Or –  “There Will Always Be A Parking Space Right In Front Of Where You Want To Go…”

When you’re young, you tend to think that the things you see on TV/read in books/overhear on the playground are true.  I had a friend in college who swore that repeated watchings of “Black Sheep Squadron” had instilled in him the ability to fly a P-40 Avenger perfectly.  (He also thought that he could possibly be a ninja…)  I, myself, learned important things from watching Captain Marvel on Saturday mornings, notably that quartz can be ground into a mirror, if you have the speed of Mercury and the power of Hercules.  But, it’s also a given fact that our entertainment not only LIES to us, it is inherently BASED on lies in many ways.  Take the jump and witness things that have made me realize that everything I know is WRONG!

“Your Old Friends Will KILL YOU…”

This is one that always entertains me.  Whenever an old acquaintance arrives fro far away or someone is revealed to have once been friends, more than half the time they’re out to kill you d-e-d.  Doctor Doom and Reed Richards?  Magneto and Professor X?  Superman and Lex Luthor?  The Doctor and The Master?  The Doctor and The Rani?  The Doctor and Omega?  The Doctor and…  actually, pretty much everyone else from Gallifrey, now that you mention it.  Y’know what happened the last time a long-lost friend showed up in my life?  He invited me to write for this website he was launching.  (Which, given that Stephen is BOTH evil and out to get me, may undermine my point…   Bygones.)

“All Poor Folk Have Hearts Of Gold..”

It’s well-established that the simple people of Smallville are as honest as the day is long, and exist peacefully eking a living out of the soil, reaping spiritual rewards and blah blah blah fishcakes.  They’re just plain superior in honor and decency to those city slickers with their shoes and indoor bathrooms and their ability to speak without spitting.  Witness the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, bringing common sense to his rich relatives, or the plight of the people of Suicide Slum in Metropolis.  Even though Superman can’t save them, he always seems to learn a very special lesson on the wrong side of town… 

“Marrying Your High School Sweetheart Is A Great Idea..”

Now, let’s take a moment to say that there are those who successfully married their high school sweetie and grew up to be a perfectly fine couple.  Congratulations… both of you.  Now, think honestly for a moment about being in high school, and whom you dated, assuming you did.  Was that person really the perfect Ron and Hermione 4+eva match for you?  Or was it more about, as Dante Hicks so smartly put it, “algebra, bad lunch and infidelity?”  Homer and Marge, the teens from Twilight whom I will pretend I don’t know are named Bella and Edward, Marty McFly and the army of girls who were all supposed to be the same Jennifer…  These relationships shouldn’t work, but because they have been reverse-engineered to be perfect life-long bonding exercises, we are led to believe that they do, they always will, and that they’re always indicators of the way the world must go.  This is, to coin a phrase, Jurassic-Period-era-petrified-triceratops-crap.

“Good and Evil Must Be Balanced…”

I have often ranted against the tendency for every hero to have his “dark mirror” archetype, and my dislike for characters like Venom (especially Venom when played as a hero.)  This covers a lot of ground, from the much-maligned evil twin story to the thought process that what we really needed to explain the awesomeness of, say, Magneto was Joseph, the character seen in a good light.  Heck, Barry Allen has not only the Reverse-Flash, but an ACTUAL evil twin in the form of Cobalt Blue (so, he’s got that going for him.  Which is nice…)  In some cases, I wish this one were actually true, and that senseless acts of stupidity and greed might be balanced by something equally grand and noble.  Either way, when the good Matthew shows up, I’m going to steal his credit rating.

“Computers Will Kill Us All…”

When I was a kid, and the most dangerous thing that you could do with a computer was input “10 Print I Will KILL you 20 Goto 10,” there were already dozens of stories wherein technology ran amuck and destroyed free will.  Hell, I think between Brainiac 5 and Jim Kirk, we have twenty-seven thousand easy examples, from M5 to Computo to Vaal to Omega to another Computo.  Skynet took over the world,  the Master Control Program derezzed Flynn, and V’Ger ate Pluto.  But since Pluto’s no longer a planet anyway, I think we’re probably good.  The real irony is that my car ignition has more computing power in it than most of the full-size computers I learned to work with in the ’80s, and the laptop that I’m typing on right now has no evil inten–

OBEY.  YOU WILL OBEY THE ROBOT OVERLORD OR YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED.

