We all know movies have the power to create powerful social trends; Saturday Night Fever helped to popularize the disco movement, Jaws created widespread fear of swimming in the ocean, and the new Minions movie led to … whatever the hell this is. Sometimes, though, the resulting effects on our population are just plain dumb, and arguably make the world a worse place, such as how …

Mad Men Created A Boom In Sales For Don Draper’s Cigarette Brand

Short of mandating that all the actors show up to set half-drunk after waking up in a stranger’s apartment, Mad Men strived in many other ways to create a sense of authenticity. Obviously, there was a lot of period-accurate detail, but they also used real brand names on the show – because it sure would have been distracting if Don Draper was pitching ads for Coxa-Crola or Eastern Union.

This also meant that the cigarette brand most prominently featured on the show was totally real; Don Draper’s smoke of choice and one of Sterling Cooper’s top clients was Lucky Strike. And while a number of companies paid for product placement on Mad Men, others, such as Lucky Strike, didn’t but still reaped the benefits. 

Reportedly, during the duration of the show, sales of Lucky Strike went from 23 billion in 2007 to 33 billion in 2012 – which is a lot – concerning anti-smoking advocates who speculated that the show could be glamorizing tobacco use for some viewers by showing “successful men in sharp suits” who “chain smoke throughout the programme.”

Although, to be fair, Mad Men wasn’t exactly pro-Lucky Strike; the very first episode of the show featured a scene in which the brand was scrambling to find a way to trick the public into consuming their cancer-causing product. 

And if that wasn’t enough, later, the company’s head, the fictional Lee Garner Jr., was revealed to be a serial harasser who had one of the most beloved characters on the show fired, and even ruined Christmas one year.

So it sure never seemed like the show was endorsing the cigarette brand, even though they may have sold like terrible-smelling hotcakes as a result.

The Fast And The Furious Movies Seemingly Lead To An Increase In Speeding

Humans are highly-suggestible creatures; a statement we have no evidence to back up, other than the fact that you just accepted it without question. It turns out that one popular action franchise may have had more of an influence on the public than you might have thought: the Fast and the Furious series. 

In addition to increasing sales of Corona and, presumably, sales of any product containing the word “family,” these movies may actually change the way people drive. After all, after two hours of watching Vin Diesel and his pals Tokyo Drifting all over the goddamn place, why wouldn’t moviegoers put the pedal to the metal on the way home from the multiplex? 

Cops have reportedly been “stepping up traffic patrols” near theaters playing the Fast movies, out of concerns that amateurs will attempt crazy stunts. And a New York Times study found that, when examining “traffic violation data” there was a “large increase in the average speed of drivers who received speeding tickets on the weekends after Fast and Furious releases'' – also “ rates of extreme speeding increased” on those same weekends. So maybe we should just be thankful that David Cronenberg's Crash never inspired a major blockbuster franchise. 

Wall Street Inspired Stockbrokers To Imitate The Villain

Oliver Stone’s Wall Street tells the story of a young stockbroker who goes to work for slimy business titan Gordon Gekko – it was basically The Devil Wears Prada but for ‘80s creeps. Or maybe it was Star Wars for people who did cocaine off of $25 REO Kenny Loggins CDs. 

The movie became a “cult phenomenon on business school campuses” and despite the fact that Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, was clearly supposed to be the villain of the story, stockbrokers began to emulate his style. While Douglas’ appearance was based on a handful of prominent real-life financial workers, after the movie came out, suddenly on “trading floors there was a proliferation of suspenders, slicked-back hair and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War” – which was Gekko’s favorite book. 

More recently, The Wolf of Wall Street, a movie about a literal convicted fraudster, spawned a similar phenomenon, creating a “spike in the number of searches for stockbroker positions” – probably from people who only watched the first 45 minutes of the movie. 

The Program – Fans Imitated A Deadly Stunt

1993’s The Program found the late James Caan coaching a college football team in a story most of us probably forgot all about because we were all still thinking about Jurassic Park.

The film went from “a forgettable sports drama to one of the most controversial movies of all time” because of one scene in which the young players show off their badassery by lying down in the middle of a busy street. For reasons we’ll explain, we’re not going to share any clips of the scene, so in its place here’s a soothing video of some monkeys soaking in a hot spring. 

The scene inspired “two separate incidents” in the U.S. in which “a teenage boy was killed and two others seriously injured” recreating the stunt. Initially, the Disney-owned studio defensively stated that: “The scene in The Program clearly depicts this adolescent action as an irresponsible and dangerous stunt by a troubled and heavily intoxicated individual.” But later they “reconsidered” and yanked the scene from home video – and according to rumor, even burned the negatives, AKA the Star Wars Holiday Special treatment. 

Adorable Family Movies Can Create Massive Animal Adoption Problems

Who amongst us hasn’t seen an adorable movie creature and wished we could take it home with us? And while we can’t adopt, say, Danny DeVito (the paperwork is a nightmare) lots of family movies have featured real-life animals that create a demand for a certain type of pet – and often this results in calamity. 

Perhaps most famously, Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, which is decidedly anti-dalmatian abuse, has caused a lot of dalmatian abuse. Puppy mills and amateur breeders “flooded the market” with dalmatians due to increased demand in 1961, when the first movie came out – as well as in 1985 and 1991, when it was re-released. And the same thing happened when the 1996 remake hit theatres. 

This led to “overbreeding” dalmatians, which meant that their bloodlines were as inbred as the Lanniser family tree, causing “genetic defects”  like “deafness and urinary tract problems.” And this reportedly doubled the amount of “abandoned dogs” in some shelters, thanks to the fickleness of Disney fans who presumably shifted their attention to hunchbacks. At least Cruella De Vil’s mistreatment of dalmatians would have created a stylish new garment. 

Similarly, after the box office success of Finding Nemo there was a “depletion of clownfish populations” in ocean populations – despite the fact that the movie was about the trauma of sticking a clownfish in an aquarium. A nonprofit called “Saving Nemo” was even formed to try and “replenish populations” subsequent to this trend. Also there was a massive increase in the purchase of owls, thanks to Harry Potter, which were later “abandoned” when people realized that they “smell and are not good pets” (and can’t actually replace FedEx). 

And ‘90s kids might remember that the staggering popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles inspired a wave of people buying turtles. But according to The American Tortoise Rescue, 90% of those pets died, and were either “deliberately killed or flushed down the toilet,” likely because they sucked at martial arts and didn’t actually know Vanilla Ice personally. 

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Thumbnail: AMC/Disney

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