Video Games and You – WIF Pop Culture

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Video Games That Are

Part of Enormous

Pop Culture Franchises


Though not all agree, video games can be considered as being a new art form. Moreover, video games are seen by many as a form of art with which one can actively interact. From the breathtaking landscapes, to the incredible soundtracks and general atmosphere, as well as the enticing plot, some video games can bring together much of what other mediums already have.

In fact, some video games out there were inspired by various bestselling novels, or in turn generated a whole book series with thousands of fans of their own. Some video games have even inspired movies. Be it a strategy game, a shooter, or a role-playing game, it doesn’t really matter as long as it has a good back story, a whole universe, and an extensive lore surrounding it. Here are 10 such video games, even though many others also deserve a spot in this list.

10. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Developed by Headfirst Productions and published by Bethesda Softworks, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth was released in 2005. First came the Xbox version, and then a PC version one year later. The game is an action-adventure/survival/horror genre that perfectly combines a first-person perspective with many stealth elements. The story is set mostly in 1922 and follows a mentally unstable private detective hired to investigate the fictional town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts. Unlike many other FPS games, Call of Cthulhu features no heads-up display, and everything from the player’s condition to his ammunition and other stats are represented as realistically as possible. A broken leg, for example, would be shown as the character limping, while a broken arm by a loss in accuracy. Each injury needs its own type of remedy and the player even needs to count the ammunition he’s got left.

All in all, the game received only positive reviews from critics and was considered by some to be among the best horror video games of all-time. However, the game itself was an economic failure, with the planned sequels being cancelled when Headfirst Productions went under. In recent years there has been a revival of the series, and in 2017 a new video game is expected to be released. Dark Corners of the Earth is inspired on H.P. Lovecraft‘s 1936 novella, The Shadow over Innsmouth. Lovecraft was also author of The Call of Cthulhu and several other related stories all within the Cthulhu Mythos.

 A recurring theme in Lovecraft’s works is the complete irrelevance of mankind in the face of the cosmic horrors that exist in the universe. Cthulhu himself and other cosmic deities exist, but have fallen into a deathlike sleep. After Lovecraft’s death in 1937, August Derleth took on the challenge to synthetize and expand the Cthulhu Mythos.

9. Mass Effect

Mass Effect is a sci-fi/action/role-playing/third person shooter first released in 2007. Two later installments came out in 2010 and 2012. A fourth game is expected to be released sometime in 2017. If you’re a fan of this style of video games, it’s almost an impossibility to have not already heard about or played Mass Effect. Developed by BioWare, the trilogy starts off in the year 2183 and revolves around Commander Shepard, who’s entrusted to save the entire Milky Way galaxy and all its inhabitants from a mysterious and overwhelmingly powerful race of machine beings known as the Reapers. And while the plot and story itself are quite complex and enticing, there is an extensive lore surrounding the game series.

To date there are four novels centered on various protagonists other than the ones in the video game. But the plots take place around the time of the games themselves. These not only better explain ambiguous facts from the game, but also expand the history of the Mass Effect universe. A fifth novel, Mass Effect: Andromeda Initiation is set to be published sometime in 2016. Two more books are scheduled for 2017 and 2018. There is also a fan written, interactive novel circulating out there called Mass Effect: Pick Your Path, from 2012, as well as numerous other comics. Also in 2012, an anime film version was released, and there are even talks of a Hollywood production in the works.

8. Mortal Kombat

 This fighting game has been around for a very long time. Originally developed by Midway Games, Mortal Kombat hit the arcades back in 1991. Its idea was thought up even earlier, in 1989, along with its storyline and game content. Mortal Kombat is a fantasy/horror themed fighting game, renowned for its high levels of gore and bloody violence. One of its most notorious parts, the finishing moves, also known as Fatalities, are in part responsible for the founding of the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board). Modeled after movies like Bloodsport and Enter the Dragon,Mortal Kombat aimed to be a bit more realistic and serious than its cartoon fantasy-style counterpart, Street Fighter.

After Midway’s bankruptcy, Mortal Kombat was bought by Warner Bros. and rebooted in 2011. The game became highly popular among young people and is now one of the few successful fighting franchises in the history of video games. Since its inception it has spun off into a series of comic books, card games, a theatrical live tour, countless game sequels, two TV series, and two movies. These two major motion pictures, Mortal Kombat (1995), and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation(1997) grossed in $122 and $51 million, respectively. While not particularly good, the movies gathered a cult following; especially the first one. The second installment, however, was poorly received by both critics and fans alike, resulting in it bombing at the box-office. Though entirely unofficial, an 8-minute short film was released back in 2010, revealing that a new Mortal Kombat movie is being planned in Hollywood.

7. Warhammer 40K


Without a doubt, the Warhammer 40K franchise has among the richest lore and backstory in video game history. That’s because the whole idea of this fictional universe first came into being way back in 1983. Back then, the game was known simply as Warhammer, and was created by Games Workshop as a tabletop war game. That game still exists, and continues to expand even to this day. Then in 1987, a futuristic version was developed, sharing many of the game mechanics. This is the 40K, which stands for the year in which the fictional action now takes place. We won’t bother going into detail with the original Warhammer games, since they deserve a top 10 list of their own, and instead try to focus on what’s at hand; namely their video game versions of the 40K universe.

The story takes place during the 41st millennium in a fictional, gothic-looking dystopian universe. The Imperium of Man, as it is called, is a galaxy-spanning human interstellar empire, dominating most of the Milky Way, though it’s not the only power out there. The most iconic and finest warriors of the Imperium are theSpace Marines, a combination between sci-fi super-soldiers and fantasy knights, who are sworn to defend their empire from all the other alien races in the galaxy. The Warhammer 40K universe has a total of 31 different style video games. The most notable of these are eight real-time strategy games and expansions, part of the Dawn of War series.

Four novels have been published alongside this series, somewhat following and better explaining the actions taking place in the games. But the entire list of novels, novellas and other short stories surrounding the 40K universe is humongous, enough to completely fill up a big personal library. And that’s without mentioning itscomic book series. In 2010 the CGI Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie was released to DVD. Terence Stamp, John Hurt, and Donald Sumpter, among others, voice some of the Space Marines.

6. Resident Evil

Making its debut in 1996, the Resident Evil series first appeared for the PlayStation. Initially called Biohazard in Japan, its country of origin, Capcom’s director decided to change its name since it was impossible to trademark it in the US. An internal contest was held within the company regarding the game’s name, finally settling on Resident Evil. Even though the director believed it to be “super-cheesy,” it makes reference to the original game, which took place in a mansion filled with evil monsters.

In its 20 years of existence the franchise has expanded into 11 main games and 22 other spin-offs. As of 2015, Resident Evil has sold over 61 million units worldwide. Originally, the game series was more of a survival horror genre, based mostly on horror film plotlines, exploration and puzzle solving. Since Resident Evil 4, however, the series took on a more third-person shooter approach, focusing on gunplay and weapon upgrades.

The plot revolves around the sinister Umbrella Corporation, a worldwide company with ties to every major industry, and which secretly makes extensive research into bio-engineering. More exactly, they are aiming to create an extremely potent virus that can transform any individual into a super-powerful, yet perfectly obedient being. However, most of these experiments were wildly unsuccessful and have backfired with some truly gruesome results. In their several attempts to create the perfect weapon, the Umbrella Corporation initiated a series of viral outbreaks and mass infection of the civilian population, transforming humans and animals into mindlessly aggressive zombies. Players take on the role of various characters trying to survive and unravel the Corporation’s many secrets.