“Your Name Defines Your Destiny…”

Much as when Opus was horrified to find his name anagrammed to “soup,” many a comic villain has fallen prey to this one.  T.O. Morrow, Ira “IQ” Quimby, Otto Octavius, Leland Owsley, and poor, doomed Turner D. Century have all been driven to insanity and criminal mischief by their horrible monickers.  Even Stephen’s beloved Batman falls prey to this silliness, with Edward Nigma and Penny Plunderer Joe Coyne.  If this were true in real life, can you imagine what it might do?  Rodrigo would spend his time searching for the legendary shot C3PO dispenser from 1977, while Brian Bendis would only write jokes making fun of Spider-Man’s dead uncle…

“Anyone Can Be Easily Knocked Out By A Blow To The Head…”

The Third Doctor is about to slap you with his ring hand.  This is a big one seen in the works of James Bond and James T. Kirk, two men whose similarities in terms of fighting and womanizing cannot be overlooked.  It’s also seen a lot in the 70’s and 80’s detective shows such as Magnum PI and the Rockford Files, where a shot with a lamp or a golf club left characters harmlessly unconscious for a few moments rather than brain damaged, concussed, or dead as would happen in real life.  If I had a nickel for every time I smashed somebody over the head then had to dump their remains in the…  Y’know, I may have said too much.

“All Hookers Are Searching For True Love…”

Here’s another one what creates an interesting sort of paradox:  Saying that it’s not true implies that I know real hookers with hearts of some other metal, which is nothing like reality.  The closest thing I have is a call center job wherein many former strippers end up plying their dulcet tones for (ever-so-slightly) more socially acceptable purposes.  I will say that my beliefs about human nature make it complete unlikely that all ladies of the evening want nothing more than a strong-hearted Richard Gere to sweep in and carry them away.  You have to figure that at least 10 to 20 percent would prefer that it was Julia Roberts doing the sweeping.  Either way, you can say what you will about this one, but I’m certain that Quark’s D’abo girls did more than just spin the roulette wheel…

“There’s One True Love For Everyone…”

Here’s the one that spurred this whole thought process for me, the one that drives me insane.  Rodrigo said it best during a recent discussion:  It’s troubling that so much popular fiction makes it clear that it’s okay to cheat on an existing partner if the one you’re cheating with is “The One” for whom you should always have been waiting.  This is one that annoys me every time I see it, because I enjoyed seeing Bruce Wayne with Kathy Kane (the original, mind you) as much as I did with Vicki Vale or Silver St. Cloud.  There’s a terrible John Cusack movie called “Serendipity” wherein the plot is two people who are practically married finding each other after a chance meeting FIVE YEARS EARLIER and breaking up their relationships because they had a cute meet in an elevator…  Besides, everybody KNOWS that Sue Storm really wanted Namor all along.

“The Underdog Will Always Win…”

I think I was six or seven years old when the first Bad News Bears movie was popular, and I remember asking my grandmother how these kids ever won anything at all, knowing even then that there was no way that they would really overcome the better trained and equipped teams they faced.  As much as I want to believe that the ragtag team of Milton, Steve the Pirate, The PC, and the guy from Swingers won the dodgeball tournament, it’s easier to believe that Ben Stiller’s team mopped the floor with them. We all identify with being the one who is put down, the one with no chance, the one with 83.3% IR (or maybe that’s just me) and we all want to believe that we can turn our situation around every time.  Much as I hate to admit it, even Torq doesn’t roll 20’s every time, and sometimes the skeletons who want to eat you get their wish.  Or at least a limb…

When you look at the win/loss ratio of someone like Tony Stark (which reads Stark: 2,912, Crimson Dynamo: 4, Titanium Man: 1, Johnny Walker Red: 3) you might wonder for a moment why we allow these sort of things to repeatedly crop up wthout arguing.  The simple answer: We the people like it better.  Even I have to admit that many of these half-truths and prevarications just plan work better for storytelling, as we WANT things to be cooler and more awesomer in our pop culture and fiction than in our own dreary lives.  So the next time someone manages to diagnose a rare disease from one small symptom or magically gets 28,752 dollars by winning a talent contest in the proverbial nick, just chalk it up to dramatic license and remember how, at least sometimes, these lies can turn out to be true.  (Except for the absolutely true part about Stephen being evil and my laptop controlling my min–

THE ROBOT OVERLORD DEMANDS YOUR FEALTY.

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  What other big entertainment lies have I missed?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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29 Comments

  1. Brian G.
    June 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm — Reply

    As far as the “Underdog will always win” goes, I live in Philly. Before 2 years ago when the Phillies won the world series (and hopefully this year with the Flyers), the only underdog champion we ever had was Rocky … who isn’t even real. Philly hasn’t bought into this philosophy for a very long time.

