We're not sure if you've noticed this, but movie fans can get a little ... obsessive. And while that usually manifests in the form of internet arguments between people in Chewbacca slippers, sometimes fandom can have a very real -- and very stupid -- impact on the communities that dared to help these beloved films come to life. For example ...
Joker, which boldly held a mirror up to our society by revealing how much we'll talk about a mediocre comic book flick, has a scene wherein Joaquin Phoenix puts on his nicest clown shoes and dances down a flight of stairs to a song by a convicted sex offender. Even if you haven't seen the movie, you've probably seen parodies of this around the internet.
Fans of the movie who missed the point of it have flocked to the Bronx to visit that staircase and pose for dumb photos. And locals aren't pleased. One said he "feels disrespected," while others talked about struggling to get to work or school, or even having to take a different route because they don't want to be in the background of an Instagram account called Thanosdidnothingwrong. We're talking hordes of people here, sometimes with assistants wielding bulky tripods, all rushing to get in on a hashtag.
The initial wave of attention has died down, but Instagram's "jokerstairs" hashtag is still full of new photos of ridiculous-looking influencer wannabes hogging the stairs while people are just trying to go about their damn day. Residents even had to put up fliers reminding people Ubering in for a quick photo op that their lives are not a comic book movie. Hey, remember how Joker tried to talk about elites being callously indifferent to the problems of everyday people?
While some vowed to never think about Game Of Thrones again following its final season, there are still countless fans who would sell a kidney to have the Hound spit in their face. Throneiacs have made the Croatian city of Dubrovnik -- also known as King's Landing -- a preferred travel destination, as it features everything from the Red Keep to the Palace Gardens to the Jesuits' Staircase, where Cersei did her walk of shame.
But with only around 40,000 people living in Dubrovnik, and fewer than 2,000 in the small historic city center of Old Town, these tourists are becoming a real bunch of Eurons. Locals are saying that the noise and crowds are contributing to a declining population, and have compared modern life there to living in the middle of Disneyland. We'd lose our minds too if we had to hear tourists shouting "Shame! Shame!" every damn day.
But with record-breaking numbers of people visiting the city each year, you'd think it would at least be great for the local economy, right? Yeah, not so much. Most visitors arrive on cruise ships, so they rush through crowded streets and are back onboard by sunset with their photos. Not a lot is spent on food and drinks, let alone accommodations, and the city's authentic cultural experiences -- the non-Thrones stuff -- are largely ignored.
The city has resorted to increasingly stringent measures to restore order to the cramped streets, including capping the number of tourists allowed in Old Town, shuttering 80% of souvenir stalls, forcing restaurants to eliminate 20% of their outdoor seating, and limiting the number of cruise ships that are allowed to dock per day. Maybe they could scare more people off with public broadcasts of scenes from Season 8.
In 2001, Sandi Preston got a too-good-to-be-true deal on a house in Astoria, Oregon. It wasn't cheap for the usual reason of being haunted by poltergeists. It was haunted by something much worse: Goonies fans. Because it's the famous house from the film.
Preston leaned into this at first, allowing fans to take pictures and even offering tours. But in June 2015, on a 30th anniversary that was heavily promoted by Astoria, things got out of hand. Around 10,000-15,000 fans rolled up to the neighborhood, parked in "no parking" zones, let their dogs soil yards with impunity, left beer bottles and other trash in their wake, and got belligerent when Preston complained. Because what was The Goonies about, if not surly day drinking?
Note the comments complaining that she dared to redecorate.
To combat the constant trespassing, Preston blanketed her house in large tarps, dampening its iconic look and lessening its Instagram worthiness. She also posted a handwritten note that was far more apologetic and conciliatory than we would have been, writing in part "Imagine that you buy a house, fix it up, spend money, time and love, then the city of Astoria encourages 100,000's of people to come and stand in front and review it. This driveway (maintained by homeowners) sees 1,000+ people every day. Most are kind, fun and welcome, but many are not."
