4 Pieces of Pop Culture That Inspired Unlikely Things
Sometimes research for one article leads to the creation of another. As I researched "5 Bizarre Inspirations Behind Famous Movie Scenes," I kept finding examples of that same idea outside of the world of film. Turns out you can be inspired to do things other than spend millions of dollars to make movies that Internet nerds will endlessly debate and fawn over for decades. You can be inspired by anything for whatever it is you're doing! What a world!
So here are examples of some unusual things that inspired famous works.
(For some inspiration of your own, watch Cracked's new mini-series Rom.Com.)
"Rock Lobster" Got John Lennon Off His Ass and Back to Making Music
After the birth of his son Sean, John Lennon did pretty much nothing other than raise his kid for a solid five years, only occasionally recording demos in his apartment. He learned to make bread. That was newsworthy, I guess. The guy just wanted to lead the beautiful, unglamorous life of a dad, as opposed to the one of a music legend. Can't blame him. When you've got Beatles money, screw it -- take a century off.
Or enjoy lifelong irrelevancy in style!
In 1979, an avant-garde new wave band from Atlanta called the B-52s released their debut single, "Rock Lobster," a song that, if it hasn't already, should be used as the inspiration for a SyFy Channel Original Movie about mutant lobsters that kill people during a 1960s beach party.
In 1980, John Lennon found himself in a club in Bermuda called Disco 40, which was split into two levels: disco upstairs, new wave downstairs. Lennon went downstairs. Later, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon said, "I suddenly heard 'Rock Lobster' by the B-52s for the first time. Do you know it? It sounds just like Yoko's music, so I said to myself, 'It's time to get out the old ax and wake the wife up!'"
John Lennon strums wife while sitting beside ax.
Like a retired Rambo being called in for one last mission, "Rock Lobster" convinced John Lennon it was time to make music again. He and Ono traded off writing duties on what would eventually become the album Double Fantasy. Three weeks after its release, John Lennon was murdered. A year later, Double Fantasy won the Grammy for Album of the Year. John Lennon wouldn't have had that one last hurrah if not for one of the silliest songs ever written.
An Eddie Murphy Movie Inspired the Creation of Wall Street Regulation
For a long, long time, it was perfectly legal for a high-strung, coked-out Wall Street commodity trader to use "misappropriated government information" to gain an advantage in commodity futures trading. All that bullshit jargon means that insider trading used to be totally 100 percent A-OK when trading on the commodity market. And it wasn't even that long ago. That is, until ...
... someone in Washington finally watched the 1983 Eddie Murphy movie Trading Places and then created a regulatory law based on it. In the movie, a rich white guy (Dan Aykroyd) and a poor black guy (Eddie Murphy) unwittingly become test subjects in a social experiment conducted by evil Wall Street tycoons, the Duke brothers. The film's climax revolves around the Duke brothers trying to use "misappropriated government information" to corner the frozen concentrated orange juice market and make a ton of cash.
Of course, we all remember the landmark Norbit Banishment to the Lower Regions of Walmart Movie Bins Act of 2007.
On March 3, 2010, Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, gave testimony to Congress in which he specifically singled out Trading Places as the source of inspiration for his recommendation to ban insider trading on commodity markets. In July of 2010, President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and buried within it is the "Eddie Murphy Rule," a law that bans insider trading on commodity markets. So when you see Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd on the beach at the end of the movie, understand that they didn't have to become cheating scumbags to defeat cheating scumbags. It was all perfectly legal, and that's terrifying.
The Redesign for the Nissan GT-R was Inspired by Giant Cartoon Robots
The Nissan Skyline GT-R is one of those mythical Japanese cars that American street racers pop massive boners over in lusty anticipation of one day being able to drive. For a variety of reasons, the GT-R was not certified for sale in the U.S. until 2008. Like any car that's been around for decades, the GT-R has gone through a lot of stylistic changes. In 1957, it looked like the car that once flew Harry Potter to Hogwarts:
It got mad pussy as it went through its badass muscle car phase in the 1970s:
And it went through its obnoxious "Look at me, everyone! I'm a street racer! Vrrooooommm!" phase in the late '90s:
When it came time for a redesign for a new age of GT-Rs, Nissan's chief creative officer, Shiro Nakamura, wanted to veer away from Western styling and create something that would perfectly reflect Japanese culture ...
... so he based the design on big ass fighting robots in anime. Specifically, the big ass fighting robots from the Gundam series. Here are the "Mobile Suits" from Gundam:
And here's the redesigned GT-R:
The car doesn't have a face and completely lacks weaponry, but if you were to design a car to look like a militarized robotic suit, but not so much that people would think you're stupid for having designed such an impractical and probably ugly car, the 2008 GT-R is almost exactly what you would come up with. It's also the best choice among the other shallow first choices Nakamura could have made when he tried to think of how to sum up Japan in the form of a car. We could have had a chopstick mobile, or a Godzilla dragster.
Nike's "Just Do It" Slogan Was Inspired by the Last Words of a Murderer
Anyone who has ever reached or come close to "fat slob" status has watched Nike commercials with steely-eyed determination, as if we see a bit of ourselves in the rippling pecs of the professional athlete who wouldn't be so ripped if he weren't getting paid millions to be ripped. We see that iconic slogan of theirs, "Just Do It," and it commands us to buy $180 shoes we'll use twice for working out and an incalculable number of times for ordering pizza.
A marketing-induced mirage seen after eating too many hot dogs in the sun.
That slogan is a stroke of genius, a three-word master class in making people believe they can be better, stronger, faster if they stop talking about doing something and "Just Do It" already. Surely the source of this slogan was some legendary athlete in a stirring late-game rallying speech delivered just before he hit the winning shot, right?
Nope! Nike's world-famous slogan is a slight reworking of the last words spoken by a convicted murderer seconds before he was killed by firing squad.
"One day, I'll be an inspiration to millions!"
In Utah in 1976, Gary Gilmore robbed and killed a gas station worker and a motel manager. Because he was really stupid, he somehow managed to shoot himself in the hand while trying to hide his gun. His cousin turned him in after Gilmore called her asking for painkillers and bandages. After a brisk two-day trial, the jury recommended the death penalty. Gilmore had two choices: die by hanging or die by firing squad, because Utah was trapped in a time bubble where it never stopped being the Wild West. Gilmore chose getting shot. Strapped to a chair and with the gunmen lined up, Gilmore was asked for his last words: "Let's do it," he said.
In 1988, Nike went to the Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency for a new marketing campaign. Agency co-founder Dan Wieden remembered Gary Gilmore's last words and thought the "do it" part sounded enough like a faux-motivational thing a sports person would say, so "Let's" was swapped out for "Just" and one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever was born.
Damn. That's some dark shit. The "Bo Knows" campaign had better not really be about how Bo Jackson knows where a bunch of bodies are buried.
"Bo knows. Oh, yes. Bo. Knows."