4 Frequently Quoted Facts That Are Lies Made Up By Movies
Movies are a great source of entertainment, but more than that they teach and nurture us when parents, loved ones, and educators fail. Who needs real-life attention when The Avengers are always there to take you on an adventure? But, alas, not all movies are honest -- some are willing to fill your head with utter garbage for the sake of a few moments of filler dialogue, or what Michael Bay calls "wordplosions."
Suicide Rates Increase Over The Holidays
According to the CDC, half of all articles written during the holiday season of 2009 and 2010 that mentioned suicide also let you know that the suicide rate is at its highest during that time of year. And why shouldn't it be? People are spending time with loved ones, happy music is playing everywhere, you get gifts from friends and family. My God, how do any of us stand it?
Well, surprise of surprises, you're not alone if you feel like living to see New Year's. Most people do. In fact, suicide rates plummet during December. Why? Because that may be the one time of year clinically depressed people actually spend time with loved ones. Rates peak during fall and spring, but December is a pretty safe time for everyone.
Nonetheless, dozens of news articles have reprinted a similar story, and it seemed to peak in the mid 2000s. I'm willing to bet, however, you'd find almost no stories claiming high suicide rates during the holidays before 1984. And it wasn't until about a decade later that they started picking up. And it's all Phoebe Cates' fault.
Ask your dad.
In 1984's phenomenally awesome and always timely and relevant holiday classic Gremlins, Phoebe Cates, who may have turned you into a man the first time you saw Fast Times At Ridgemont High, plays the girlfriend of the Gremlin-owning Billy. She's also a bit of a sack of neuroses best left untouched since every monologue she has in the film is a depressing diatribe about something terrible, from her dad getting stuck in a chimney pretending to be Santa Claus to the terrible tale of ... increased holiday suicides. It's mostly just a throwaway line, but it was even easily verifiable back then as being untrue.
About 10 years after Gremlins came out, it started being played in heavy rotation during the holiday season. It was an "alternate" holiday movie for those of us who couldn't give two shits about Miracle On 34th Street or any sappy holiday crap. We wanted little green monsters that drink heavily.
That's all any of us want still.
Nowadays we have classics like Bad Santa and Krampus to get us through the holidays, but for a time Gremlins was the top of the heap, and I would wager most people who are genre fans have seen that movie multiple times. Everyone watches Christmas movies multiple times. In fact, the movie A Christmas Story is so popular they literally play it for 24 hours straight on one channel around the holidays -- 12 times in a row. So you're going to see these movies enough times that you get stories stuck in your head, like how suicide rates increase over the holidays. And it's been in your head for years, and you hear it every Christmas but can't remember where it's from. And by the time you're old enough to be a journalist for ABC you don't give a shit about fact-checking this one because you've known it your whole life.
The Origin Of "Sabotage" Is Wooden Shoes
First and foremost, "Sabotage" is a badass song by the Beastie Boys, and if you don't know it, take out your No. 2 pencil and a lunch pail because it's school time.
Fuck yeah. Anyway, that aside, "sabotage" as a concept is a general sort of mayhem one can cause to ruin something. It's a crazy word, though, so where did it come from? According to Sex And The City's character in Star Trek VI, this is the origin: "Four hundred years ago on the planet Earth, workers who felt their livelihood threatened by automation flung their wooden shoes called sabots into the machines to stop them."
But we know better than to trust Kim Cattrall with Vulcan ears. Of course she screwed it up; she's not even human. How's she's expected to know human history and word etymology? In point of fact, she got the word relationship correct -- "sabot" the shoe and "sabotage" come from the same root. But "sabotage" comes from the 1890s, coined by Emile Pouget, an anarchist, in his writing to a fellow anarchist as they mused over ways they could cause anarchy.
Yep, that Emile Pouget.
Pouget suggested the word as an alternative to the British "ca'canny," which means "to go slow" and basically slack off. His "sabotage" came from the French "saboteur," which meant to make loud clattering noises with your shitty wooden shoes. And how does that equal any kind of sabotage? Because they considered the workers in the loud wooden shoes to be clumsy idiots fumbling about in their dumb shoes; they'd go slow and get nothing done. So "sabotage" literally means "wooden shoeage." And it means you're dumb for wearing wooden shoes.
Where throwing shoes into machines as a form of protest came from is anyone's guess.
T. Rex Could Only See Movement
Imagine yourself on a plane heading to Costa Rica. You have tickets to the brand-new theme park that's not called Jurassic Park or World, because those were movies and this is real life. The real life where real scientists really did find a way to genetically reconstruct dinosaurs and make them live again. It won't be anything like those movies, though, because reasons. So you go, knowing full well it's safe. Maybe Jeff Goldblum endorsed the place.
