4 Things Everyone Remembers Happening (But Totally Didn't)
In your day-to-day life, you get the impression that your mind and your memory accurately represent the world. That's because your mind is dumb and your memory is a goddamn liar, but both are good enough con artists to trick you into believing otherwise. For instance, check out these four things you're sure of and yet dead wrong about.
The Inception Sound Doesn't Occur In Inception
Inception is a mind-blowing movie about literally blowing people's minds with dream RPGs and dream C4. And when the dream shit really hits the dream fan, we hear the iconic Inception sound: BRAAAM. The sound hits, then expands, filling your whole head, and then decays exponentially. It rings your head like a bell. It's such an iconic part of the film, it's the sound we hear during the opening credits (when we first see the title of the film INCEPTION in the stark gray labyrinthine lettering). If you've seen the film, I don't need to remind you of any of this, because you remember it ... completely wrong.
The BRAAAM doesn't play during the opening credits, because there are no opening credits. And when we see "Inception" it's just plain white letters on a black background, at the end of the film. And that sound actually doesn't happen even a single time in the film. BRAAAM!
Above: The reality. Below: BRAAAM.
All those things you remember are from the trailers. The BRAAAM is all over two different Inception trailers (and emulated in many, many, many, many, many trailers since), but it isn't in the film. In fact, there is some controversy over whether or not it was even created by Inception's composer, Hans Zimmer. According to Indiewire, Mike Zarin and his team created the sound by building on the repetitive, percussive motif used in previous trailers, then Zack Hemsey put it into a song that really made it pop. According to Hans Zimmer superfan Hans Zimmer, it was made by Hans Zimmer.
The memory that we all have of that BRAAAM playing during the movie (especially playing during the nonexistent opening credits) is completely false. That means that the trailer for Inception inceptioned us into thinking the Inception sound was in Inception. That is impressively meta. Just like when The Prestige tricked everyone into thinking it was a good movie.
Neil Armstrong Didn't Say Something Incredibly Stupid When He First Stepped Onto The Moon
Everyone knows the first words spoken when humans first walked on the moon: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The words are poetic, in that they don't make a lick of goddamn sense.
In this context, "man" means the exact same thing as "mankind." When we say, "Man has been riding horses since 3500 B.C.," we aren't talking about one, very tired guy. So "one small step for man" would be if everyone on Earth simultaneously did the Time Warp or something. As far as I know, that isn't what was happening on July 20, 1969. What was happening was a small step for a man: Neil Armstrong.
"And one giant leap for my kids' 'My dad is cooler than your dad' arguments."
So what happened? Did the astronaut who didn't shit himself during the first-ever emergency in space suddenly become nervous? Was he an idiot who somehow managed to fake his way into a degree in aeronautical engineering? He very clearly says "One small step for man." It's right there in cold, hard ones and zeros, right?
Not according to Neil Armstrong. Armstrong insisted that he actually said "One small step for a man," because he knows how to speak English and is not Frankenstein's monster. A recent study at Michigan State University supports his claim. Their data suggest that Armstrong's accent may have caused a misunderstanding of the transmission: They have found that people raised in Central Ohio pronounce "for a" like "frrr(uh)." The bit of static in the transmission, then, may have been just enough to make it seem like the first words on the moon were tantamount to, "Man take step, man big jump."
For more on staticky drawled pronunciations, see every Southern rap song from '95 to '03.
At least this finally gives us conclusive evidence that Kubrick did not direct the moon landing. If he had, he would have done 49 more takes of it and then chosen the one where the footfalls were the loudest.
Gordon Gekko Never Says "Greed Is Good"
Oliver Stone's classic Wall Street brought us the seminal insider-trading sleaze, Gordon Gekko. In his most famous scene, he addresses a room full of stockholders, imploring them to embrace the cutthroat law of the capitalist jungle. In our memories, we can clearly hear Michael Douglas smugly croak, "Greed is good," like some kind of Objectivist bullfrog.
