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So far, on Who Is America?, Sacha Baron Cohen has convinced a member of the Georgia House of Representatives to pull down his pants and try to touch people with his butt, yelling, “I’ll make you a homosexual!” and “USA! USA!”

He’s gotten a reality show star to say she saved 6,000 people in Africa from a violent warlord. And he’s even managed to convince a former senator to make a full video teaching three-year-olds how to fire a gun, complete with a musical number that teaches kids: “Aim at the head, shoulders, not the toes, not the toes.”

It’s baffling trying to imagine how anyone could be duped into doing such obviously humiliating things on TV, but there are some very real psychological reasons that people fall for Baron Cohen’s jokes. Behind the scenes, he’s using well-established psychological tricks to manipulate his guests—and they might be harder to resist than you’d like to think.

10 Social Reframing: How Common Courtesy Can Make You Do Horrible Things


Former US congressman Joe Walsh is shown on an episode of Who Is America singing the praises of a “Kindgerguardian” program that would introduce semiautomatics and mortars to four-year-olds.

“In less than a month—less than a month!” Walsh excitedly told the camera, “a first grader can become a first grenader.”

His excuse, when the clip came out, was that he was just trying to be culturally understanding. He admitted it seemed “kind of crazy” to him but said that he’d made the video because Baron Cohen was pretending to be Israeli, and Walsh thought: “It is Israel and Israel is strong on defense.”

As weird as his excuse sounds, it actually fits the psychological principle of “social reframing.” According to Erving Goffman, when a social interaction starts to fracture, most people will assume it’s because of a misunderstanding on their own part.[1] The human mind will automatically try to reframe what’s happening from another perspective, coming up with justifications to make the other person’s strange behavior make sense within their own minds.

This is exactly what Walsh did. He heard something shocking, assumed he was being inconsiderate, and subconsciously reframed his view of what was happening so that his interaction with Baron Cohen would feel more comfortable. It wouldn’t work on everybody, but Walsh prides himself on his social skills, and that makes him more desperate to feel that everyone likes him.

Sacha Baron Cohen knows it works. He’s said that one of his first epiphanies in creating his Ali G character was “the patience of some of these members of the upper class, who were so keen to appear polite.” He’s figured out that the more socially refined you are, the more willing you are to do crazy things just to keep feeling like you’re a social success.

9 Social Transactions: How Flattery Gets People To Do Anything You Ask

Walsh was extra easy to manipulate because Sacha Baron Cohen had buttered him up beforehand. Baron Cohen didn’t tell him he was going to be on a comedy show; he told him he was winning an award as a “Friend of Israel.”

Walsh was flattered—not just because he was getting an award but because Sacha Baron Cohen was directly appealing to the idealized idea he had of himself. Walsh takes pride in being a supporter of Israel; for him, being recognized by the state of Israel itself validated the way he wanted to see himself.

But in our subconscious, there’s what psychologists call a subconscious social transaction constantly tallying up debts. When someone appeals to your ideal concept of yourself, you have an unconscious desire to give them an emotional favor in return so that you can even the score.[2] Often, that’ll come out as something harmless like a compliment—but a skillful manipulator can use that goodwill to make you do pretty well anything they say.

8 Isolation: How Corinne Olympios Was Scared Into Supporting Child Soldiers


“One look into the eyes of a child soldier when he gets a new launcher and you instantly know its all worthwhile,” reality star Corinne Olympios said on Baron Cohen’s show. “When you launch a grenade, you launch a dream.”

Promoting arming child soldiers was just one of countless ridiculous things Olympios was duped into saying. But as hilarious as Olympios’s speech might be on-screen, her version of what was happening behind the scenes reads like a horror story.

“I just want[ed] to get out of there,” she says. “So I just did it.”

Olympios came to the studio with her manager, but as soon as she arrived, Baron Cohen’s crew pulled him into another room to sign papers. Then, to make sure Olympios was isolated and easier to manipulate, they lied to her manager and informed him that she’d told him to go home.[3]

There was a crew of 20 people filming, but every person except Sacha Baron Cohen pretended they couldn’t speak English. And so, when Olympios started to feel unnerved by what was happening, she had nothing but blank faces to talk to.

When she panicked, the crew pretended they were going to get her manager for her, even though they knew he was long gone. Then they came back and pretended he was busy with a phone call and just wanted her to finish up the interview on her own.

The crew let her go when she started having a panic attack. Throughout the whole thing, though, she was so frightened that she says she doesn’t remember full parts of the show.

7 Outcome Control: Why People Will Saying Anything For A Dollar


One little detail behind the scenes of Borat is that a lot of the people who were duped were paid to be in the movie. Most got somewhere between $150 and $400, although a village of impoverished Romanians were paid no more than $5.50 each to let Sacha Baron Cohen plant live animals inside their homes.

It might not seem like a big deal, but paying his stars in advance has a psychological effect. When somebody offers you money, you start subconsciously seeing them as in control. And studies show that people are far more likely to break social norms and go along with madness when they think the other person controls the outcome.[4]

Baron Cohen told those Romanian villagers he was making a film about their poverty, but because they thought he was there to help, they looked the other way when he awkwardly kissed them or hooked horses up to a broken car.

And the same effect was probably part of the reason Corinne Olympios was so willing to say anything Baron Cohen asked. He was paying her, he was giving her a chance to be on TV, and he was making her feel like she was trapped. He had complete control of an outcome that was very important to her—and that made her a lot easier to manipulate.

6 Conformity To The Group: Why People Do Horrible Things Just To Fit In


There’s another, even darker detail to that Corinne Olympios story. In truth, she wasn’t completely isolated: She had one friend there. Every now and then, when she was really starting to panic, they would send in a producer from The Bachelor, the show that started her career.

In Olympios’s words:

He kept coming over, being like, “Corinne you’re doing great.” And I’m like, “Jordan, I know I’m doing great! I’m great! You guys are the problem here! What the actual f—?” He kept disappearing so I couldn’t keep talking to him.

Baron Cohen used one of Olympios’s friends to make her feel like she was the weird one for being uncomfortable. He played off of her desire to conform—which is the core of what Baron Cohen does. It’s practically his thesis; he’s said in the past that Borat is meant to be a “dramatic demonstration on how racism feeds on dumb conformity.”[5]

It works on almost everybody. Study after study has shown that most people tend to conform to whatever appears to be the most popular idea or interpretation, even when it seems completely absurd.

5 The Appearance Of Legitimacy: How Baron Cohen Gets Past PR Reps


It’s easy to wonder how Sacha Baron Cohen gets these people into the studio in the first place. One PR rep, in fact, took to the Internet to write a whole article boasting: “I’d like to think that no client of mine would even be interviewed by a disguised Sacha Baron Cohen.”

He had methods, he insisted. He would have talked to Baron Cohen’s producer, checked his claims online, and verified everything through databases. All of that sounds great on paper—except in practice, none of it would have worked.

Sacha Baron Cohen is very, very careful to make sure his shows seem legitimate. Former presidential advisor Pat Buchanan has explained that, when he was invited onto Da Ali G Show, he was told that he was going to be on a documentary called The Making of Modern America.

Buchanan made sure it was legitimate—but Baron Cohen was ready for him. When he looked it up, he found a website for the fictitious documentary. He even found out that the fake production company in the letter had been officially registered with the government.[6]

That’s how Baron Cohen gets past vetting—he makes sure that his fake companies are legally registered. And that affects how people behave when they get on the show. When someone has the “appearance of legitimacy,” everything he tries to get you to do is going to be that much more effective.

