5 Movie Lessons (That People Were Dead Wrong About)

If it feels like I'm being hard on humanity, it's only because I care so much.
5 Movie Lessons (That People Were Dead Wrong About)

Movies are the greatest argument for the inherent stupidity of man since Intelligent Design. That's not a criticism. The mark of great art is that it cuts through the layers of lies and misdirection to expose something real and true, and these movies did that. It's not their fault that "real" and "true" just happen to be synonymous with "fuck-the-garbage-disposal idiotic."

If it sounds like I'm being hard on humanity, it's only because I care so much. Also, I'm just getting started.

Titanic Caused A Spike In Cruise Ticket Sales

Paramount Pictures

In 1997, James Cameron's Titanic reminded us all not to fuck with the sea. Because the ocean is a cruel and forbidding mistress, and she bestows her comforts only on those with icy blood and a blackened heart. A lot of people die at the end of that movie.

It also caused a 20 percent spike in cruise vacation sales that year. For comparison, a 3.3 percent increase in sales in 2013 was considered exceptional. I thought the most foolish thing anyone ever agreed to do while watching Titanic was make out with me, but apparently some other people were in such a rush to make reservations for the next sea voyage that they didn't even get to the James Cameron part of the James Cameron movie.

Paramount Pictures

People were shocked by the guy bouncing off the propeller, but I'd gamble it was the first shot on the storyboard.

This statistic proves that human beings are 20 percent stupid on a fundamental, instinctive level. "Titanic" is a colloquial term for the inevitable tragedies that result from the arrogance of man, but a scientifically accurate demonstration of the reason that's true succeeded only in reminding us how fun it is to push the envelope right up against Poseidon's stupid face.

And if you're thinking that nautical technology has rendered most of the Titanic's problems obsolete, then you're only two-thirds right, because it isn't just the icebergs and the lack of lifeboats that kill Jack and Rose -- it's also the White Star Line's cost-cutting. Most of the rivets in the Titanic's hull were made of steel, but some were made from (weaker) wrought iron as a cost-saving exercise. And those rivets were used largely where the hull curved, which is also (incidentally) exactly where Titanic hit that iceberg. The "shearing stress" on the weaker rivets caused them to shoot out like corks from a champagne bottle, hastening the ship's descent.

So, basically, the success of your cruise ship experience is entirely dependent on the company's willingness to compromise their bottom line in the service of safety, which is, haha, adorable.

Harry Potter Caused A Spike In Pet Owls (Who Were Then Abandoned)

Warner Bros.

There's one thing that every kid takes away from Harry Potter, and that's that owls are cool, I guess? I watched the movie and thought, "I wish I were a wizard so I could talk to snakes and melt stuff," and I am stunningly out of touch with America's youth, because apparently the vicious hooty fucking sky-rats were the hottest part for everyone else, considering the success of the Harry Potter "movies" coinciding with an explosion in the popularity of British kids adopting owls. And then immediately abandoning them, of course, because owls are shrill and obnoxious and poorly paced and mired in atrocious acting and horribly wasted talent and ... wait, no, I'm just describing the Harry Potter movies now. Owls are garbage pets, is the point.

Warner Bros.


It's so bad on great Britain that the North Wales Owl Sanctuary says that 90 percent of the birds abandoned there are "captive-bred," meaning they are supposed to be hooting the soft, broken hoots of captivity rather than the shrill, terrified hoots of a domesticated animal trying to survive in the wild. Abruptly subjecting an animal raised as a captive conversation piece to the nasty brutishness of the wild is the cruelest thing you can do to an undeveloped brain short of intentionally exposing an 8-year-old to anime.

I'd be fine with the UK being overrun by the off-key screeching of developmentally stunted vermin, because that's just karmic justice for Oasis. But, sadly, this environmental terrorism isn't limited to our blood-sausage-sucking friends: The environment minister of India has blamed Harry Potter for the decline in their owl population. To be fair, they also mention "black magic rituals" as a possible cause for the hunting and capture of owls ... ah, to hell with it: Let's blame that on Harry Potter too.

A Streetcar Named Desire Is Why We Like T-Shirts

Warner Bros.

T-Shirts were considered useful as undershirts and precisely nothing else until the end of World War II, when Navy boys started wearing them just, like, around, and refused to change their habits, acting like we owed them favors or some shit. (WWII vets are a bunch of entitled brats.) But they didn't catch on among the general public until Marlon Brando wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire, where he played Stanley Kowalski, a sexy, irascible, impulsive, abusive rapist.

