Available Balance
Musicians who are currently in jail
April 26, 2018
0

For better or for worse, our culture is fascinated by celebrities who turn criminal. How can someone so talented, so rich, and so famous throw it all away with awful or even evil choices that land them in prison for years?
Sure, one could adopt the skeptical, cynical attitude that celebrities seem to think that they’re above the law because so many arrested stars never serve time, but the truth is, plenty of famous folks do get convicted for their terrible deeds. From glam rocker Gary Glitter to music industry heavy-hitter Phil Spector to rapper Bobby Shmurda, here are some musicians from all levels of celebrity who are currently behind bars … and could be for a very, very long time.
Gary Glitter
With a name like “Glitter,” it’s not surprising that Gary Glitter was part of the “glam rock” movement of the ’70s. And if his name doesn’t ring a bell, you’ve probably heard at least one of his songs. While he had a long string of hits in his native U.K., he’s best known in the U.S. for “Rock and Roll Part 2” a hard-charging almost entirely instrumental tune that’s been played at basically every sporting ever since it was released in 1972. (It’s perhaps better known as the “Hey!” song.)
Anyway, at this point Glitter is probably better known for his incredibly heinous crimes than he is for his music. In 2015, Glitter (real name: Paul Gadd) was sentenced to 16 years on attempted rape, indecent assault, and sex with a minor. The crimes date back to the ’70s; Glitter snuck into a child’s bed and tried to have sex with her, and assaulted two girls he’d invited into his dressing room at a concert. Even worse is that this is the second time Glitter has been imprisoned for sex crimes. In 2006, he was sent to jail in Vietnam for molesting two pre-teenage girls.
Bobby Beausoleil
It’s well-known that the recently not-so-dearly departed cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson was also a musician — he recorded an album and somehow convinced the Beach Boys to record a song he’d written. Manson had some other musicians in “The Family,” too, including Bobby Beausoleil, a member of a ’60s band called the Grass Roots, which, to avoid confusion with the more successful band by the same name (of which Creed Bratton of The Office was a member), changed its name to Love. That band recorded Forever Changes, one of the most
critically-acclaimed and influential albums of all time…but Beausoleil had moved on to bands with poorly-spelled, psychedelic-sounding names like the Orkustra and the Magick Powerhouse of OZ.
Then he gave it all up for Manson and murder. While working as a recruiter for his demented leader in 1969, Beausoleil acted on an order to fatally stab a man named Gary Hinman. It was the first murder connected to the Manson Family, and Beausoleil was sentenced to death. After California abolished the death penalty in 1972, Beausoleil’s punishment was changed to just life in prison. He’s eligible for parole in 2019.
Jim Gordon
If you’ve ever listened to classic rock radio, you’ve heard the work of Jim Gordon. He was an extremely active session drummer in the ’60s and ’70s; he played on Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers first album, Harry Nilsson’s
Nilsson Schmilsson, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and Derek and the Dominoes’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Song. That band was an Eric Clapton project, which scored the timeless hit “Layla.” Clapton and Gordon each wrote a part of the song of unrequited love — Clapton the first, rockin’ part, and Gordon the long, instrumental, piano-driven coda. Gordon somehow balanced a busy music career with severe mental health issues.
After a 1979 tour with Bob Dylan, he reportedly sought help more than a dozen times at different institutions to seek relief from schizophrenia. Then in 1983, as he told police detectives at the time, he “just snapped” — Gordon stabbed his 71-year-old mother to death. He’s been incarcerated ever since, and won’t be eligible for parole again until 2018. At his last hearing in 2013, a panel found Gordon to be “a danger to society if released from prison.”
C-Murder
For a hot minute in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the rap world was dominated by the No Limit label. Founded by Master P (Percy Miller), the label generated big hits for Master P himself, as well as for his brothers Silkk the Shocker (Vishonn Miller) and C-Murder (Corey Miller). In 2002, C-Murder attended a rap battle at the Platinum Club in Harvey, Louisiana. Also at the club: a 16-year-old No Limit fan named Steve Thomas, who used a fake ID to get in, so excited he was that C-Murder would be performing that night. At some point, a brawl broke out, C-Murder produced a gun, and he fatally shot Thomas. This isn’t the first time Miller pulled out a gun in a nightclub.
In 2001, he pulled a gun on the bouncer at Club Raggs in Baton Rouge, and then tried to shoot the club’s owner, Norman Sparrow, only to have the gun jam . He was found guilty of
second-degree murder, but the charge was overturned. No matter, because for killing Thomas, C-Murder got life in prison.
Jonathan King
The “one-hit wonder” is a curious thing. After scoring just one big hit and never anymore, these musicians fade into obscurity or often take a behind-the-scenes role in the music industry, like Gerardo (the “Rico Suave” guy went on to cultivate and develop new talent, including Enrique Iglesias), or Jonathan King. The British singer scored his one and only big American hit with “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon,” a top 20 hit in 1965. He racked up a bunch more hits in the U.K. and also wrote and produced a ton of music for others, including Genesis, the Bay City Rollers, and 10cc.
King also liked to sexually assault teenagers. In 2001, a London jury found King guilty of using his celebrity to lure five boys to his home in the ’80s, where he coerced them into having sex. In addition to being placed on a sex offender registry, King earned a seven-year prison sentence. In 2017, King was again arrested for a slew of charges in the same vein, accused of assault on several more teenage boys between 1970 and 1986. He’s currently out on conditional bail, but is still considered a criminal while he awaits his trial in 2018.
Phil Spector
Spector is one of the most influential musical architects of all time. In the ’60s, his well-named “Wall of Sound” production style led to hits for the Crystals and Ronettes, and influenced how major bands like the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones wanted their records to sound. He also had a penchant for waving guns around the studio to intimidate artists; Spector reportedly took aim at John Lennon, Leonard Cohen, Debbie Harry of Blondie, and the Ramones. He also kept his wife, Ronettes singer Ronnie Spector , imprisoned in their home. His gunplay and behavior toward women came to a tragic head one night in February 2003. Late at night, Spector left his suburban L.A. mansion and told his substitute chauffeur, Adriano de Souza, “I think I killed somebody.”
That somebody: 40-year-old actress Lana Clarkson, best known for the 1985 cult classic Barbarian Queen. In 2003, she worked at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, which is where Spector met her and convinced her to go home with him. Hours later, she was dead from a gruesome gunshot to the mouth. Spector argued that Clarkson had “kissed the gun” and his defense team attempted to paint Clarkson as suicidal. After one trial in 2007 that ended in a hung jury, Spector was convicted of second-degree murder with use of a firearm in 2009. The 69-year-old musician received life in prison, and he won’t be eligible for parole until 2027.
Vybz Kartel
Along with more internationally successful artists like Sean Paul, Shaggy, and Beenie Man, Vybz Kartel helped popularize the amped-up form of reggae known as dancehall over the last decade and a half. The self-proclaimed “Worl’ Boss” (real name: Adidja Palmer) collaborated with Rihanna, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Pitbull, and Major Lazer. His hit “Rampling Shop” was a hit on U.S. radio, even though it was banned from the airwaves in his native Jamaica for obscene lyrics. That’s far from the most controversial moment in Kartel’s life, because since 2014 he’s been serving a life sentence for murder.
In 2011, police say, Kartel believed a member of his inner circle, Clive “Lizard” Williams, stole a couple of guns from him, who Kartel then murdered and mutilated. Other members of Kartel’s crew were ruled complicit, and they received harsh sentences (Shawn Campbell and Kahira jones received a 25-year minimum term). After a 65-day trial, reportedly the longest in Jamaican history, Kartel was sentenced to life with his first parole eligibility hearing in 2049. What’s especially horrible, and what helped seal Kartel’s fate: Text messages where he admitted to cutting up and disposing of Williams’s body, which was never located. Among those messages from Kartel to crew:
“Tween me an u a chop we chop the boy Lizard fine fine. Yeah man a mince meat dat.”
Ian Watkins
Trigger warning: In 2013, Ian Watkins of the Welsh “nu metal” band lostprophets (they had a huge hit in the U.S. in 2004 with “Last Train Home”) was found guilty of unimaginably disgusting and heinous crimes against children. In a case that the presiding judge said “plunged into new depths of depravity” in which the defendant demonstrated “a complete lack of remorse,” Watkins was found guilty of 13 child sex offenses, including sexual assault and the attempted rape of an infant.
Watkins attested that his extensive drug use gave him no memory of all the horrible things that he did, but the judge said his behavior was “committed and determined,” as evidenced by a police raid pf his home that recovered 27 terabytes worth of violent child pornography. (That’s the equivalent of nearly 13,000 hours of footage.) Watkins was sentenced to a total of 35 years in prison. His co-defendants — they were the mothers of the children that Watkins assaulted, to whom they offered up to the rock star — got 14 and 17 years, respectively.
Bobby Shmurda
In 2014, there weren’t too many rappers who made a cultural impact quite like Bobby Shmurda (real name: Ackquille Pollard). His song “Hot N***a” was not only a top 10 hit, but the dance he created for the video, the
“Shmoney dance” became a popular meme, with countless others sharing Vine videos of themselves doing the moves. Another place Shmurda was influential: a New York street organization called GS9 connected to drug trade and violent crime. In June 2014, Shmurda was arrested for a gun found at a friend’s Brooklyn apartment, which he claimed was a prop for a video. In September 2016, Shmurda agreed to a plea deal that sent him to prison for seven years. He plead guilty to one count each of criminal weapon possession and conspiracy.