4 Disguising Persuasive Intent: How Sacha Baron Cohen Eases His Victims In


When former Assistant Secretary of State Alan Keyes met Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Borat, he got a gift: the rib of a Jew.[7]

Keyes, with a smile on his face, accepted the gift of a Jewish man’s severed rib with nothing more than a polite: “Thank you very much.” He stood there holding it and grinning for a few seconds before it finally dawned on him what he’d just done—and Keyes freaked out, tearing off his microphone and storming out of the room.

It’s part of Sacha Baron Cohen’s technique. He will often spend a good 15 minutes warming his guests up with normal questions before dropping the crazy ones—when their guard is down and they’re unable to think.

Time to think makes a huge difference. In one study, psychologists found that people are twice as likely to give up subway seats if they didn’t expect anyone to ask. If they know the question’s coming, they have time to prepare their thoughts, and they’re far more likely to turn them down.

Nobody sees Baron Cohen’s craziness coming. As Linda Stein put it, describing her experience getting duped: “He was very, very clever in the way he warmed up to his outrageous behavior. At no point did I feel that there was an actor in the room.”

3 Interdependence: Why Doing What Someone Says Keeps You Alive


Social Psychologist Harry T. Reis has argued that Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy is really a psychological study—just one that’s done without any controls or ethics.[8]

He argues that Baron Cohen has demonstrated what he calls the “power of the situation”—or, in other words, how the things going on around you can change the way you behave. The reason people will do such ridiculous things on Baron Cohen’s shows, according to Reis, is tied to our evolution. Reis says: “The mind consists of a set of adaptations, designed to solve the longstanding adaptive problems humans encountered as hunter-gatherers.”

We’ve learned to survive with the help of others, through interdependence on other human beings. And so, when they behave strangely, we try to adjust ourselves to be as supportive as possible, simply because it helps us survive.

Getting duped by Baron Cohen, Reis believes, isn’t anything to be ashamed of. “Any of us, more or less, would behave similarly in this situation.”

2 Dehumanization: Why Normal People Say Racist Things


One of Sacha Baron Cohen’s best-known successes was when he got a whole bar in Tucson, Arizona, to sing together: “Throw the Jew down the well!”

It might seem like Baron Cohen managed to prove that an entire bar of people were closeted racists—but even he isn’t convinced. Instead, he chalks this phenomenon up to something different—indifference. He’s said:

Did it reveal that they were anti-Semitic? Perhaps. But maybe it just revealed that they were indifferent to anti-Semitism. [ . . . ] I think it’s an interesting idea that not everyone in Germany had to be a raving anti-Semite. They just had to be apathetic.

Apathy, Sacha Baron Cohen believes, is the real reason he can get people to say such offensive things—not because they’re necessarily racist, but just because they don’t really care about the issue.

He’s in good company on that theory. Philosopher Richard Rorty has expressed a similar sentiment, arguing that human beings instinctively dehumanize people they don’t interact with.[9] If you live in an affluent country and only interact with people from your country, you won’t see ideas to connect to genocide abroad as anything much worse than the death of an animal.

1 Breaching: How Baron Cohen Exposes People’s Darkest Views


Philip Van Cleave claims he only went along with Sacha Baron Cohen’s act because he knew it was a trap.

“I decided that I would play along with the scheme,” Van Cleave claims. “I figured if I was right about this being a set-up, I could blow the whistle and get a warning out to the gun-rights community.” Baron Cohen, he insists, didn’t outwit him. “In the end, we played each other.”

As sympathetic as we’ve been to some of Baron Cohen’s other guests, there’s only one reasonable way to interpret Van Cleave’s excuse: He’s lying.

Van Cleave spent three full hours making an instructional gun video for four-year-olds.[10] In the process, he admitted that he’d pushed a program to get guns to seventh-graders in the past and even contributed his own suggestion that kids are better killers because they haven’t developed consciences.

Philip Van Cleave really does think we should arm students. In fact, he’d argued for it before meeting Sacha Baron Cohen, though he didn’t suggest arming kids quite as young as four. But Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t trick him into saying anything he didn’t believe. He just tricked him into revealing the opinions he usually keeps secret.

The comedy act works as something called a breaching experiment—an experiment to reveal how people react to someone breaking a social norm. When Sacha Baron Cohen expresses an over-the-top opinion, people feel more comfortable expressing their own crazy views, which seem moderate compared to his.

They can say things they’ve been afraid to ever say out loud because, for once, their craziest thoughts seem comparatively sane. And they don’t realize that they’ve been tricked.

“People lower their guard,” as Sacha Baron Cohen himself has explained, “and expose their own prejudice.”


Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver is a regular contributor to Listverse. His writing also appears on a number of other sites, including The Onion’s StarWipe and Cracked.com. His website is regularly updated with everything he writes.

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Before he sold the rights to Disney, George Lucas had his own vision for a new Star Wars trilogy. He had a lot written. He’d already created an outline for the trilogy, worked with Michael Arndt to write an early script, and approved concept art for the movies that, for a time, he was going to make himself.

We’ll never get to see Lucas’s version of those films, but little details have slipped out. The people who have seen his ideas have had a hard time keeping their mouths closed—and thanks to them, we have a decent idea of what a new Star Wars trilogy would have looked like with George Lucas at the helm.

10 Luke Would Be A Father

Back in 1983, Mark Hamill let a little hint about Lucas’s dream for a new trilogy slip: Luke Skywalker was to be a father.

At the time, Hamill expected to start filming in the year 2000, and while it took a lot longer than that for Star Wars: Episode VII to hit theaters, Lucas never seems to have given up on that part of his dream. Time and time again, he’s said that his trilogy was supposed to focus on Darth Vader’s grandchildren—which Lucas made clear didn’t just mean Leia’s children but Luke’s, too.[1]

“People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems—it’s not about spaceships,” Lucas told CBS when Disney’s movie came out. Clearly, Lucas wasn’t happy with what had hit the screen. He told them: “They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing.”

Lucas seems to hold a bit of a grudge about it. When Vanity Fair magazine gave him the chance to ask new Star Wars director J.J. Abrams a question, an irate-looking George Lucas asked: “What happened to Darth Vader’s grandchildren?”

9 Darth Talon Corrupts Sam Solo

The villain in Lucas’s movies, according to Lucasfilm executive Pablo Hidalgo, was going to be pulled out of the pages of a Star Wars comic book. She was a red-skinned alien named Darth Talon, and she was going to corrupt Han Solo’s son.[2]

In Lucas’s script, Solo’s son—who he called “Sam”—wasn’t going to start on the dark side. He was going to start the movie as, basically, another Han Solo. Lucas’s writer, Michael Arndt, described him as “pure charisma,” and the art shows him looking almost exactly like a young Han Solo, with the same jacket, blaster, and everything.

Darth Talon was going to be a seductress. An early storyboard shows her luring a Jedi monk out of a bar, sleeping with him, and then apparently leaving him for dead. She would be the one who would lure young Sam Solo into the dark side.

Apparently, Lucas wanted Talon to talk like Lauren Bacall. While writing the script, he visited LucasArts game studios and told them to work Darth Talon into an (ultimately unreleased) game.