The note even goes on to suggest some other local attractions. Fans finally paused to reflect on the situation before concluding, uh, "She should realize that there is a following for this movie and that people really want to see this house" and "It's a bummer as someone who just wanted to come see a piece of childhood and something you think you're a part of." Because while Preston may have painstakingly renovated a foreclosed home, doesn't seeing a house in a movie when you were a child entitle you to partial ownership?
Things got so bad that actual Goonie Sean Astin spoke out on Preston's behalf, which still hasn't stopped some fans from posting trespassing tips on Trip Advisor. God knows how many middle-aged men she's had to watch do a sad sweaty Truffle Shuffle in her front yard.
3 Idiots is a 2009 Bollywood movie about three pretty smart dudes who go to college. It's got slapstick, love, an engineering education -- all the hallmarks of a classic comedy. In any other country, it would be a solid success that people enjoyed, remembered, and lost their minds over when they gender-swapped all the idiots for the remake. But it struck a chord in India, becoming for a time the highest-grossing Bollywood film ever, and it attracted millions more fans when it aired on TV. Getting an electric shock by peeing on a door is the pinnacle of comedy.
That's a lot of buildup for a pretty simple gag.
The end of the film takes place in Ladakh, a region of northern India known for its scenic lakes and mountains. Before 3 Idiots was released, there was a thriving tourism trade that saw 400,000 visitors a year. The movie was initially seen as a further boon to the region. A local school featured in it even painted a mural to commemorate the role.
But with 3 Idiots causing tourism to nearly quadruple, Ladakh came under siege by, well, idiots. There was a crisis of trash, traffic, air pollution, water shortages, sewage backups, wildlife disruption, and cafes that scream "3 IDIOTS!" at whoever walks by. By 2011, 30,000 plastic bottles were being littered every day. Even that school had so many tourists that they decided it was easier to build a replica wall outside their grounds rather than hope droves of people would respect the fact that classes were in session. All because of a movie in which, again, a guy gets zapped in the dick by an anti-urination defense system.
In most small towns, news of film students visiting to shoot a low-budget movie might make the local paper, next to the reminder to check if anyone you want to date is a cousin. Otherwise it would be another unremarkable day. But in Burkittsville, Maryland, that small movie was The Blair Witch Project.
As a refresher for those of you who best know "morons getting lost in the woods" as a video game genre, the 1999 hit made nearly $250 million from a $60,000 budget, which is the kind of return on investment that gives Warren Buffett a raging erection. Much of its success is owed to its viral marketing campaign, which unfolded before we knew that strangers could trick us with the internet, which insisted that the movie was real footage of an investigation into a real witch.
The popularity and supposed mystery sent droves of fans to Burkittsville, where they promptly set about proving the old horror trope that the real monster is man. It started with repeated thefts of "Welcome to Burkittsville" signs. Then residents suffered property damage, and were accosted by fans peering into their homes. The mayor herself woke up to a stranger standing in her living room, somehow under the impression that her house was part of a Blair Witch tour. One woman who was kind enough to let visitors use her bathroom was told she was a bad mother for raising her children in a witch's hunting grounds.
Things took a darker turn when people started stealing dirt from the local cemetery and selling it online, even providing pictures to prove it was genuine. They also defaced gravestones, held candlelight vigils for the victims of a witch they refused to accept was fictional, and rampaged through a historic church built in 1870 by freed slaves. Plywood was ripped up, graffiti was sprayed, and beer cans were left littered around after parties and ghost-hunting excursions. This was still a problem years after the movie came out. Did we mention that most of the movie was actually filmed a county over?
At least some residents were able to cash in, with one woman and her grandmother selling Blair Witch rocks and stick figures while calling the movie stupid. But the whole experience was nightmarish enough that when the producers of the sequel pitched the idea to film in Burkittsville, a councilman said, "We've already been raped, now they want us to be prostitutes." Damn, dude.
Jordan Breeding also writes fora whole mess of other people, theTwitter, and a weird amount of gas station bathrooms. Zanandi also writes forBunnyEars.comand you can follow her onTwitter.Let Jon Kaulay ruin your Twitter community byfollowing him. Steven Assarian is a librarian. He writes stuffhere.
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