 The Resident Evil movie series loosely follows the same plot, even though much of the original content is missing or has been changed. The main protagonist, Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, was a security operative working for Umbrella. But with the start of the first movie, she becomes an enemy of the Corporation. Though the movie received poor reviews from critics and fans alike, mostly because of the inconsistencies between it and the game series, the Resident Evil film tripled its budget, and got four more sequels over a span of 10 years. A last installment,Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, is set to premiere in 2017. A more faithful CGI animated movie series also exists, and another film, Resident Evil: Vendetta, will also be released next year. Moreover, the franchise also has its own seven book series.

5. Halo


Halo is a sci-fi/first person shooter franchise set in the 26th century, in which humanity has achieved faster-than-light travel speed and colonized numerous other planets across the Milky Way. The series centers itself on an interstellar war between humans and an alliance of aliens known as the Covenant, also inhabiting the galaxy. The player takes on the role of Master Chief John-117, a member of a group of super-soldiers known as the Spartans.

Since its first release in 2001 with Halo: Combat Evolved, the franchise has been praised by many and is considered to be among the best FPS video games played on a console. Managed and developed by Microsoft Studios under one of its subsidiaries, 343 Industries, Halo benefited from a tremendous marketing campaign and four more original sequels and their respective DLCs. In total the franchise sold over 65 million copies and earned a record breaking $3.4 billion from the games alone.

These incredible sales and its increasing fandom have allowed Halo to expand into other media as well. Besides the various spin-offs of the game, including a real-time strategy installment entitled Halo Wars, the franchise boasts its own five-part TV mini-series, called Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, released in 2012. Another miniseries was released in 2014, called Halo: Nightfall. A full length movie adaptation was set in motion back in 2005 by 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios, but due to financial reasons, the project was dropped two years later. However, a future TV show on Showtime is said to be in development, though the exact details of the production are still largely unknown. In any case, up until that moment arises, fans of the video game series can also expand their knowledge of the Halo universe by taking a look at its 13 novel canon.

4. The Witcher

The Witcher started off as a series of fantasy short stories written by Andrzej Sapkowski, which are now collected into two books. The first of these stories, entitled simply The Witcher, was written in 1986 as part of a contest held by a magazine, winning third place. The subsequent five novels, which became known asthe Witcher Saga were written and published throughout the 1990s in Poland, and later translated into English and other languages. Before gaining international notoriety with the release of the first video game in 2007, the saga was adapted into a movie and television series in 2001 and 2002, respectively, with both being called The Hexer. In fact, this was the preferred translation of the first story’s title by the author. But with the release of the first video game, however, the publishing company CD Projekt RED decided on the name Witcher instead.

With two more video games in the series, the story follows the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, (a sort of travelling monster-hunter for hire) as he struggles to regain his memories and prevent the destruction of the world. Set in a medieval fantasy universe, The Witcher is an action/role-playing hack and slash video game. The use of Geralt’s amnesia in the game allows the player to make decisions that the character from the books would not have necessarily made. It also permitted the developers to introduce those who weren’t familiar with the backstory with certain aspects of the Witcher canon.

Sapkowski uses a tone that is slightly ironic and with subtle links to modern culture in the books, which are also apparent in the games. Unlike most other similar fantasy stories, The Witcher also emphasizes the duality of human nature, with nobody being 100% good or bad. These aspects have helped both the novels and the video games to be widely claimed by fans as the best of Polish fantasy. Back in 2011, President Obama received a copy of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings video game from the Polish prime minister in one of his visits to the country. Obama later confessed that he didn’t actually play it.

3. Assassin’s Creed

 Another video game series that’s made frequent headlines in recent years is theAssassin’s Creed franchise. With a movie set to be released in December, the series made its debut in 2007, and has since released another eight sequels, 17 spin-offs, several short films, as well as a number of other supporting materials. Developed predominantly by Ubisoft, the various games can be played on almost every platform conceivable, and its gameplay, varying only slightly from game to game, is set in the historic action-adventure genre, with a particular emphasis on combat, acrobatics, free-running, and stealth. The protagonist of each sequel changes, as the action takes place in different moments and locations throughout history: from the time of the Third Crusade, to the Renaissance period, the Colonial Era, the French Revolution, and the Victorian Era among others.

The overall plot of the series revolves around the centuries-old, fictional struggle between the historically-accurate Order of Assassins and the Knights Templar, who each desire world peace but through different means and ideologies. On the one hand, the Assassins believe in peace through free will, while the Templars consider it achievable only through world domination. Inspiration for the games came from a Slovenian novel, Alamut, written by Vladimir Bartol, as well as from concepts borrowed from the Prince of Persia series. In all, the Assassin’s Creed series has been very well received by critics and fans alike, and as of April 2014 over 73 million copies have been sold, making it Ubisoft’s bestselling franchise. Aside from the comics, Assassin’s Creed also has a book series. Each of the eight novels are tie-ins to their respective video games, following the various assassins throughout the centuries, in their ongoing war with the Templars.

2. Warcraft

No list like this is complete without mentioning the Warcraft universe. Developed byBlizzard Entertainment, the franchise is made up of five core games, the most notable of which are Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, a real-time strategy game, and its expansion pack The Frozen Throne, as well as the infamous World of Warcraft (WOW), a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) and bestselling title here. At its peak in 2010, WOW had 12 million simultaneous subscribers worldwide, becoming the world’s largest subscription-based MMORPG.

The latest title in the series, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, is a digital collectible card game. Another notable game in the franchise, though only a mod for Warcraft III, is Defense of the Ancients (DotA), a multiplayer online battle arena. In this game, two teams of players are pitted against each other in an attempt to destroy the enemy’s heavily guarded structures at opposing corners of the map.

All of the games in the series are set in or around the high fantasy world of Azeroth. The story begins by focusing on the human nations that make up the Eastern Kingdoms and the Orcish Horde that arrived to Azeroth through a dark portal, igniting the great wars between the two. Over the years, and with the subsequent game releases, the developers have expanded the planet by creating new continents. With them, there’s been the emergence of other new playable races.

 Unsurprisingly, the series has since spawned its own sizable collection of novels, covering a broad range of characters in various timelines, vastly expanding the lore and backstory of the Warcraft universe. Many comics have also been published alongside these books, delving even further into the canon. In June 2016, its first Hollywood movie was released by Universal Pictures. With only 5.5 million subscribers to WOW as of 2015, the film arrived a little too late, and bombed in the US. However, it did manage to gross over $422 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing game adaptation of all time.

1. Neverwinter Nights


Neverwinter Nights is a third-person role-playing video game developed by BioWare, and was released in 2002. In the following years the game got several expansions and premium packs, and due to its growing popularity, a sequel was released in 2006. It, too, had its own series of expansions. The story follows the player’s character as he tries to stop a plague from sweeping over the city of Neverwinter. The city is located along the Sword Coast of Faerûn, in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons. As it is in the original tabletop D&D games, players of Neverwinter Nights are able to create their own character from scratch at the very beginning of the game. Everything from gender, race, character class, alignment, abilities, and name can be customized to suit the preferences of each individual player. Overall, the video game was met with positive reviews and universal acclaim.