“He likened Darth Talon to Lauren Bacall,” one of the developers has said. “He actually did an impersonation of her. It was supposedly the weirdest impersonation of a ’40s actress going, ‘Don’t you know how to whistle? Put your lips together and blow.’ ”

8 A Teenage Hero Named Kira

Lucas’s heroes were going to be kids, according to J.J. Abrams. They were to be “very young,” apparently in their early teens—one of the first ideas Disney nixed.

The story, according to writer Michael Arndt, was supposed be the origin story of a young female Jedi named Kira—a character who, over time, evolved into Disney’s Rey.[3] She was, according to writer Michael Arndt, a “scavenger” and a “loner, hothead, gear-headed badass.”

Her age is a bit hard to nail down. Despite Abrams’s comments, Lucas has said that the Skywalker children, in his movie, were going to be in their twenties, leading some to say that Abrams wasn’t telling the truth.

It’s possible, though, that Abrams and Lucas were both telling the truth. Lucas only said that the Skywalker kids would be in their twenties—and there’s every reason to believe that Kira wasn’t a Skywalker.

Michael Arndt has said that, even while working with Lucas, Kira was meant to be “the ultimate outsider and the ultimate disenfranchised person.” That strongly suggests that she wasn’t a Skywalker—and that J.J. Abrams was telling the truth, that Lucas’s version of Rey was going to be an angry teenage girl, caught up in the throes of puberty.

7 Luke Would Be Modeled On Colonel Kurtz

In George Lucas’s version of Star Wars VII, Kira was going to meet Luke Skywalker, who would reluctantly train her in the ways of the Force.

It was going to have more or less the plot we saw in Star Wars: The Last Jedi—but Luke would be an even darker character than the one we saw. According to Phil Szostak, the author of The Art of The Last Jedi, George Lucas wanted to model his Luke Skywalker on Apocalypse Now ’s Colonel Kurtz.[4]

As in the Disney movie we saw, George Lucas’s Luke Skywalker was going to be living in exile in the first Jedi temple. He’d already approved the design, which was to look like a golden bell perched on the edge of a cliff.

Kira would waste no time getting to Luke Skywalker. Michael Arndt summed up the script, saying: “[Kira] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke. And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass.”

Finding Skywalker wouldn’t be much of a problem in Lucas’s film. In his version, R2-D2 was fully functional and had a working map of every Jedi temple readily at his disposal.

6 The Whills Who Control The Universe


One of the many moments in The Phantom Menace that infuriated everybody was the idea that the Jedi had a “midichlorian count.” Fans almost universally hated the idea that the Force had some scientific, biological explanation.

If you complained about it, you might be happy to know that George Lucas heard your grumbling. He knew people hated the midichlorians. He just didn’t care.

Lucas was dead set on doubling down on the idea with his new trilogy. His final trilogy, he’s said, was “going to get into a microbiotic world” where we’d see the creatures that control the force. “I call them the Whills,” Lucas explained.[5] “And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force.”

He already knew we weren’t going to like it. “A lot of the fans would have hated it,” Lucas admitted, “but at least the story whole story from the beginning to the end would be told.” According to Lucas, “If I’d held onto the company I could have done it.”

5 Felucia: The Mushroom Planet

Another little detail leaked by Lucasfilm executive Pablo Hidalgo was one of George Lucas’s planned locations: a strange, alien planet called Felucia.[6]

Felucia isn’t a wholly new location. It very briefly appeared in Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith and showed up a few times in the TV show Clone Wars. In Lucas’s sequel trilogy, though, it would have been a major location.

It’s a planet overrun with jungles of towering mushrooms and ferns, all growing in every color of the spectrum. The gigantic, neon-colored mushrooms that fill the planet can shoot out spores and toxic puffballs and even eat human beings whole.

Its natives, the Felucians, are a people in constant tune with the Force who live in the densest jungles of the planet. They share their homes with strange, translucent-skinned aliens, including tube worms, wild alien birds, and gigantic larvae with tiny legs that can be ridden like horses.

It’s not entirely clear what would have happened on Felucia, but Hidalgo says that Lucas’s movies would have brought us further into the planet.

4 Luke Trains Leia In The Ways Of The Force

When The Last Jedi came out, Mark Hamill made a comment that revealed two huge plot points from Lucas’s outlines. “I happen to know that George didn’t kill Luke until the end of [Episode] Nine,” he told an interviewer, “after he trained Leia.”[7]

Kira wasn’t going to be Luke’s only Padawan, it seems—Luke was going to be spending either part of the last movie or possibly even the entire trilogy training his sister, Leia.

In another interview, Hamill built on the idea. “I always wondered [ . . . ] why [Leia] wouldn’t fully develop her Force sensibilities,” he mused. “That’s something George Lucas addressed in his original outline for 7, 8, 9.”

The suggestion seems to be that, by the end of the ninth movie, George Lucas was going to have turned Leia into a fully trained Jedi with fully developed Force sensibilities. And then, for whatever reason, Luke would have died, perhaps leaving Leia to take his place as a Jedi knight.

Whatever Lucas’s plan was, it was definitely very different from what we saw. “They’re not following George’s ideas,” Hamill complained. “It seems like a waste.”

3 Luke Enters Another Plane Of Existence

“What happens to Luke afterward is much more ethereal,” George Lucas once said, describing his plans for the future of Star Wars. He made the comment way back in 1978, but by then, he already had, as he put it: “a tiny notebook full of notes on that.”[8]

It’s hard to say what Lucas meant by “ethereal,” but Mark Hamill, who’s heard Lucas’s visions for the films, has dropped a few hints. He’s said that Luke Skywalker was going to be on “another plane of existence” in the new trilogy. From the wording, it seems like Skywalker was supposed to become something more than a Force ghost like Obi-Wan.

Whatever the idea was, Lucas seems to have had it for a very, very long time. Mark Hamill says that way back in 1976, when they were still filming the first Star Wars, Lucas asked him: “How’d you like to be in Episode IX ?”

Lucas spelled out a little hint of his early vision: “You’ll just be like a cameo. You’ll be like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope.”

2 Han Solo Dies

Not every idea George Lucas had would have been cut. According to Harrison Ford, Han Solo’s death was in the new trilogy from the very start.

“It was mentioned, even in the first call, that he would not survive,” Harrison has said. To him, it was a selling point: “So I said ‘okay.’ ”[9]

There’s a good change Lucas only wrote Solo’s death in to make Harrison happy. While working on Return of the Jedi, Lucas reportedly brushed off a suggestion that he kill of Luke or Yoda, saying: “I have always hated that in movies, when you go along and one of the main characters get killed. This is a fairy tale. You want everyone to live happily ever after.”

Lucas needed Harrison on board, though, and so, as soon as he called him, he pitched the idea of Han Solo’s death. There’s no word on whether Lucas would have actually killed him off in the new trilogy, but Solo’s son was supposed to be a likable hero for most of the first movie. If he did kill his own father, it would have been that much more shocking.

1 An All-Wookiee Spin-Off Film

Lucas’s plans didn’t end with Episode IX. In 1978, during the early days of Star Wars, he planned on making, in his words: “three trilogies of nine films, and then another couple of odd films. Essentially, there were twelve films.”

