6 Famous Things That Only Exist Thanks To Laziness
In an industry where everything seems focus-grouped and workshopped to death, it's important to acknowledge those who still believe in creative inspiration, individual brilliance, and sheer hard work. That's what we should celebrate, those admirable qualities we deem responsible for our best art. Oh, not in this article, though.
No, this one's about how some of the greatest moments in pop culture history were made because no one wanted to try harder. Moments like ...
Kryptonite Was Used So Superman's Voice Actor Could Get Some Days Off
Superman famously has only one weakness, unless whoever's writing him that day needs him to have another, in which case he has that too. (That's comic books, deal with it.)
But it's the first weakness, kryptonite, that became famous enough to become almost synonymous with "weakness." And you can see why it'd be a necessary element to Superman. Tales of an all-powerful demigod punching criminals in the neck would have gotten old fast if there was never any risk to the guy. There had to be at least one weakness. It was probably there from the start.
Except it wasn't there from the start. It wasn't even invented in the comics! Kryptonite debuted in the 1940s Superman radio show, and it only became a recurring plot element so they could do entire episodes during which the main character doesn't utter a single word.
You see, at one point in 1945, the actor who played Supes, Bud Collyer, decided it would be nice to get some days off from speaking in a baritone voice. Because this was all before it was really possible to record high-quality audio in advance, they needed some solution to have the star of the show absent while still making the show.
That solution was kryptonite, which the show's writers had come up with for one 1943 storyline and promptly forgotten about (the comics didn't use it until much later). Superman would bump into some kryptonite, and some other actor could fill in and mumble two feet away from the microphone while Collyer was off downing tiki drinks or whatever.
It was a perfect solution to a problem which could only occur in a very particular era of the radio age. Of course, it did also open the door for comic book writers to lazily come up with countless terrible stories about kryptonite, effectively becoming the franchise's kryptonite. So maybe there are some downsides to laziness, which we'll definitely, maybe do an article about eventually.
The Beatles Couldn't Shoot Abbey Road's Cover On Mt. Everest, So They Settled For The Crosswalk Outside The Studio
In 1969, noted marijuana enthusiasts the Beatles were working on an album which they were planning to call Everest, after a particular brand of cigarettes their studio engineer smoked. No one was really excited by the name, but because nobody was coming up with anything better, it kind of stuck (much like Ringo). Eventually, they even got to the point where they were considering flying to Nepal to take the cover photograph. Even considering they were at the height of their popularity at the time, this would have been a pretty ludicrous thing to spend money on, which is what prompted them to come up with another idea.
They would simply go outside instead.
They had done so much of their best work at Abbey Road Studios that they thought it'd be kind of fitting to name their album after it instead. They'd call it Abbey Road, go out and take some pictures in the street, and be done in like 15 minutes. Paul McCartney even did up a little sketch of stick figures walking across the zebra crossing out front, just so, you know, they'd have a plan. They got a photographer, blocked traffic, took a handful of shots, and they were done, having made possibly the most recognizable album cover of all time.
The image is so iconic that even things in the background are now sort of famous. Here's someone trying to sell a car which they think might be one of the ones in there. And here's an obituary for some dude who happened to be waiting for his wife in the right place at the right time. That was the most notable thing he did in his life, getting accidentally made famous by someone else's laziness.
Voicing Darth Vader Was An Uncredited Two-Hour Gig To Pay The Bills
Darth Vader is one of the most iconic villains of all time, which is kind of amazing for a character who's been played by five different people in the six movies he's been in. Probably the most famous of those actors remains James Earl Jones, who of course supplied his menacing voice and famous catchphrase "Ooooooh, the Force, it's spicy!"
What most people don't know is how almost trivial the re-recording session was. According to Jones, "I was broke again, my agent called and said, 'Do you want a day's work doing some voiceover?' I said, 'Yeah, sure!'" Not "What type of movie is it?" or "Who's the director?" or "Is there any incest?" Just "Yeah, sure!"
With no lip-syncing necessary, the whole session took about two and a half hours. And because Jones was hardly a famous actor at the time, the whole thing only cost Lucas $7,000.
That's right. Maybe the most famous voice performance in movie history was recorded to pay the bills. He wasn't even credited at first. Jones also didn't get any of the "points" that made other cast members millionaires over the years when the film became a huge success. He was probably the second person to find out who Luke Skywalker's dad was, though, so that's something.