Rate This Content
The untold truth of Robin Williams.
April 25, 2018
0

You’d be hard-pressed to find any celebrity more beloved than Robin Williams, the guy who could switch from irreverent radio DJ to cross-dressing single dad to ancient genie in the blink of an eye. No matter what role he played, Williams was always genuine, always heartfelt, and always memorable. When he died, the entire world mourned the loss, with The Verge reporting that a tunnel in San Francisco was renamed in his honor, and then-U.S. President Barack Obama commenting that Williams was “one of a kind,” according to the Huffington Post. However, despite being one of the most prominent public figures of the 20th century, Williams was a man of many hidden layers, who possessed strong beliefs and an immense passion for his chosen art form.
He was shy and quiet as a kid
When one remembers the genius comedy of Robin Williams, the first thing that comes to mind is his manic intensity. Whether on stage or in front of a camera, Williams could clip along at lightspeed, his hilarious, bold, bombastic stream of consciousness forcing even the most hardened cynic to crack a smile. But in his earlier years, Williams wasn’t the rambunctious class clown you might expect. Instead, he was a self-conscious, quiet, driven kid with a lot of self-doubt. According to PsychCentral , Williams described his childhood self as being “short, shy, chubby, and lonely.” He spent his early years playing by himself in his family’s giant house, since his upper-class parents were usually busy with other matters. Williams often claimed that his famous sense of humor first developed as a way to get his mother’s attention by making her laugh. As written by Education World , Williams also learned that he could use comedy to “bridge the gap” between himself and other students, and as a self-defense mechanism for dealing with bullies.
All through high school, Williams was a hardworking, straight-A student. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, he initially went into college aiming for a degree in political science, until his decision to take improv classes took him in a radically different direction.
He once worked as a mime in New York
Here’s a reason to never throw out your old photographs: You might be holding a piece of history. In 1974, according to PetaPixel , a photographer named Daniel Sorine was walking through New York’s Central Park when he happened to photograph two mimes, whom he described as having “an unusual amount of intensity, personality, and physical fluidity.” Almost four decades later, Sorine dug up the old photos and was startled to realize that one of the mimes was a young Robin Williams, well before stardom.
This was in Williams’ early days, shortly after the acting bug had first bitten him. Williams was living in New York City in those years because his passion for acting had earned him a scholarship at Juilliard, according to
Encyclopedia Britannica. Though Williams’ unbeatable energy earned the acclaim of his classmates, including future Superman actor Christopher Reeve, the LA Times reported the school itself wasn’t sure what to make of him. After the brief mime career Daniel Sorine so artfully captured, as well as a few improv attempts in local clubs, Williams decided to fly home to San Francisco.
In the 1970s, he went from bartender to stand-up comic to TV star
It was in San Francisco that Robin Williams’ comedy career truly blossomed, according to a 1988 issue of
Rolling Stone. After arriving back on the West Coast, he started working as a bartender at a small comedy club called the Holy City Zoo. At some point, someone must have realized the guy mixing everybody’s cocktails was even funnier than the people on stage, so Williams started doing stand-up for the same club.
According to Maclean’s , the young comic then took his act down to Los Angeles, where he gained enough positive word-of-mouth to book a couple minor TV appearances. Finally, his big break came crashing in when the popular sitcom Happy Days decided to do an episode in which the Fonz battled against a space alien named “Mork.” Williams got the job, and while the
Happy Days episode was only supposed to be a silly one-off, Williams’ performance earned such raves that his alien character was spun off into his own TV series,
Mork and Mindy , which became a network sensation — and made Robin Williams a household name.
Good Morning, Vietnam! made him a movie star
It wasn’t long before Williams made the jump to the big screen, but it took a while for him to find a role that properly suited his high-energy, heartfelt style. His cinematic debut had him starring as the classic cartoon character Popeye, according to Maclean’s , followed by
The World According to Garp , but neither of these films really grabbed mainstream audiences. Williams finally found the role he was looking for in 1987, according to
Rolling Stone, when he blew filmgoers away as military DJ Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam! , a film that worked his dramatic chops and gave him free reign to go off on those improvisational comedic tangents everyone loved.
From there, Williams built his career on now-classic films like Dead Poet’s Society, Mrs. Doubtfire , and The Fisher King. Unlike so many of his comic contemporaries, Williams wasn’t interested in zany comedy flicks, and instead carved a niche for himself with dramatic, emotional, often tragic roles that still incorporated his rapid-fire jokes. He also earned a string of Academy Award nominations, finally winning in 1997 for his role as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting .
He almost didn’t play Genie, even though the character was based on him
If the role of the big blue genie in Disney’s Aladdin seems like it was tailor-made for Williams, that’s because it was. Sure, Aladdin is based on ancient Middle Eastern folktales, but when Disney’s creative team adapted the story to film, they created the Genie character with Williams in mind, according to the LA Times. An early test reel of Genie’s animation was even synchronized to one of Williams’ stand-up routines.
Despite this, the world was almost deprived of seeing Williams’ brilliant Genie performance, according to the Washington Post , because Williams himself wasn’t a fan of Disney’s mass commercialism. When the
Aladdin script was first mailed to him, he sent it back — unread. After a lot of negotiation, Williams agreed to star on the condition that his voice and image would not be used as part of a money-making machine to sell cross-promotional items — you know, Burger King toys, T-shirts, that sort of thing.
Unfortunately, when Disney realized how amazing the actor’s performance was, they went back on their word, and marketed Williams anyway. Williams was furious at the betrayal of trust, and he had a massive falling-out with Disney, which wasn’t solved when the studio tried to bribe him with a $1 million dollar Picasso painting. This feud lasted a couple years, but both parties finally made up their differences in 1994, when Disney studio head Joe Roth apologized for how badly they had treated Williams.
He really wanted to get into a Batman movie, but got ‘jilted’ twice
Fans would’ve loved to have seen Robin Williams snag a role in a Batman movie, but perhaps no one wanted to get into the series more than the man himself. As reported by Syfy , Williams got within inches of being a Batman villain two times, only to get stood up. The first snub happened in 1989, when WB’s top pick for the Joker, Jack Nicholson, was wavering on the deal. The studio then approached Williams to play Batman’s archenemy, but before Williams got his chance, Jack swept back in and reclaimed the role. Bizarrely enough, this exact scenario happened again in 1995, when Williams was slated to play the Riddler in Batman Forever, only for the studio to give the role to Jim Carrey instead.
Despite all this snubbing, according to A.V. Club, Williams was still down for playing a Batman villain by the time Christopher Nolan took over the franchise, stating he’d “do anything” to get into the new Dark Knight trilogy, even if he could just cameo as an inmate in Arkham Asylum. Back in 2011, it was rumored that Williams might appear in The Dark Knight Rises as the villainous psychiatrist Dr. Hugo Strange, according to
Screen Rant, but there’s no evidence this theory was anything other than internet gossip.
He struggled with addiction
The story of Robin Williams can’t be told without also documenting his lifelong battle with addiction. Williams first slipped into binge-drinking and cocaine abuse during his time on Mork and Mindy, right as his star was on the rise, according to People. He dropped both substances in 1982, reportedly due to two major life events: one, his wife was pregnant with their son, and two, his comedian friend John Belushi had died of a drug overdose. According to ABC, Williams said it was a “wake-up call.”
Williams was successfully sober for decades and never went back to cocaine. But sadly, on a lonely 2003 shoot in Alaska, he relapsed back into drinking, as he explained to The Guardian . He continued drinking for three years — a time he said wasn’t remotely enjoyable while it lasted — before checking into rehab in 2006. From then on, Williams remained sober until the end of his life. According to Yahoo he did go to rehab again in 2014, but this was reportedly because he wanted to maintain his sobriety, not due to a relapse.
He was there for his friend, Christopher Reeve, in his moment of need
One of Robin Williams’ closest friends was Superman actor Christopher Reeve. The two had stayed in contact ever since their Juilliard days, as both grew into worldwide icons. As we all know today, tragedy struck in 1995, when a horseback riding accident left Reeve quadriplegic. According to Today , Reeve’s accident then necessitated a risky medical procedure to reattach his skull and spine.
Scared, heartbroken, and still reeling from the accident, Reeve and his family grimly readied themselves for the procedure — when out of nowhere, according to Esquire, Williams burst into the hospital room dressed as a doctor, claiming in an exaggerated Russian accent that he was a proctologist and that he was going to have to give Reeve an examination. It’s been said that, following the accident, this instance was the first time Reeve truly laughed. Reeve himself once stated, “My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.'” The two actors remained close until Reeve’s death in 2004, and when Williams himself died 10 years later, the loss was publicly mourned by the Reeve family.
He was an ‘honorary Jew’
Okay, so Robin Williams wasn’t officially Jewish. He was raised Episcopalian, and as an adult, he never fully clarified what his religious views were. However, there’s no doubt he possessed an immense love for Jewish culture, according to Jewish newspaper The Forward, with many of his comedy routines involving Yiddish phrases, dancing the hora, bar mitzvahs, and references to Fiddler on the Roof. He played many Jewish characters throughout his career, including rabbis, an elderly Jewish lady, and most notably in 1999, where he starred in Peter Kassovitz’s Holocaust-themed film
Jakob the Liar , as a Jewish shopkeeper living in 1944 Poland.
Because of William’s well-documented affinity for Jewish culture, Israeli newspapers the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel both mourned the actor’s death, proclaiming him an “honorary member of the tribe.” Williams would have been pleased; he had often referred to himself as “an honorary Jew” for many years prior.
In the end, he was hit by a sudden case of Lewy body dementia
It has often been stated that Robin Williams’ heartbreaking suicide by hanging was caused by the actor’s battle with depression, but the truth is much more complicated. According to Scientific American, the true story is that Williams was (incorrectly) diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and his dementia symptoms progressed rapidly. In the last few months of his life, his cognitive abilities declined so quickly that he was unable to remember his lines on the set and was overcome with paranoia, insomnia, a loss of sensory functions, and panic attacks.
After his death, the autopsy revealed that Williams had been misdiagnosed, and had actually suffered from the onset of Lewy body dementia, a disease that impacts an estimated 1.3 million Americans. Williams’ wife, Susan, referred to the disease as the “terrorist inside my husband’s brain,” and she said the last year of his life was a painful flurry of ineffective medical trials, physical therapy, alternative treatments like yoga and meditation, as well as anything Williams could do to try to help his brain regain its prior functions. Tragically, there’s no known cure for Lewy body dementia, and the escalation of this disease led to the tragic end of a man the world will always remember fondly, as one of the most celebrated and talented performers of his time.

Rate This Content
Misconceptions about The Matrix you probably believed.
April 25, 2018
0

