5 Annoying 'Modern' Debates That Have Been Around Forever

Your grandparents were arguing about the same things.
5 Annoying 'Modern' Debates That Have Been Around Forever

Before you go thinking the world is getting pettier, take solace that humanity never really had their shit together to begin with. The capacity to squabble over anything, morbid or trivial, is an innate trait in our species. We're not even that creative about it. Every couple of decades we seem to forget what we just freaked out about and repeat the whole thing. Like how ...

Crisis-Actor Conspiracies Sadly Pre-date Modern Electronic Media By At Least a Century

Name a disaster, typically associated with firearms or terrorism, and you have a nut confidently asserting that all the witnesses, families of victims, if not victims themselves, are actors bankrolled by some mastermind. Supposedly the victims either did not exist, were paid actors ("Does this count toward my SAG card?"), or jetted off to assume a new identity somewhere else.

Sandy Hook popularized the concept in the Alex Jones-era of bullshit conspiracies ...

... but before the tactic was used to discredit gun control advocates, it was the favorite tool of those fighting integration. It has been documented that after the Civil War that black victims of abuse at the hands of the KKK were subjected to the same treatment meted out to Sandy Hook parents, accused of lying at a Congressional hearing by the Democratic Party, who were opposed to Reconstruction and Lincoln's Republican Party. ("Clearly these lynchings are nothing more than elaborate pinatas. Hashingtag Fake News.")

During the bitterest moments of the civil rights movement, it popped up again, as black students in Arkansas were accused of being paid plants to pose as students.

Meanwhile, three murdered volunteers in Philadelphia, Mississippi ("The Mississippi Burning" case) were written off collaborators in an elaborate hoax, secretly hiding out in Cuba. If there's any bright side, it's that these moronic theories were always discredited ... Eventually.

Creative Types Have Always Been "Selling Out," So Stop Complaining

You've probably heard of celebrities leveraging their fame to do commercials or hawking toys and branded junk, scolded as douchey shills or hacks in popular culture. George Lucas is often belittled when he made the unprecedented choice to sell Star Wars toys.

The thing is, it wasn't unprecedented. Turn of the last century, Beatrix Potter, writer of the Peter Rabbit series of books, really got the ball rolling when she filed a patent for her characters so she could sell a line of stuffed animals. Her publishers thought it was crass, but she persisted, eventually branching out into stationery, handkerchiefs, and clothing, making more cash off the merch than the books. Her American rival, Thornton Burgess, countered with his own cuddly toy line, Beanie Babies for The Lost Generation.

5 Annoying 'Modern' Debates That Have Been Around Forever
Quaddy Playthings Manufacturing Co.
Kind of like a Beanie Baby, but it actually retains its value over time.

Potter wasn't the first. If you haven't heard of Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela, well, don't worry, no one else has either. But had you been alive 280 years ago it would have been impossible to avoid. Richardson's fame exploded, and soon the guy had his own line of items for sale, stage adaptations, and fan-fic, as he was the first guy to really figure out branding. As always happens when someone blows up big, the original, hardcore fans were turned off by his new fans and accused him of taking the money at the cost of his dignity.

That's what you got for daring to make some bank off your work before dying of *insert weird old-timey disease that will probably come back due to anti-vaxxers*, instead of just letting some soulless corporation do it after.

As Long as Football Has Existed There's Been People Trying to Get it Banned For Safety

Any talk of the NFL, youth football, or college athletics usually comes to the topic of safety. Studies has repeatedly shown that there is a strong link between rattling your brain and brain no work no good. Nothing has changed in 150 years.

American-styled football started as rugby, albeit Yanks played their version of the sport more intensely than their foreign cousins. Using formations such as the "flying wedge" -- a human-snow plow conceived purely to stampede the other team's best players into a coma -- university students tweaked the sport to their liking. Hooray, American ingenuity!