GameSpot referred to it as “one of those exceedingly rare games that has a lot to offer virtually everyone, even if they aren’t already into RPGs,” while PC Gamer called it “a total package—a PC gaming classic for the ages,” and said that its “storyline [is] as persuasive as any I’ve encountered in a fantasy roleplaying game.”  It has its own collection of books entitled the Neverwinter Saga, written by R.A. Salvatore, which is made up of four novels. However, these are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of literature surrounding the Forgotten Realms universe, since the saga itself is just part of an even larger, Legend of Drizzt series. And for those who really want to immerse themselves into the canon of “The Realms” and probably never emerge out again, the entire book series is a whopping 302 novels.


Video Games and You

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– WIF Pop Culture

Kids These Days – Juvenile Like Button

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Celebrities Who Are

Absurdly Popular

with Kids

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These days there seems to be a lot of pushback against nostalgia culture. Anyone who talks about how great the entertainment was back when they were kids can expect quite a few people telling them just how lousy their childhood shows and music were. However right either group may be, while looking at today’s pop culture geared toward kids, try to imagine having to explain some of it to future generations.

Seems like it will be almost impossible, doesn’t it?

In the meantime, prepare to feel either embarrassed by how lame and non-lucrative your childhood was compared with some of these people, many of whom achieved stardom before most of us got our first paycheck, or extremely old because you really don’t understand how anyone could find this sort of content bearable, let alone something to watch obsessively.

Kids these days, right?

10. Angelina Jordan

When many people first saw Angelina Jordan performing, their first thought was “Amy Winehouse.” That’s because, as Snopes reported, one of her first videos went viral because many people shared it with a title claiming that itwas Amy Winehouse, performing “What a Difference a Day Makes” at age 10. In truth, the video was Jordan performing for Norwegian television in 2014, when she was only eight.

Since then, Jordan has completely stepped out from behind her early viral legacy as the girl everyone thought was Winehouse. Her website claims that videos of her performing have over one hundred million views on YouTube. Considering her hit videos, like her performance of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”, or her appearances on shows like The View, that seems a pretty believable claim. She has released a kid’s book (pretty much had to be, since she was only six when she wrote it) in Norwegian about two girls who “share a magical moment,” which her website claims is entitled “Between to Hearts” (presumably she meant “Two”). Hopefully all the pressure brought on by her success doesn’t mean she has anything like the tragic end that Winehouse did.

9. Madison Ziegler

Thirteen is a pretty young age to not only be one of the stars of a long-running television show, but to have your music videos be considered good enough in the music industry to be featured at the Grammy Awards, particularly for someone from Pittsburgh, of all places. That’s what Madison Ziegler has been able to achieve with the Lifetime television show Dance Moms, under the guidance of her mother Melissa Giosini. As of February 2016 she left the show and began work starring in a feature film directed by Sai, the same artist who directed her in the aforementioned music videos.

Although there have been polls which show that even the biggest film and television stars have to compete with YouTube celebrities for a decent online following, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Ziegler. The social media platform Instagram alone has provided her with six million followers. Seeing how many adults have just gotten the hang of using Facebook and Twitter, you can bet that it’s mostly teens and kids following her on there.

8. Robby Novak

Portraying the character “Kid President” for the YouTube channel Soulpancake (best known for being cofounded by The Office star Rainn Wilson) has been a pretty wild gig for 12-year-old actor Robby Novak. His first video as the character alone has more than 38 million views. He’s played opposite people ranging from Craig Robinson to President Barack Obama himself in his videos in the past three years. The content of his videos tends to be largely pep talk material, such as advising that parents hug their kids more often and yell at them less, or trying to promote feminism in the video “Awesome Girls.”

He achieved all this while suffering from a genetic weakness in his skeletal structure that leaves him with extremely brittle bones, which have been fractured dozens of times, and in February 2016 he underwent surgery to have a rod placed in his femur bone. So kid secret service will have to be on the lookout about that.

7. Harper Beckham

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Can you imagine hearing that your kids want a specific item of clothing because they saw a picture of the daughter of an athlete? Many parents out there don’t have to bother using their imaginations for that. All that has to happen is another picture of this four year-old be posted to Instagram (seemingly, mostly by her mother Victoria, someone who really goes crazy with the keyword tags) and a major fashion line will get a boost. You know who was just below her in this regard? Prince George.

At present there don’t seem to be any signs that the Beckhams are making any overt attempts to cash in on this. Even though Harper Beckham is already pretty demonstrably an effective model without trying in the slightest, there’s no talk of a Beckham fashion line, or anything like that. On one hand, it’s good that the Beckham’s aren’t exploiting their children in quite this way. On the other, with 25% of mothers admitting in a survey that they ended up buying some article of clothing after seeing Harper or her siblings wearing it, it can’t help but seem like something of a waste.

6. DC Toys Collector

This celebrity is actually something of an enigmatic figure, and some media analysts theorize that the fact she’s so hard to identify is what makes her so appealing to such a large quantity of children. After all, she’s a complete mystery but still has over seven million subscribers. All we ever see of this person, who makes millions of dollars a year from all the ad revenue opening toy packaging, is her hands, which were noted for being “well-manicured.” All the audience can make out about her is that she has a fairly pleasant voice (albeit a little on the high-pitched side) and that she’s fine with doing voices for all her toy characters instead of just dryly reviewing them. A single video of her talking about making clay dresses for Disney princess dolls has over four hundred million views, which would be respectable for a music video from a chart-topping talent. Despite this success, she felt the need to change her channel’s name to “FunToyzCollector.”

That said, parents should be advised that this is not suitable viewing for children. Not because she says anything obscene or has any joke videos where she reviews adult toys. But if a picture of Harper Beckham’s child can make kids want a piece of clothing enough to convince many of their parents to buy them, just imagine how insistent for new toys they’ll be after watching these videos!

5. Stampy

These days it seems like playing the highly successful indie game Minecraft is much less popular among kids than watching someone else play it. One 25-year-old from the UK named Joseph Garrett has enjoyed truly bewildering success with that craze by way of his cat character known both as Stampylongnose and Stampy Longhead. The character seems basically the exact opposite of the popular comic strip character Garfield, in that he doesn’t have the least bit of attitude or edge to him. If that sounds a touch banal, by and large kids certainly don’t seem to think so, given that this channel of a blocky but kid-friendly character has garnered more than seven million subscribers.

Despite how crazy lucrative his career as a cubical cat has been (some rumors estimate it’s good for about 200,000 pounds a year), Garrett has not been the most aggressive chaser of personal fame or the most social of butterflies. He claims that he mostly hangs out with other vloggers, and it’s reportedly somewhat difficult to get him to agree to do an interview. Hard to tell if that’s just a matter of personal taste or if he wants to seem kid-friendly behind the scenes, too.

4. Jared and Evan

YouTube isn’t just good for making money off of the eager eyeballs of children: it’s also good for kids themselves to make money in some cases. EvantubeHD shows that kids can also make bank on YouTube with just a bit of guidance from their parents. Jared (last name withheld to protect his family’s privacy) is the father of now 10-year-old Evan, the main face of this toy, costume, candy, etc. reviewing channel. While at 2.9 million subscribers the channel doesn’t yet provide serious competition for the Stampys and DC Toy Collectors of YouTube, it still pulls in an estimated $1.3 million a year (that figure being an estimate by Evan, though, and possibly not reliable). Pretty good for a channel riding on a 10-year-old. Even if that amount is accurate, it apparently wasn’t enough for this family, and they spun off a second channel for videotaping daily events and reviewing video games.