What we remember, however, is actually a paraphrase of the actual Gekko quote, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." The thing to notice here isn't so much that we get the quote wrong: It's an understandable tightening up to make the line more quotable. The thing to notice is that people repeat it over and over with no idea that it's a paraphrase. People are 100 percent confident that the actual quote is "Greed is good," despite being 100 percent wrong about it (kind of like everyone's political views besides mine).
Greedy sequels, for lack of a better word, are bad.
This isn't an isolated incident. Elizabeth Phelps researches the impact of emotion on memories and finds that confidence in a memory and accuracy in its details go together like peanut butter and tuna salad. The more emotional an event is, the more confident we are about what happened and the more likely our minds are to go back and "enhance" our memories. Despite what a CSI tech looking at a photo would have you believe, to "enhance" necessarily means to "alter." "Enhancing" your memories in this way is a great way to remember the gist of what happened, but it can have unexpected effects on the details.
The most emotionally impactful moments, then, may actually be the ones that we're most likely to get a little wrong. Try to keep this in mind when remembering the most emotional moments in your life: a fight that ended a friendship, the particular wording of your wedding vows, or what happens when you beat Dark Souls III.
Tom Cruise Didn't Lose His Shit On Oprah's Couch
Of course we all remember Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah's couch. I know we just went through three examples of people misremembering important details of memories they were confident about, but this moment was huge. Surely this one we all have on lock-down: We remember Tom Cruise, dressed in all black, coming on Oprah to PROVE that Tom Cruise loves loves loves ladies, specifically the one called Cakey Homes or whatever. Of course, the thing we remember most clearly is him jumping up and down on that yellow-beige leather couch, yelling, "I love her!" while a terrified Oprah could do nothing but look on helplessly. It was a giant celebrity meltdown, and as Amy Nicholson points out in L.A. Weekly, didn't really happen that way.
First, it's worth noting that for the dozens of videos of Tom Cruise jumping on the couch, it's actually fairly hard to find unedited footage of the incident. People seem much less interested in what actually happened than in back-to-back repeats of two tiny snippets of it. That comports with most of our experience at the time as well: Not many of us were home watching Oprah waiting with bated breath for the Tom Cruise interview on his love life, but the condensed, replayed version was an early viral hit.
The interview taken as a whole shows Cruise jumping up and standing on the couch before hopping back down one second later. He does that twice in a 40-minute interview. So what happened to him jumping up and down, yelling about how much he loves her? We made that up. We created that memory after watching repetitive cuts on YouTube, obviously edited for comedic effect. And yet when we recall this incident 10 years later, we are shocked that he wasn't jumping up and down on the couch.
The Amy Nicholson piece also argues that this isn't a trivial distinction: It changes how we remember what is essentially happening in this interview. We don't remember (again, probably because most of us never actually bothered to watch it) that it actually feels like Cruise is on the defensive in the interview. Oprah and an audience of screaming fans press him for more and more tidbits about his romantic life with Katie Holmes. They want to know intimate details about their getaways, how they met, and whether or not they are getting married. Are they? Are they? Are they? As Tom gets more and more cornered, he gives a bigger and bigger performance as he keeps deflecting, to keep details private. We misremember the biggest celebrity meltdown ever recorded not only in terms of what happened but also why it happened.
When you remember something you saw on a screen, you're getting a story from an unreliable memory -- one that has no problem making up half the details -- about source material that was itself a weird collage of different sources and ideas. Hopefully these examples encourage you to take your memories with a grain of salt. Unless you remember really liking this article. You can be 100 percent sure of that.
Deep inside us all -- behind our political leanings, moral codes, and private biases -- there is a cause so colossally stupid that we surprise ourselves with how much we care. Whether it's toilet paper position, fedoras on men, or Oxford commas, we each harbor a preference so powerful that we can't help but proselytize about it to the world. In the next live episode of the Cracked podcast, guest host Soren Bowie is joined by Cody Johnston, Michael Swaim, and comedian Annie Lederman to discuss the most trivial things we will argue about until the day we die. Get your tickets here!
Learn how the Hanging Gardens of Babylon might not have actually existed in 6 Famous Things From History That Didn't Actually Exist, and read about the Soviet spy in Congress in 5 Conspiracy Theories You Won't Believe (Really Happened).
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