Throwaway Jokes That Eventually Became Real
In today's absurdist mess of a world, it's harder and harder to separate satire from real life, to see where the actual governments start and the Dr. Strangeloves end. But you know things are getting downright ridiculous when even old throwaway pop culture jokes are suddenly morphing into reality with Nostradamus-like precision. For example...
'The Simpsons' Had A Picture Perfect Idea Of The 'Game Of Thrones' Fiery Ending
With over 30 years, 680 episodes, 140 writers and counting, it's no wonder that the typewriter monkeys behind The Simpsons have been able to predict some of the best of times and the blurst of times. Stay loosey-goosey enough with your interpretation and The Simpsons can be credited with predicting the rise of President Trump, Olympic gold for the US curling team and the (near) mass of the Higgs Boson particle. They even managed to foresee a group pandemic panickers being scared off the streets by murder hornets. Just like real life (sadly)!
But very occasionally, that broad scattershot approach shows a glimpse of the future with laser-like precision. We all like to forget the disastrous last season of Game of Thrones where every character behaved so irrationally it was like they had finally succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning from all the dragon farts. A season that then jumped and then BBQ'd the shark when Queen Daenerys decided to burn the biggest city in Westeros because of bell-related PTSD.
And if that scene looked mighty familiar, even as you were watching it with slacked jaws, it might be because you had been keeping up with The Simpsons. In its Game of Thrones parody episode "The Serfsons," the family stares impotently as a mad rider and his red dragon lay fiery waste to building after building.
Except that was in 2017, two whole years before the GOT Season 8 twists, a time when throngs of fans were still #TeamTargaryen and before thousands of nerd parents seriously started regretting calling their baby girls Daenerys. The similar aesthetics really are striking, showing that the Simpsons team can still have their finger on the pop culture pulse. Either that or David Benioff and D.B. Weiss saw the episode and figured, if they can't have their usual old sea boat captain tell them exactly what to do, they'd just crib their visuals from Groening instead.
The Creators Of Tank Girl Perfectly Predicted Morrissey Selling Out 25 Years In Advance
Ever since his time as the frontman of The Smiths, that band Spotify Radio usually pairs with the location of the nearest suicide bridge, Morrissey has relished in being an eccentric artist. And that outrageous behavior has only increased over the years as the Moody Moper from Manchester unexpectedly became an increasingly militant vegan and then a boring British racist, using his bigmouth to spew hate against immigrants.
While teetering between becoming a green and white supremacist, the singer-songwriter did manage to cling onto his outsider artist cred for longer than expected. Until, in 2019, Moz baffled fans and critics once again by doubling down on being bitter has been and selling out and performing at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, joining other sensitive indie icons like Celine Dion and Tom Jones to sing his truth to whoever got their tickets comped after complaining about bad turndown service.
But no one could've been more surprised by this implausible turn of events than the creators of the post-apocalyptic punk rock comic book Tank Girl -- because they predicted this exact event in 1994. In issue 40 of Deadline Magazine, one of Tank Girl's pals Sub Girl (imagine the Spice Girls if funded by Halliburton) tries to puzzle together the history of The Smiths with the limited knowledge she has in our bombed-out future. While getting most of the iconic events and songs slightly wrong (though "Vicar With A Yo-Yo, Oh-Ho" does sound like an upgrade), Sub Girl also claims that, eventually, an embittered Morrissey sells out and trades whatever respectability he has left to rake in money at a Vegas Show. Specifically, Caesar's Palace.
The resemblance is uncanny, despite the difference of 25 years and what looks like 250 pounds. Though with Morrissey's alleged all-carb diet, the crouton bars at Caesar's shrimp buffets will soon fill out even that discrepancy.
'Batman Beyond' Foresaw The Suckiness Of The Spider-Man Musical
There's a lot that superheroes can do: fly, shoot lasers, whatever power Tony Stark has to keep people from making fun of his goatee, and so on. But no one has ever wanted their A-list crimefighter to have the super-ability to carry a tune. Yet Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark set out to make bank from a noirish musical about a cheerful superhero -- forgetting that that one-note joke had already been played out with a cheerful musical about a noirish superhero.