Despite the spinoff channel, it should be noted that the family is not really greedy. They make sure to donate the toys they review to charity and do the same with a substantial portion of their income. Whatever you may think of a channel where one of the most successful attractions is watching a kid eat a huge gummy worm, there’s definitely a lot of good that came of it.

3. David Walliams

Even though this list is dominated by YouTube and Instagram celebrities, traditional media is alive and well. Representing it for our purposes is one of the most followed authors on Twitter (1.6 million followers strong), which is no surprise since he’s one of the most famous authors of children’s books today, David Walliams. A UK survey found that his book Demon Dentist was more popular among primary school students than JK Rowling’s books that need not be named, which is just amazing. Part of his fame, admittedly, is due to his controversial, debatably homophobic presence on Britain’s Got Talent, but that’s still major reach with child audiences.

As the title Demon Dentist implies, Walliams basically tries to inject the edge into his books that Joseph Garrett actively avoids for Stampy. He also has to his name books like Gangsta Granny, Awful Auntie, and Ratburger. Might not be the most sophisticated things for children to read but still, it gets their noses out of YouTube for awhile.

2. Dane Boedigheimer

For many of the entertainers featured in this list, it’s hard for an adult to understand the appeal. In this case, kids seem to like it just to spite adults that have to listen to it in the background. Dane Boedigheimer is known, beloved, and obsessively viewed by millions of children all over the world as the eyes, mouth, and voice of Annoying Orange. Basically the character’s routine was that he would pester a nearby animated food item until something came along and killed its companion. His channel reached a billion views even back in 2012 thanks to its core audience of 8-to-13 year-olds.

As a result, Boedignheimer got a show for two seasons on Cartoon Network. But really the only place kids were willing to watch the kid-friendly – and onlykid-friendly – character was on YouTube, and among general audiences it was such a bomb that IMDb users on average gave it only 2.7 out of 10. Not that something that popular could be killed off that easily. Boedignheimer just returned his focus to the YouTube channel, which now has more than five million subscribers.

1. Pewdiepie

In the past six years, the videos of 26-year-old Swede Felix Kjellberg screaming at video games have made him the most popular entertainer on YouTube, with tens of millions of subscribers that have provided more than eight billion views. His loud, often gibberish-laden “Let’s Play” commentary seem to really connect with young audiences, but it’s also gotten him in a bit of trouble for not being what the mainstream media traditionally thinks of as suitable for a young audience (though his view counts imply it’s actually exactly what kids want). He has repeatedly apologized for the language in his videos and mainstream critics like Variety have repeatedly bashed his videos for their “aggressive stupidity.”

But on the more positive side, he has, like Evan’s family, backed numerous charity projects such as Charity Water and Save the Children. These efforts have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, well beyond expectations. Still, it’s not an accident that TopTenz did not list his as one of the top ten gaming channels.

Kids These Days

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Perspective on the Universe – WIF Space Videos

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Video Edition

Video Perspective

on the Universe

As we’ve mentioned a few times before, the fact that we are alive here is astonishing. In order to demonstrate exactly how amazing it is, we’ve rounded up a collection of videos that show our remarkable journey from the Big Bang, to the creation of the solar system, to the formation of the Earth, and finally the rise of humanity.

10. The History of the Universe

According to estimates from astrophysicists, the universe is 13.7 billion years oldand started with the Big Bang. In the first moments after the Big Bang, the universe was almost impossibly tiny. In a fraction of a second after the Big Bang, there was a period known as inflation and the universe grew to the size of an orange. Then three to 20 seconds after the Big Bang, the universe started to cool and expand, and hydrogen and helium, the simplest chemical elements, were born.

380,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe became transparent. After 400 million years of darkness, the first stars started lighting up. Then 300 million years later, when the solar system was only 700 million years old, galaxies began to form. Our solar system didn’t form until 9 billion years after the Big Bang. That means that our solar system is actually quite young in the universe, and just for some perspective of how young, please check out the simulation of the creation of the universe posted above.

9. The Known Universe

The video for this entry, from the American Natural History Museum, was created using their Digital Universe Atlas. The atlas is an ongoing project where researchers are mapping out the observable universe, and all the planets and stars are correct to scale. The simulation starts off in the Himalayan mountains and after a short time, Earth disappears into the distance as the simulation pushes us out billions of light years away from Earth.

What is perhaps more amazing than the size of the known universe is that by estimates, we only see four percent of the universe. The rest of the universe is full of mysterious substances called Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Yet, that four percent we do see is unfathomably big, even when we see a simulation of it.

8. The Size of Earth Compared to Other Stars and Suns

For millennia, the Earth was too big to consider traversing even small parts of it. Even with modern air travel, it still takes two days and 19 hours to circumvent it in a plane. But in cosmic terms, the Earth is actually rather small and there are four other planets in our solar system that are much bigger. As seen in the video above from BuzzFeed Blue, five Earths could fit into the ring of Saturn and compared to Jupiter, Earth looks like a marble because Jupiter is 11.2 times the size of Earth. When compared to the sun, the Earth is a barely visible dot because the sun is 109 times larger. But our sun is an insignificant speck compared to an Alpha Scorpii A. star, which is 700 times the diameter of the sun, and that isn’t even the biggest known star. That title belongs to the VY Canis Majoris, which is 1,540 times the size of the sun. If VY Canis Majoris was in the place of our sun, it would extend out past the orbit of Saturn.

What’s even more mind blowing is that stars are tiny compared to galaxies. For example, our galaxy, the Milky Way, is 100,000 light years in diameter, meaning it is about 678 trillion times the size of the sun. And again, that is small in comparison; the IC 1011 galaxy is 6 million light years wide, or 60 times the size of the Milky Way.

7.The Solar System and the Formation of the Earth

Our solar system has at least eight planets and five recognized dwarf planets that orbit a yellow dwarf star. Before our solar system existed, there was a cloud of helium, hydrogen, dust, and then over 4.5 billion years ago, a nearby star exploded in what is called a supernova, which caused the cloud to collapse. Over the course of 100,000 years, the cloud was flattened into a disc.

In the center of the disc, where the molecules are packed tightest, a proto-star developed and it got so hot that it underwent fusion, giving birth to our sun. The heat from the sun turned the dust into rocks and a number of these rocksclumped together, starting the formation of Earth.

6. How Deep is the Ocean

Around 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth first formed under heat and pressure and was bombarded with asteroids, meteors, and comets. It had an atmosphere that was poisonous and too hot for water to remain on the surface. A second atmosphere was made because of constant volcanic eruptions, and gases like methane and carbon dioxide were pumped into the atmosphere.

Then about 4.1 billion years ago, the Earth’s surface started to cool and the surface became rocky, which allowed rainwater to fill the oceans. The oceans are an amazing part of Earth and it is a requirement for life. Have you ever thought about how deep the ocean actually is? The video from BuzzFeed Blue gives an interesting cartoon to give some perspective on just how far down it goes.

