The 6 Weirdest Ways Famous Movies Changed Reality
Movies have the power to change the world. Just look at Star Wars. However, there is always the chance that this change is very dumb. Just look at Star Wars.
Let's dive in, shall me? There's no more Star Wars in this article.
Skyfall Caused A Surge In The Sale Of Cut-Throat Razors
The question at the heart of Skyfall is whether the aging James Bond (the man is nearly 40) can keep up with this younger, hipper, fast-paced-er world where Q is not a doddering mad scientist but a hipster in Malcolm X glasses.
The theme gets hit pretty hard in the scene where Miss Moneypenny shows up at Bond's hotel room just as he's about to begin shaving with a cut-throat razor. "Sometimes the old ways are the best," she says, referring both to the razor and Bond's cock. Then she shaves him, and it's the sexiest thing ever.
Normally this is where I'd make a joke about how 90 percent of the people who saw that scene ran out and bought straight razors in the hopes that it would facilitate them getting their no-no zone all tangled up in a Craig or a Harris. But in this case, I'd actually be right: After Skyfall came out, Google searches for "cut-throat razor" and "straight razor" spiked by 735 percent, and at least one Internet razor company saw a 405 percent increase in sales for this ridiculously outdated and impractical item.
The razor is a weird thing to latch onto, because there are so many other reasons this scene is sexy. Bond is putting himself at her mercy because earlier in the film she accidentally shot him. The imminent threat of death is a known aphrodisiac. Then (and this can't be understated) both these people are crotch-explodingly sexy human beings. Then there's the fact that they're surrounded by candles, and -- listen, there's a lot to unpack here. Cutting wet hair off a middle-aged guy's face is probably the least traditionally erotic thing going on.
Basically, this proves that human beings will trip over their own throbbing genitals to buy any product that we can effectively imply will get us some tail, even if that implication is a bold-faced, nonsensical lie. On an unrelated note, I bet if you share this article on Facebook a British celebrity will put their mouth on you tonight.
Office Space Invented A Product And Then Made It Indispensable
Milton Waddams in Office Space is the great tragic character of our era. Ignored by his co-workers and displaced by his employers, he finds solace in the simple treasure of his red Swingline stapler. As the story of Office Space unfolds, Milton is in the background, slowly losing all that he treasures: his paycheck, the location of his desk, respect, and -- in the movie's most heartbreaking moment -- even his beloved Swingline.
Then he snaps and burns the building down.
Some quick history: when this movie came out, Swingline didn't make a red stapler. They sold most of their equipment in bulk, and companies are unlikely to buy bulk packages of red staplers, because bright colors encourage non-conformity and non-conformity is inefficient. So when Mike Judge approached Swingline with a product-placement offer, they turned him down, because they didn't see any money in it.
But Judge was determined. The Swingline was the beating heart of the film, stained red by the blood of the narrative. He begged to use the stapler anyway, and Swingline basically shrugged and said, "why not?" But they had to custom-make their own, since (again) Swingline didn't make any red staplers.
You know the rest. Today, the red stapler is Swingline's best-selling product and a badge of honor for any hip American cubicle slave. And to think the famed stapler manufacturer almost missed out on all that cool ironic cash, all because they underestimated how many people want to passive-aggressively threaten to burn their office down.
Action Movies Have A Huge Impact On Gun Sales
No matter where you stand on the gun control debate, it should be obvious that a huge part of "gun culture" is looking cool. For proof, look no further than the relationship between gun sales and movies.
Remember in Dirty Harry, when Harry lovingly describes his gun to criminals, taking care to mention that his Smith & Wesson 29 is the most powerful handgun in the world? He practically gives them a sales pitch. Before Dirty Harry came out, that gun had actually been discontinued because as the most powerful handgun in the world it was also heavy and loud and totally impractical. But then Eastwood strolled on to the scene and showed that the weapon was actually quite practical at being cool-as-shit, and the price of the weapon tripled overnight.
Then the same thing happened with Die Hard 2 -- only that time, it happened with the bad guy's gun. There's a scene in that movie where John McClane explains that the main advantage of the Glock 7 is that it's ceramic and therefore easy to sneak on board an airplane. The Glock 7 doesn't exist, but the Glock gun company does, and they saw an increase in sales after movie-goers learned that they sold the best gun in the world for airport terrorism.
Then there's the zombie-themed ammunition boxes that capitalize on the popularity of The Walking Dead even though zombies -- like the Glock 7 -- are made up.
Remember: Despite the fact that movies universally depict irresponsible, dangerous gun use, gun companies still actively campaign to get their products in movies, usually not even caring if the guns are used for good or evil. They just want to make sure consumers see their weapons making people dead, because they know that will translate into sales. In fact, they think it's weird when it doesn't.
