, but it was done with such pure confidence. Shouldn't he have been a little worried the gigantic man would retaliate? What life did this guy lead that made him think he was going to win that fight? This guy is huge and crazy -- an unbeatable combination in the bar fight scene.
These are not isolated examples! It's like that with every human the T-800 ever runs into. When this terrifying man in a metal-stud jacket asks a gun shop owner for a silly list of future guns, the guy disrespects him like he's an idiot teenager, not an unhinged lunatic surrounded by weapons and large enough to tear him in half.
Trust us, mass shooters and terrorists were totally a thing in the 1980s. A giant, stern, somewhat confused man with a foreign accent demands thousands of dollars' worth of high-capacity weapons that he needs right now, and no red flags are raised? "So ... you some kinda East German hitman or somethin'? Not that it's any of my business or nothin'. Anyway, look forward to reading about this in the paper tomorrow!" Even the famous "I'll be back" line is used on a bored desk cop who blows him off without even glancing up from his paperwork.
Even if they don't know he's a time-traveling killdroid covered in flesh, why are so many people going out of their way to piss this obvious sociopath off? He's a gigantic beast with a slack expression and absolutely no pretense to social convention. It doesn't take an intimate knowledge of Skynet to know you should hold back your sass until you figure out how dangerous a giant nude stranger might be.
Only Pervasive Incompetence Or Lack Of Curiosity Could Let Vampires Stay Hidden
With each passing year, the likelihood that we have immortal beings in our midst decreases. This isn't just because advanced technology makes it easier to mass-produce silver bullets and sacred daggers, but also because it takes so much paperwork to be a human. In a first-world country, everyone is massively on the grid -- especially, let's say, a wealthy person who somehow never ages.
Let's take Edward Cullen, the pale, malnourished sex god of the Twilight series. He has been dabbling in statutory rape for well over a century. To that end, Cullen enrolls in local high schools and keeps his pleasure mansion sufficiently stocked with hair gel and rouge.
The obvious question here -- and with every modern vampire -- is how long is he planning to attend that high school? After a certain number of failed senior years, they almost certainly stop holding you back and just declare you somebody else's problem. The books say their little family moves every six to seven years, but how do they manage to continually enroll him in high school without a real birth certificate? Do they not notice that he was born in the early 1900s? And more importantly, why would he bother? Does he really love Earth Sciences? Can he not think of anything better to do with his time than hang out with people 90 years his junior and watching them learn the three classes of rocks over and over and over?
So let's say he manages to have a hundred spare counterfeit birth certificates lying around and has a good reason for retaking 12th grade 50 times. How is he going to hide his wealth? There are systems in place specifically to prevent people from doing that. And Edward resets his life by pretending to be his own heir and then bequeathing his fortune to himself. Wouldn't any author with a basic knowledge of estate law or human paperwork know how stupid that sounds? It would take so much work to fake that Edward might as well eat every estate lawyer in the world, buy a wig, and pretend he found a bag of money.
And again, even if he manufactures this unlikely stack of paperwork for an entire family line of people who never existed, he's still passing down the same mansion? Are his neighbors meant to think everyone in his family looks exactly the same, down to the same smoldering eyes and twinkling glitter skin? It seems like that might start some rumors about him being immortal, or at least coming from a line of plastic surgery addicts. Maybe even, and this is going to sound crazy, vampires?
So OK, say he forges an obscene amount of paperwork and devours everyone who asks questions about his bizarre living situation. How do werewolves and vampires manage to run around murdering each other, performing feats of superhuman strength, and sleeping with high schoolers without being noticed? Mopey Bella finds out right away, and she's not exactly a genius.
It's a similar dilemma to the Terminator example above. The local, state and federal governments' lack of belief in vampires doesn't mean shit. The convoluted paper trail, unexplained money, constant movement, and proximity to weird crimes suggests they're fugitives, spies, terrorists, or something even worse. Whether it's a cop, IRS agent, journalist, or nosy neighbor, somebody is going to rat their asses out eventually.
Armageddon Astronomers Don't Notice A Moon-Sized Asteroid Until About Three Weeks Before It Hits
If there's one thing we expect NASA to be good at, it's looking into space. NASA has optics pointed in every direction to get pictures of planets, stars, and nebula for the worst people's Facebook cover photos. NASA is funded by a culture desperate to find new things to be afraid of, and space is truly the undiscovered frontier of terrifying danger. For instance, here's an entire galaxy being eaten alive by a supermassive black hole. So how the hell do the scientists in Armageddon manage to miss a world-destroying asteroid hurtling toward our planet until it's a mere couple of weeks away?