“You’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.” When Morpheus spoke those words to Neo in 1999, no-one could’ve predicted how insanely influential they would become. Neo’s awakening from the Matrix, and the public awakening from the prison of cruddy late ’90s sci-fi blockbusters (cough, The Phantom Menace, cough), is now recognized as one of the defining moments in modern cinema. The Matrix is so well known that even if you’re the sort of viewer who usually prefers six-hour black and white silent Hungarian art house epics about the difficulties of preparing goulash in midwinter, you probably know all about it.
At least, you probably think you do. But what if everything you think you know is a lie? What if it turned out you were living in a dream world — a matrix, if you will — in which everything you thought you knew about your favorite philosophical action film was merely a clever construct maintained by human ignorance? Time to swallow that red pill marked “keep reading” and reveal things as they really are.
The machines are the bad guys
They enslaved humanity, turned them into batteries, and stuck them in a miserable cyberpunk dystopia where it’s always 1999 and everyone works in offices that would give Dilbert nightmares. Seen in black and white like that it seems clear the machines in The Matrix are the bad guys. But that’s a simplistic reading. In
Matrix lore, the machines have every right to abuse humans.
The Animatrix was a collection of nine animated shorts released in 2003 to flesh out the world of The Matrix . Produced by the Wachowskis, it’s part of the Matrix canon. Two of those shorts, parts I and II of The Second Renaissance, show how humanity invented artificial intelligence in the early 21st century. They also show how humanity enslaved these sentient machines, murdered them with impunity, and then tried to wipe them out in a nuclear holocaust when they demanded equal rights. Yep, the backstory to The Matrix is essentially a slave rebellion.
But that all takes place in other media! In the main trilogy itself, the machines are the obvious antagonists, right? Only if you ignore that whole speech the Architect gives at the end of Reloaded (and who could blame you). The Architect explains how the Matrix was originally created to be a perfect world that only got sucky because humans were too pessimistic to accept happiness. (See this Matrix blog.) What kind of bad guys try to create a paradise for their victims? Misunderstood ones, that’s who.
Everyone hated the sequels
Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions occupy a special place in geekdom, one equivalent to the irradiated remains of Chernobyl if Chernobyl had been powered by disappointment and broken dreams. Geek site io9 has declared them a bigger letdown than The Phantom Menace. Their suckiness is now so accepted that it’s assumed that audiences always hated them. Sad as it is to admit, that’s not quite true. Look back at reviews from 2003 and it’s clear a lot of influential people thought Reloaded was better than the original.
Roger Ebert was one of those people. His Reloaded review gave it 3.5 stars out of 4, which is half a star more than he gave the original. (Revolutions dropped to 3 stars , and Ebert admitted on reflection that the original was the best.) According to Rotten Tomatoes , Richard Roeper didn’t just like Reloaded , he claimed it “soars to places only hinted at in the original.” Critics at
Salon, New York Observer , and New York Magazine all gave Reloaded superlative praise.
And it wasn’t just critics. Cinemascore has been polling audiences outside movie theaters since 1978. Theater audiences gave Matrix Reloaded a B+, compared to the original’s A-. So what gives? Well, you can probably blame hype for the inflated scores. Cinemascore also records an A- for The Phantom Menace , and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone today who considers it equal to The Matrix .
It’s an allegory for Christianity or Buddhism
The Matrix mixed in so many different strands of religion that you’ve probably heard it called an allegory for Christianity, Buddhism, and even Hinduism. The one thing you probably haven’t heard it called is a transgender coming-out fable. Well buckle up, ’cause that’s about to change.
If you’re thinking this sounds like zeitgeisty bunkum, have faith. This theory goes deeper than your average bong-inspired gender studies paper. The Wachowskis are both transgender. Lana came out in 2008, and Lily came out in 2016 (via Variety). The first film is stuffed full of little clues to their transgenderism, the biggest of which are all covered at geek site The Mary Sue .
The Matrix is about Neo, who is forced to publicly live as a guy called Thomas Anderson. Agent Smith keeps referring to him as “Mr. Anderson,” even after he’s transitioned into being Neo, a phenomenon the trans community refers to as deadnaming. While that’s hardly conclusive, there are also crucial ties to Lana’s life. As a teenager, she tried to commit suicide over her gender identity by jumping under a subway train. If you’re not now thinking of Keanu Reeves growling “My name is … NEO!” and spectacularly escaping death on a subway line, you’re not making the obvious connection.
Then there’s the fact that Switch’s character was originally meant to be female in the Matrix, but male in the real world (via Tor ). That would’ve made the subtext just text.
Bullet time came out of nowhere
Remember when you first saw The Matrix? The moment you got hooked was probably when you first saw bullet time, as Trinity leaped up in the air, froze as the camera swung around, then kicked the innards outta some poor cop. It was something that just hadn’t been seen in cinema before. While it’s pretty standard for action films to slow down, speed up, and sweep around fast-moving objects at impossible speeds now, in 1999 it was like watching someone reinvent the wheel. With bullets. Or it would’ve been, had others not already done something similar beforehand.
To be clear, bullet time itself was a completely new technique, created for The Matrix and never used anywhere else beforehand. But it’s a myth that it came completely out of nowhere. Matrix VFX supervisor John Gaeta has said that bullet time was built on techniques pioneered by other directors (via Indiewire ). Specifically, he credited Akira director Otomo Katsuhiro and Michel Gondry for inspiring him. Gondry in particular should probably get most of the credit here. Just check out his
1996 Smirnoff commercial (above) that opens with a
Matrix parody done three years before The Matrix came out. Either the Eternal Sunshine director can add “psychic” to his long list of abilities, or bullet time wasn’t quite as original as we thought it was.
The main inspiration was Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell was a groundbreaking 1995 anime movie by Mamoru Oshii that mixed philosophy with action in a cyberpunk dystopia where characters are constantly questioning the nature of their reality. If that sounds familiar, that’s not surprising. Ghost in the Shell’s influence on The Matrix is so well documented that Oshii declared in 2009 that he was fed up with answering questions about it (via The Guardian). At least everyone is aware of his influence on the Wachowskis. Graphic novelist Grant Morrison has never been acknowledged, despite his work probably inspiring
The Matrix more than Ghost in the Shell .
Morrison’s claim comes in the form of The Invisibles , a DC series that ran from 1994 to 2000. In it a group of rebels discover reality is an illusion and the human race has been enslaved by aliens. They recruit a regular guy who turns out to be a messiah figure who can alter reality and lead a kung-fu-and-guns rebellion, all while dressing in leather and wearing suspiciously familiar sunglasses. Oh, and the leader of their group, a guy called King Mob, just happens to look a whole lot like a paler version of Morpheus.
The Wachowskis have never acknowledged the influence of The Invisibles . However, they are both comics fans who once asked Morrison to write for them, so it seems likely they were aware of the series.
Morrison has even claimed copies of The Invisibles were handed around on set.
Everyone agreed it was revolutionary
We like film histories to be simple and straightforward. It’s much easier to read “audiences at the time were amazed by The Matrix’s revolutionary techniques” than to delve through a complicated paragraph explaining how it initially didn’t make much of a splash, but over time had enough of an effect on trendsetters and other artists to significantly change the way things are done. All of which might be why we tend to hear retrospectives talking about how The Matrix blew 1999 audiences away and immediately revolutionized the action movie. There’s just one problem. In the spring of ’99, it wasn’t at all clear that was what had happened.
Go back and read the reviews again. A whole lotta critics seemed to think the film had an interesting premise but totally wasted it. Time Out dubbed it “another slice of overlong, high concept hokum.” Roger Ebert said it was “fun, but it could have been more” and unfavorably compared it to 1998’s Dark City . (In 2005 he would
even write Dark City “did what “The Matrix” wanted to do, earlier and with more feeling.”) The New Yorker’s critic basically dismissed it.
Maybe it’s because The Matrix was just meant to be the warm up to the summer’s main event. In mid-May, the first Star Wars movie in 16 years was due to hit screens and blow everyone away. When that, uh, failed to happen, The Matrix probably began to look a whole lot more interesting.
It was the Wachowskis’ first success
Before The Matrix , the Wachowskis were about as obscure as anyone working within the Hollywood studio system can be. After 1999, they briefly became the most famous directors on Earth. But the duo didn’t come out of nowhere. They’d previously made one other film, 1996’s Bound, a lesbian crime caper often overlooked today. Not that Bound was a dud, or even forgettable. While it failed to set the box office alight, earning back only half of its $6 million budget, it did better with the critics. In fact, it did so well that the Wachowskis were touted as the next Coen Brothers.
To give some idea of how popular Bound was in reviewing circles, check out this write-up by Roger Ebert. He sounds like he’s just seen Citizen Kane for the first time, and he wasn’t the only one. Bound picked up a slew of indie awards, made lists of “the 10 best movies of 1996,” became a critical darling, and turned the Wachowskis into a hot property. Ever wondered why a major studio was willing to trust a $60 million blockbuster to a pair of nearly untested directors? It’s because of those critics gushing over Bound .
Interestingly, the Wachowskis’ forgotten first movie is now considered as groundbreaking as The Matrix . Its LGBT themes, lesbian heroes, frank depiction of gay sex, and ascribing of agency to its queer characters has led AV Club to call it a benchmark of gay cinema.
It was the first onscreen depiction of ‘the Matrix’
It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that The Matrix wasn’t the first onscreen depiction of a virtual world. By 1999, the idea was pretty firmly established in sci-fi. You might be surprised to hear that it wasn’t the first onscreen depiction of a virtual reality world called “the Matrix” that is powered by human batteries, where you can make impossible things happen, and in which getting killed causes your body to die in real life. That familiar sounding concept first appeared onscreen in 1976, and it came courtesy of long running sci-fi series
Doctor Who (via AV Club ).
The 1976 serial The Deadly Assassin starts out as far from Keanu Reeves swanning around in a trench coat as you can imagine. The Doctor, played by Tom Baker, is on his home planet of Gallifrey to investigate an assassination attempt by his nemesis The Master. So far, so not Matrix. Then, in Episode 3, the story suddenly gets a lot more Wachowski. The Doctor encounters a virtual world called the Matrix, which is built upon pretty much the exact same rules as the Wachowskis’ Matrix. The only difference is that the “one” in this Matrix is evil and uses his reality-bending powers to summon evil clowns instead of getting his kung-fu on.
Although it’s unlikely the Wachowskis ripped off Doctor Who, it’s not the only time the BBC series has presaged major blockbusters. Alien and The Terminator are both foreshadowed in early episodes of Who.
The whole ‘humans as batteries’ thing represents a major plot hole
The Matrix ain’t hard sci-fi. It’s action blockbuster with sci-fi trappings, which may be why it’s stuffed so full of contradictions and inconsistencies. (Why doesn’t Cypher need to jack in to the Matrix? Why the heck is Agent Smith programmed to have a receding hairline?) But where plot holes are concerned, it probably does better than you think. The famous “humans as batteries” problem has been solved. Many times.
The issue goes something like this. Humans would be insanely inefficient as batteries. Generating a virtual world for them to live in would be even less efficient. Why don’t the machines just use braindead humans or, better yet, braindead cows to generate their power. (Although even that would run foul of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, given what we learn about how humans are fed in the film.)
Remember Morpheus’ comment about the machines having a “form of fusion”? As bloggers have pointed out, fusion would render the human battery system pointless, meaning the machines must keep humans alive for another reason. Some theorize it’s because the machines have to obey Asimov’s laws of robotics, even after the war (the not-killing-all-humans law). Others think the machines require humanity’s imagination, as it’s the one thing robots lack. Yet others think the machines were the good guys and put humanity in what’s basically a virtual daycare center just to stop the neverending series of nuclear holocausts. Take your pick.
It only became a hit on home media
Everyone loves an underdog story. It’s so much more satisfying to read about how someone overcame unlikely odds than to read about how the favorite won again. That’s probably where the myth about The Matrix being a dark horse comes from. Again and again, people like to trot out the idea that the film wasn’t a hit at the box office and only picked up a major following on DVD thanks to savvy fans. It’s a nice story, but a story is all it is. Look at the box office numbers, and it’s clear The Matrix hit the ground running and didn’t stop until it had kung-fu-kicked the opposition into a screaming pulp.
Box Office Mojo has the exact numbers. The Matrix opened at #1 on its opening weekend. It made $171.4 million domestically, and $292 million worldwide. While those numbers don’t sound all that impressive today (Batman v Superman made nearly $900 million globally and was still considered a disappointment), in 1999 it was enough for The Matrix to become the fourth-most profitable film worldwide. It outperformed the newest James Bond, The Mummy, the second Austin Powers ,
The Blair Witch Project, and the Pokemon movie. Those are the stats of a bona fide success — especially on a mid-range budget — not the stats of some underdog struggling to make a splash. It was backed up by an advertising campaign that saw the film profiled in major magazines like any other upcoming blockbuster.

Rate This Content
Misconceptions about The Matrix you probably believed.
April 25, 2018
0

“You’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.” When Morpheus spoke those words to Neo in 1999, no-one could’ve predicted how insanely influential they would become. Neo’s awakening from the Matrix, and the public awakening from the prison of cruddy late ’90s sci-fi blockbusters (cough, The Phantom Menace, cough), is now recognized as one of the defining moments in modern cinema. The Matrix is so well known that even if you’re the sort of viewer who usually prefers six-hour black and white silent Hungarian art house epics about the difficulties of preparing goulash in midwinter, you probably know all about it.
At least, you probably think you do. But what if everything you think you know is a lie? What if it turned out you were living in a dream world — a matrix, if you will — in which everything you thought you knew about your favorite philosophical action film was merely a clever construct maintained by human ignorance? Time to swallow that red pill marked “keep reading” and reveal things as they really are.
The machines are the bad guys
They enslaved humanity, turned them into batteries, and stuck them in a miserable cyberpunk dystopia where it’s always 1999 and everyone works in offices that would give Dilbert nightmares. Seen in black and white like that it seems clear the machines in The Matrix are the bad guys. But that’s a simplistic reading. In
Matrix lore, the machines have every right to abuse humans.
The Animatrix was a collection of nine animated shorts released in 2003 to flesh out the world of The Matrix . Produced by the Wachowskis, it’s part of the Matrix canon. Two of those shorts, parts I and II of The Second Renaissance, show how humanity invented artificial intelligence in the early 21st century. They also show how humanity enslaved these sentient machines, murdered them with impunity, and then tried to wipe them out in a nuclear holocaust when they demanded equal rights. Yep, the backstory to The Matrix is essentially a slave rebellion.
But that all takes place in other media! In the main trilogy itself, the machines are the obvious antagonists, right? Only if you ignore that whole speech the Architect gives at the end of Reloaded (and who could blame you). The Architect explains how the Matrix was originally created to be a perfect world that only got sucky because humans were too pessimistic to accept happiness. (See this Matrix blog.) What kind of bad guys try to create a paradise for their victims? Misunderstood ones, that’s who.
Everyone hated the sequels
Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions occupy a special place in geekdom, one equivalent to the irradiated remains of Chernobyl if Chernobyl had been powered by disappointment and broken dreams. Geek site io9 has declared them a bigger letdown than The Phantom Menace. Their suckiness is now so accepted that it’s assumed that audiences always hated them. Sad as it is to admit, that’s not quite true. Look back at reviews from 2003 and it’s clear a lot of influential people thought Reloaded was better than the original.
Roger Ebert was one of those people. His Reloaded review gave it 3.5 stars out of 4, which is half a star more than he gave the original. (Revolutions dropped to 3 stars , and Ebert admitted on reflection that the original was the best.) According to Rotten Tomatoes , Richard Roeper didn’t just like Reloaded , he claimed it “soars to places only hinted at in the original.” Critics at
Salon, New York Observer , and New York Magazine all gave Reloaded superlative praise.
And it wasn’t just critics. Cinemascore has been polling audiences outside movie theaters since 1978. Theater audiences gave Matrix Reloaded a B+, compared to the original’s A-. So what gives? Well, you can probably blame hype for the inflated scores. Cinemascore also records an A- for The Phantom Menace , and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone today who considers it equal to The Matrix .
It’s an allegory for Christianity or Buddhism
The Matrix mixed in so many different strands of religion that you’ve probably heard it called an allegory for Christianity, Buddhism, and even Hinduism. The one thing you probably haven’t heard it called is a transgender coming-out fable. Well buckle up, ’cause that’s about to change.
If you’re thinking this sounds like zeitgeisty bunkum, have faith. This theory goes deeper than your average bong-inspired gender studies paper. The Wachowskis are both transgender. Lana came out in 2008, and Lily came out in 2016 (via Variety). The first film is stuffed full of little clues to their transgenderism, the biggest of which are all covered at geek site The Mary Sue .
The Matrix is about Neo, who is forced to publicly live as a guy called Thomas Anderson. Agent Smith keeps referring to him as “Mr. Anderson,” even after he’s transitioned into being Neo, a phenomenon the trans community refers to as deadnaming. While that’s hardly conclusive, there are also crucial ties to Lana’s life. As a teenager, she tried to commit suicide over her gender identity by jumping under a subway train. If you’re not now thinking of Keanu Reeves growling “My name is … NEO!” and spectacularly escaping death on a subway line, you’re not making the obvious connection.
Then there’s the fact that Switch’s character was originally meant to be female in the Matrix, but male in the real world (via Tor ). That would’ve made the subtext just text.
Bullet time came out of nowhere
Remember when you first saw The Matrix? The moment you got hooked was probably when you first saw bullet time, as Trinity leaped up in the air, froze as the camera swung around, then kicked the innards outta some poor cop. It was something that just hadn’t been seen in cinema before. While it’s pretty standard for action films to slow down, speed up, and sweep around fast-moving objects at impossible speeds now, in 1999 it was like watching someone reinvent the wheel. With bullets. Or it would’ve been, had others not already done something similar beforehand.
To be clear, bullet time itself was a completely new technique, created for The Matrix and never used anywhere else beforehand. But it’s a myth that it came completely out of nowhere. Matrix VFX supervisor John Gaeta has said that bullet time was built on techniques pioneered by other directors (via Indiewire ). Specifically, he credited Akira director Otomo Katsuhiro and Michel Gondry for inspiring him. Gondry in particular should probably get most of the credit here. Just check out his
1996 Smirnoff commercial (above) that opens with a
Matrix parody done three years before The Matrix came out. Either the Eternal Sunshine director can add “psychic” to his long list of abilities, or bullet time wasn’t quite as original as we thought it was.
The main inspiration was Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell was a groundbreaking 1995 anime movie by Mamoru Oshii that mixed philosophy with action in a cyberpunk dystopia where characters are constantly questioning the nature of their reality. If that sounds familiar, that’s not surprising. Ghost in the Shell’s influence on The Matrix is so well documented that Oshii declared in 2009 that he was fed up with answering questions about it (via The Guardian). At least everyone is aware of his influence on the Wachowskis. Graphic novelist Grant Morrison has never been acknowledged, despite his work probably inspiring
The Matrix more than Ghost in the Shell .
Morrison’s claim comes in the form of The Invisibles , a DC series that ran from 1994 to 2000. In it a group of rebels discover reality is an illusion and the human race has been enslaved by aliens. They recruit a regular guy who turns out to be a messiah figure who can alter reality and lead a kung-fu-and-guns rebellion, all while dressing in leather and wearing suspiciously familiar sunglasses. Oh, and the leader of their group, a guy called King Mob, just happens to look a whole lot like a paler version of Morpheus.
The Wachowskis have never acknowledged the influence of The Invisibles . However, they are both comics fans who once asked Morrison to write for them, so it seems likely they were aware of the series.
Morrison has even claimed copies of The Invisibles were handed around on set.
Everyone agreed it was revolutionary
We like film histories to be simple and straightforward. It’s much easier to read “audiences at the time were amazed by The Matrix’s revolutionary techniques” than to delve through a complicated paragraph explaining how it initially didn’t make much of a splash, but over time had enough of an effect on trendsetters and other artists to significantly change the way things are done. All of which might be why we tend to hear retrospectives talking about how The Matrix blew 1999 audiences away and immediately revolutionized the action movie. There’s just one problem. In the spring of ’99, it wasn’t at all clear that was what had happened.
Go back and read the reviews again. A whole lotta critics seemed to think the film had an interesting premise but totally wasted it. Time Out dubbed it “another slice of overlong, high concept hokum.” Roger Ebert said it was “fun, but it could have been more” and unfavorably compared it to 1998’s Dark City . (In 2005 he would
even write Dark City “did what “The Matrix” wanted to do, earlier and with more feeling.”) The New Yorker’s critic basically dismissed it.
Maybe it’s because The Matrix was just meant to be the warm up to the summer’s main event. In mid-May, the first Star Wars movie in 16 years was due to hit screens and blow everyone away. When that, uh, failed to happen, The Matrix probably began to look a whole lot more interesting.
It was the Wachowskis’ first success
Before The Matrix , the Wachowskis were about as obscure as anyone working within the Hollywood studio system can be. After 1999, they briefly became the most famous directors on Earth. But the duo didn’t come out of nowhere. They’d previously made one other film, 1996’s Bound, a lesbian crime caper often overlooked today. Not that Bound was a dud, or even forgettable. While it failed to set the box office alight, earning back only half of its $6 million budget, it did better with the critics. In fact, it did so well that the Wachowskis were touted as the next Coen Brothers.
To give some idea of how popular Bound was in reviewing circles, check out this write-up by Roger Ebert. He sounds like he’s just seen Citizen Kane for the first time, and he wasn’t the only one. Bound picked up a slew of indie awards, made lists of “the 10 best movies of 1996,” became a critical darling, and turned the Wachowskis into a hot property. Ever wondered why a major studio was willing to trust a $60 million blockbuster to a pair of nearly untested directors? It’s because of those critics gushing over Bound .
Interestingly, the Wachowskis’ forgotten first movie is now considered as groundbreaking as The Matrix . Its LGBT themes, lesbian heroes, frank depiction of gay sex, and ascribing of agency to its queer characters has led AV Club to call it a benchmark of gay cinema.
It was the first onscreen depiction of ‘the Matrix’
It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that The Matrix wasn’t the first onscreen depiction of a virtual world. By 1999, the idea was pretty firmly established in sci-fi. You might be surprised to hear that it wasn’t the first onscreen depiction of a virtual reality world called “the Matrix” that is powered by human batteries, where you can make impossible things happen, and in which getting killed causes your body to die in real life. That familiar sounding concept first appeared onscreen in 1976, and it came courtesy of long running sci-fi series
Doctor Who (via AV Club ).
The 1976 serial The Deadly Assassin starts out as far from Keanu Reeves swanning around in a trench coat as you can imagine. The Doctor, played by Tom Baker, is on his home planet of Gallifrey to investigate an assassination attempt by his nemesis The Master. So far, so not Matrix. Then, in Episode 3, the story suddenly gets a lot more Wachowski. The Doctor encounters a virtual world called the Matrix, which is built upon pretty much the exact same rules as the Wachowskis’ Matrix. The only difference is that the “one” in this Matrix is evil and uses his reality-bending powers to summon evil clowns instead of getting his kung-fu on.
Although it’s unlikely the Wachowskis ripped off Doctor Who, it’s not the only time the BBC series has presaged major blockbusters. Alien and The Terminator are both foreshadowed in early episodes of Who.
The whole ‘humans as batteries’ thing represents a major plot hole
The Matrix ain’t hard sci-fi. It’s action blockbuster with sci-fi trappings, which may be why it’s stuffed so full of contradictions and inconsistencies. (Why doesn’t Cypher need to jack in to the Matrix? Why the heck is Agent Smith programmed to have a receding hairline?) But where plot holes are concerned, it probably does better than you think. The famous “humans as batteries” problem has been solved. Many times.
The issue goes something like this. Humans would be insanely inefficient as batteries. Generating a virtual world for them to live in would be even less efficient. Why don’t the machines just use braindead humans or, better yet, braindead cows to generate their power. (Although even that would run foul of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, given what we learn about how humans are fed in the film.)
Remember Morpheus’ comment about the machines having a “form of fusion”? As bloggers have pointed out, fusion would render the human battery system pointless, meaning the machines must keep humans alive for another reason. Some theorize it’s because the machines have to obey Asimov’s laws of robotics, even after the war (the not-killing-all-humans law). Others think the machines require humanity’s imagination, as it’s the one thing robots lack. Yet others think the machines were the good guys and put humanity in what’s basically a virtual daycare center just to stop the neverending series of nuclear holocausts. Take your pick.
It only became a hit on home media
Everyone loves an underdog story. It’s so much more satisfying to read about how someone overcame unlikely odds than to read about how the favorite won again. That’s probably where the myth about The Matrix being a dark horse comes from. Again and again, people like to trot out the idea that the film wasn’t a hit at the box office and only picked up a major following on DVD thanks to savvy fans. It’s a nice story, but a story is all it is. Look at the box office numbers, and it’s clear The Matrix hit the ground running and didn’t stop until it had kung-fu-kicked the opposition into a screaming pulp.
Box Office Mojo has the exact numbers. The Matrix opened at #1 on its opening weekend. It made $171.4 million domestically, and $292 million worldwide. While those numbers don’t sound all that impressive today (Batman v Superman made nearly $900 million globally and was still considered a disappointment), in 1999 it was enough for The Matrix to become the fourth-most profitable film worldwide. It outperformed the newest James Bond, The Mummy, the second Austin Powers ,
The Blair Witch Project, and the Pokemon movie. Those are the stats of a bona fide success — especially on a mid-range budget — not the stats of some underdog struggling to make a splash. It was backed up by an advertising campaign that saw the film profiled in major magazines like any other upcoming blockbuster.