That meant three spin-off films—including one about Wookiees. Lucas said: “When I got to working on the Wookiee, I thought of a film just about Wookiees, nothing else.”[10]

Apparently, with Lucas at the helm, instead of Rogue One and Solo, we would have gotten a spin-off movie that looked something like the Star Wars Holiday Special, expect without any humans. Instead, from the sounds of it, it would just be an hour and a half of big, hairy monsters incomprehensibly growling at each other.

He was also going to make “a film about robots,” again, “with no humans in it” through the whole hour-and-a-half run.

Of course, that was 1978. Lucas’s vision almost certainly evolved from those half-baked ideas and would have changed even further while he sat down and tried to make the movies.

Since George Lucas will never make the films, we’ll never know for sure what they could have been. We only have a few scraps of information, with our imaginations left to fill the rest in.


Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver is a regular contributor to Listverse. His writing also appears on a number of other sites, including The Onion’s StarWipe and Cracked.com. His website is regularly updated with everything he writes.

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People watch TV and movies for many different reasons. One of the best ways to attract an audience is with a recognizable star. Even in those instances, however, there are times when it feels impossible to separate the story and the actors from the props.

Imagine Thor without his hammer or Spider-Man without his costume. These movies would not be the same without the iconic props associated with them.

Fans are not the only ones who fall in love with their favorite characters and the props they use. Sometimes, actors become just as attached. Unlike the rest of us, these famous entertainers are in prime position to take the props that made them famous—even if it means breaking the law.

Here are 10 famous props and the actors who stole them.

10 Chris Hemsworth
Thor’s Hammer(s)

Avengers: Infinity War has been a hit at the box office, raking in more than $2 billion in less than two months. The third Avengers movie brings together cast members from different Marvel movies, including Chris Hemsworth in the role of Thor.

Hemsworth has gone on record as saying that fans who were surprised by the Infinity War cliffhanger will be even more shocked when Avengers 4 is released in 2019. While his teaser may or may not come to fruition, Hemsworth has engaged in shocking behavior of his own.

The actor has swiped several of his character’s iconic hammers from film sets.[1] Rather than express remorse, Hemsworth noted that coming clean publicly about his kleptomaniac tendencies has made it more difficult to steal additional props because the crew is now on the lookout for him.

9 Gareth Edwards
Death Star Plans

One of the biggest Star Wars plot holes deals with how easily Luke Skywalker destroys the infamous Death Star in the final movie of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi. George Lucas initially explained the oversight as the result of the Empire’s ego, but 2016’s Rogue One imagines a much different scenario in which the plans of the Death Star are stolen by Rebels.

The fictional heist of the Death Star plans was mirrored by the theft of the movie’s prop in real life.

Gareth Edwards served as the movie’s director and is an open fan of the Star Wars franchise. He took his fanboy impulses to the next level while directing Rogue One and made off with the plans delivered to Princess Leia in the movie.[2]

8 Andrew Garfield
Spider-Man Costume

One of the highlights of any Spider-Man movie is the red-and-black costume. The iconic superhero costume has been around for more than 50 years, but new details or interpretations can be added at the request of the director.

The director of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made just such a request. Marc Webb wanted the costume for his film to be heavily based on the classic Spider-Man costumes, but he also wanted a modern slickness to take it over the top.

Oscar-winner Deborah Lynn Scott was chosen to make the costume. Having worked on films such as Avatar, Titanic, and Back to the Future, the job was in good hands.

Scott made several costumes for filming, but one slipped less-than-accidentally into the hands of star Andrew Garfield. After stealing the costume, Garfield cryptically suggested that it might have found a temporary new home in either his luggage or his car.[3]

7 Chris Pratt
Guardians Of The Galaxy Costume

Guardians of the Galaxy debuted in 2014 and unexpectedly took audiences and critics by storm. The film brought in nearly $100 million during its first week, surpassed initial financial projections by approximately 20 percent, and spawned a sequel.

While cast members such as Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Vin Diesel are strong audience draws for the film, Pratt’s wardrobe for Peter Quill/Star-Lord is also closely associated with the movie’s appeal.[4]

Oscar-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne worked closely with several departments to create the Star-Lord’s look that is part cowboy, biker, and rock star.

Pratt admitted to stealing his character’s jacket and some of the wardrobe. Lest you think him a scoundrel for his scavenging, Pratt claims he took the items so that he can visit children in the hospital while dressed as the Star-Lord.

6 Hugh Bonneville
Letter From Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey premiered in 2010 and quickly became a massive hit. Set in England during the early 1900s, Downton Abbey focuses on the very different lives of rich aristocrats in a castle and the poor servants who attend to their needs. By the end of its six-season run, Downton Abbey had become the most watched show in the history of PBS and was referenced in pop culture shows ranging from Parks and Recreation to Iron Man 3.

Hugh Bonneville contributed to the popularity of the British show with his portrayal of Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham. Bonneville thought the show ended at just the right time but had difficulty saying goodbye to a carefully crafted letter produced by Downton Abbey’s art department.

Bonneville confessed to “liberating” a letter in which a character by the name of Henry Talbot invites the earl and his family to watch a car race. Bonneville keeps the purloined parchment in his downstairs bathroom.[5]

5 Aaron Paul
Gruesome Face From Breaking Bad

Many consider Breaking Bad to be one of the best television shows of all time. The unique premise involves Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a cancer-ridden chemistry teacher making methamphetamine with former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul).

Along the way, the pair navigate the challenges of the criminal world and are occasionally forced to dispatch enemies who stand in the way of their goals. In a graphic episode entitled “Face Off,” the two main characters attach a bomb to the wheelchair of an old man in a nursing home and actually blow the face off an enemy they lure to the building.

Paul made off with the half-obliterated head and keeps it in his media room to scare unsuspecting houseguests.[6]

4 Star Trek: The Next Generation Uniforms

Few television shows have had as much of an impact on pop culture as Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). The second series of the Star Trek franchise is thought to be among the best of the bunch and features memorable characters such as Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Counselor Deanna Troi (Mirina Sirtis), Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and the android, Data (Brent Spiner).

On the last day of filming, Spiner asked the production crew if he could have one of the 17 uniforms he had worn throughout the years. His request was denied.

Disappointed, he left the set and went to meet his castmates for dinner. There, he discovered that Frakes and McFadden had walked off the set in their uniforms to keep them.[7]

The original Spandex uniforms, which were replaced with wool gabardine versions in later seasons, were notorious for being too small, too smelly, and too inflexible. However, it seems that several TNG castmates still have the option to wear the refashioned uniforms.

3 Ian McKellen
Keys To Bilbo Baggins’s House

The Lord of the Rings trilogy brought the books by J.R.R. Tolkien to life and made nearly $3 billion worldwide in the process. The epic fantasy traces the journey of Frodo Baggins and his companions as they seek to destroy an evil magical ring. The series continues the earlier journey of Frodo’s “uncle” (actually cousin), Bilbo Baggins.

If it were up to Ian McKellen, Bilbo would have difficulty getting into his house.

McKellen played the role of Gandalf the wizard and continued a decades-long tradition of absconding with props from his movies. In addition to Gandalf’s sword, McKellen also permanently borrowed the keys to Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins.[8]

Director Peter Jackson was aware that the keys had been taken but did not know the identity of the culprit. McKellen worked hard to keep it a secret and maintain his streak of stealing from every job he takes.