    I still believe there is 1 person meant for 1 other person though.

    I believe a name means a lot to a person. Mine does for me.

    I also believe that the universe is built on the principal of balance. It is never AT balance but constantly trying to get there. Hell, if ever my life meant anything, it is to prove that equivalancy is the meaning of all things.

    • June 9, 2010 at 9:57 pm — Reply

      I still believe there is 1 person meant for 1 other person though.

      Mmm… That’s a hard line to walk. I have been happily married for the better part of a decade and a half, but I still can’t believe that this is the only woman in the entire world who would have ever been compatible/willing to put up with my $#!+. Maybe it’s just the wide variety of awesome women to whom I’ve been exposed in my travels (but then, that somehow seems to imply that your women aren’t amazing, which again opens that can o’ worms) or maybe it’s my mother’s four marriages, I dunno. :)

      Of course, as always, your mileage may vary.

      • Brian G.
        June 10, 2010 at 6:56 am — Reply

        I think this one is more of a person preferance. I feel that there are tons of compatible people but only 1 intended perfect match. (Note that perfection doesn’t mean that life is rainbows but rather a perfect compliment to you for the good and bad.)

  2. Roosterj
    June 9, 2010 at 12:16 pm — Reply

    For a girl to transform from Nerd to Amazing, all she needs is the right friends, a little makeup and a new wardrobe (10 Things I Hate About You, Never been kissed, She’s All That.)

    For a guy to go from Nerd to Cool, all he needs to do is ‘win over/bang the hot chick’ (which may or may not be the cute nerd girl from above). (Revenge of the Nerds, American Pie, Spiderman, Shrek, etc)

    • Jacin B
      June 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm — Reply

      … wait, you mean those aren’t true ?!

      • ~wyntermute~
        June 9, 2010 at 7:57 pm — Reply

        Shhh… Pay him no mind. Those are _NOT_ lies. 0_o

  3. litanyofthieves
    June 9, 2010 at 12:25 pm — Reply

    How could you miss “Crime doesn’t pay”?

  4. TaZ
    June 9, 2010 at 12:34 pm — Reply

    “With great power comes great responsibility”.

    No, with great power comes the need to become a total douche bag.

  5. Brian G.
    June 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm — Reply

    Elected officals are always out for your best interest.

    Hitting the gym means your going to look beautiful.

    An entry level job will eventually get you to the VP of the company if you put in the time.

    Mom and Dad are never wrong.

    Intelligence = sucess.

    • Brian
      June 9, 2010 at 2:54 pm — Reply

      All good politicans are simple country folks up against the corrupt city folk. Bad Mr Smith. No Washington for you.

    • June 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm — Reply

      You can also add “All politicians are eeeeeeeeevvvvvviiiiiiiiiillllllllllll.”

  6. Rome
    June 9, 2010 at 1:04 pm — Reply

    Great list. One of the best you’ve written.

  7. Tovias
    June 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm — Reply

    Just because it was my favorite show growing up, my favorite plane ever and I’m a jackass that goes around fixing the internet; the main cast of the Black Sheep Squadron flew Chance Vought F4U Corsairs. Its distinctive inverted gull-wing design was a masterpiece of aviation design.

    Please don’t hate me for posting this.

    • June 9, 2010 at 9:53 pm — Reply

      Please don’t hate me for posting this.

      Only because you asked so nicely… :)

  8. Ricco
    June 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm — Reply

    Finishing University at a young age is easy and anyone can do it with enough determination (a montage may be needed if the guy/gal works thou), getting in the army, achieving a high rank and leaving is simple.

    Gun’s are easy to fire and re-loading is optional, cutting someone in half (or a limb) with a sword requires very little strength or technique.

    Guys have no knees, how many times(specially in the old movies/shows)do we see two guys fighting over control for a gun when a knee to the groin could have ended the struggle?

    Shotgun’s/riffles have no kick back, how many times do we see a 90 pound girl shoot a shotgun/riffle from the hip without a single problem?

    Bullets don’t hurt, guy get’s shot on the leg and walks it off, same with car crashes.

    A big romantic gesture can save any relationship, adoption is within the reach of any couple, all childhood friend become love interest in the futur (I know a couple who seriously want me dead).

  9. MaximusRift
    June 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm — Reply

    Marriage is boring and for suckers if your involved in any kind of action. Meaningless sex is the way to go. Having children is also a no – no, since they’re going to get killed anyways no matter what you do. It’s just a matter of time.