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark was one of the most expensive flops in Broadway musical history. Despite/in part due to music from Bono and The Edge, the confusing arachno-rock opera had no mass appeal, with audiences uninterested in spending Hamilton money on seeing yet another Spider-Man origin story and watch some dude in tights swing around on stage wires like a panicked spider trying to escape a bathtub. But the producers could've saved themselves a ton of cash if they had watched the 2000 episode of Batman Beyond, "Out Of The Past." Set in 2039, multiple iterations of Batman (sound familiar, Spider-Man franchise?) are watching a very similarly tone-deaf superhero musical of the caped crusader crooning with Commissioner Gordon. Though there's two major differences between Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and Batman: A Hero In The Wing -- the latter has a much better title and much catchier tunes.
Just like a lot of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark's audiences, the episode shows old Bruce Wayne leaving halfway through, the joke being that the weird musical just makes Batman feel old and outdated for wanting the real deal. But guess that's a tough lesson to figure out for people who thought it was smart to make a U2 rock musical in the 2010s.
'Mallrats' Predicted The Horniness Of The Hawaii Missile Crisis
Kevin Smith, patron auteur of angry forum posters, was once well-regarded for his jaded insights into the new American way of life. That wasn't very obvious in Mallrats; a movie so aimless the closest it got to being a clever pop culture movie was a Stan Lee cameo. But despite the movie's obsession with farting around, both physically and spiritually, it did offer a single nugget of truth. And that nugget had to do with jacking it.
Out of its Norbit-esque cast of Kevin Smith alter egos (in a movie that features the man himself as Silent Bob, no less) the closest Mallrats come to a protagonist is Brodie. Brodie considers himself a Gen X truth speaker and cynic philosopher, although his only attempt at dialectics ends with him giving his disturbingly bald nemesis a "stink palm."
But the Diogenes of slacker a-holes does offer some insight into the human psyche. When asked on a tame TV dating show if he would ever make "whoopie" in public, Brodie counters with a 'true story' about his cousin Walter and his near-plane crash. After the initial shock of dropping doom wore off, Walter and the other passengers didn't weep, didn't curse the gods, but instead collectively whipped out their assorted fun parts and started masturbating like crazy, staring Death in the face and giving him a load of their humanity ... before becoming real embarrassed when everything turned out to be fine.
While both the uptight '90s audiences in and of the movie were not very convinced by Brodie's Air Wank story, Smith was vindicated more than twenty years later in 2018, when the people of Hawaii were also given a false alert warning of their impending doom, with the government texting them that missiles were about to say aloha (which means both hello and goodbye) to them and all their loved ones.
While we cannot know all that goes through a person's mind when the apocalypse comes a-calling, Pornhub did provide a clue, publishing traffic data that proved people panicking over being pounded into the pearly white sands quickly chose to do some pounding of their own. After an initial drop in Pornhub traffic (it's hard to get a decent WiFi connection when you're running around screaming that the world is about to end), Hawaiians returned on masse to the porn site, with 48% more Hawaiians feeling the need to come to grips with their complicated emotions by coming to grips with our unspoken fight-or-flight horniness.
Calvin And Hobbes Were Fans Of Vaporwave Muzak Before It Was Cool
Best known today for peeing on whatever Range Rover owners dislike, Calvin of the eponymous Calvin and Hobbes cartoons has a far longer history of putting his disgruntlement into words, not pee. Especially when he was used by creator Bill Watterson as a minute mouthpiece for the man's musings on life, philosophy and the psychological ramifications of being outsmarted by a stuffed tiger.
A particularly poignant pre-pubescent moment came on March 11, 1992, when Calvin questioned what future teens would listen to now when even punk rock artists can become "45-year-old zillionaires." How does one create a counter-culture against a counter-culture?
But with childlike clarity, Calvin simply pushes that swinging pendulum all the way back, devoting his rebellious preteen ears to monotonal, easy listening muzak, making something revolutionary out of old bleeps and bloops and -- vaporwave. Calvin was talking about vaporwave.
For the uninitiated, i.e. everyone who hasn't had to cram for an exam in the past decade, vaporwave is a modern fringe genre that falls under the lo-fi banner. It borrows from the same places as (as joked about by Watterson) muzak, sampling basic synth, jazz, elevator music and just about any easy to listing music you'd expect playing in the background of a corporate video on the dangers of operating heavy machinery while wearing oversized shoulder pads. Just like Calvin predicted, those simple sounds also carry an ironic counter-culture message. Like its pseudo-namesake, vaporwave repurposes outdated modals and screws around with them to create a false nostalgia. (In this case, a nostalgia for the corporate and futurism obsessed culture of the '80s and early '90s that seems downright quaint now.)
For more dumb jokes that will hopefully never become reality, do follow Cedric on Twitter.
Top Image: 20th Century Fox Television