2 Daniel Day-Lewis
Everything (And In Character)

Daniel Day-Lewis is the only actor to have won three Academy Awards for Best Actor. In addition to his wins for My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood, and Lincoln, Day-Lewis also received nominations for Gangs of New York, In the Name of the Father, and Phantom Thread.

Day-Lewis is famous for his method approach to acting in which he refuses to break character even when not filming. He has turned heads on more than one occasion as he looted set after set in full character.

For example, while playing the role of the murderous criminal Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis routinely made off with everything from prop knives to slates and apple boxes.[9]

Day-Lewis also absconded with an item or two while playing the 16th president in Lincoln, though to what Day-Lewis attributes the president’s penchant for pilferage remains unknown.

1 Rupert Grint
Harry Potter Dragon Egg

Whether you are talking about the books or the movies, Harry Potter permeates pop culture. The Harry Potter movies have made billions of dollars and excited the imaginations of children and adults alike.

Rupert Grint played the role of Ron Weasley in the beloved fantasy series. As a child actor, Grint may have lacked some of the poaching prowess of older actors as evidenced by his attempt to take home an unauthorized keepsake.

Grint was so enamored with a golden dragon egg containing an embedded crystal that he smuggled it home in a pillowcase.[10] Unfortunately, Warner Bros. soon began an intensive search for the missing prop. Grint anonymously returned it, having spent less than 13 hours with his ill-gotten gains.

Kurt Manwaring is a syndicated freelance writer at fromthedesk.org.


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With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom now in theaters, dino-mania is running rampant once again. However, for true dinosaur lovers, there are many mistakes in the Jurassic movies. Specifically, how the dinosaurs changed from the earlier versions.

Other scientific impossibilities also make an appearance in these films. Despite how much fun it is to suspend disbelief and lose yourself in the world of Jurassic Park, let’s come back to reality for a few minutes and look into some of the more advanced mistakes made in this movie franchise.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the Jurassic Park films, proceed with caution. We do reveal a fair amount about the movies.

10 DNA Extraction

The idea of extracting fossilized DNA in an attempt to recreate or clone a dinosaur does not sound that far-fetched considering that animal cloning has been done already. Remember Dolly the sheep? So, in theory (mixed with make-believe and a dash of cinema magic), we see this scenario come to life. But could it really be done?

No, it could not.

First of all, to clone something is to make an exact genetic copy. This starts at the smallest level of molecular biology—one gene, one DNA strand at a time. According to an article published by NBC News, Murdoch University researcher Mike Bunce stated, “All DNA would be completely destroyed in bone after about 6.8 million years.”[1]

The Jurassic Period was 201 to 145 million years ago. So, the DNA extraction process portrayed in the movie is awesome but totally unfounded. There is no data whatsoever to support it.

Furthermore, a report by a team of scientists and amber specialist Dr. David Penney has established that the method of DNA removal used in the movie is “likely to be impossible and will have to remain in the realm of fiction.”

9 Brachiosaurus Takes A Stance

In the first movie, Jurassic Park, we see the Brachiosaurus, a plant-eating sauropod, stand on its hind legs to reach up and retrieve leaves to eat. This majestic dinosaur takes the same stance in the most recent film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but under much different circumstances.

On first viewing, this does not raise too much concern. These dinosaurs are herbivores reported to be about 7 meters (23 ft) tall and 26 meters (85 ft) long.[2] It’s plausible that they need to stretch to get some of those leaves even with their long necks.

We’ve all see our cats or dogs take a similar stance when they want something just out of reach, so why not a dinosaur?

Think of the proportional ratio, though. How much does a Brachiosaurus weigh? Where does it carry most of its weight? Even with its tail for additional support, could those two legs hold up such a massive creature?

It’s not like these dinosaurs could lean on the tree for support. They are reported to have weighed 33–88 tons. Wouldn’t the tree just come crashing down? If that is the case, then why do they not topple trees as a norm when feeding?

Even when compared with other dinosaurs that walk upright on two legs, it is not feasible. Bipedal dinosaurs have massive, muscular hind legs and lighter, smaller, sleeker torsos. The beautiful Brachiosaurus does not.

8 Jurassic Period

Although this has been debated recently, one of the biggest mistakes by this franchise occurred when they placed the Tyrannosaurus rex in the Jurassic Period—or maybe it was when they named the movie. Perhaps it should have been called Cretaceous Park for a time period that took place about 66–68 million years ago.

During this period, the T. rex, Triceratops, Velociraptor, and Spinosaurus roamed the Earth. During the Jurassic Period, the dino population included the Plesiosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Diplodocus—but not the tyrannosaurs.

Smithsonianmag.com really puts the oops into perspective with the following statement: “Less time separates us from Tyrannosaurus rex than separated T. rex from Stegosaurus.”[3]

But what are the Jurassic films without the T. rex? This is definitely a mistake worth forgiving. Or maybe it has nothing to do with the time periods. Due to DNA movie magic, perhaps the dinosaurs from all periods are allowed to coexist with one another and the human race.

7 The Mighty Spinosaurus

In the third Jurassic Park film, it is not the T. rex that saves the day as in the first Jurassic World film. At the end of Jurassic Park III, a T. rex and a Spinosaurus have an epic battle.

The Spinosaurus (also from the Cretaceous Period) thrived in an aquatic environment. His nose was fashioned much like the crocodiles of today and allowed for easy breathing. He also had sharp teeth for catching fish and a 2-meter-long (7 ft) spine to cut through the water at a phenomenal speed.

However, here’s the problem with that scenario. The Spinosaurus, which was the largest dinosaur and probably the first water dinosaur, was built like the aquatic animals of today with webbed feet and dense bones. These features were ideal for his life in the water but very unlikely to stand up to the brute force of T. rex.

Paleontologists estimate that the T. rex had a bite force of about 5,800 kilograms (12,800 lb), which makes him the “hardest-biting terrestrial animal” ever.[4] The hardest-biting aquatic animal is the megalodon, with a bite force of 18,600 kilograms (41,000 lb).

So Spiny was definitely the underdog in this fight.

6 Sense Of Smell

Remember the scene where Dr. Grant says, “Nobody move a muscle,” and they all freeze in place? This implies that the T. rex cannot see us if we are not moving—or that it has motion-based vision. This scenario actually plays out in a later scene as Grant exits the Land Rover when the tour of the park malfunctions.

It seems as if he has given up and is just standing there waiting for the dinosaurs to eat him. But he quickly realizes that the T. rex cannot see him. Later, we see Grant (and in other Jurassic movies, Claire) use flares to attract the attention of the T. rex while moving about feverishly.

However, the T. rex would undoubtedly rely on other senses to hunt. So simply being unable to see his prey would not result in him just walking away. What about his sense of hearing? The T. rex has Grant cornered. Sure, he isn’t moving. But the dinosaurs can hear his breathing or even his heart beating hard and fast, not to mention other bodily functions.

Fine, maybe Grant is right. The T. rex can’t see him. Obviously, the creature didn’t hear him. How about smell him? Animals have a keen sense of smell. Especially those that hunt live prey. After all, they have to begin somewhere and picking up an animal’s scent is often a starting place.

In Jurassic World, Owen douses himself with gasoline to mask his smell when he is hiding from the Indominus rex, a fictionally designed and created dinosaur. This supports the idea that predatory dinosaurs relied on their sense of smell.[5]

5 Size Does Matter

Velociraptors lived in the Late Cretaceous Period. Scientists describe them as “birdlike,” complete with a wishbone. However, the film made at least one huge error when it comes to Blue and her pack. Filmmakers grossly overexaggerated how big these fierce creatures were. Paleontologists compare the size of the Velociraptors to that of modern-day turkeys.

