5 News Moments From A Few Decades Ago That Seem Surreal Now
History is full of zany, wacky events that are undeservedly pushed out of our collective consciousness to make room for all the terrible, depressing things that constantly happen. So we invite you to momentarily blank out the past's unending cycle of pain and horror to enjoy these unjustly forgotten WTF moments, freshly curated from the Cracked historical archives tucked inside a blast-proof bunker 300 feet below the Arctic tundra.
Women Going Around Pinching Men's Bottoms For The BBC
In 1971, the BBC sent reporter Nicky Woodhead to pinch men's asses in the name of gender equality, with hilarious, surprisingly non-violent results.
The first man Woodhead assaults is the venerable lord-sir Humphrey-Picketfence-Thistlebranch, who looks bound for the stock exchange to trade wheat futures, fix prices, and secure personal profits while dooming the peasantry to starvation. But appearances are deceiving. And he turns out to be a good sport who enjoys a mirthful laugh, laments that he's never been fanny-pinched before, and doffs his hat to bid Nicky a fair day.
The second pinchee similarly doesn't mind "ladies picking gentlemen up in the streets" because he's also a player; he replies with self-aware tomcatishness.
It's not until the 37-second mark that Woodhead encounters (a minor degree of) hostility from a gentleman exhibiting a Scrooge-like aversion to the female touch. He leers at her, thinking, "How dare you accost my hind-bottoms in such a highly improprietous manner, trollop," while visibly resisting the urge to flag down a constable to club her with a nightstick. When asked about the equality of the sexes, his answer is a curt and straightforward "No."
Most others respond good-spiritedly, with the polite and proper Queen's English of one who's enjoying a post-mealtime contentment after a nice cuppa tea and eel pie. It's mainly the older generation, like this gentleman who we assume is the conductor of the British Royal Train that object. Even a young Elton John, who squeaks with shock and asserts (believably) that he never importunes women in public, thinks it a jolly good idea to seek gender equality through street molestation.
Overall, the men were less outraged than expected. Possibly because they were nobbled by a bonny young bird. Would their reactions remain unchanged if they were buttonholed by a gruff and corpulent scullery maid that uttered, "Come on lo'rve, give us a little nuzzle then innit?" We think not.
These Ladies Really Did Not Like Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher served as Britain's first woman Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990 and earned the honorific "Iron Lady" from the Soviets—and you know someone's a hard-ass when the Soviets bestow such a moniker. Thatcher privatized industries, slashed union rights, enacted unpopular tax policies, and fought against British integration into the European Community. Millions of people lost their livelihood, riots broke out, and Britain achieved some unenviable unemployment figures. But she won re-election anyway because, in 1982, Britain's formerly globe-spanning naval forces recovered two tiny, godforsaken islands from Argentina, a country known for its horse-riding and steak-grilling prowesses.
And in 1984, Thatcher was almost blown up when an IRA bomb exploded at a Conservative Party conference in Brighton, whereupon she presumably uttered that the attempt on her life had left her scarred and deformed but did not hamper her resolve.
So it's unsurprising that the public's opinion was, uh, divided, to put it mildly. This enmity is best demonstrated in an impromptu street interview (conducted during Thatcher's funeral) in which we're presented a typically dreary English day and a perfectly lovely looking, umbrella-wielding British lady possibly returning from tea-time. Thatcher hadn't done a bit of good, the interviewee opines, adding that Thatcher's still-heaving, night-walking corpse can only be truly vanquished with "a stake through her heart and garlic around her neck."
The second woman interviewed is equally critical when asked about the importance of Thatcher as Britain's first woman PM, saying that Thatcher pulled the ladder up after herself, never helped another woman, and that no country deserves such a war-mongering leader – male or female.
But we suspect her attitude will change when she's enjoying a pleasant, rainy, 34 degree summer day on South Georgia island.
Reagan Getting Booed In The South Bronx
The meme-browsing generations only know Ronald Reagan as a Call of Duty character who sold missiles to Iran, funded rebels in Nicaragua, and flooded American inner cities with crack. But other than that whole president thing, Reagan was an actor with an impressive filmography, unmatched in scope by any other president and matched in on-screen believability only by Clinton's denial of sexual allegations.