Consequently, players began maiming and killing each other. The death toll was 18, just in 1905 alone. Calls for the game to be abolished flooded in as journalists and politicians painted it as Thunderdome with a pigskin, aka "The Death Harvest." In a modern era when sports networks carry the water for the NFL, it's hard to imagine how ESPN would have covered it if they existed a hundred-fifteen years ago.

5 Annoying 'Modern' Debates That Have Been Around Forever
Cincinnati Commercial Tribune
"Sportscenter's ruptured spleen of the day brought to you by Marlboro cigarettes."

Teddy Roosevelt, whose own son had been injured while playing the sport, stepped in. As the story goes, he didn't so much pressure universities to change the rules as he offered an ultimatum: fix it or he'd ban it. Rules were altered, and the forward pass opened up the game, helmets made mandatory soon after. Regulations prevented countless concussions, fractures, and spinal damage.

That did little to alleviate CTE. Head trauma the one aspect of the game no one ever figured out how to remove and probably never will.

Naming Diseases Has Always Been a Jingoistic Contest of Hot Potato

The COVID-19 virus has gone through more name changes than Prince. Trump's cabinet tried to get the hashtag "Chinese Virus" thing spreading to little success. Meanwhile, China attempted to blame it on everybody, from labeling the affliction as an Italian virus as part of its disinformation campaign to distance itself to blaming the US. Should this sound slimy, trolling your geopolitical rival ain't new. Even the face-mask memes are recycled.

Calgary Daily Herald
Source: Facebook, circa 1919.

Syphillis, an especially-unpleasant STD, went through a litany of different nicknames and terminology before we all settled on its current title. Russians pointed the finger at Poland. Everyone of France's neighbors called the venereal disease the "French Pox." In France, it became the "Neapolitan Disease." Turkey did them one better and classified it as Christian in origin ... and so forth, until every nation got stuck with the epithet along with some hard-to-explain genital sores.

In 1918, a novel form of the flu burst forth, laying waste to the planet. How did the world's leading governments, in the midst of a bloody world war, settle this one? Easy. They pinned the blame on the one neutral country who didn't outright censor the shit out of the epidemiological crisis: Spain; hence the "Spanish Flu." While other countries covered it up. Insisting on transparency and combating medical ignorance, the Spanish press extensively exposed the pandemic, saddled with the name for their trouble, though they definitely were not the source of transmission and weren't even hit hard. Though we guess Spanish Flu is a catchier name than Kansas Cough.

Movies Have (Supposedly) Been Inspiring Killing Sprees Since Movies Existed

Before the tragedy of The Dark Knight "Joker shooting," there was Clockwork Orange; a film pulled by its director after a girl in England was assaulted by viewers claiming inspiration. In the '80s, Faces of Death assumed the mantle of worst-teen influences outside of mullets and rapey sex-comedies.

While these were undeniably pathetic excuses by some idiots, the fear of movies spawning copycat killers has long captured the public's imagination. Regardless of how many experts repeatedly pointing out otherwise, blaming others for psychotic rampage goes together with movies as much as overpriced, butter-drenched popcorn.

5 Annoying 'Modern' Debates That Have Been Around Forever
Only one guaranteed to end your life.

The UK famously had a list of movies so gory and beyond artistic merit that there were blacklisted, the "video nasties." This paranoia dates back to the time of silent movies, in particular, London after Midnight, starring the master of silent horror, Lon Chaney Sr. Following a viewing of the film one Robert Williams butchered a woman in London, claiming he was shocked by the vampire makeup.

Fortunately, for modern prudes, the black and white film can do no more harm, the reels lost to time, the only copy lost in a fire. Only publicity stills exist to show what would have inspired Williams's bloodlust, shown below. If the homicide rate spikes after this article is published, go ahead, blame us:

5 Annoying 'Modern' Debates That Have Been Around Forever
From back in the day when a 50 dollar trip to Party City was enough to drive someone to madness.

Top image Warner Bros. Pictures, InfoWars

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