Old movies and TV shows can be a great way of escaping our present reality for 30-120-minute batches. It's like peeking into simpler times, before the constant scandals and tragedies and Minions memes soured our faith in humanity. Unfortunately, some of those pop culture landmarks have retroactively become extremely awkward via a little thing called the march of history. Here are some once-fun things that are now about as enjoyable as a Bill Cosby pudding pop joke.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend" isn't some hypothetical adage about the nebulous nature of warfare -- it's an entirely accurate assessment of how the U.S. spent the better part of the last century dealing with nations it didn't like. Case in point: Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Uncle Sam started doling out weapons to the country's numerous tribal insurgent groups, collectively referred to as the Mujahideen.
Here's an easier-to-spell name for many of those very same fighters: the Taliban.
It wasn't just Uncle Sam, though. In 1987, James Bond linked arms and made out (metaphorically) with the Mujahideen in The Living Daylights, which ends with 007 ensuring a major victory for the Afghan "freedom fighters" over the Soviets. This despite the fact that earlier in the movie, both groups were working together on a massive opium deal that would have provided the Mujahideen with enough cash to ensure that their men were properly trained and armed. Which, FYI, is pretty much the first thing you learn at Jihad Death Cult Business School.
This method of funding was used by both al-Qaeda and ISIS, and we're kinda surprised that the movie brings up the issue of funding, considering how the in-movie group could've presumably just tapped their biggest real-life sponsor, Osama bin Laden. Oof, there's that pang of hindsight again.
There's also Rambo III, which is set in an alternate universe in which the U.S. doesn't like long protracted wars in the Middle East and allows Rambo to fuck up the Soviet occupation forces on their behalf. And he does just that -- magnificently, we might add -- until near the end of the movie, when he's saved from certain death by the Mujahideen, those goddamn scamps. There's some debate over whether the movie was ever really dedicated to "the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan," but anyone who has watched Rambo III for even five minutes can attest that this screenshot going around is at least plausible. And hey, that's still less embarrassing than ending a movie with a Frank Stallone song.
Back in 2001, director Richard Linklater (Boyhood, School Of Rock, like 15 movies about Ethan Hawke walking around) released Waking Life. The movie received a great deal of critical and audience praise, not only for its funky "let's give the cameraman acid" visual style, but also for its pseudo-philosophical exploration of the nature of reality -- an exploration that takes us right into the nutso realm, courtesy of this guy who drives around town screaming about government cover-ups.
The guy must have been a big hit with audiences, because Linklater hired him back for his next opus, A Scanner Darkly. This time, the guy is standing outside a burger restaurant yelling about the government, which earns him a forced trip on the back of a black van. Thanks to the improvements in animation (or at least, the budget), we can get a clearer look at his face, although there's a chance you're already sick of seeing it by now:
Yes, it's Mr. "Sandy Hook Was a Hoax" himself, Alex Jones. Since harassing the parents of murdered schoolchildren didn't pay ... well, anything back in the '00s, Jones was only known as a local conspiracy kook amongst the viewers of his public access show in Austin, Texas. Linklater, digging his style, invited him to appear in his movies. This is a decision he seems to regret now, adding that he thinks it's nuts that Jones is "taken seriously on a national level." Besides, the fact that he hasn't been thrown in the back of an unmarked van by now proves he's wrong about everything.
We like to think of ourselves as being hard-nosed cynics, but you know what's universal? The love of a good, schmaltzy inspirational movie in which a football player has to overcome some kind of adversity -- a struggle most commonly represented by headbutting dudes in the nutsack.
But as it turns out, it's best if you never, ever consider what happened to those lovable characters after the credits rolled, seeing as how headbutting nutsacks (among other areas) has been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease associated with dementia, mood disorders, and headaches. In fact, the condition was recently found in basically all -- 99 percent, to be precise -- of the 111 NFL players who participated in a study of the disease's prevalence.
So yeah, James Van Der Beek in Varsity Blues?
Adam Sandler in The Longest Yard?
Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire? You guessed it, CTE. At least he's already got a catchy slogan to yell at the in-universe version of Roger Goodell.
Last year, the world watched as the name "Harvey Weinstein" went from meaning "some producer who loves awards a bit too much" to "rampaging sexual predator." We also realized precisely how many celebrities had been warning us about him from the very start, only for their remarks to be brushed off as mere ball-busting.
Take this 1998 interview with Gwyneth Paltrow, during which she joked that Weinstein was someone who'll "coerce you into doing a thing or two," followed by a short but telling sigh. Although they were talking about her being forced to work holidays, it's hard not to imagine that she was thinking about an incident in 1995, when Weinstein arranged a "work meeting" with her in a hotel suite and not only groped her, but also suggested that they "head to the bedroom for massages." She then had to sit there and fake-laugh for two more minutes of good-natured (but retroactively mega-creepy) Weinstein jokes from David Letterman.
There's also the character of "Harvey Weingard" in Entourage -- an angry, obese drunkard who threatens to ruin people's lives if they don't do what he says. Looks like Weinstein didn't care much for this loving tribute, considering that he threatened to kill the producers if they ever mentioned his name again.
There were numerous direct references to Weinstein in 30 Rock, too, one of which flat out calls him a sex creep. ("I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions ... out of five.")
Then there was Seth MacFarlane's turn at the 2013 Oscar nomination announcements, when -- having heard about how Weinstein had assaulted one of his friends -- he congratulated the nominees for Best Supporting Actress, on account of them "no longer [having] to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein."
Oh, and let's not forget Courtney Love, who detonated a whole silo of bridge-burning fuel while walking the red carpet before Comedy Central's Roast Of Pamela Anderson in 2005, when she warned young aspiring actresses, "If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don't go." In the aftermath, Love claimed that she was blackballed from the industry by the talent agency CAA -- an allegation that seems a lot more credible knowing that some agents working for CAA all but pimped out their unwitting clients to Weinstein.
Jesus, all of this makes you wish for the simpler days of Hollywood, when the biggest story in Tinseltown concerned some wholesome-ass selfie taken at the Osca-
Instagram influencers are often absurd.
Well, this is terrifying.