But Reagan's big-screen skills didn't help him act cool when he visited the South Bronx during his 1980 presidential campaign. There he found a community in disarray, which he likened to post-Blitz London. And indeed, as he walked over rubble and past shattered buildings on Charlotte Street, one half-expected Snake Plissken to drop from the sky in his hang glider.
At the time, the 20-square-mile South Bronx held 170,000 inhabitants and not nearly enough housing or jobs. In fact, more than 86,000 adults were on welfare. And the infrastructure was crumbling, with around 3,000 abandoned buildings containing a combined 50,000 apartments that were all "either boarded up or burned out."
Three years before, Jimmy Carter stood on the same spot and promised a more-than-billion dollar revitalization effort that never materialized. So when Reagan arrived, he was understandably heckled, booed, and overwhelmed by an uninterrupted din that unsettled his temper several times. And while many of the residents in attendance did want answers, large parts of the crowd, exasperated by the long-time lack of governmental assistance and attention, rarely quieted down long enough to hear them.
One especially noticeable woman's screams punctuate Reagan's entire visit. And it's at this woman that Reagan vents his anger, and, honestly, it's hard to blame him on this occasion, regardless of how empty and self-serving his attempted promises may have been.
Once president, Reagan proved himself true to his party by disregarding the needy and cutting federal housing programs nationwide.
The Daily Show Vs War Protesters
Jon Stewart gained fame during his 16-year reign as host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, America's largest, most diverse network for canceled programs. The Daily Show revolutionized the industry by making light of terrible happenings and birthed an endless procession of progressively unfunnier copycat shows, culminating in its own current iteration, which inspires tens of laughs worldwide every week.
The Daily Show owed much of its success to Jon Stewart, who fit an implausible amount of comedic ire into his tiny little body like a human clown car. An ire that was generally directed toward the self-serving politicians, money-hungry war-dealers, and propagandist media networks that transformed our once-proud sham democracy into an unabashed oligarchy.
So it's surprising to see an early-2000s Stewart skewing some street interviews to pimp out the brewing Iraq War. A "hawks" vs. "doves" debate segment features a relatively normal pro-war proponent, Katie Kane, speaking on behalf of the hawks and asserting that war is inevitable. After all, how else can oil execs and global weapons dealers fund their ever-growing harems of exotic, high-end escorts?
On the "doves" side, the Daily Show chooses to mock a person giving a perfectly reasonable answer of it being a bunch of theater and that we would be better served focusing on domestic issues. Yet, Stewart chooses to present him as the punchline because … he has a scruffy beard and shaggy hair?
Pablo Escobar In Front Of The White House
In the pantheon of historical villains, Pablo Escobar is a bonafide hall of famer. He topped his bygone competitors in (at least) two major ways. First, cash money: at its peak, his operation supplied 80% of the United States' cocaine and pulled in more than $400 million a week.
Secondly, with an unmatched brand of overt narco bravado: he imported hippos for his 7.7-square-mile ranch Hacienda Nápoles, funded a personal army, and in 1980 committed one of the most brazen acts of social exhibitionism of the pre-internet era: as one of the globe's most wanted men, he casually posed for a family photo op in front of the White House's North Portico:
During the Escobar family trip to America, his wife, Maria Victoria, snapped this photo of him and his son, Juan Pablo Escobar (aka Lil Esco). A vacay that included a visit to Disneyland, where even the Mickey Mouse character actor probably broke kayfabe to call Escobar "sir" and took him to see Walt Disney's frozen head.
At the time, Escobar was cultivating a legitimate image for his budding political career, with the ambition of becoming president of Colombia. He initiated various civic projects back home, including rebuilding communities, funding housing projects, and commissioning public spaces like parks and soccer fields. And, to his credit, these efforts do surpass those of most modern politicians.
Escobar made it to the Medéllin City Council and then, in 1982, as an alternate in the Chamber of Representatives. He might have made it all the way to the top but chose to focus on his career as a James Bond-style supervillain instead.
In case you're wondering, his son changed his name to Sebastian Marroquin and moved to Argentina. He became an author, an advocate for sustainability, the centerpiece of the Argentine documentary Sins of My Father (in which he sought peace and closure), and an architect responsible for some swanky designs.
Top Image: Comedy Central