Rate This Content
Most pointless movies on Netflix.
April 25, 2018
0

Netflix really is a wonderful thing. Before it landed on our screens, the idea of having basically every movie and television show known to mankind available at our fingertips — and for only a small monthly subscription — was practically unheard of. Now, with its library ever-increasing and the company pursuing a whole line of original series’ and productions, it seems hard for any of
its 118 million users to even remember a time before Netflix.
Just because the service is good, however, doesn’t mean what’s on it must be, too. Open Netflix now and you might find a heavyweight blockbuster like Captain America: Civil War or a classic flick like The Godfather or a gripping series like Mad Men staring back at you. What you might not see are — well, let’s just call them the dregs. They’re the worst, weirdest, and most offensively bland movies to ever scrape an existence out of Netflix’s popularity. Why they’re there at all is, frankly, totally beyond us.
When We First Met
Netflix’s original movies haven’t always been exactly what you’d call huge critical successes, and When We First Met is no exception. Starring Adam DeVine (the guy you know from roughly three or four episodes of that inoffensive sitcom you probably tolerate, and also
Pitch Perfect) and Alexandra Daddario (the girl you know from roughly three or four utterly woeful movies you definitely did not tolerate), it tells the story of a young man who utilizes time travel to break up a woman and her fiancée and get her for himself.
Aside from perpetuating the infinitely irritating and outdated notion of the “friend zone” for all too much of its runtime, the movie itself has been described by
Common Sense Media as “by the numbers,” “predictable,” and “short on originality,” before conceding it should be passable for young adult audiences. But then again, so is Doctor Who, and that’s got time travel and aliens. Checkmate.
Rodentz
Rodentz, otherwise known as Altered Species , is a 2001 shlock horror flick about giant rats who are infected with a failed cancer cure and subsequently become rabid and evil and really, really big. It was written by Serge Rodnunsky, a physicist and ballet choreographer who perhaps ought to have stuck to physics or ballet.
Rodentz offers up 85 minutes or so of “generic tedium” which, according to Something Awful, has rats so utterly lame and un-scary that they’re actually likely to cure you of your fear of rats.
Now, movies like Rodentz might pander to an audience — the same people that made Troll 2 a cult classic and managed to make it all the way through Battlefield Earth — but Rodentz isn’t really worth watching, even for them. After all, with such a rich menagerie of woeful, animal-based cheesy horror movies out there ( Piranha 3D , Jaws: The Revenge, Alligator), why take the time to watch one that doesn’t even embrace its own silliness until the final five minutes? Skip it.
A Talking Cat!?!
There’s a lot to dissect with this one, so let’s start with the bottom line. It’s about a talking cat. It’s called A Talking Cat!?! . It’s got Eric Roberts in it — as the cat. This was never going to be a good movie. It would have done well to manage to not be a travesty to cinema. But it did not do well. From the opening monologue, in which the cat listlessly muses on such topics as nature and smartphones as he wanders through the woods, to the not-very-heartbreaking finale, A Talking Cat!?! offers itself up as nothing less than a masterpiece of poor filmmaking.
Let’s be honest here. A Talking Cat!?! is probably worth your time. It’s truly hilarious in its badness and, while you probably won’t make it to the 85th minute (who has time for that?) it will probably give you a good chortle for, say, 15 minutes. But only if you’re properly bored.
Johnny Mnemonic
Johnny Mnemonic is a short story written by William Gibson, a legendary sci-fi author (who’s credited for the invention of the word “cyberspace”), about a data trafficker who ends up with some sensitive data placed inside his head. Our hero is then forced into a life on the run and pursued by the Yakuza. It’s really good.
Johnny Mnemonic is also a movie starring Keanu Reeves, about pretty much the same thing. Sadly, as
critics have pointed out , it’s simply not a story that translates very well to the screen. What results is not a terrible film, but a pretty dull one. The best thing about the movie, however — the cybernetic dolphin — also exists in the story, and additionally, the written version happens to be addicted to heroin. So which of these stories is really worth your time? Exactly. If you want Keanu Reeves in cyberspace, you’re best just sticking to
The Matrix.
Love, Wedding, Marriage
Love, Wedding, Marriage is a movie so incredibly dull in its premise that it’s hard to remember it after reading about it. (You wouldn’t be watching it.) It’s got Mandy Moore in it, as well as James Brolin and Christopher Lloyd, and, uh, there’s a wedding at some point, and someone stages a suicide. It’s a comedy, probably. The New York Times suggested it be played on a loop for film critics when they go to hell. Even that, though, suggests this travesty might find a purpose. It won’t.
Filled to the brim with cliches and featuring some of Hollywood’s least memorable non-characters, Love, Wedding, Marriage might just be one of film history’s least interesting movies. It’s not bad enough to be fun and not good enough to be, well, good. Some perspective: In the time it’s taken you to read about this movie’s existence, you probably could have made a cup of coffee or emptied the dishwasher. You’re welcome.
Charlie St. Cloud
No, Charlie St. Cloud isn’t the name of that insufferable posh kid you went to school with — it’s actually a nothing-y 2010 drama movie starring Zac Efron. It’s the story of Charlie St. Cloud (yeah, so it actually is his name), a high school graduate who, after the tragic death of his brother, embarks on a confusing, saccharine journey of reconciliation with his dead bro’s ghost by playing baseball with him every day at sunset. The execution is about as good as the concept.
The Hollywood Reporter points out that Charlie St. Cloud is a movie that gets sillier as it goes on. Conversely, it does not get any less boring as it goes on. On top of all of this, there’s the fact that Charlie St. Cloud is also adapted from a best-selling novel, so if you really must experience the story of a guy playing catch with a ghost, well, you might as well go for the book.
Bright
Another flop for Netflix’s in-house production company, here. From Suicide Squad’s David Ayer and Max Landis, who really can do better than this, Bright is about an LAPD officer who inhabits an urban fantastical world where humans and mythical creatures live together. Smith’s character teams up with the LAPD’s first orc policeman, who is himself trying to cope with the racial hatred humans hold toward his kind. Frankly, it’s a brilliant concept, and the very notion of a D&D/ The Wire mash-up is arguably too good to pass up.
Well … pass it up. Aside from attracting criticism for actually being a little bit racist (kind of defeats the point of the whole thing, doesn’t it?), the finished product also happens to be dull to the extreme and muddled by incoherent writing. Still, Netflix was happy with it , even suggesting a sequel could be on the cards. So at least someone liked it.
Sandy Wexler
When writing about pointless movies, there’s a real danger of just listing off Adam Sandler movies , so hopefully it speaks for itself that Sandy Wexler was the only one that made the cut here. This 2017 “comedy” “movie” is the story of a talent manager who, during the ’90s, discovers a singer and musician (played by Jennifer Hudson) and attempts to get her to the big time. The Rotten Tomatoes score (29 percent) speaks for itself.
The New Yorker described Sandy Wexler as “plodding, obvious and oblivious,” lamenting its awkward comedic side-plots and unfortunate handling of non-white characters. But what makes this different from every other Sandler-helmed crime against humanity is that it doesn’t even have the irreverent silliness and low-brow humor that brings in his usual audiences. It’s sentimental, quiet and — relative to the rest of Sandler’s filmography — pretty low-key. But it’s no good, either. Truly, this is a movie made for nobody.
Hisss
Aside from being a spelling nightmare, Hisss is an entry into that genre of animal-based horror movies that we mentioned earlier — and no, it’s not a necessary one, by any stretch of the imagination. The plot is as nonsensical as you’d expect: An evil American with brain cancer tries to gain the spirit of a shape-shifting snake (played by Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat). This “nagin” goes on to liberate abused women by murdering the men who are torturing them. There’s some carnal relations and some killing but apart from that, not much of it makes any sense.
If you want intense Bollywood, watch Ugly . If you want horror, watch Alien. If you want snakes, just watch
Snakes on a Plane or Planet Earth or something. What you don’t need to watch is a feeble attempt at titillation strung together by hammy acting and horrific writing. Even the Bollywood critics panned it . Avoid.
Step Sisters
Step Sisters is one of those movies where you can’t help but wonder if they came up with the title first and just kind of worked from there. It’s a dance movie, you see, about a black college student who agrees to teach Greek stepping to a group of debauched white sorority students. Get it? Step Sisters? Because they’re sorority sisters. And they’re stepping.
Anyway, Netflix got the distribution rights and released it in January 2018. Now, let’s take a look at some of the other dance movies that, at time of writing, are also on the streaming service. Magic Mike ! And … that’s it for the classics. But your library probably has several copies of Saturday Night Fever or Footloose or Dirty Dancing. So unless you’re actually into Greek stepping (in which case, go for it), there’s not really a lot that
Step Sisters can offer you. Apart from the pun, of course. But we’ve already spoiled that for you.
Hot Bot
Okay. According to IMDb , which is about as far as anyone should delve into this, Hot Bot is the “hilarious journey of two sexually repressed and unpopular teenage geeks who accidentally discover a life-like super-model sex bot.” It stars Zack Pearlman (who has previous form with movies like this), features a character called Candy Huffington, and that’s basically as much as anyone needs to know.
Here’s a little indicator as to just how well-loved Hot Bot is in the world of cinema: Google it, and you’ll get Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, the trailer, then a Wikipedia page for a completely unrelated product, and this review for the movie some guy did on Letterboxd. Infinity War it ain’t.
And no, in case you were wondering, the Letterboxd guy didn’t like it. “I’m kind of ashamed I watched this movie,” he (presumably) weeps. “It was horrible.” God bless him for warning the rest of us.
Alien Abduction
If given one wish, what would a movie nut ask for? Perhaps the complete extinction of the found-footage genre. Sure, there’d be some catch — like maybe all the footage from the world’s camcorders is erased, too, but you know what? It would be completely worth it. This genre has produced exactly two (2) good movies. But
Cloverfield and Blair Witch Project are pushing past one and two decades, respectively, and their sequels haven’t shown any real promise. It’s over, guys.
Not that you’d know it, because Alien Abduction is, of course, yet another found-footage horror movie. It is about — you guessed it — an alien abduction. It offers,
according to The Hollywood Reporter, “a few decent scares without managing to come up with anything remotely original.” Ultimately, this is a by-the-numbers entry into an utterly by-the-numbers genre. There is no conceivable reason for you to watch it. Pass that magic wish, please.
Naked
At last, we plod to the finish line — and what an ending this is. Naked tells the tale of a substitute teacher who wakes up naked in a hotel elevator on his wedding day. After an hour, he wakes up again in the elevator and soon realizes that, yes, he is trapped in a time loop. Over the course of the movie, if one must call it that, he attempts to find various ways of making it to the church on time, presumably (and this is just a stab in the dark) learning something about himself along the way.
So yeah, Naked is on Netflix. That doesn’t mean you should watch it when you could watch Groundhog Day instead. You know what Groundhog Day has? Bill Murray. Sonny & Cher. Emotion. Acting. Naked , conversely, is a mess which, in the words of The Daily Dot, also happens to be ” completely forgettable .”