The weirdest part is that the movie doesn't even have to be a success to have an impact: Quigley Down Under, Tom Selleck's goofy Indiana Jones knockoff that you've never heard of, was a 1990 box-office bomb, but it still caused a huge spike in Shiloh Sharps rifle sales. Today, there's a shooting competition named after the character, and actual military snipers refer to the act of killing two people with one bullet as a "Quigley." I'm not saying that there aren't some gun owners who make their purchase for the purpose of home defense. I am saying that gun owners shoot in their pants every time you show them a movie hero who's particularly good at firearm murder.
Anyway, I just watched a whole bunch of amazing movie clips to research this entry, so if you'll excuse me I need to go buy a Beretta 92.
JFK Is So Insane That Congress Released More Information About The Assassination
To be clear, JFK is a really good movie, because Oliver Stone directed it. But the story may as well be the transcribed yammering of a drug-addled schizophrenic. Before the movie even came out, journalists were visiting the set and writing detailed explanations about why every single thing Stone claims to have happened is reddit-thread-flow-chart bonkers.
Even Roger Ebert, who we can all agree was never wrong about anything ever, said in his positive review that the conclusions the film draws are absolutely bonkers: "The achievement of the film is not that it answers the mystery of the Kennedy assassination, because it does not, or even that it vindicates Garrison, who is seen here as a man often whistling in the dark. Its achievement is that it tries to marshal the anger which ever since 1963 has been gnawing away on some dark shelf of the national psyche."
However, he must've hit on something pretty key, because the movie ended up inspiring Congress to pass the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which gathered and re-examined for release all the records surrounding JFK's assassination before the previously set deadline of 2029. In the end, it didn't matter that Stone's theories were bananas. The act of recklessly distrusting in the government on that large of a scale ended up making a difference.
I'm not sure exactly what lesson to take from that.
Jurassic Park Caused A Spike In Amber Sales
In Jurassic Park, we learn that the secret to cloning dinosaurs is to find ancient mosquitoes trapped in amber, drill through to their blood-filled mosquito stomachs, and suck out the dino DNA like you're Daniel Day-Lewis at the Plainview County Fair milkshake competition. Of course this makes any mosquitoes trapped in amber in the Jurassic Park universe incredibly valuable to people like John Hammond, who have built a livelihood out of taking full advantage of every single ambered-up bug they find.
Only, it turns out that that spike in value wasn't limited to the movie -- Jurassic Park was so popular that the price of real amber with real insects in the real world also spiked. Presumably because people either felt like they had inside knowledge on some impending scientific breakthrough, or they felt that a movie about humanity's arrogant attempts to control mother nature was a great way to express affection.
Again, the message of Jurassic Park is that we shouldn't have resurrected dinosaurs. Nature can't be contained or controlled. I know this might have been easy to miss, considering it's only explained directly to camera by Jeff Goldblum in the most iconic moment in the movie.
It's almost like we don't pay attention to what happens in movies -- we just see stuff and decide to buy it because we felt emotions at the same time. All the money we spend on advertising is wasted; we should just put the latest iPhone in the claws of a dilophosaurus and call it a day.
Bernie Got Bernie Out Of Prison (And Moved Him In With The Director)
Bernie is a Richard Linklater/Jack Black movie (based on a true story) about a stunningly nice guy who shoots an abusive old lady in the back. And even though murdering old ladies is generally frowned upon in movies, anyone watching Bernie will find themselves siding with the titular character because he is just an unbelievably nice guy. In fact, a big part of the film explains how they had to hold the trial in a different county because Bernie was so well-liked in his community that every potential juror outright said that they'd never find him guilty of anything (today, even the nephew of his murder victim seems to think he's a nice guy). But of course Texas Justice is as Texas Justice does, and at the end of the film Bernie is charged with murder and sentenced to life in prison.
But of course that's not the end of the story. Bernie is such a fascinating movie that it inspired a local attorney named Jodi Cole to investigate the story, and she dug up new facts and evidence related to Bernie's motive and state of mind. Turns out that the emotional abuse Bernie suffered at the hands of his elderly murder victim was reminiscent of sexual abuse Bernie had suffered as a child, which convinced the prosecutor to revise his opinion. In short, the movie led directly to Bernie getting a reduced sentence and being set free.
But freedom came with one condition: He had to move in with Richard Linklater, the guy who directed the movie that got him released in the first place.
There's a kind of symmetry to that, I suppose: If movies are part of the legal proceedings, it only makes sense that the sentencing should be based on sitcom logic.
This is a pretty dumb story, but I also think it's kind of beautifully dumb. It really doesn't seem like Bernie deserved to be in jail anymore, so justice was served. It just happens to have been served in a way that seems entirely too doofy for this world. And that's wonderful. If more things were this dumb, the world would probably be a better place.
JF Sargent is an editor and columnist for Cracked who will someday change the world in a really dumb way. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook to see how.