5. How Tall is Mount Everest

On the other end of the spectrum from the deepest part of the ocean is the highest land point, which is the peak of Mount Everest, located in the Himalayas. Its creation started over 250 million years ago when the Earth had one continent called Pangaea. At the time, what is now India was in the Southern Hemisphere, attached to what are today Australia, South America, and Africa. After the super continent broke up, India spent millions of years moving towards its present day home in EuroAsia. When India hit the continent, it acted like a bulldozer and it pushed up the mountain range about 60 million years ago.

Mount Everest is 29,035 feet tall, more than 10 times higher than the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. To get an even better idea as to how tall it is, check out the video above. Also, in case you’re wondering what the distance from the lowest depth to the highest mountain peak, it is 65,236 feet, or 12.35 miles.

4. The Migration of Humans

Homo sapiens first appeared about 200,000 years ago and they most likely came from a single point in Africa. Around 130,000 years later, the weather changed because the Earth was in an ice age, and it is believed that the number of humans dwindled to just under 10,000. Luckily for us, the weather got better and human numbers went up.

60,000 years ago, the first group of humans left Africa. They migrated along the North Indian Ocean, through what is now the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and Southeast Asia. 10,000 years after leaving, they reached Australia. A second group left Africa around 50,000 years ago, crossed the Red Sea and then over the next 15,000 years became the populations of the Middle East and Central Asia.

About 40,000 years later, humans migrated to Europe from the Southeast. Then about 20,000 years ago, during the Last Glacial Maximum, a group of Asian hunters were able to cross a land bridge connecting Asia with North America because ice sheets in the North and South Poles had sucked up water, decreasing sea levels by more than 300 feet. 15,000 years ago, the Asian hunters reached the land surface of North America, and then within 1,000 years they made it all the way to the southern part of South America.

When agriculture was discovered 10,000 years ago, it became a cornerstone of human civilization and the first civilization is believed to have started about 6,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, which is modern day Iraq.

3. Time Lapse From the International Space Station

The discovery of agriculture was a pivotal moment in human history because one farmer could grow food for a group of people, so not everyone was needed for food collection like it was during hunter and gatherer days. This led to a division of labor, which, in turn, led to people being able to do different jobs. Having different jobs led to commerce and since people have never had a history of being fair with each other, this led to the court system and government, which in turn led to religion, and writing. All of this lay the foundation for societies that we live in today.

While humans were an endangered species 130,000 years ago, humans have recovered remarkably. By 1804, there were 1 billion people living on Earth. That population doubled 123 years later in 1927. In 1960, the population reached 3 billion and just 14 years later there were 4 billion people residing on Earth. Then, Earth reached the 5 billion mark in 1987, and surpassed 6 billion in 1999.

When the video above was posted in 2011, the population of the world reached 7 billion people. The video is a time lapse video from the International Space Station that shows both the beauty of the natural Earth, like the Aurora Borealis, and how much of an impact seven billion humans have on the planet.

2. Modern Human Life

One of the amazing things about human life is that we are all individuals with our own thoughts and feelings, yet we all came from the same place. We, and all our ancestors that came before us, were created through the fertilization of an egg from one of billions of sperm. We survived nine months in the womb and were born. We survived infancy and have survived every day until we have gotten to this very point in time.

For a lot of us, and this is especially true the older you get, sometimes it seems that time just flies by. Nothing perhaps represents that more than this video by Frans Hofmeester, who recorded his daughter, Lotte, for 15 seconds every day and then created this video in 2015, when Lotte was 16. It is a perfect metaphor for how quickly our life goes by, even if our lives are short in the cosmic sense.

1. The Future of Humanity

The universe has come a long way in 13.8 billion years. It started off as a tiny speck, then grew to the size of an orange and then expanded to encompass everything we know as existence. It is full of billions of galaxies, and one of those galaxies had a planet with rocky mountains and deep oceans, that was the perfect distance away from a perfect sized star and life developed on it. From that single cell of life, life forms evolved over millions of years, eventually becoming apes, who became homo sapiens and they migrated all over the world. About 10,000 years ago, we started the transition from hunters and gatherers to civilizations and our population has grown steadily since. There are currently 7.4 billion free thinking, emotional beings living on Earth and we all started from the same place. We’ve come so far and yet, there are so many places we have yet to go.

This video features famed silent film star Charlie Chaplin from his first film with sound, The Great Dictator. In it, Chaplin explains the stark beauty of humanity and what we can do when we work together. Because while we’re all individuals, we all come from the same place and all that can be traced back to the microscopic speck at the start of the Big Bang.

Perspective on the Universe

– WIF Space Videos

Television Show Backstories – WIF TV

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Behind the Scenes Stories

of Beloved TV Shows

10. Firefly was Inspired by Gettysburg


Joss Whedon came up with the idea of Firefly while he was on a non-working vacation. He was reading a book called The Killer Angelswhich told the story of soldiers in the Battle of Gettysburg. Whedon was attracted to the idea of the difficulty of the soldiers’ everyday lives. He liked that the author focused on the mundane details of how people survived when they didn’t have all of their needs conveniently met by modern technology and commercialism.

Whedon had always loved the seemingly separate ideas of sci-fi and westerns, and through The Killer Angels, he saw a way to combine them. “I wanted to play with that classic notion of the frontier,” he said. “Not the people who made history, but the people history stepped on—the people for whom every act is the creation of civilization.” And Whedon decided to set the frontier on a spaceship: a ship named Serenity.

9. Carol and Susan’s Wedding in Friends


Friends wasn’t known for being the most diverse show on television at the time, since the cast was comprised of almost entirely white actors. None of the main characters were anything other than “mainstream.” Even the acknowledgement of Ross’s first wife Carol being a lesbian was met with jokes about sexuality (mostly from Joey), and sexist comments were frequently incorporated into the script.

However, in season two Friends took a big leap toward equality by featuring a gay wedding when Carol married her girlfriend Susan. Behind the scenes, executive producer Marta Kauffman said, “NBC expected thousands and thousands of phone calls and hate mail.” However, after the episode aired, they received only four antagonistic letters. As it turns out, people just didn’t care that much.

8. The Big Bang Theory Whiteboard Has Real Equations


The Big Bang Theory is not short on geniuses. Not only is the show about highly intelligent scientists, but cast member Mayim Bialik has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. So it should come as no surprise that the cast would want to show off their intelligence and attention to detail. In Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment, there’s a large white board. The two roommates use the board frequently for everything from actual work that Leonard or Sheldon has brought home, or to decide whether to eat before or after the new Spider-Man movie.

The board is frequently covered in equations. Have you ever wondered what those equations mean? Well, we may never know what they mean, but they are all real, accurate equations. Very impressive, Big Bang. Very impressive indeed.

7. M*A*S*H Star Never Signed his Contract


When M*A*S*H first aired, the characters of Hawkeye and Trapper were meant to be equally sized roles. It was with that understanding that Wayne Rogers agreed to take the role of Trapper John. However, as Alan Alda began to make changes to the characters and have more influence on the direction of the show, Hawkeye began to seriously eclipse Trapper.

Rogers, unhappy with the turn of events, decided to leave the show after the first three seasons. The breach of contract led to a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Ironically, Wayne Rogers had never signed his contract to begin with (he had a problem with a morals clause). The lawsuit was thrown out. You could say Rogers got the last laugh, but since M*A*S*H went on for eight more seasons and Rogers’ never reached the same career success again, the last laugh might be a relative concept.