Rate This Content
Saudi Arabia just screened ‘Black Panther,’ its first movie in 35 years.
April 24, 2018
0

Saudi Arabia just screened ‘Black Panther,’ its first movie in 35 years — but a crucial 40 seconds of it were censored
Movies screened in Saudi Arabia can expect strong censorship, particularly around scenes which feature sex, LGBT representation, and religious issues.
Saudi Arabia screened Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther” on Wednesday night, the first film to be shown in more than three decades.
But crucial scenes in the film were censored.
Despite the lifting of a 35-year ban on cinemas, movies in Saudi Arabia can expect strong censorship, particularly around scenes which feature sex, LGBT representation, and religious issues.
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is making efforts to modernize the country and make its economy more competitive on the global stage.
Saudi Arabia screened Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther” on Wednesday night, marking the country’s first film screening in more than three decades.
The screening was praised by advocates as a milestone in Saudi’s modernization efforts, but attendees were reminded of the country’s conservative laws when crucial scenes in the film were censored for modesty.
The film’s regional distributor, Italia Film, told The Hollywood Reporter » that 40 seconds of the film had been censored, which it said was on par with edits made for screenings of the film throughout the region.
According to Associated Press » , the ending scene which featured a kiss between characters was cut, despite scenes that depicted violence being left in.
Awwad Alawwad, Saudi’s minister of culture and information, attended the Riyadh premiere and told Associated Press films screened in the country need to strike a balance for Saudi audiences.
“We want to ensure the movies are in line with our culture and respect for values. Meanwhile, we want to provide people with a beautiful show and really enjoy watching their own movies,” he said.
Last year, Saudi Arabia announced movies chosen for screening couldn’t contradict “Sharia Laws and moral values in the Kingdom.”
Variety » noted in December that movies screened in Saudi Arabia can expect strong censorship, particularly around scenes which feature sex, LGBT representation, and religious issues.
Mario Haddad Jr., a Middle East distributor for Empire International, told Variety that films shown in the region are usually cut shorter than their international releases.
Many major blockbusters, like 2009’s “Watchmen”, were heavily cut for Middle East audiences, which critics said led to the movie being ” near incomprehensible. » ”
Producers of the 2011 film “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” declined to show the movie in Gulf cinemas » with the requested cuts, which prompted backlash.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to make the cuts that were necessary for it to be screened,” Piroska Szakacs from local distributors Empire International said at the time. “The filmmakers wouldn’t allow it.”
But Saudi Arabia’s decision to lift the 35-year ban on cinemas » points to major efforts by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to modernize the country and make its economy more competitive on the global stage.
Saudi Arabia plans to open about 350 cinemas and 2,500 screens by 2030.
The culture ministry believes this will generate $1 billion in box office spend each year, making it the 11th largest film market in the world.