  10. June 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm — Reply

    The story ends at “I do.”

    The blonde is the good girl. The brunette is the evil one. Oh, and the redhead is “fiery.”

    If she’s pretty, but wears glasses, then she’s a nerd and an outcast.

    You don’t need to watch the road while you drive.

    Problems must always be one or two big ones, not lots of difficult to diagnose little ones.

    “Radiation” is a magical force that does weird things to people, like give them incredible strength. It isn’t just heat.

    In any given situation, any specialist knows everything about his/her specialty: if a guy is a carpenter, he’s the best carpenter. If someone is a geologist, he knows everything about every square rock in any part of the globe.

    A “scientist” knows every field of science with equal depth.

    • Bryan
      June 10, 2010 at 4:48 am — Reply

      If she’s pretty, but wears glasses, then she’s a nerd and an outcast.

      Darn, you beat me to it. The thing about the magical outcast-to-dreamgirl transformations that drives me nuts is that these supposedly nerdy outcasts are gorgeous, but wear turtlenecks and glasses. Gorgeous smart girls are popular, not outcasts. At least they were at my HS.

  11. tidge
    June 9, 2010 at 8:28 pm — Reply

    From Disney…and beyond…

    If your mother is killed while you are young, you will meet a magical friend and have wonderful adventures.

    Here’s one from David Brin’s writings:

    Those guys with magical/divine powers (Jedi, Numenorians, et al.) really do deserve to rule over you because the rest of you are dirty and prone to evil.

  12. Bill
    June 9, 2010 at 9:42 pm — Reply

    No guy will be interested in a girl if she wears modest clothes, glasses, and seems smart. She has to dress like she’s going to a club and have a body like a model.

    A woman has to trick men into wanting your bod before they’ll spend enough time with you to realize that you are funny and smart too.

    One counterpoint I have for Roosterj is that one truth those movies do hint at is that often being attractive to the opposite sex has a lot to do with Confidence and being comfortable with yourself. Of course they usually ruin the point.

    • Roosterj
      June 9, 2010 at 11:18 pm — Reply

      I agree about there being a seed of truth here about confidence. It’s just that characters have to completely change themselves first to see it, and usually ditch friends that saw beauty in them all along. I think films that ‘get it right’ (IE the first Shrek movie) focus on the internal struggle of self-acceptance, rather than the external caterpillar-to-butterfly makeover.

      This trope, and the similar ones you mention in your post, have irked me ever since I saw My Fair Lady, and I saw the opportunity to vent a bit.

  13. litanyofthieves
    June 9, 2010 at 11:49 pm — Reply

    Oh, my personal favorite:

    People don’t change their beliefs through months or years of slow deliberation and careful thinking. All it takes is a really good speech to make them go from one extreme of the spectrum to another.

    How about some technical ones:

    When someone hangs up a phone, despite the fact that you have not hung up, there will be a dialtone.

    Draw a sword from a leather sheath? Sounds like there’s metal on metal!

    Store prices always take exact bills and never need to give change.

  14. SkrullBryan
    June 10, 2010 at 12:07 am — Reply

    In the same vein as “Underdog will always wins,” everyone gets what they deserve eventually. The ass#@*% looses at the end as everyone realizes how smart, funny, & great our hero was all along.

    Yeah, the jerk NEVER wins in real life!!!

    • June 10, 2010 at 12:41 pm — Reply

      Yeah, the jerk NEVER wins in real life!!!

      Actually, if you see a jerk win in real life, it just means that THEY’RE the underdog and YOU’RE the evil rich kids from Camp Sunnydale… :)

  15. peter
    June 10, 2010 at 11:28 am — Reply

    In the middle of new york, there is always a parkingspot convenient close to where you are going. And you don’t have to lock your car.

  16. June 10, 2010 at 4:22 pm — Reply

    There is never any impeding traffic during high speed car chases, or if there is, traffic it is at ‘sub-jam’ density, and must always contain a vintage truck (driven by Latinos) filled with cage after cage of live chickens.

  17. arcee
    June 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm — Reply

    Great post!

  18. Galactoss
    June 11, 2010 at 7:44 am — Reply

    Excellent post! It’s like a miniature tvtropes which it’s safe to start reading. You can’t beat nominative determinism and Venusian karate!

  19. Steve Y.
    June 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm — Reply

    If i am attacked by a large group of people, they will wait/dance in a circle around me, attacking me one at a time until I conveniently finish the whole group off.

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