Furthermore, recent archaeological discoveries suggest that Velociraptors had feathers and perhaps wings but could not fly. Although they were not the man-sized creatures portrayed in the movies, they were swift and probably more like scavengers than hunters. Nevertheless, they did have the infamous long claw on their hind feet that we see click on ground as they hunt their prey.[6]

It is also important to note that these types of dinosaurs are referred to as simply “raptors” in the later movies.

4 Mosquitoes

Take a hard look at the mosquito trapped in the amber of Dr. Hammond’s cane. A well-preserved specimen indeed. If you look closely, you can see the antennae and what appear to be hairs on them. These hairs are called flagella. Only on the male mosquito are the flagella visible to the naked human eye.

Okay, Hammond’s cane contains a male mosquito. However, according to pest control company Terminix, only female mosquitoes bite.[7] They require the nutrients in blood to be able to successfully lay their eggs. Consequently, only female mosquitoes would contain DNA of another animal. So, unless Hammond was able to harvest female mosquitoes, their depiction in the movie is inaccurate.

3 Frog DNA

If you recall, scientists used frog DNA in Jurassic Park to fill in the missing genes from the DNA sequence extracted from the mosquitoes. This plays a significant role in the film because it is how the dinosaurs, which were all supposed to be female, were able to reproduce. Remember Dr. Grant explaining that some West African frogs can spontaneously change sex when there aren’t enough of the opposite sex to reproduce?

Did you know that frog DNA is more closely related to human DNA than it is to dinosaur DNA?

In an article coauthored by scientist Uffe Hellsten, he explained that DNA from amphibians and mammals contains several “chromosomes having genes arranged in the same order.” In fact, frogs share some of the same diseases as humans, such as cancer, asthma, and heart disease.[8]

On the other hand, dinosaur DNA is more closely related to that of birds. The Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology is well on its way to proving that birds are the descendants of dinosaurs.

2 Venomous Dinosaurs

In the first Jurassic film, computer programmer Dennis Nedry (played by Wayne Knight) is sprayed with what appears to be venomous saliva from a Dilophosaurus as he is making his escape with stolen dinosaur embryos.

In real life, Dilophosaurus did not spit venom or have ear frills as depicted in Jurassic Park. Dilophosaurus was also considerably larger than shown in the movie. Jurassic Park depicted these dinosaurs as about the size of dogs, but they were actually 6 meters (20 ft) long and could weigh over 450 kilograms (1,000 lb). However, they only stood as tall as the average human being.

In an article published by Scientific American, curator Scott D. Sampson claims that there is no significant evidence to support that venomous dinosaurs actually existed.[9]

1 Dinosaurs’ IQs

Okay, we have to agree that those raptors are intellectual dinosaurs. They can learn and follow commands. They show empathy and compassion. Well, Blue does by switching sides twice and protecting Owen, Claire, and the boys from the Indominus rex.

She works with the other raptors and is the Beta of the pack. She even appears to ask Owen if she can eat Claire. When he shakes his head, Blue obeys. Without giving away too much from Fallen Kingdom, Blue once again communicates with Owen when he solely speaks to her. She’s one smart cookie, right?

Based on the brain size of dinosaurs in real life, it is believed that their intellectual capacity was somewhat small and that they were not as smart as most other animals.[10] Perhaps they were not even as intelligent as modern-day birds.


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In the art world, nothing hurts a career or bruises the ego like a misinterpreted artwork. That is why it’s such a shame that, hundreds of years after their conception and creation, some of the world’s most renowned artistic pieces are still frequently misinterpreted or misunderstood.

This list looks at ten of the most frequently misinterpreted works in art history. In some cases, viewers couldn’t help but be distracted by one specific aspect. Other times, people simply assumed a work of art had a deeper meaning than it did. And sometimes, a decidedly risque piece of art seems tame to those unfamiliar with the painting’s era.

10 The Swing
Jean-Honore Fragonard

This famous rococo painting, also known as The Happy Accidents of the Swing, is certainly a boisterous and jovial image. It even managed to briefly appear in Disney’s Frozen during a particularly happy scene. However, Fragonard had a more mature meaning in mind for his work than Disney might care to elicit. That’s right: This beautiful work of art is about sex.

The painting depicts a young woman swinging carelessly in a romantic garden, enjoying the company of her young lover while her cuckolded husband stands in the distance, completely unaware of the other man’s presence. If it’s not enough that the young man is looking right up her dress, the image is crowded with rose bushes, which, in rococo art, was a classic symbol of female sexuality. Also, the young lover has thrust his cap into the bushes. It might seem odd, but at the time, a man’s cap was often used to conceal an erection. The hat in the bush, therefore, is a pretty blatant lowbrow pun.[1] Another clue is the woman’s shoe, which has been cast off in her swinging movement. It doesn’t take a scholar to know the traditional, long-abandoned connection between exposed feet or ankles and sexual desires.

While The Swing is undeniably a beautiful image, we all kind of wish someone had taught us the story behind this one before we started broadcasting it in children’s movies.

9 The Rape Of The Daughters Of Leucippus
Peter Paul Rubens

This next one actually has a habit of being doubly misinterpreted. Firstly, the painting came into the public eye when artist Thomas Kucerovsky posted a comic titled “Wrong Century” on his private website. The comic features a larger woman admiring Rubens’s work, enamored with the unabashed nudity and full-figured beauty of the two women featured in the painting. The title refers, obviously, to the viewer’s deep desire to have existed in a time period that appreciated larger women such as herself.

After making the rounds on sites like Twitter and Tumblr, however, the comic was quickly slammed with criticism. Rubens’s painting, as its title suggests, certainly isn’t the body-positive image that Kucerovsky made it seem. In fact, the work depicts Phoebe and Hilaeira, daughters of the Greek figure Leucippus of Messenia, being violently abducted by Castor and Pollux to later become their reluctant brides.

The second misconception, however, is a little more uplifting. For obvious reasons, it’s commonly believed that the title refers to rape as it is known now. Fortunately for Phoebe and Hilaeira, the word in this context is related to the Latin origin, rapere, which meant to snatch or kidnap. That’s better, right?[2]

8 Luncheon On The Grass
Edouard Manet

If you’ve ever taken a high school art class, you’ve probably come across this image before. Female nudity was increasingly common in classical art, although it was never particularly accepted, but we have to a certain degree become desensitized by famous nudes. However, even in a time when risque artists dared to paint women in all their naked glory, Manet’s work stood out from the rest.

The impressionist piece depicts a picnic featuring a naked woman gazing at the viewer while two Bourgeoisie men converse beside her, and a fully clothed woman is in the background. The image was unique in that, up until that point, painted nudes tended to depict goddesses such as Venus or Aphrodite. Manet’s subject is a common woman—a prostitute, in fact—and he sought to depict women not as immortal figures but as mortal and tangible beings. The painting may also possibly allude to the rampant prostitution problem France was faced with at the time.[3]

When the piece was presented to the jury of the 1863 Paris Salon, it was met immediately with widespread laughter and criticism. The painting was rejected, and Manet himself was left feeling like his work had been completely misinterpreted and misunderstood. Poor guy; we know how it feels.