It's certainly true that there is a lot of outer space, and that our telescopes and probes can only scan narrow fields of it. But the asteroid in this movie is specifically described as being the size of Texas. That's less an asteroid and more a rogue moon lighting up the night sky. And the astronomers in the film are tipped off to it only when debris from its most recent collision starts tearing up their satellites. That's like not noticing an intruder until he's already made several sandwiches, built himself a home office, and convinced your wife to leave you.
Let's do some space math. The distance between Mars and Earth is anywhere between 140 and 250 million miles, depending on what time of the year it is. So if the Armageddon scientists noticed the asteroid as it rounded Mars at its greatest distance from Earth -- and it was still 18 days away -- the thing is moving at its fastest around 580,000 miles per hour. As we shrink the range, the slower the asteroid would conceivably be moving, since it would still take 18 days to arrive. So 580,000 mph is the fastest we could assume it's going. This seems like maybe too much space math, but we're building to a point.
Considering Pluto is around 4.67 billion miles away, that means that massive asteroid has been in our solar system for something like 335 days, or nearly an entire year. What the hell were they looking at for a year, if not a 700-mile-wide rock (again, about a third of the size of our freaking moon) hurtling toward our planet? With this level of incompetence, it's no wonder they decided their best plan was to send a bunch of lunatic drill operators into space instead of astronauts.
Back To The Future's Biff Has The Most Amazing Lucky Streak in History, And No One Thinks That's Weird
In the cosmology of Back to the Future, the darkest timeline is a completely unrelatable world in which a cruel idiot billionaire rises to absurd levels of power.
It's a world which Biff Tannen, high school bully and attempted rapist, has reshaped in his image. Hill Valley has become a chaotic dystopia and George McFly was shot to death in mysterious circumstances. And it's all thanks to a handy almanac from the future used by 1950s Biff, or Biff Classic, to cheat at gambling.
The fact that this plan worked means that no one in the world of Back To The Future has any idea of how professional gambling works. Because generally, when someone starts winning suspiciously often, the casino doesn't let them keep playing. And if they hit every longshot bet they place, they get banned from gambling entirely, even if they're Ben Affleck. Bookies aren't required to take anyone's bets, and Biff is so famously lucky that there are literally newspaper headlines about it:
Yeah, nobody is going to assume "luck" here. They're going to assume massive, widespread corruption. Every winning boxer would be accused of throwing the fight. And even if they couldn't find evidence against him and still accepted a bet from the world's most famously never-wrong gambler, that would cause such a run on that horse, boxer, or competitive hot dog eater that the odds would flatten out. As soon as this guy who appears to have a working predictive algorithm bet on a winner, every gambler in the world would jump on the bandwagon for the easy money. By the time the event started, anyone Biff put money on would be the -15,000 favorite. A $1 million bet on Biff's horse would pay out about 17 cents.
And that's assuming his violent disruption of the timestream didn't turn all race horses to Nazi dinosaurs or something. No, forget all that. In Back To The Future, everyone is just like, "Hey, that unpleasant rapist sure is lucky! Good for him!"
No One Ever Remembers That Transformers Level Cities
In Michael Bay's Transformers movies, giant robots come to Earth to slug it out over vaguely mystical MacGuffins, and despite the tagline, they're not really in disguise. They pretty much walk around and do stuff, seemingly under the impression that nobody will find this terrifying. And you know what? They're right.
In the first Transformers film, the alien robots go on a murderous rampage across the globe, from the United States to Yemen. It's the largest global catastrophe since WWII. But then by the second movie, Revenge Of The Fallen, everyone has simply forgotten about it. It's as if that one time there was a world crisis that coincided with first contact with extraterrestrials slipped everyone's mind. In fact, the only people who seem to remember it are treated like weird conspiracy theorists.
Later in the series, in Age Of Extinction, people still haven't adjusted to a world with destructive space robots. A ship appears above Chicago and they keep going about their daily lives as if things from space usually turn out great for everyone. Then, sure enough, robots come pouring out and destroy the whole goddamn city. How many times do cosmic monsters have to destroy their homes before they think to put on hard hats? By the time the eighth sequel comes around, it will be called Transformers: At This Point, Anyone Standing Under Us Deserves To Die.
Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes there. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs. Jordan Breeding has a blog, a Twitter, and thinks Santa should stand trial for his crimes.
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