Warner Bros.

Or as Reddit would say: a role model.

Before that image became a major player in 1951's fourth-highest-grossing film, T-shirts were generally just worn underneath overshirts to protect the strands of our fanciest linens from the corrosive sweat of our hideous hairy monkey-bodies. Afterward, they became an indispensable piece of style: "I don't even bother to finish getting dressed," the T-shirt would say to anyone who saw it. "Because I'm too much of a man."

That tradition continues today.


They told me if I didn't start wearing sleeves in videos they'd have to come up
with a whole new rating system for me.

5 Movie Lessons (That People Were Dead Wrong About)


Sideways Hurt Merlot Sales (And Helped Pinot Noir)

Fox Searchlight

Sideways is about a wine snob and an over-the-hill actor taking a road trip before the latter gets married. The wine snob (Miles, played by Paul Giamatti) is depressed about his own failed marriage and channels a lot of his frustration and ambition into wine: He loves pinot noir because it's such a tender, difficult-to-grow grape, and he hates merlot. No, he really hates merlot: At one point before meeting friends at a restaurant, he shouts at his friend, "If anyone orders merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any fucking merlot."

American wine drinkers listened. That's not really surprising, I guess. The one thing we know about Sideways' audience is that they'll leap at the opportunity to be pretentious about something. And after the movie came out, pinot noir saw a 16 percent sales spike and a wine glass manufacturer saw a 45 percent increase in the sale of their pinot noir wine glasses, which are apparently a thing.

Jun Zhang/iStock/Getty Images

I'm pretentious too, but not pretentious enough to already know that.

Keep in mind that not only is wine-tasting a bullshit profession, but even among those grape-sucking snobs, merlot is considered a pretty kick-ass booze. When people talk about merlot being bad, they talk about one particular period where vineyards were trying to meet merlot demand by rushing out batches, which led to compromises in flavor (the source says it was a "more herbaceous wine, which needed to be manipulated with significant oak exposure to bring it back to the profile"). So Miles isn't offering insight into what good wine is -- he's just complaining that something became popular. He's like the guy who says all punk rock sucks because Green Day exists.

Also, Miles likes pinot noir because it's a metaphor for his own character (needing constant attention and care to thrive) and hates cabernet because that more rugged grape is a reflection of Jack, his foil. It's not actual advice. It's a storytelling thing. Themes, motherfucker.

The MPAA Pirated A Documentary That Criticized Them

In 2006, the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated shoved a barb-wire-wrapped fist right up the ass of the MPAA, mocking it for its blatant hypocrisy, censorship, and shady dealings: The film argues that the MPAA hates sex more than violence, fears female orgasms, and goes easier on big-budget studio films than independent ones.

So when the MPAA got a copy of the film, they immediately started pirating it.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty

Hypocrisy? From a guy with a podium?

The MPAA's defense is that they were disseminating the film to their employees because they " were concerned about the raters and their families." And in fairness, the movie does identify some of the MPAA raters, who until then had been anonymous, because the MPAA is a creepy secret society of censorists. But the MPAA also says that it is unacceptable for you to ever copy your own DVDs, ever, for any reason -- even if it's just to make a backup copy or cut out the violence and nudity that the MPAA left in. The organization seems to want complete control over any movie you watch ever, but as soon as that movie has something that they don't like, they'll do anything they can to destroy it: First the MPAA gave This Film Is Not Yet Rated an NC-17 (ruining its chance at box-office success, since most theaters won't even run NC-17 movies) and then, and I can't stress this enough, they illegally pirated it so they could share it among their employees without having to buy any extra copies.

I swear to god, the MPAA is a hive-mind of insectoid aliens whose weakness is an inability to understand hu-man love. They're a colony of parasitic fungi clinging to the taint of American creativity while whispering in each other's ears how great it is to be in charge. My drug dealer has a stronger sense of professional purpose. Maybe the reason they're so offended by female orgasms in movies is because they're confusing it with dancing or laughter or video games or some other concept that's utterly unfamiliar. People criticized This Film Is Not Yet Rated for being unfair or one-sided, but seriously, if this is how the MPAA reacts to criticism, how reasonable can their side really be?

JF Sargent is a senior editor and columnist for Cracked and a tireless enemy of censorship until you disagree with him, at which point he will delete your comment. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

See why we can't watch American Pie without cringing in 5 Classic Movies That Have Become Horrifying With Age and check out the twist we wanted in Star Wars in 20 Stupid Ways to Ruin Brilliant Movies.

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