7 Olympia
Edouard Manet


Very similar to Luncheon on the Grass, Manet’s Olympia also depicts a nude prostitute, and for this, it received immediate criticism and pure revulsion from the art community. The woman stares straight at the viewer, in a way that is both inherently sexual and humanizing.

Critics slammed the concept and chose to completely overlook the very real themes Manet exposed by painting realistic Parisian scenes. In fact, they were so engrossed with ignoring Manet’s intentions that they made little to no comments about the presence of the dark-skinned servant, who, in modern times, is thought to create a divide of light and dark between the two figures. Manet just couldn’t catch a break, but that never stopped him from voicing his distaste at modern society.[4]

6 The Persistence Of Memory
Salvador Dali

The Persistence of Memory, colloquially known as “Melting Clocks,” is a surrealist painting we all know and love. Its popularity is so widespread that it has made appearances in The Simpsons, and recently, companies have even started marketing Dali-themed timepieces!

Regardless of its popularity, Salvador Dali’s work was still misinterpreted by many an art critic when the now-famous painting was revealed in 1932. Many believed that the soft, egg-like pocket watches were a representation of the fluidity and malleability of our concept of time and space. This interpretation led to the belief that Dali possessed an Einstein-level understanding of the theory of relativity.

However, when questioned as to why he chose to paint his famous clocks, the artist replied that he was inspired by the image of camembert cheese melting in the sun. It’s not really what we were expecting, but it is very fittingly Dali’s style nonetheless.[5]

5 Cafe Terrace At Night
Vincent Van Gogh

This one is more of a theory, but it has some pretty compelling arguments. Cafe Terrace at Night is one of those van Gogh paintings that you’ve probably seen hanging in a doctor’s office or splayed over a $2.99 jigsaw puzzle. However, it is speculated that the piece is actually a visual recreation of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

Van Gogh, the son of a minister, was a deeply religious man, so it’s not too far-fetched to believe that he might slip some religious imagery into his art. The painting depicts a simple street view of a cafe, at which are sat 12 figures, with one shadowy figure slipping off out of view. The standing central figure is dressed in white, while the others are dressed in red or black. The white figure is believed to represent Jesus and the shadowy figure Judas. The theory has been backed by various scholars and has yet to be disproved.[6] Seems plausible, don’t you think?

4 Portrait Of Theo Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh

It seems only fitting that one of the most misunderstood artists in history be given two spots on this list. Portrait of Theo van Gogh, a small painting depicting a distressed-looking man, was for many years believed to be a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh himself.

However, in a discovery that shocked art historians the world over, it was revealed over 120 years after its creation that the painting was not an image of Vincent but rather was a portrait of the artist’s brother, Theo, who bore a strikingly strong resemblance to Vincent. It just goes to show that even professional historians can be wrong, sometimes.[7]

3 Nighthawks
Edward Hopper

Hopper’s most famous work, Nighthawks depicts several lonely figures seated in a diner or milk bar at night. An empty street lies just outside, and a strong sense of loneliness simply radiates from the piece. Heightening this sense of isolation is the lack of a visible exit from the building, which both streamlines the image’s aesthetic and creates the feeling of imprisonment and helplessness.

However, what is certainly not suggested by the absence of a door is a Tumblr post[8] dating back to 2013, which reads:

February 24th, 1942: Edward Hopper completes his best known painting, the seminal Nighthawks. When asked by a Chicago Tribute reporter about the philosophical meaning behind the diner having no clearly visible exits Hopper responded, “S—t. F—k. I did it again. God—it. F—k. Not again. I did it again. S—t.” and slammed his hat on his leg.

Despite being shared and liked hundreds of thousands of times since its creation, the post remains completely unsourced and, as funny as it may be, simply is not true. We all need to trust that Hopper was a professional and knew exactly what he was doing.

2 Nature Forging A Baby
From Le Roman De La Rose

Not much is known about this painting, which comes from a manuscript of a 13th-century poem by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, which has led to the image being frequently shown out of context.

Quite frankly, we really can’t blame anyone for misinterpreting this one. The painting clearly shows a woman striking a child with a hammer, with several grey, dead-looking babies lying to the side. However, as the title suggests, the woman is not a baby killer. She is actually a depiction of Mother Nature, serving her duty by creating children with a hammer and an anvil. Strange, we know.[9]

1 Black Iris
Georgia O’Keeffe

O’Keeffe is probably the most misinterpreted artist on this list, solely for the public’s reaction to her large paintings of flowers. Black Iris, just like all the other flowers O’Keeffe created, was famously believed to be a representation of the female genitalia.

It’s not a far-fetched assumption, given art’s history of associating women with flowers and other gentle imagery, but O’Keeffe vehemently refuted all claims that her artwork was in any way intended to be sexual. She even sought to dispel the rumors by increasing the level of detail in her work, but that only added to the flames.[10] Unfortunately for the late artist, O’Keeffe will very likely never shed this particular misconception surrounding her poignant artworks.

Alicia is a freelance writer and English tutor with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing.


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Life is a fragile gift that gives people the ability to reach out toward their dreams. Musicians dedicate their time to creating exceptional music. At times, the works they create are so profound that they can lead their listeners to places they never would have fathomed or expected. Unfortunately, there are many great musicians who were taken from this Earth far too soon. This is such a common occurrence, in fact, that there is the infamous “27 Club,” which is reserved for musicians who died at the age of 27.

Strangely enough, many musicians who passed away early left some bone-chilling quotes and lyrics that can be dwelt on. The uncertainty about whether these artists were predicting their own deaths or whether these quotes are only coincidental leaves much to the imagination. Nevertheless, some of the words left by these musicians can lead to eerie sensations about their passing.

10 Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin was one of the greatest female rock stars of her time. In 1966, she exploded onto the music scene with the band Big Brother. It was with Big Brother that Joplin took the initiative to drive her dynamic, raspy, and utterly unique vocals over psychedelic instrumentals.

Like many other rock stars, drugs and alcohol were a large part of Joplin’s life. Unfortunately, Joplin succumbed to a heroin overdose at the age of 27 on October 4, 1970. Before Joplin’s passing, she was quoted saying, “On stage I make love to 25,000 people; and then I go home alone.”[1] Sometimes, even the most famous among us can be lonely or prefer to spend much of their personal time alone.

9 Lil Peep

Gustav Elijah Ahr, also known as Lil Peep, died far too soon at the age of 21 due to an accidental fentanyl-laced Xanax overdose on November 15, 2017. Peep’s death sparked an anti-Xanax movement within hip-hop culture and also spotlighted how unique Peep’s music truly was. Lil Peep’s overpowering melodic voice was completely revolutionizing emo hip-hop and still had so much more potential. His chilling vocals were even compared by some to the legendary pipes of Kurt Cobain.

Lil Peep struggled with drug addiction and mental illness. Many of his tattoos were done while under the influence of a wide variety of drugs. Sometimes, Peep would wake up the morning after a high to discover new tattoos on his body. During a YouTube interview, Peep recalls the time he woke up to find a tattoo that said “Get Cake Die Young” right on his forehead.

Lil Peep often used lyrics in his music that talked about his own death and were seen to many as a cry for help. In his song “Drive-By,” he is quoted singing, “I’ma die, I ain’t even 25.”[2] Often, Lil Peep’s lyrics leave listeners with a sense of loss and heartbreak. Rest easy, Gus.