6. Jack Shephard Almost Died in the First Episode


It’s hard to imagine LOST without Jack Shephard as the group leader. Where would the show have been without him? Had the show’s writers gotten their way, we would have learned the answer to that question. When the show was pitched to ABC, Jack Shephard’s character was supposed to be killed after the pilot episode, and Kate was supposed to take on more of a leadership role in the series.

In the original casting, Michael Keaton was set to play the character. However, ABC executives begged the writers and producers to keep Jack alive. They believed the character was too likeable to die off so quickly. The writers agreed. Michael Keaton was not interested in signing up for a long-running show. Instead, the role of Jack was given to Matthew Fox. The rest is TV history.

5. Bryan Cranston was a Murder Suspect


Many years before Bryan played “Walter White” on Breaking Bad, he and his brother worked in a restaurant in Florida. The head chef was a very mean man. In a 2011 podcast for Marc Maron, Cranston described him saying “No matter how nice you may have been to him, he hated you.” Not surprisingly, all the wait staff routinely discussed how they wanted to kill him. Cranston says it was “all [they] talked about!”

Talking about wanting to kill your boss may not be that uncommon, but it does put a damper on things when said boss actually ends up murdered. When the police came to ask questions, they ended up learning that the Cranston brothers had recently resigned to ride their motorcycles cross-country. Until they could be cleared, the two men were both suspects.

4. Sex and the City Caused a Rush on Cupcakes


In Sex and the City, Miranda and Carrie frequent a place called Magnolia Bakery at 401 Bleeker Street. After the episodes aired, hordes of people had to investigate those cupcakes. Nothing can incur cupcake mania quite like Carrie Bradshaw can. Magnolia Bakery received a huge boost in sales and customers. In fact, they were so popular that they had to hire a “bouncer” of sorts. Not quite your typical club bouncer, this bouncer was friendly and very interested in the finer points of cupcakes.

He was responsible for monitoring how many cupcake aficionados were allowed in the store at one time. Of course Magnolia Bakery isn’t exactly complaining. The store proudly displays memorabilia from the show on the walls of their many locations. Today, Magnolia Bakery is known for their banana pudding, but they will always owe their initial success to Carrie Bradshaw and a red velvet cupcake.

3. The Andrea Yates Trial Inspired Desperate Housewives


In 2002, Marc Cherry (the creator of Desperate Housewives) was watching the news with his mother in her home. The lead story on the news that day (and many days before) was the Andrea Yates trial. Andrea was on trial for drowning her five children in the bathtub. Marc turned to his mother and asked, “Could you imagine a woman being so desperate that she would murder her own children?”

Martha Cherry took a cigarette out of her mouth, murmured, “I’ve been there,” and resumed smoking. Marc was in shock (which, let’s face it, is a pretty healthy response when you realize your own mother may or may not have had thoughts of murdering you while you bathed). He realized for the first time how desperate and lonely it could be to be a housewife. He realized then and there that he was upon a very good idea for a TV show. This conversation was the birth of Desperate Housewives.

2. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was Almost Bankrupt

fresh prince

Will Smith had a very successful career in the late 80s and early 90s as the second half of rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. But in spite of his financial success, Smith did not manage his money well. It’s a pretty classic tale, really. New fame, lots of money, no future plans, and lots of fancy toys added up to a lot of overspending. This lack of oversight and fiscal irresponsibility landed him on the brink of bankruptcy. He owed the government back taxes that he had not paid.

When he was offered the role of “Will” on Fresh Prince, he had 70% of his wages garnished for the first three seasons. After three years, he was able to take home his full salary. Basically, the first line of the theme song could have been written about Will Smith’s real life: “This is a story all about how/My life got flip-turned upside down.” Except in real life, the “guys making trouble in [his] neighborhood” was the IRS.

1. “The Little Kicks” in Seinfeld Almost Didn’t Happen

In the episode “The Little Kicks,” we get to see Elaine’s fabulously hilarious dance moves. It’s almost impossible to imagine a version ofSeinfeld in which Elaine doesn’t dance in such a funky way. And yet shockingly, this was almost the case. Writer Spike Fereston knew that series creator Larry David was against the dance, and he was only able to get it approved after David left. He was able to get the dance approve, but still received a lot of push back from the other writers.

Fereston recalls when writer Jennifer Crittenden stopped him in the hallway after filming and asked him, ‘Are you sure about this? Are you sure you’re not ruining Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ career?’ Considering Dreyfus won an Emmy that same year, it’s safe to say the dance was a good career move for the actress. And now to reminisce, here is Elaine doing her famous “Elaine Dance.”

Television Show Backstories


Historic Moments Caught on Film – Before the Cellphone

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WIF History-001

Famous Moments

Caught on Film

While literally hundreds of millions of miles of film and videotape has been shot over the last century, very little of it provides any impact or lasting memory. However, occasionally a piece of celluloid is produced that captures some significant historical event in real time, creating a type of time capsule that transcends the years.  It may be only a few seconds in length, but it provides us with a glimpse of history in the making, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, most of these events are tragic in nature, but each is important to our understanding of the past and, as such, worth remembering. So here’s our list of the top 10 pieces of celluloid that have made film history.

10. Japanese Surrender Ceremony

In contrast to the fiery spectacular footage of the Battleship Arizonaexploding (which we’ll get to later)—effectively capturing the opening salvoes of America’s involvement in World War II—another far more sedate piece of footage captures the war’s final moment, shot just three years later in Tokyo Bay, Japan. Taken on September 2, 1945 by an unnamed Navy photographer, the footage shows the arrival of representatives of the Japanese military and government onboard the battleship Missouri—then securely anchored in Tokyo Bay—to surrender to the allied powers. Though only a few minutes in length and about as exciting as a high school graduation ceremony, it shows a remarkably anticlimactic ending to the bloodiest war in history, which in itself makes it among the most important pieces of celluloid in history.

What’s especially interesting about it is the contrast between the Japanese and allied representatives. Whereas the Japanese are decked out in their most dazzling formal best—complete with medals, derbies, and tuxedos—the allies are dressed in their everyday uniforms that would be considered too frumpy for a trip to Walmart. Apparently the allies wanted to portray the surrender ceremony as no big deal and to that end managed to keep it about as exciting as macramé. One still gets the chills from watching it, however, especially once one considers the extraordinary historical significance of the moment and how the Japanese managed to somehow look proud even at the moment of their country’s greatest humiliation.

9. Apollo 11 Landing

One might imagine that landing on the moon would make for some spectacular film footage, but one would be wrong. Mounted on the bottom of the descending lunar module, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin sat Eagle One down on the surface of the moon that July day in 1969, all one could make out as the vehicle drew close to the surface was a blurry white screen and little else. It’s the narrative that accompanies the footage, however, that makes it exciting.

Having trouble finding a landing spot and only seconds away from having to scrub the landing due to fuel constraints, the voice of the astronauts counting off the remaining distance to the surface is spellbinding—even if one can’t see much. The payoff comes from the cloud of dust and the emerging shadow from the landing pads as the Eagle finally sets down on the lunar surface, marking man’s first physical contact with another planet and making the wait worthwhile. While some might argue that footage of the men actually walking about the surface is more deserving of notice, we submit it was the perilous and historical nature of the descent itself that is the stuff of legend.