So you land and immediately Jeff Goldblum starts gesticulating and gets eaten by a tyrannosaur. Fuck. What do you do? If you're the majority of people with no particular knowledge of dinosaurs, you might freeze because you learned the only lesson Dr. Grant had to teach in Jurassic Park, which is that a T. rex's vision is based on movement. And a second later you'll be joining Jeff Goldblum in that monster's colon.
Eh, could be worse.
Why did Michael Crichton choose to tell us a T. rex's vision is based on movement? Probably to make it at least semi-plausible that children and a group of ill-prepared scientists could stand a chance in hell against a carnivore the size of all the Baldwins put together. Real science not produced for impulse-buying at supermarket checkouts tells us that the tyrannosaur likely had better vision than humans and could probably pick you out at some great distance trying to hide next to a fern. But that's real science, and real science doesn't get to be in blockbuster movies because it's boring as fuck. So literally tens of millions of people saw what to them looked like an entirely realistic dinosaur and heard an entirely plausible story about how its vision works, and since then most people seem to believe it, because when is that theory ever going to be tested in real life?
Missing People Have To Be Missing For 24 Hours
There are roughly a dillion movies in existence that feature a missing person as a plot point, and in nearly every single one of those films there's a scene in which someone tries to report a person missing only to be shot down by those callous, asshole police. The person needs to be missing 24 hours before they can do anything. Maybe your loved one just went to a movie? Maybe you had a fight and they went to a motel, right? Yeah, let's wait 24 hours first.
An easy way to test the plausibility of this as an actual legal rule is to imagine the missing person is your 8-year-old. He was supposed to be home from school at 4, and now it's 5 and there's no sign of him. No one at school has seen him since he left, and he didn't go to a friend's house. Imagine how big an asshole the cop is who tells you they can't look for your 8-year-old until he's been missing 24 hours. Maybe he's just on a Pokemon bender, right?
Who isn't these days?
It is not the law anywhere in the civilized world that you need to wait 24 hours to report a person missing or that the cops will not investigate until 24 hours has passed if you have even a shred of reason to believe their disappearance isn't normal. To make this worse is the amount of anecdotal evidence I found online of people who have literally been told by cops in real life that it needs to be 24 hours. And, in fact, I was once told by a cop I needed to wait 24 hours when I called about someone in my family who went missing, which makes this load of shit even worse. It's not true and it's not right.
There's a show called The First 48 that's based on the idea that the first 48 hours are the most crucial in finding out what happened if someone has gone missing. How the fuck does that work if the first half doesn't count? It's just not true. Don't go calling the police if dad is supposed to be home at 5 and it's 5:05 with no phone call, but if you find his car on the side of the road with a smashed windshield, you may have probable cause to go looking for him now rather than tomorrow. Here, have a look at some fun quotes from police websites around the country:
From the Chicago PD: How long must I wait to make a missing persons report?
There is no mandatory waiting period. Common sense should be your guide. Please keep in mind that even people who are regular in their habits can get stuck in traffic, caught in a long line at the supermarket, or they can run into an old friend on the way home from work.
Los Angeles PD: You may initiate a missing persons report by contacting your local law enforcement agency. Contrary to popular belief, law enforcement agencies in California do not require a person to wait a specific period of time before reporting a missing person.
Hartford, Connecticut: The Policy of the Hartford Police Department is that there is no set time to wait before you report someone missing. Each missing person incident must be approached with a common sense look at the circumstances involved.
For example, this looks bad.
Hoover, Alabama: Despite what you may have seen on television, it is not necessary to wait 24 hours to report someone as "missing." Special situations and circumstances, such as a potentially serious medical condition, may heighten concerns about a friend or family member who cannot be contacted or located. Such circumstances should be conveyed to the Police Department when reporting a missing person.
Michigan Law: If the missing person is vulnerable (i.e., under 18 years of age, over 65 years of age, suffering from physical or mental illness, depressed/suicidal, or the disappearance is completely out of character) report the disappearance to police immediately if your suspicions are aroused. It's never too soon in these instances, and time may be of the essence. This could also include someone on life-saving medication who has not taken their medicine with them. You can contact police and the local media to ask for help in publicizing their story. REMEMBER ... it's never too soon.
My God, even Michigan, the state that shrugs built. Everyone wants you to find missing people. Yes, they'll prioritize kids first. and yes, daddy may not have actually been honest when he said, "See you later," before heading out for smokes, but by and large any missing person is a fairly big deal and the cops will try to help you out if there's a reason.
Check out other myths that movies have spread in 15 Science Myths You Probably Believe (Thanks To Movies) and 6 Myths About Famous Places You Believe (Thanks To Movies).
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