Rate This Content
Musicians we lost in 2018 so far.
April 24, 2018
0

Back in the 1980s, there was that movie (and the TV show it was based on) called Fame. The film’s theme song, also called “Fame,” was written from the perspective of a young, budding performer like those depicted on-screen, proclaiming that she was “gonna live forever.” Now, nobody was suggesting that fame would literally make anyone immortal and no longer subject to the one steadfast rule of being human (that death will come one day). Rather, “Fame” (and its singer, Irene Cara) metaphorically and accurately pointed out that artistic achievement does actually, in a way, allow a person to live forever.
Those talented individuals who make artistic contributions to the world, the kind of people who share their amazing abilities with the rest of us, never fully die because their work persists through time, delighting and inspiring others for years on end. Here are some people for whom the theme song from Fame tragically applies. These musicians of various genres shed their mortal coil in 2018, but their compositions, performances, and works of brilliance will probably outlive all of us.
Ray Thomas
For 50-ish years now, teens have loved grooving to spacey prog-rock on headphones while sitting on beanbag chairs, staring at lava lamps, and thinking about space, time, and the nature of life itself, man. They couldn’t have done it without arguably the proggiest of all prog bands, the Moody Blues, and that band wouldn’t have existed without Ray Thomas. He founded the first incarnation of the band in 1964 and was one of its first singers. As the band evolved and adopted its classic lineup that included singer Justin Hayward, Thomas switched roles slightly to become one of the few and certainly one of the best flute players in rock ‘n’ roll history.
Thomas’ work is all over iconic Moody Blues stuff like
Days of Future Passed and “Nights in White Satin,” and he still sang on occasion, particularly on songs he wrote, such as “Twilight Time” and “Legend of the Mind.” Thomas retired from the band in 2002, and announced he had prostate cancer in 2013. On January 4, he died at his home in Surrey at age 76, just three months before his band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Fast Eddie Clarke
Clarke earned his nickname — he was a lightning-quick guitarist who teamed with Motörhead singer Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister to create propulsive, bewildering, chaotic, drugged-out, grimy, dirty, working class rock ‘n’ roll — in other words, metal. Clarke joined the legendary British band in 1976 and played on many albums with the group, which wound up being the band’s most well-received, including the self-titled Motörhead, along with
Overkill, Bomber, and Ace of Spades. Fast Eddie was the last surviving member of that classic Motörhead lineup, with drummer Phil Taylor having died in 2015, and Lemmy following suit not long after.
In 1982, Clarke left Motörhead and formed the hard rock band Fastway, probably best known for the 1983 rock radio hit “Say What You Will.” But while you can take the boy out of Motörhead, you can’t take the Motörhead out of the boy. “The best years of my life were in Motörhead,” Clarke told Antihero Magazine in 2016. He died on January 10 in a London hospital at age 67 while being treated for pneumonia.
Dolores O’Riordan
Amidst all the angst and macho-posturing often present in early 1990s grunge and alternative rock, the Cranberries offered something different: alternately exuberant and melancholy pop with a traditionally Irish-inspired through-line. Much of that came from the unforgettable and haunting voice of the band’s lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan . Born in Limerick, Ireland, she joined the group formerly known as the Cranberry Saw Us when she answered an ad looking for a female singer. She got the gig, of course, because of her beautiful, clear, and versatile voice, propelling songs like “Linger,” “Zombie,” and “When You’re Gone” to international hit status. (That’s to say nothing of “Dreams,” which has been used in approximately every movie trailer produced since the song was a hit in 1994.) She had to cancel some Cranberries tour dates and take most of 2017 off because of back issues, but when O’Riordan was found deceased in her London hotel room on January 15, 2018, it was still quite a shock, as she was a mere 46 years old.
Lari White
In 1988, 23-year-old singer-songwriter Lari White moved to Nashville to become a star, and she found success almost instantly, winning the Nashville Network’s proto- American Idol talent contest You Can Be a Star. Not quite a star performer yet, White found work as a songwriter for a major Nashville publisher, penning tunes for major acts like Shelby Lynne and Tammy Wynette. It wasn’t until 1993 that White got a chance to take the spotlight, and she did quite well, racking up a half dozen country music hits including Top 10 smashes like “That’s My Baby,” “Now I Know,” and “That’s How You Know (When You’re in Love).” After her performing career started to fade a bit, White returned behind the scenes, producing songs for Toby Keith and others while also getting into acting. Remember at the end of Cast Away, when Tom Hanks finally delivers that unopened FedEx package adorned with angel wings to Texas and meets its recipient, a truck-driving red-headed lady named Bettina Peterson? That’s Lari White. She passed away January 23 from a rare form of cancer at the age of 52.
Hugh Masekela
Trumpet and flugelhorn player Hugh Masekela is regarded as the “Father of South African jazz,” deftly combining the coolness and crispness of American jazz with the depth and flavor of different musical styles of his home country and continent. He’s also one of the first stars of “world music,” a ridiculously broad and self-centered term often used by Europeans and North Americans to describe all music that didn’t originate in Europe or North America. But still, Masekela’s impact can’t be understated. In 1959, his group the Jazz Epistles recorded Jazz Epistle Verse 1, the first album
ever by a South African jazz band.
A year later, his outspoken stance on South Africa’s racist apartheid system got him exiled from the country, so he lived most of his life in Botswana and the United States, where he improbably spent three weeks at No. 1 on the pop chart in 1967 with “Grazing in the Grass,” a laidback jazz instrumental. That marked one of the very few times in pop music history that a non-European or non-American act was at the top of the pops. Masekela also played with Graceland- era, “world music”-embracing Paul Simon in the late ’80s. The jazz legend and political figure was 78 when he died on January 23, 2018.
Mark E. Smith
Popular music broke wide open in the 1970s, with an excitingly large variety of styles competing for public attention, from punk to New Wave to dance music to reggae to the stark and free-form genre called “post punk.” Which one of these would be the sound of the 1980s? Judging by the music left behind by Mark E. Smith, all of them, if he’d had his way. The Manchester-born Smith formed his band The Fall in 1978, and for 40 years it was his vehicle to try whatever musical flight of fancy captured his attention. While his lyrics often boasted wit, wordplay, and complex concepts, the music varied greatly, combining elements of punk, dance, garage rock, reggae, and more. The Fall released 32 albums, and while they never had a hit single, per se, they were hugely influential, laying the groundwork for the thoughtful dance music of the ’80s and beyond, and the era-defining alternative rock of the ’90s. Smith was 60 years old, and he passed away quietly (for once) at home on January 24, 2018.
Dennis Edwards
It can’t be easy joining a band after it has already had major success and after its beloved stars have left. It’s almost always a no-win situation to fill those very big shoes while also leading the group into new and successful territory. But this story isn’t always of the “Gary Cherone of Van Halen” variety, because there are also musicians like Dennis Edwards .
After the Temptations delighted millions of fans throughout the 1960s with perfect pop songs like “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” lead singer David Ruffin left the group in 1968, and Edwards had the seemingly thankless job of replacing him. (The Temptations didn’t look far too find their guy — Edwards was a member of The Contours , a Temptations-esque group that had opened for the Temptations on tour.) However, this was right when the band was heading into its weird, psychedelic-funk phase, and Edwards was the right guy to hold the audience’s hand on innovative, future-thinking songs like “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” Edwards was part of the Temptations off and on until 1989 — the year the act entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — and had a solo hit in 1984 with “Don’t Look Any Further.” According to Edwards’ wife, the unlikely pop icon passed away from complications of meningitis on February 1, 2018, just two days shy of his 75th birthday.
Lovebug Starski
Also known as Little Starsky, Lovebug Starski was present and active for one of the most creatively explosive times/places in music history: the Bronx in the late 1970s, and the birth of hip-hop. While not as well known as contemporaries like Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash, Starski helped popularize the genre of speaking-in-rhythm-to-funky-backing tracks. While still in his teens, Starski was both an MC and also a DJ, performing and leading parties at clubs and releasing early hip-hop singles like “Gangster Rock” and “Dancin’ Party People.”
The man’s most enduring contribution to hip-hop, however, is probably that he coined the term “hip-hop.”
According to NPR , Starski was anchoring a party for a friend who was about to ship out for military service and he teased the guy, pretending to be a drill sergeant ordering him to march: “hip, hop, hip, hop,” etc. Keith Cowboy, part of the Furious Five (as in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) was there, too, and he and Starski turned it into a call-and-response — Starski would say “hip,” and Keith Cowboy would say “hop.” Before long, Starski used a chant he derived from that exchange to get crowds worked up, which went something like, “hip, hop, hippy to the hippy hop-bop.” That was interpolated by the Sugarhill Gang in “Rapper’s Delight,” the first major hip-hop hit … which gave the music and its culture its name. Lovebug Starski died on February 8 at the age of 57.
Vic Damone
Damone was one of the last surviving members of those mid-20th-century Italian-American crooners loved by your grandparents and whoever lazily programs the music at the Olive Garden. Like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, or Jack Jones, Damone’s joyful, smooth, and professional baritone made plenty of entries in the Great American Songbook into lounge singer standards. Damone had a few “signature” tunes, such as the theme song from the movie An Affair to Remember, “You’re Breaking My Heart,” and “On the Street Where You Live.” Was Damone something of a poor man’s Frank Sinatra? Sure, and in a 1992 interview with Newsday (via USA Today) , he admitted as much.
“I decided that if I could sound like Frank maybe I did have a chance,” he said. “I was singing his words, breathing his breaths, (doing) his interpretation, with the high notes, the synergy.”
Ol’ Blue Eyes didn’t seem to mind — Sinatra once said Damone boasted “the best pair of pipes in the business.” The reliable and entertaining Damone, 89, died on February 11 from complications of a respiratory illness at a Miami Beach hospital.
Daryle Singletary
Thanks to musicians like Billy Ray Cyrus and Garth Brooks, country music boomed in popularity in the early 1990s. The wave helped all ships to rise. Even the less slickly produced, more traditional country guys like George Strait and Randy Travis got a visibility boost, and the doors were opened for new singers of that ilk, such as Daryle Singletary. While he made do playing bars in Nashville, Singletary’s demo for a song called “An Old Pair of Shoes” caught the attention of Travis, and his then-wife Elizabeth jumped at the chance to manage the young singer. Randy Travis produced Singletary’s self-titled debut album, which included big country hits like “Too Much Fun” and “I Let Her Lie.” He had a few more hit singles, then settled into a neo-traditionalist style. In 2017, he teamed up with singer Rhonda Vincent to release American Grandstand, a collection of covers of classic country duets. On February 12, 2018, the 46-year-old Singletary died unexpectedly at his home in Lebanon, Tennessee.
Craig Mack
If you were a ’90s kid, you probably at some point put Craig Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear” on one of your famous mixtapes. Mack had a few hits, but that 1994 jam was a Top 10 smash, and the song for which he’ll always be best known. The story of how Mack ascended to fame is music industry legend. He ran into Sean “Diddy” Combs, then known as Puff Daddy, at a Manhattan club called Mecca in the early ’90s. Combs promised the young Long Island rapper a record deal if he could freestyle over a Mary J. Blige track. Mack did, so Combs obliged. He became one of the first stars on Combs’ Bad Boy Records, which released “Flava in Ya Ear” in 1994. A remix of the song launched Bad Boy’s next, and more famous act — Christopher Wallace, AKA Biggie Smalls, AKA The Notorious B.I.G. In recent years, Mack had quit music in favor of a pursuit of religion. He was living in South Carolina and was the subject of a still-in-the-works documentary about his new life when he died of heart failure at age 46 on March 12, 2018.
Yvonne Staples
There were a lot of family acts that broke big in the 1970s, including the Osmonds, the Jackson 5, and the Partridge Family (who weren’t really related, but still). But probably no family band was as polished and staggeringly talented in the pipes department as the
Staple Singers. The group formed way back in 1948 as a gospel act — “Pops” Staples put his kids Cleotha, Mavis, and Pervis to work. When Pervis was drafted into the Vietnam War, formerly left-out sibling Yvonne Staples stepped up. Good timing: In 1971, the group released its first album of secular gospel-funk, The Staple Swingers. Yvonne Staples sang backup (the group’s clear leader was Mavis Staples) on huge, soulful hits like “I’ll Take You There” and “Let’s Do It Again.” Staples family friend Bill Carpenter told the New York Times that Yvonne Staples “was very content in that role. She had no desire to be a front singer, even though people in the family told her she had a great voice.” Tempting and resisting sibling rivalry and resentment once more, Yvonne Staples later served as a backup singer and road manager for Mavis Staples in her solo career. Yvonne Staples, the best sister anyone could have, was 80 years old when she died on April 10.
Avicii
Since the dawn of the 2010s, superstar DJs have been the new rock stars, holding court before thousands of revelers as they press buttons, combine disparate sounds, keep the party going, and wait until just the right moment to let the beat drop. EDM, short for the umbrella title “electronic dance music,” has grown into a mainstream genre thanks to dudes like Calvin Harris, Skrillex, and Tim Bergling, a Swedish DJ and producer better known by his stage name, Avicii . He said he got the name from Buddhism, which refers to “the lowest level of hell,” but life was seemingly anything but hellish for the guy.
Avicii parlayed his success as a masterful live entertainer into short-form radio hits, such as “Levels,” “You Make Me,” “I Could Be the One,” and “Wake Me Up,” which hit No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013 on its way to becoming one of the most inescapable tracks of the decade. While Avicii was doing great, Tim Bergling wasn’t. At age 21, the musician was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, which he attributed to excessive drinking. At age 25, he had his appendix and gallbladder removed. Not long after, he announced that he had to quit touring and doing live gigs, but would keep making as much music as possible in the studio. Sadly, he wouldn’t make much more — he passed away on April 20, 2018 at just 28 years old.