8. Hindenburg Explosion

Aviation disasters were rarely caught on film—especially in the early days of flying—but what happened on May 6, 1937 changed all that. As the German dirigible Hindenburg—then making its maiden flight of the 1937 season—approached the mooring mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey, hundreds of spectators and ground crew were astonished to see flame suddenly erupt from just forward of the massive ship’s tail and quickly engulf the entire vessel as its 8 million cubic feet of highly flammable hydrogen ignited. Within twenty seconds it was all over, with one of the greatest air ships of all time reduced to a fiery tangle of collapsing aluminum girders, and all of it caught on four different cameras—the footage of which is often spliced together to give a sense that it was all part of a single piece of film.

Most imagined at the time that none of the 97 passengers and crew onboard could have survived such a fiery disaster, but remarkably most managed to escape the flames and run to safety as the vessel gently settled to the ground. What makes the footage especially significant, however, is that it records the end of an era in aviation history—the use of dirigibles as passenger carriers. As a result of the disaster, airships were deemed unsafe and overnight an entire industry died—all because of a bit of static electricity and an untimely tear in a hydrogen cell.

7. Patterson Bigfoot Film

Undoubtedly one of the most controversial bits of celluloid in existence is the sixty seconds of footage Roger Patterson (1933-1972) shot of what appears to be a seven-foot-tall hairy primate near Bluff Creek, California on October 20, 1967. The footage, which starts out very shaky because Patterson was initially running towards the creature with the camera on, eventually settles down enough to provide twelve seconds of the most remarkable footage in zoological history.

While other photos and snippets of footage have been made of “Bigfoot” before and since, none are as clear or have been studied as extensively as Patterson’s footage which clearly shows—depending upon one’s predilections—either a “guy in a monkey suit” or a massive primate unknown to science. What’s perhaps most unique about the footage is that it appears the creature has large pendulous breasts—causing some to nickname her “Patty” as a result—which would seem to be a bit of unwieldy over-engineering were one intent upon orchestrating a simple hoax. Additionally, fakes are usually easy to spot, making the fact that the footage is still being hotly debated today a good argument for its authenticity.

6. Iwo Jima Flag Raising

When marines and sailors went about the fairly routine task of raising a flag on the summit of Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945, they unwittingly found themselves immortalized—not just for their deeds, but for their excellent sense of timing and composition. In effect, when they raised a second flag over the summit (the first flag raised earlier was considered too small and was replaced by a larger one) they unwittingly became part of one of the most recognized photos in history (or, at very least, of World War II). Unfortunately, three of the men in the photo would be killed in action over the next few days, but the three survivors would go on to become unexpected celebrities for their bit of impromptu flag raising.

The photo, taken by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal (1911-2006), was not without its controversy, however. Later asked if the photo had been staged, Rosenthal—misunderstanding that the query was for the famous shot and not the later group shot around the raised flag—admitted that it had been, diminishing the photo’s pedigree. Fortunately, a film camera set up next to Rosenthal and operated by Marine Corp photographer Bill Genaust (1907-1945) was filming at the same time and from the near identical angle, demonstrating Rosenthal’s photo to have been truly spontaneous, thereby restoring its luster. In any case, the Rosenthal photo and Genaust’s footage are clearly among the most important pieces of visual history ever recorded and deserve to make this list.

5. Ronald Reagan Shooting

As with the Zapruder film (we’ll get to that soon), America almost got to witness the death of a second sitting president when on the morning of March 30, 1981, a gunman by the name of John Hinckley opened fire on newly elected president Ronald Reagan and his entourage as they left the Washington Hilton Hotel. The incident, which was captured by several news cameras but was probably caught best by the crew from ABC, shows Hinckley—in a delusional effort to impress actress Jody Foster—unleashing a volley of shots, most of which managed to find targets including, due to an errant ricochet, the president himself.

Though it was initially believed that the president was not hit, once the motorcade sped away from the scene, Reagan began complaining of chest pains and coughing up blood, the result of taking a single round to the lung. Quickly rushed to George Washington Hospital to undergo emergency surgery, he recovered and returned to full time duties a few weeks later. The same could not be said for his press secretary, James Brady, who received a head wound that left him an invalid for the rest of his life. Hinckley was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity—a verdict that did not sit well with the White House—and he remains alive and well to this day, years after several of his victims had passed on.

4. Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster

When the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch on January 28, 1985—killing all seven astronauts onboard—an entire nation was on hand to witness the event, making it one of the few videos of a major event shot live and witnessed by literally hundreds of thousands of people as it happened. What made it even more memorable—aside from the fact that it ended the life of the young and exuberant Christa McAllife (the first teacher in space)—was how unexpected it was. After having watched dozens of rocket and shuttle launches over the previous two decades, people had become complacent about the dangers inherent to launching rockets, but the sudden explosion of Challenger as it arched its way into a perfect Florida sky changed that perception forever.

The cause of the explosion was determined to be a faulty “O” ring design on the solid fuel booster rockets that allowed hot plasma to escape and scorch the massive fuel tank it was attached to. Quickly redesigned, the accident at least had the benefit of making the shuttle safer as a result. Not necessarily a fair trade for the lives of seven astronauts, but at least their families could find some solace in the fact that their deaths were not in vain.

3. Battleship Arizona Explosion

Of all the sights and sounds of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, none are as unforgettable as that of the 30,000 ton battleship Arizona blowing up as a result of a bomb hit in her forward powder magazine. The blast, which killed more than 1,000 men (nearly two thirds of the men onboard her), was somehow captured on 8mm film by an Army doctor visiting a nearby hospital ship, who somehow had the presence of mind to start filming the attack in its earliest moments. Filming a formation of Japanese bombers as they slowly approached battleship row and dropped their deadly ordnance, he somehow managed to capture the precise second the fatal bomb exploded deep within the battleship’s interior.

What the footage shows is a spectacular fireball spewing upwards from the forward area of the ship, incinerating  everything and everyone inside the hull forward of midships and even causing the superstructure itself to rise thirty feet into the air before collapsing into the raging inferno below it. The blast not only killed most of the crew, but also took the lives of both the ship’s captain and an admiral, Isaac C. Kidd. Perhaps one of the most spectacular and violent pieces of film footage ever recorded, it has since been colorized, bringing out more details and making the footage even more horrific, if such were possible. The gutted hulk of the Arizona remains where it sank to this day, serving as a monument to those who died onboard her and reminding everyone of the importance of being prepared.

2. World Trade Center First Aircraft Strike

There are literally thousands of photos and numerous film and videotapes of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, all of which manage to capture the destruction from every conceivable angle. However, there is only one that shows the precise moment the entire nightmare began. In one of those cases of being in exactly the right place at precisely the right time, French cameraman Jules Naudet was filming a group of New York firefighters responding to a car fire as part of a documentary when the men heard the sound of a low flying jet passing overhead.

Realizing that the plane was flying entirely too low over Manhattan, Naudet had the presence of mind to pan his camera in the direction of the airliner just in time to capture it slam into the 94th floor of the north tower at over 400 miles an hour, killing all 92 crew and passengers onboard along with hundreds of people inside the building. The footage was soon being shown around the world and quickly came to be considered one of the most spectacular and historically (as well as forensically) important pieces of footage every shot. Of course, the later second plane strike on the south tower and the collapse of both structures are equally horrific and important, but there was only one bit of film that captured in graphic detail how it all began, making it the premier piece among a sea of 9/11 footage.