8 The Notorious B.I.G.

The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls, got his name for obvious reasons, when considering that he stood 190 centimeters (6’3″) and weighed nearly 180 kilograms (400 lb). Biggie is known as one of the greatest and most influential hip-hop artists of all time. Unfortunately, his career was cut short in 1997, when he was shot and killed at the age of 24 in the LA streets. To this day, his murder is still unsolved. There are many people who strongly believe Biggie’s murder had to do with the East Coast/West Coast rap feud and the rivalry between himself and Tupac Shakur.

Biggie was once quoted saying, “I wonder if I died, would tears come to her eyes? Forgive me for my disrespect, forgive me for my lies.”[3] Biggie often thought of himself with pessimistic views and talked about death in his work. Biggie even released albums called Ready to Die and Life After Death.

7 Buddy Holly

In 1959, Buddy Holly was most likely not thinking about the time he said, “Death is very often referred to as a good career move,”[4] when his chartered airplane was heading toward the deck. Unfortunately, Holly lost his life in this tragic plane crash at the tender age of 22.

Buddy Holly was one of the pioneers of rock and roll. He broke through onto the music scene when he gained industry attention after opening for Elvis Presley. Buddy changed his band name to the Crickets and started to create top hit songs. The Crickets even invented the standard lineup of two guitarists, a drummer, and a bassist. Although Buddy Holly passed early himself, his influence never died. His music has inspired many other artists and their works, including the Beatles.

6 Amy Winehouse

The controversial five-time Grammy Award-winning pop star Amy Winehouse spent most of her career battling with depression and addiction. Amy was always a rebellious girl, and she started getting into music at a young age. It wasn’t until she released her first album, Frank, at the age of 19 that she started to gain attention.

Winehouse’s aforementioned unique personality, coupled with her looks, made her extremely controversial in the music world. Her signature look included many tattoos, lots of dark eyeliner, and a black beehive hairstyle. Some people loved Winehouse’s unique style, while others were harshly critical. One of Winehouse’s famous quotes is, “Life’s short. Anything could happen, and it usually does, so there is no point in sitting around thinking about all the ifs, ands and buts.”[5] When looking at Winehouse’s rebellious way of life, it seems that she lived with these words in mind.

In 2011, Winehouse tragically passed away in her London home at the age of 27 due to alcohol poisoning. Fans were seen mourning outside her home during the days following her death. Winehouse’s iconic hit songs will never be forgotten and will continue to play all around the world.

5 Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur was tragically gunned down at the age of 25 on September 13, 1996, while sitting in the passenger seat of Suge Knight’s vehicle in Las Vegas, Nevada. The chilling similarities between Tupac’s and Biggie’s deaths have caused a lot of skepticism. Many conspiracy theorists believe that Tupac is still alive to this day.

Tupac’s life was riddled with legal troubles, which landed him behind bars. One of Tupac’s accomplishments was becoming the first artist to ever reach number one on the Billboard charts while in prison, due to the major success of his album All Eyez on Me. Tupac once said, “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.”[6] Tupac’s rigid personality shows right through this quote.

Tupac stirred the pot in his ongoing feud with Biggie Smalls when he released the song “Hit ‘Em Up,” in which he claimed that he had slept with Biggie’s wife. Soon after, Tupac was gunned down in the streets of Vegas. Surrendering was never an option to Tupac, and this behavior may have been what lead to his early demise.

4 Jim Morrison

In 1971, the lead singer for the rock and roll band the Doors, who had turned to poetry in his later years, was found dead in his Paris apartment’s bathtub at the age of 27 due to heart failure. Like most celebrity deaths, there is some skepticism around Jim Morrison’s reported heart failure. Some people suspect that the officially stated cause of death could have been a cover-up for a heroin overdose, yet the Morrison family denies these claims.

The Doors came to fame when their single “Light My Fire” reached number one on the Billboard charts. Morrison was known for his hard drinking, drug use, and rebellious behavior. He once claimed that, “Death makes angels of us all and gives us wings where we had shoulders smooth as ravens claws.”[7] This quote can be interpreted in many different ways, which adds to the mysterious vibe surrounding Jim Morrison’s life and death.

3 Avicii

Avicii’s death is the most recent passing on this list. The Swedish EDM DJ toured extensively for years, which took quite a toll on his health. Alcohol and anxiety issues plagued Avicii during his time touring, and he was even hospitalized at the age of 21 for acute pancreatitis due to alcoholism.

Avicii is well-known for some of his most popular songs, such as “The Nights,” “Wake Me Up,” “Hey Brother,” and “Levels.” What some may not know is that Avicii was one of the pioneers of the EDM genre of music.

Sadly, the Swedish DJ’s extensive touring took more of a toll on his mental and physical health than people realized. Avicii even said in a documentary that was released in October 2017, “I have said, like, ‘I’m going to die.’ I have said it so many times. And so, I don’t want to hear that I should entertain the thought of doing another gig.”[8]

On April 20, 2018, at the age of 28, Avicii was found dead by suicide in Muscat, Oman. All foul play has been ruled out in Avicii’s passing. Avicii has already gone down in history as one of his greatest DJs of his time, and his legacy will continue to be lived through his music.

2 Kurt Cobain

The front man of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, took his own life on April 5, 1994, at the age of 27 in his Seattle home. There has been much speculation surrounding Cobain’s suicide. Skeptics have noted suspicions about the amount of heroin in Cobain’s system, the lack of gun residue, and general unusual activity.

Cobain’s fame and fortune were riddled with a long history of suicidal tendencies and drug addiction. The grunge rock star’s depressive thoughts can be seen within his quote, “If you die you’re completely happy and your soul somewhere lives on. I’m not afraid of dying. Total peace after death, becoming someone else is the best hope I’ve got.”[9]

Aside from addiction and mental illness, Cobain’s career had endless potential. His voice is truly unmatched by any other artist. Kurt’s pure, natural vocals had the ability to pierce hearts and minds across the world. Many artists still aspire to be as great as Cobain was, but Kurt is simply on a whole, entire other level.

1 Jimi Hendrix

Seen by many as the greatest guitar player of all time, Jimi Hendrix continues to remain the icon of rock despite his early death at the age of 27. Jimi’s electric guitar skills cannot even be served justice by being described as Earth-shattering. Hendrix was not only known for his guitar ability but also for his rhythmic voice, which he personally did not think highly of. Despite self-criticism on his vocals, Hendrix’s voice is known and loved all around the globe.

Like everyone else on this list, Hendrix’s life was cut short by the Reaper. On September 18, 1970, Hendrix passed away due to a barbiturate overdose. It is unknown why Hendrix overdosed on barbiturates. Hendrix’s last words were reportedly left on Chas Chandler’s answering machine, saying, “I need help bad, man.”[10]

Chandler denied that he even owned an answering machine, and there are many other inconsistencies that make Jimi’s death quite suspicious. Maybe Hendrix’s infamous last words are true, and he was crying out to be saved. Nevertheless, Hendrix will forever be remembered as one of (if not the) greatest rock stars of all time.

I am 19 years old, live in Missoula, MT, and am studying Computer Science at the University of Montana. I am an aspiring hip-hop artist, so I spend much of my time studying music in many different ways. You can find me on Instagram @stapessz.


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