5 Innovators Who Went Back for Seconds and Immediately Regretted It
True, unabashed success is a rare thing in this world. It’s something that everyone dreams of achieving, even if most of us are going to die sputtering in the mud like a catfish. As an internet blog writer, I cannot tell you what it feels like to be at the top of your chosen profession, but I imagine it gives you a feeling of invincibility, and also a really nice house.
Maybe it’s that feeling of total invincibility and genius that causes so many people to proudly trot out their magnum opus part duae. Unfortunately, that first bull’s-eye doesn’t guarantee the accuracy of the second shot. At best, it’s a public whoopsy-daisy, and at worst, it can taint the legacy they had just established.
Here are five people who might have been better off staying safely seated on their laurels…
Everyone Involved with ‘Speed 2: Cruise Control’
The first Speed was an absolute, unmitigated success. Launching long Hollywood careers? Check. Winning Academy Awards? Check. Making an absolutely garish amount of cold hard cash? 350 million marks in the “check” column. It was also a fascinating and unique framing of a modern action movie meets bottle episode, one that made Die Hard’s Nakatomi Plaza seem like an endlessly spacious playground. So it’s not surprising that, riding that wave of goodwill and undoubtedly with studios desperately wanting that money hose to stay open, Speed 2: Cruise Control was an inevitability.
Director Jan De Bont apparently came up with the idea for the sequel in a dream, and it turned out about as entertaining as being told about one at a party. The bus was gone, replaced by a cruise ship that was surely moving quickly in pure numbers, but in a setting, the ocean, which is famous for being a vast, uninterrupted expanse. Sandra Bullock put it best herself, describing the film that she hated and still hates today: “Makes no sense. Slow boat. Slowly going towards an island.”
Forget an elevator pitch, that’s an elevator takedown.
The Virtual Boy
Any child of the past that’s ever been on a road trip, along with modern children playing an unnecessarily loud iPad game on public transit, owe a debt of gratitude to Gunpei Yokoi. Yokoi, while at Nintendo, spotted someone playing with a calculator while bored, and thought, “What if I made a version of that with games that weren’t just spelling BOOBS?” From that came the Nintendo Game Boy, the alpha and omega of handheld time-wasters, and cause of an absolute genocide of double-A batteries worldwide.
When your first console idea is going to end up in the Museum of American History, you’re going to get a second swing. Unfortunately, in his next at-bat, Yokoi chased an inadvisably wild pitch. That was the Virtual Boy, a console that was opposite the Game Boy in almost every selling point, including portability, convenience, and arguably, graphics. The only thing they shared was their incredible capability to cause eyestrain. It’s still considered Nintendo’s biggest failure, and as someone who tried it out in a Hollywood Video as a video-game obsessed child and left mildly nauseated, I can safely say it deserved its fate.
Michael Jordan is such an American titan that, given the choice, I think most people would rather meet him than any recent president. He’s still the bar to clear for any generational sports talent, and a good portion of the people reading this are probably wearing his shoes. He may dress like a scuttled sailboat, but his legacy will live on well beyond his death, especially any time NBA 2K needs to make extra money off of Deluxe Editions.
So when he retired from basketball, it was a big deal. Especially because it didn’t come on the tail of a clear decline in ability, or advanced age. Jordan was only 30 years old. He left the world wondering what could have been, while he headed off to the baseball diamond to see if his talent for jumpers could translate to dingers. Unfortunately, two years later, he came back and answered those questions in an underwhelming fashion. Watching a great, possibly the greatest, athlete of a sport decline isn’t much fun. Not everybody can survive on almonds and space water into their 40s like Tom Brady. We would have been spared a decaying Jordan, but instead, we watched a legend fade away in the wrong uniform.
The Titan Submersible
There are a couple things that, when an expert (a real one, not the guys on Twitter) tells you you’re doing wrong, you should probably stop doing. CPR, for example. Or building a deep-sea submarine. So when pretty much everyone in the extremely underwater vehicle business looks at your attempt and says “that’s not how that works,” it would be advisable to make a trip back to the drawing board, instead of the bottom of the ocean.
The founders of OceanGate, a company providing tours of the wreck of the Titanic that proves that maybe, just maybe, any publicity is not good publicity, thumbed their nose at that. When their fucked-up little pillboat successfully made it there and back, they tragically took that as the rule and not the exception. Dipping back into that extremely deep well proved tragic, as we all now know, when the Titan submersible imploded, and when asked for the reason, deep sea experts responded with “Well, I’ve got about five.”
World War II
Can you believe Germany tried this shit again? Knock it off!
Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.