Rate This Content
Easter eggs you always miss in movies.
April 24, 2018
0

Hunting for Easter eggs in movies has become a passion for large numbers of movie geeks out there. In fact, there’s no shortage of YouTube channels whose whole deal is all about pointing out Easter eggs you might have missed in movies or even just their trailers. Movie sites and wikis abound with lists of Easter eggs to be found in your favorite movies.
And yet, even with all that, there are some Easter eggs from classic movies that don’t appear on any site or YouTube video for some reason. You’d think with a whole cottage industry built around movie nerds sniffing out Easter eggs from every possibly corner that all the major ones would be accounted for, but these glaring omissions remain. Once we point them out to you, you’ll wonder how you missed these for so long. Here’s a whole bundle of movie Easter eggs that no one has ever thought to point out before now.
Blame the bunny
Mallrats was writer-director Kevin Smith’s 1995 follow-up to his seminal cult film Clerks , back when his movies were about nerdy losers and comic books, and not about sexualizing his own daughter like some kind of hockey jersey-clad stoner Dario Argento . You might remember this movie for its classic scenes like the one where Stan Lee pops up to talk about Ben Grimm’s junk, or the one with the schooner in the Magic Eye, or the one where
Michael Rooker, currently beloved for his roles in The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy, licks butt juice off his hand. But for true cinephiles who are always looking to trump each other by uncovering the coolest and most obscure Easter eggs in movies, one scene in particular stands out.
Early in the film, lovable slacker Brodie gets dumped by his girlfriend Rene who is now dating Ben Affleck. Affleck then kidnaps Brodie and beats him up, but when Brodie’s friends, including Jay and Silent Bob, ask him what happened, he lies and says the Easter Bunny (currently appearing at the mall in which the whole movie takes place) is the one who busted his nose. Jay and Silent Bob decide to avenge their pal Brodie in the way they know best: tactless violence.
But eagle-eyed viewers will catch an added layer to this scene. If you look in the background, you’ll see several plastic Easter Bunnies holding baskets. And what’s in those baskets? Yeah, boy, it’s Easter eggs.
My Big Fat Greek Easter
My Big Fat Greek Wedding was an enormous sleeper hit in 2002, ultimately becoming the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time and spinning off a short-lived sitcom and a not-quite-as-successful-either-critically-or-financially sequel 14 years later. It also provided the title format for a whole host of casually racist reality shows.
The premise of the film? A Greek-American woman named Toula falls in love with a super WASPy dude named Ian and has to introduce him to her family, who she worries will shock his super WASPy sensibilities with their spanakopita and their Windex and what have you. In the scene where Toula finally brings Ian to meet her family, she is teaching him the Greek phrase “Christos anesti” when her father brings in what looks like a basket of smooth red stones that he and Toula then bang together.
Truly astute viewers, however, will know that “Christos anesti” is Greek for “Christ is risen” and it’s what you say at Easter because Toula just said so in the movie. Furthermore, in Greek Easter tradition, the red things you pick up and knock together to see which one cracks first aren’t painted stones. That’s right, you sharp-eyed hunter, you: they’re Easter eggs . They might be hard to spot if you’re an American looking for pastel-colored or even plastic hen fruit, but impress your friends by pointing out that in Greek Orthodox tradition, bright red eggs symbolize the blood of Christ, which might actually be slightly more pleasant to imagine eating than hard-boiled eggs.
Happy Critter Day
The Critters franchise spawned a series of four films between 1986 and 1992, riding a wave of post- Gremlins popularity for movies about weird little dudes, together with Troll, Ghoulies , Munchies , and Top Gun. Critters specifically is about man-eating aliens who can roll up into a ball like Sonic the Hedgehog and the space bounty hunters who are tracking them down.
The installment in question here is 1988’s Critters 2: The Main Course, a film which Roger Ebert raved “has no reason for existence.” What we can conclude from this review is that this “Roger Ebert,” whoever he is, had no eye for detail in film because Critters 2 has one of the coolest and grossest Easter eggs in film history.
In one scene, a man is walking through the church grounds when he notices his fly is open. While adjusting it, he sees a recently hatched egg on the ground. When he leans over to inspect it, a bunch of Critters jump in through his open fly and eat his stomach and presumably other abdominal organs before throwing his dead body through the church window.
What a casual viewer might not notice is that this man is actually dressed like the Easter Bunny, and so the implication is that the egg he sees on the ground is a weird Easter egg, when in fact it’s actually a Critter egg. A very cool twist on the standard Easter egg with a nice double meaning for those paying extra close attention.
Bill and Ted’s Yolk-us Journey
Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey is the vastly underappreciated 1991 sequel to 1989’s Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a movie that somehow managed to both kick off Keanu Reeves’s career and end Alex Winter’s. Bogus Journey is the rare teen comedy that dares to center on the things today’s teens really care about, like Ingmar Bergman references and KISS covers. While the original film is about Bill and Ted traveling through time to gather historical personages in order to get a passing grade on a history presentation, Bogus Journey has relatively little time travel and instead focuses on the titular teens getting killed by evil robot versions of themselves and going to Hell. It rules.
While in Hell, the two dudes are forced to face their greatest fears, which include Bill’s grandmother and a military school colonel who assigns them infinity push-ups. The scariest vision of all, however, is one in which Ted is reverted to a younger version of himself who had stolen a basket full of candy with his younger brother’s name on it. As he digs into the basket, which contains some other objects as well, he hears a voice shaming him for his misdeed.
This voice belongs to a Chucky-faced pink rabbit who chases and taunts him for making his brother cry, revealing that the basket Ted stole was his brother’s Easter basket, meaning those other non-candy objects in the basket? You guessed it. More Easter eggs.
Guardians of the Gal-eggs-y?
2012’s Rise of the Guardians is an incredibly rad animated film about the Guardians of Childhood, a secret society of magical figures who help protect children and fight to keep childhood magical for them. Members include Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost.
While the film was released around Thanksgiving in the U.S. to catch some of that holiday season box office and even though the highlight of the film is Alec Baldwin’s Cossack-style Santa Claus and his army of yetis, the bulk of the action of the film actually takes place in the spring, with many of the story’s events having dire consequences for one of the Guardians known as E. Aster Bunnymund.
While it would take too long to explain the details here, it turns out that this name is actually a cleverly hidden reference to the Easter Bunny, which would explain some of Bunnymund’s characteristics, like the fact that he’s a large talking bunny obsessed with Easter. It also gives a new significance to the host of seemingly sentient, mobile eggs that follow him around. Once you know Bunnymund is actually the Easter Bunny, it becomes obvious that these aren’t the normal walking colored eggs that you see all the time. These are actually Easter eggs. Cool, right? And all it took to figure it out was a little word puzzle solving. It definitely makes all that time spent playing the Jumble in the newspaper feel like it was worth it.
Nightmare Before Easter
Here’s one of those scenes that only make sense thanks to fan theories from the internet, but if those theories are right, it makes for a cool and unexpected Easter egg.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 stop-motion animated movie that posits that every major holiday has its own town devoted to the celebration of that holiday. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, accidentally stumbles across a portal to Christmas Town and becomes obsessed with it. He decides Halloween Town will run Christmas this year and so he sends his minions Lock, Shock, and Barrel to kidnap Santa Claus so Jack can do up the Yuletide in his own stripey, spiraly, Tim Burton Hot Topic wet dream aesthetic that year.
The trick-or-treating trio don’t initially come back with Santa Claus, however. Instead they bring back a roughly human-sized rabbit carrying a basket and wearing a sash that says “Happy Easter” on it. Jack tells them they went through the wrong door and they need to apologize to the rabbit.
Now here’s where the cool fan theory kicks in: Since each of the portals leads to a different holiday, one of those doors might lead to some kind of Easter Town, since Easter is a major holiday in some cultures. That would mean that this man-sized, basket-toting leporine is actually the Easter Bunny, and those lumps in his basket are probably those tasty Easter eggs we’ve been hunting. That is, if the theory is true.
Horrible Holidays
Holidays is a 2016 horror anthology film based on the theme of, well, holidays, with each of eight shorts focused on a different holiday such as St. Patrick’s Day or Father’s Day, directed by a different indie horror director. Probably the best known of all the contributors is Kevin Smith, who wrote and directed the Halloween segment, in which he cast his own daughter as a cam girl who forces a guy to mutilate himself all in service to a truly tortured pun based on the Canadian pronunciation of “Halloween.”
Director Nicholas McCarthy, apparently tired of the positive reaction to his 2012 horror flick The Pact , wrote and directed the Easter segment for this movie, in which the Easter Bunny is a rabbit monster that resembles a mostly naked man wearing a crown of thorns and a Jesus diaper, bearing the stigmata of the crucified Christ and spawning baby chicks from the holes in his hands. Given the opportunity to tell the scariest Easter story possible, McCarthy decided to answer the question “What does a bunny have to do with the crucifixion?” with the kind of cutting observation only an auteur director or a particularly edgy 10-year-old in your Sunday School class can provide.
Anyway, if you look closely at the beginning of this clip, you’ll see the Jesus bunny monster emerges from an egg that rolls onto the scene.Think about it. The Easter bunny was in there. That’s right, baby: You just found another movie Easter egg.
The big picture
Universal Pictures has been using an image of the planet Earth with some version of its name superimposed on it since basically the beginning of its existence, even if it has evolved quite a bit in the studio’s century-plus history. One thing has been consistent, however: It’s always the logo on top of our regular old round globe Earth. Or is it?
Hop is a 2011 film from Universal that finally put to celluloid the traditional story you’ve all known since childhood — that the Easter Bunny has a son who would rather play drums in a rock and roll music band than deliver Easter baskets, and whose dooks are actually jelly beans instead of nutrient-rich cecotropes coated in a thin layer of mucus like a regular rabbit’s.
The genius behind the hidden Easter egg in Hop is that it comes before the movie even starts. Before the opening credits even roll. Yeah, that’s right. Scrub that cursor on the YouTube clip all the way back to the beginning to see what you might have missed in the theater because you were digging popcorn kernels out of your lap. What do you notice? That familiar Universal globe isn’t quite how you remember it. It isn’t round. (And, no, it isn’t flat either, weirdos.) It’s kind of … oval? You might call it egg-shaped?
If you think about the theme of the movie — a rock and roll music Easter Bunny — then you know it’s not just an egg planet.
Bugs and Eggs
Easter Yeggs is a 1947 theatrical short starring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd that sees Bugs assigned the duty of delivering a basket of colored eggs given to him by the Easter Rabbit, who claims that his feet are too sore to finish the job. The first house Bugs visits features a young child who beats Bugs up while shouting, “I want an Easter egg! I want an Easter egg!” a sentiment everyone reading this list can get behind. Hopefully Bugs comes through with one for us all. At the next house, Bugs comes across Elmer Fudd who is apparently in the middle of some infantilism role-play, and it all ends up with Bugs blowing up the Easter Rabbit with a bomb, the traditional ending for any good holiday special.
Now, to a modern audience the title of this short may seem rather unusual. The word “yegg” is not used very often in modern parlance, but a quick glance at the dictionary reveals a yegg is a safecracker or burglar, which maybe describes the first kid Bugs visits? Anyway, if you look up yegg in a rhyming dictionary, it turns out it rhymes with “egg.” Is it possible then that the title is meant to be a reference to Easter eggs? Are the colored eggs Bugs is given by the Easter Rabbit actually Easter eggs? Maybe the Dead End Kid — and we — got what we wanted after all. Sorry
This video does not exist.
A visitor from another village
Although these days Rankin/Bass Productions is perhaps best known for its Christmas specials like
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town , they actually produced a large number of non-Christmas specials between 1964 and 1987, including a frankly staggering three separate origins for the Easter Bunny in a span of six years.
The last of these three Easter Bunny specials was 1977’s The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town , which, as the name implies, is a sequel to 1970’s Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town , and actually follows the template set out by that previous film maybe a little too closely.
Filling the role of the Winter Warlock from Santa Claus is a grumpy bear named Gadzooks who has a tendency to steal anything holiday-related that anyone tries to carry past his home on Big Rock Mountain. In one scene, the future Easter Bunny, Sunny, tries to cross the mountain only to be accosted by Gadzooks. When Gadzooks inspects Sunny’s basket looking for snacks, he finds the basket is full of colored stones that Sunny intends to sell as paperweights.
A close viewing of the film, however, will call to mind an earlier scene in which Sunny and his friends actually painted a large number of eggs bright colors in order to specifically fool Gadzooks. So not only does this scene feature some cool Easter eggs, it actually reveals the true, historically accurate origin of Easter eggs. Not too shabby!
Who Hard-Boiled Roger Rabbit
1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the most ambitious crossover event in history, no matter what Marvel Studios says. Where else can you see Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Droopy, and Pinocchio in one movie? If Marvel really wanted an ambitious crossover, they would have had Thanos and Darkseid playing dueling pianos.
Anyway, one scene in particular stands out to fans scouring this reference-laden flick for Easter eggs. In this scene, human detective Eddie Valiant is taunted by an egg-peeling barfly for working a job with a toon. Eddie angrily shoves the egg in the lout’s mouth before we learn that Eddie’s long-standing anti-toon prejudice comes from the fact that a toon killed his brother.
It might seem like a stretch, but could this egg be an Easter egg? Hear us out: Disney is known for its perfectionism and its animated films are filled with — what would you call them? — like little hidden references and details in the background that you would have to be really paying attention to see? Is there a term for that? Anyway, it’s unlikely that such a noticeable choice would be meaningless.
So, a prominent inclusion of an egg in a movie that stars a rabbit should be setting off some alarm bells in your head. Egg plus rabbit? Sounds like Disney thought they could slip an Easter egg past us without us noticing.
If you made it all the way to the end, congratulations! Happy Easter 2018, and happy April Fools’ Day to anyone who doesn’t celebrate Easter.

Rate This Content
The untold truth of Verne Troyer.
April 24, 2018
0

Verne Troyer, most famous for starring as Mini-Me in the Austin Powers franchise, died on April 21, 2018, at just 49 years old.
“It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today,” a statement on the actor’s Facebook page reads. “Verne was an extremely caring individual. He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh. Anybody in need, he would help to any extent possible. Verne hoped he made a positive change with the platform he had and worked towards spreading that message everyday.”
Troyer, who stood at 2 feet, 9 inches, was born with achondroplasia dwarfism.
No cause of death has been given as of this writing, but there’s been an outpouring of sympathy for the loss of the star from celebrities including Slash, Ludacris , Marley Matlin, Dean Cain, and Tony Hawk.
His Austin Powers co-star, Mike Myers, told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement, “Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him. It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed.”
Though Troyer was often the life of every party and quick to make the world laugh, there was a whole other side to his life that the world often didn’t get to see — a side that was often heartbreaking and much darker than the funny man everyone thought they knew from the screen.
He may have been suicidal
An exact cause of Verne Troyer’s death hasn’t yet been revealed as of this writing, but just weeks before his untimely passing, TMZ reported that police and EMTs rushed to Troyer’s home after a friend of the Surreal Life star had called 911, claiming Troyer was “extremely upset, drunk, and suicidal.”
Troyer was hospitalized for “poisoning,” though privacy laws prohibited authorities from specifying whether the poisoning was alcohol-related.
It appears both Troyer’s physical and mental health were in jeopardy at the time. The Blast reported that Troyer was placed under an involuntary psychiatric hold following the incident.
Reps for the actor didn’t comment on the nature of his hospitalization directly, but
asked fans via Instagram to “keep Verne in your thoughts and prayers. He’s getting the best care possible and is resting comfortably.” After his death, Troyer’s team seemed to hint that he had in fact attempted to take his own life, noting in a statement on his Facebook page , “Depression and suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside.”
He battled the bottle
Verne Troyer’s April 2018 hospitalization seemed like an almost tragic deja vu. In April 2017, Troyer was hospitalized for alcohol
addiction, after which he immediately checked into rehab to battle his demons.
“As you know, I’ve battled alcohol addiction in the past and while it’s not always been an easy fight, I’m willing to continue my fight day by day,” Troyer told People in a statement at the time. “I’ve been receiving treatment for the last week and I am voluntarily checking into a treatment center later this week to continue to get the help that I need.”
Troyer struggled with alcoholism for more than a decade prior to his death. He was hospitalized in October 2002 for alcohol poisoning, after which he sought treatment. However, The National Enquirer ( via Radar Online) reported that by February 2003 that Troyer had fallen off the wagon, and had re-entered rehab by December 2006.
He may have been a sex addict
Booze may not have been Verne Troyer’s only vice. The National Enquirer ( via Radar Online ) reported that Troyer suffered from sex addiction. He openly admitted to engaging in orgies, including at least one encounter at the Playboy Mansion in 2005, in which Troyer and a friend hooked up with three Playboy Bunnies.
Troyer’s ex-wife Genevieve Gallen, a former Playmate herself, told Radar Online in April 2017, “He told me that he’d had huge numbers of girls.” She explicitly referred to him as a sex addict in a 2009 interview with the now-defunct News Of The World.
Troyer’s relationship with Gallen was a complicated one. They dated off and on for years, and he was hospitalized in late-2002 for alcohol poisoning after he tried drowning his sorrows post-split, Female First UK reported. Still, they gave it another go, and Gallen was married to Troyer for a short time in 2004 before they called it quits for good. Gallen claimed it wasn’t Troyer’s size that led to their split, but his inability to keep other women off of him.
He suffered from numerous health problems
Verne Troyer’s alcohol addiction wasn’t his only health struggle. Achondroplasia dwarfism comes with its own potential issues: The National Institute of Health reports that those living with the condition, in which cartilage won’t properly convert to bones (especially long bones in arms and legs), may also suffer from recurrent ear infections, apnea (a respiratory condition in which one may involuntarily stop or slow their breathing temporarily), curvature of the spine, back pain, and spinal stenosis (pain or tingling in the lower extremities that can cause weakness in the legs and trouble walking).
In addition to the health complications resulting from his dwarfism, Troyer also had other medical problems that may have been unrelated to his life-long condition. In March 2015, TMZ reported that Troyer suffered a seizure during a meet-and-greet with fans at the Heart of Texas Comic Con. Troyer had trouble breathing and was hospitalized, where he ran through “a battery of tests,” but was given a clean bill of health shortly after and released.
He didn’t take the M-word lightly
Verne Troyer had a fantastic sense of humor and often poked fun at himself and his short stature first and foremost, but that didn’t mean he accepted slurs about those lacking in height. When UFC fighter Jon Jones called fellow fighter Daniel Cormier a “mental m***et” ahead of a scheduled match in April 2016, well, those were fightin’ words for Troyer.
“It’s not a proper term,” Troyer told TMZ. “[The word is used by] people that just aren’t very bright, and aren’t conscious of other people. They’re just naive and, I would say, stupid … I think [he] shouldn’t say it, but apologize, yeah. You just shouldn’t say it. Nobody should.” He added of Jones, “I hope he loses!”
Months later, Troyer told Oprah: Where Are They Now ( via People) that as a child, he jumped in the air, packed a mean punch, and gave a bully a bloody nose when he was a child for using the M-word to describe him. He explained, “That’s just derogatory slang — the proper thing to say is either little person or dwarf.”
He was raised Amish — and it almost killed him
Verne Troyer’s immediate family was Amish when he was growing up, but they left the church while he was still a child. Though he admits that their lifestyle, which shuns electricity and modern technology, wasn’t a good fit for him, he doesn’t look down on it.
He explained to The Guardian, “The best part of growing up Amish is that it’s a very tight-knit community. If you fall on hard times or something bad happens, your neighbors pitch in to support you and get you back on your feet … Looking back, I wonder how I survived in the Amish community. I can barely live without my phone and internet access now. But when I go back I still get into that culture. I can even drive a horse and buggy.”
Indeed, Troyer almost literally didn’t survive growing up Amish. He revealed on Oprah: Where Are They Now in September 2016 that he nearly died from cradle death as an infant because his family didn’t have a way to get him to a hospital quickly. Thankfully, a cousin came through and he was able to receive proper care and make a full recovery.
An ex accused him of abuse
In November 2009, one of Verne Troyer’s ex-girlfriends, Yvette Monet, filed a temporary restraining order against him. In documents obtained by Radar Online , Monet claimed that Troyer owned a gun and threatened her numerous times despite her requests that he stop contacting her, making her fear for her life.
Troyer denied all of Monet’s allegations, telling TMZ that not only were her accusations untrue, but that he only heard about them once reports about the protective order hit the Internet. Troyer also claimed that he only dated Monet briefly, and that she dumped him almost immediately after he cut her a check for $2,000 to cover her own bills (even though she couldn’t produce any of the actual bills for Troyer to look over). TMZ reported just one day later that a judge denied Monet’s request to make the temporary protective order permanent, ruling that Troyer wasn’t actually a threat to her.
He appeared in a sex tape (and sued over it)
In 2008, a sex tape starring Verne Troyer and an ex-girlfriend, Ranae Shrider, hit the Internet.
TMZ obtained a snippet of the tape, then
reported days later that Shrider was shopping it around to buyers, hoping to make a minimum of $25,000. Troyer was humiliated at the tape’s release and promptly requested a federal injunction to block the video’s release, according to The Hollywood Reporter , after previously settling with a pornography distributor and broker to block them from releasing the tape.
Documents obtained by the outlet also revealed that Troyer had claimed that the tape was stolen because Shrider had “tearfully” told him she didn’t know how the video got out prior to her allegedly actively and openly shilling the sex tape. In his court documents, Troyer claimed that dissemination of the sex tape was an invasion of privacy, a copyright violation, and a misappropriation of his likeness, voice, and name. He also claims that the sex tape was recorded “at the insistence” of Shrider.
In the lawsuit, Troyer demanded $20 million from Shrider, who TMZ reported would later attempt, unsuccessfully, to get her own pictorial in Playboy. Classy!
He accused his ex of battery
In addition to suing Ranae Shrider for disseminating their sex tape, Verne Troyer also alleged that Shrider physically abused him during their brief relationship. In court documents obtained by TMZ, Troyer, who weighed about 40 pounds, accused the 5’5″, 110-pound Shrider of forcefully grabbing him, throwing him to the floor, pinning him to the wall, stole his medication, broke a video camera, called him derogatory names, and broke into his home. (Yikes.)
Shrider denied the claims, but did speak to The Mirror about her intimate life with Troyer, alleging that they only slept together six times throughout their relationship because she wasn’t attracted to him and didn’t enjoy their nookie. She claimed that Troyer treated her “like a slave,” griping, “I was like his assistant but he never paid me. Before I left the house I would have to open the top of every drink bottle as Verne’s wrists are too weak. After that I would buy his groceries and carry them home and cook dinner … and not once did I get a thank-you.”
She also accused Troyer of cheating and being a cheapskate who bought her fake diamonds, as well as an aggressive drunk, but said she could tolerate his behavior if he’d just been more romantic. Right.