Baywatch's Slow-Motion Running Was Invented To Stretch The Episodes
If you had to pick a single defining image of the show Baywatch, it would probably be a woman running down the beach in a red swimsuit. Go ahead and imagine it now if you want. It's fine, it's for the article.
Critics at the time, also probably now, and almost certainly in the future as well, claimed this was in poor taste, done entirely for the purpose of spreading smut. And they're not entirely wrong. But there was another, funnier reason such scenes appeared multiple times in each episode. Here, let's let star/producer David Hasselhoff himself explain:
Bless that large, beautiful man and his miraculous discovery of the secrets of human desire. He used this knowledge to give us a great gift, signposts planted to guide wayward souls down the dark corridors of puberty. We should all aspire to such greatness the next time we run out of money in the television productions of our own lives.
Hugh Jackman Was Reluctantly Cast As Wolverine Three Weeks Into Shooting X-Men
Hugh Jackman has portrayed Wolverine since before some of you were born. For all intents and purposes, he is Wolverine, and it would greatly surprise us if the government wasn't already studying his body to learn its secrets.
He very nearly wasn't Wolverine, though. In fact, when they began filming X-Men, another actor, Dougray Scott, was already cast in the part. They were weeks into production before it became clear Scott wouldn't be able to clear room in his schedule for it thanks to his role in Mission: Impossible 2. And so, following what must have been a casting whirlwind of short hairy men, Jackman was brought in to fill the latex that would make him a household name. And he almost screwed it all up.
By Jackson's own admission, he wasn't a very good Wolverine, at least to begin with. Watch his soft-spoken, inconsistently accented audition if you don't believe him.
The dude feeding him lines plays a more convincing Rogue. He was nervous, and tight, and it was the first American movie he'd ever done, so maybe he kept acting on the wrong side of the road or something. No one said anything, but you can't help but wonder how long they'd have stuck with their second Wolverine if he hadn't gotten his act together. Eventually he got a pep talk from a producer -- "Hairier. Act hairier," presumably -- and 1,700 movies later, the rest is history.
The Ghostbusters Theme Song Was Thrown Together At The Last Minute
The theme song to Ghostbusters is easily the world record holder for most boasts of bravery around ghosts. It's also a good song aside from that, which is something of a lucky break, considering its creator pulled it out of his butt right before the deadline.
That wasn't the plan, of course. Ghostbusters was always going to be one of the big summer movies, and they weren't going to spare any expense on its theme song. But after like 50 tries at it, none of which the producers liked, and with the film's release imminent, someone got the idea of asking Ray Parker Jr. to give it a try. Parker wasn't so keen on the idea at first, on account of the fact he'd have to do it in two days while including the word "Ghostbusters," which the word scientists among you will know doesn't rhyme with a whole hell of a lot.
But he eventually agreed to it, and set to work. Evidently, the music came quickly, but he got stuck on getting "Ghostbusters" into the lyrics somewhere, and only had a few hours left before he had to turn in the song. The breakthrough came from, of all things, a commercial for exterminators. In Parker's words:
"I was half asleep and they had those packs and they spray like this. To me it looked just like the Ghostbuster pack. Then the number came on the screen and I said 'That's what I saw in the movie!' So I thought 'What I am going to say is, 'Who you gonna call' and let everybody else say 'Ghostbusters!'"
The other secret to the song is that because the whole thing was written in two days, they used a lot of loops. There's a reason "Who you gonna call" and "I ain't 'fraid of no ghosts" became massive catchphrases. They're repeated about a dozen times each. Apparently, that was less an artistic choice and more about not having to come up with more lyrics.
Even the music video was surprisingly half-assed. Remember that spooky house that looks like a neon drawing?
That was done by drawing on glass and filming through it; an old established technique, but usually not done literally moments after the drawing is made. The cameos of celebrities turning to the camera and shouting "Ghostbusters!" were mostly called-in favors, with the one featuring John Candy obtained almost illegally. They went to the set where Candy was working -- on a totally different movie -- and wandered around having people yell "Ghostbusters" into the camera while the song was playing on a boombox. They got Candy to do the same, and then sprinted for the exits. As you can expect, they got in all sorts of trouble with the Screen Actors Guild for this, and prompted the SAG to take a little more of a stand on the practices around how music videos were made.
That's how you know you've done something really lazy -- when they bring in lawyers to prevent anyone from being that lazy again.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and your best friend. As the author of the amazing novels Freeze/Thaw and Severance, he thinks you should definitely go buy both of those now. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
Go ahead and get an Abbey Road poster for your dorm room. You know Chad's gonna be jealous. Don't you want Chad to be jealous?
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