Rate This Content
Kid Nation’s disturbing untold truth.
April 24, 2018
0

There have been some pretty extreme reality shows over the years, but perhaps the wildest was Kid Nation , a short-lived 2007 CBS program that brought 40 children to the New Mexico desert for 40 days without adult intervention.
The children were sent to “Bonanza,” a fake wild west town established on a film lot in Santa Fe. The idea was to create a child-led society (for the cameras, of course.) The kids, ranging in age from 8 to 15, had to live like pioneers. They had no running water and had to haul in their supplies by wagon, bury their own trash, prepare all their own meals, and clean their latrines. They were supervised by production staff but were supposed to handle everything related to daily life on their own.
So let’s get this straight: A reality show left a bunch of kids on a wild west movie set to fend for themselves for 40 days? What could possibly go wrong?
A lot. Several children drank bleach, while another was burned in the face by hot grease while cooking. New Mexico state officials reported that the production may have violated laws; Hollywood labor unions protested; and at least one parent complained about her child’s treatment.
Read on for the full story of what really happened on Kid Nation .
Children allegedly drank bleach while filming
One month before the show premiered on CBS, The New York Times reported that, according to an anonymous letter and a parent complaint, several children accidentally drank bleach. According to the Times , the children required medical attention.
The show’s executive producer, Tom Forman, confirmed the bleach-drinking incident to the
Today show in 2007, but he defended his production, saying that accidents like that could happen “in any kitchen, in any school, in any home, in any camp.”
A Chicago mom named Daphne, whose 14-year-old son, DK, was one of the children who drank the bleach, didn’t seem too upset by it. She explained to Today that the bleach had been used while DK was mixing a soda drink, but that he felt just fine after drinking it. She ultimately thought the show had been a positive experience for her son, noting that he’d gotten the chance to get to know people from different backgrounds.
Meanwhile, a 14-year-old child named Michael who participated in the show told
Today, “I never for one instant felt uncomfortable or unsafe.”
Parents agreed not to sue if their children died
Parents of the children who appeared on the show signed away many rights in order for their kids to participate, according to The New York Times .
As payment for their appearance, the kids were promised a $5,000 stipend, which was to be withheld until all episodes of the season finished airing. In order for their children to participate and be paid, all of the parents reportedly signed a contract agreeing not to hold CBS liable “if their children died or were injured, if they received inadequate medical care, or if their housing was unsafe and caused injury.”
The contract also reportedly stipulated that the production would not be responsible if any of the children, all under the age of 16 at the time of filming, got pregnant or contracted HIV during production.
Children participated in a number of
ostensibly risky scenarios while filming, including pulling heavy wagons, carrying buckets of water long distances, digging deep holes to bury garbage, and cooking their own meals.
The show owns the children’s life stories ‘in perpetuity’
Signing away your life story … before you are even 18? Who knew that was even possible, but that’s what happened with the children of
Kid Nation , according to the 22-page contract that participants and their parents signed.
According to the deal, the production companies would own the life stories of the participants “in perpetuity and throughout the universe.” And it also stipulated that the kids might not even be portrayed accurately, allowing producers to make edits “to achieve a humorous or satirical effect.” The children were to be paid $5,000 for participating but would not be considered employees, according to the document, which was obtained by The New York Times.
Other interesting items in the agreement included a stipulation that the kids had to do whatever the producers asked at all times or get kicked out, and these tykes also had to sign a confidentiality agreement that came with a $5 million penalty if it was violated. A representative for the Screen Actors Guild looked over the contract and told the Los Angeles Times , “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen such egregious provisions for any performer, let alone children.”
Kids had to fight pigs in a vat of beans
On fellow CBS reality shows Survivor and The Amazing Race , contestants participate in physically grueling challenges in order to win prizes or advance in the game. The contestants on Kid Nation participated in similar activities.
For one challenge, children were required to
get into a giant vat of beans that was packed with live pigs and search for submerged cans. The process was extremely messy, and one child said of the beans and wriggling pigs, “That was the worst smell I’ve ever smelled in my life.”
The children were reportedly motivated to participate by winning a prize of their choice — either dune buggies or fruits and vegetables. Every kid on earth would choose the dune buggies, right?
Not these kids. In a poignant moment, after going without fresh produce for weeks , the kids chose the food. One child exclaimed, “This is like heaven,” while eating a raw ear of corn, still covered in baked beans from the challenge.
Another participant said in a Reddit AMA several years later that he’d had the urge to tell the show’s host, “How about you try and get in this vat of beans and fight pigs?”
The production may have violated state law
Days after the show wrapped filming, an anonymous letter was reportedly sent to state officials in New Mexico describing hazardous situations that had allegedly occurred on Kid Nation , including the aforementioned bleach-drinking incident. A few weeks later, Janis Miles, parent of an 11-year-old participant named Divad, sent her own letter to state officials, alleging that her daughter had been burned in the face by hot grease while cooking without adult supervision, according to The New York Times.
The state of New Mexico requires that facilities that house children be inspected and licensed, but a state official told the Times that it was never contacted prior to or during filming. “This type of setting, with 40 kids away from their parents for an extended time, would have required some notice and work prior to actually bringing the children into the state,” said Romaine Serna of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.
Serna suspected that “the project almost assuredly violated state laws.” She added that if her office had been contacted when the bleach and burning incidents occurred, it “would have responded and would have assured the children’s safety.”
CBS issued a statement prior to the show’s premiere saying that when injuries occurred, the children “were all treated immediately and by professionals.” The statement added, “These kids were in good hands and under good care with procedures and safety structures that arguably rival or surpass any school or camp in the country.”
Hollywood labor unions protested conditions
Before the show even premiered, Hollywood labor unions, including the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America, spoke out about the way the children were treated.
An official at WGA West, Jeff Hermanson, told the Los Angeles Times , “To me, [ reality TV] is the sweatshop of the entertainment industry.” He continued, “What’s happened with Kid Nation is typical and universal, but then it’s that much worse because it’s about children.”
A representative for the Screen Actors Guild said many members of the industry and the public “called and yelled … because they were really appalled at the way these kids were treated.”
“We have a lot of people who are very upset about this show,” the SAG rep said. “There may be action down the line to let the network know that people are unhappy about the treatment of children and how it’s reflected in the series.”
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (then separate from SAG) also announced an investigation into the treatment of children on the show.
One of the kids allegedly stole a phone to call her parents
The children were not allowed to contact their parents during the 40 days of filming, and as you might guess, it was hard on them. One little boy, 8-year-old Jimmy, quit the show four days in after tearfully revealing that he missed his parents and thought he was too young to be on his own. He later told CBS News, “I got really homesick,” adding, “It was really, really cold … I missed my own bed.”
It’s totally understandable that, given the opportunity, the kids might attempt to bend the rules and talk to their parents. In a Reddit AMA, participant Michael revealed that 14-year-old Sophia allegedly stole a crew member’s phone to call her parents. “That was awesome but they were pissed off about it,” Michael said, calling Sophia’s move “bad***.”
Showers were a rarity
It’s usually up to parents to make sure that their children bathe regularly, but the children on Kid Nation had no parents there to tell them to shower. Even more significantly, they had no access to running water and had to transport water in buckets from a well.
Contestant Sophia told Entertainment Weekly, “We could only bring three outfits, no toothbrush. We were dirty, we were gross, we got used to it. We learned, running our own world, that physical appearances didn’t matter so much anymore.” Contestant Michael agreed, telling EW , “I was filthy and smelled disgusting.”
But it turns out that the producers did bend the rules sometimes, like when they required the children to participate in messy challenges (e.g. the aforementioned pig and baked beans ordeal.) In a 2014 Reddit AMA, Michael dished, “If a challenge required us to get really nasty, we were allowed access to mobile showers.” How generous.
On a good day, the crew snuck you a snack. On a bad day, you killed for it
The children of Bonanza prepared all of their own food, and in one instance, even slaughtered it – the kids killed chickens to eat.
But some of the crew must have been concerned about the children’s food situation because one participant reported that crew members would secretly give him food from time to time. In a Reddit AMA, Michael said, “The crew members really liked me, so they would drop off food in my sleeping bag.”
That wasn’t the only thing the crew allegedly snuck the kids. Michael revealed that he even got a peek at what was happening in the outside world courtesy of the production staff. “One of the sound technicians dropped off her iPod for the night once so I could listen to the new Shins album,” he said.
Michael reported that getting hooked up by the crew was his “favorite part of the show.”
Producers treated the kids like ‘trash’
In the episode ” Bonanza is Disgusting ,” a central storyline revolved around the children relocating a giant pile of garbage and debris. The trash had allegedly accumulated naturally and included rotting food, wooden boards, and glass bottles.
“I don’t think it’s even safe to breathe in,” a young girl said of the mess. “It seems hazardous to me,” another boy mused.
The children banded together to shovel the trash into a wagon, haul it out to the desert, and bury it. It was grueling manual labor that would have even been challenging for adults, but a 14-year-old contestant named Sophia had this to say about the experience: “It was nasty, it was disgusting, it was smelly, but we got it done.”
But contestant Michael made a shocking claim in a 2014 Reddit AMA : He said that the garbage pile had actually been planted by the producers. “We had been disposing of trash ourselves efficiently up to that point. They bought trash and dumped it in the town, then told us we had to take care of our ‘massive trash problem,'” he said.
Michael elaborated in an interview with
Cracked. “Clearly this was an episode idea they’d had from the beginning, and they’d probably figured it was a safe assumption that a bunch of kids couldn’t keep their own town any cleaner than their bedroom floor. Instead, we wound up with a bunch of reality show producers dumping trash everywhere.”

Rate This Content