1. JFK Assassination

Perhaps the most gruesome piece on this list is that captured by Dallas clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder (1905-1970) on November 22, 1963. Hoping to get a close-up shot of the President’s motorcade as it wound its way through the Dealey Plaza that afternoon, Zapruder found a concrete pedestal in front of the Schoolbook Depository building from which he would have the perfect angle. What he caught in those 26 seconds of filming proved to be one of the seminal events of the twentieth century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as he was cut down by gunfire from the very building behind him, leaving an entire generation scarred by the event, the effects of which continue to linger to this day.

Of course, Zapruder wasn’t the only person to have captured images of the assassination that day, but his is the clearest and most graphic of the bunch. The most horrific frame is frame 313, which actually records the precise second the president is struck in the head—an event which occurred no more than thirty feet away from the man. It also captures the subsequent heartbreaking effort by Jackie Kennedy to crawl out of the car as it speeds away and her being saved from falling off the back of the vehicle by the quick actions of a secret service agent who managed to climb onto the back of the vehicle just in time. Zapruder subsequently sold the rights to the footage to Life Magazine for a purported $150,000—quite a substantial amount at the time—and it has since become enshrined in America’s traumatized collective memory and went on to become the basis for an entire cottage industry of conspiracy theories that have been going strong ever since.

Historic Moments Caught on Film

– Before the Cellphone

The Internet – There is a 1st for Everything

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Internet Firsts That

Changed Everything

The Internet has made the world a smaller place, with a far reaching influence that’s altered the way we view cats and laugh at kids whacked out on drugs after a trip to the dentist. But apart from giving us easier ways to cackle at dumb things, it’s also put more information at our fingertips than any invention in the history of mankind.

It’s had a profound effect on the lives of people around the world in many different ways, yet everything we’ve come to take for granted online came from humble beginnings. Who knows, the next big thing may have already happened in a garage or a basement somewhere and we’re just waiting for it to change the world.

10. First Picture


The very first picture ever uploaded to the World Wide Web was a picture of the all-girl comedy group Les Horrible Cernettes. The group was made up of administrative assistants and partners of researchers at The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Silvano de Gennaro, the group’s manager, took the picture backstage at a music festival that was hosted annually by CERN. He Photoshopped it and saved it as a .gif file.

How this particular picture, instead of something artistic or science-based, came to be the first ever picture uploaded to the Web stemmed from the fact that de Gennaro worked at CERN near Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. When it came time to choose a picture to upload, Berners-Lee used the picture of the band because he wanted to show the heads at CERN that rather than just being a way for scientists to communicate, the Internet could also be fun. He uploaded the picture on July 18, 1992, forever immortalizing a badly photoshopped picture of a comedy band that sang jokes about science.

9. First Email


Email got its start in the early 1960s, when researchers would leave messages in a mailbox for their colleagues, who could only access the notes on the same terminal. Computer-to-computer email got its start in 1968, when Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) was hired by the United States Defense Department to work on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. A BNN employee named Ray Tomlinson started working on an experimental file transfer protocol called CYPNET and noticed that it could be used in conjunction with SNDMSG, the program designed to leave electronic messages. In doing so, he discovered he could send a message from one computer to another.

Tomlinson realized that in order to do this, he needed to have an identifier that basically equated to a mailing address. That’s when he came up with one of the most innovative, yet simple ideas of the 20th century: he chose the “@” symbol to connect the user and network, simply because it made the most sense to him. It would include the user’s name and the host where it should be sent.

In July of 1971 Tomlinson sent the first email to the computer next to his, which read, “QWERTYIOP”. After figuring out how to send messages from computer to computer, the idea flourished into the staple of everyday life that we know now.

8. First YouTube Video

The world’s third most popular website got its start in early 2005 when it was created by PayPal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The popular story, which Karim now disputes, is that Hurley and Chen were at a dinner party and were struggling to show videos, and those difficulties planted the seed that grew into YouTube.

They first registered the domain on February 14, 2005, and worked on YouTube out of a garage for a few months. On April 23, 2005, at 8:27 p.m. they posted the first video called Me at the zoo. The 19-second video features Karim standing in front of elephants at the San Diego Zoo, talking about his interest in “really, really, really long trunks.”

Since its launch, YouTube has become the dominant video streaming site and is synonymous with online videos. Only Facebook and Google are more popular websites, with YouTube receiving three billion visitors every day.

7. First Domain Name


Symbolics Inc. registered the first domain name,, on March 15, 1985. Symbolics Inc. grew out of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence lab, and was the first company to make workstation computers. They were actually so far ahead of the game that “workstation computer” wasn’t even a term at that point. The company went bankrupt in the late 1980s, but the owner of the domain kept paying the dues on the website until August of 2009, when it was sold to Investments for an undisclosed price. The website is now a museum of sorts, where you can visit and learn random facts about the Internet.

6. First Website


While Symbolics was the first domain registered, it wasn’t the first website. After all, the internet and the World Wide Web are actually two different things. In the simplest terms, the Internet is what you connect to and the Web is how you view it.

You may remember CERN from the Les Horrible Cernettes photo or maybe the Large Hadron Collider, but they also launched very first website on August 6, 1991. It was a simple page, similar to a Word document with black lettering on a white background with blue hyperlinks. It briefly described project W3, better known now as the World Wide Web.

On April 30, 2013 – the 20th anniversary of the announcement of the World Wide Web – CERN announced they would re-launch the website. They found a copy that dated back to 1992, with the hopes of digging even deeper into the archives for the earliest possible version.

5. First Live Music Stream


A major difference between the advent of the World Wide Web and other mediums like the radio and television is that the Web didn’t rely on live feeds of sound or video. Instead, the Web was essentially an update of the printing press. At first it was just text, and as technology became more sophisticated the possibility for live video arose in 1993. So what music superstar of 1993 played the first online concert? Bjork? Counting Crows? Celine Dion?

Actually, it was a little-known band called Severe Tire Damage, who played live on the Internet for the first time on June 24, 1993. STD was a rock band made up of computer technologists from Digital Equipment Corp., Xerox, Apple, and Sun, giving them inside knowledge of a technology called Multicast Backbone (M-bone). M-bone utilized voice and video and was used by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

At the time, not many people saw the concert and they may not have received any recognition for their breakthrough, had it not been for The Rolling Stones. On November 22, 1994, the Stones were going to stream 20 minutes from their concert in Dallas utilizing M-bone, and the record label was promoting it as the first rock band in cyberspace. Already well versed in M-bone, STD jumped on the same stream and played before and after the Rolling Stones, a move that garnered them recognition as the first band to play live online.

4. First Item Sold on eBay


The “story” of eBay has become legendary, with its creation supposedly stemming from a programmer named Pierre Omidyar wanting to give his wifea platform to trade her Pez dispensers. Naturally, the legend is more interesting than the actual story.

In 1995, Omidyar was thinking that the web might make for a great marketplace, specifically utilizing an auction format for fair pricing on items. He launched the website AuctionWeb on September 3, 1995. The first item to sell was a broken laser pointer, which went for $14.83. Confused by someone paying for that much for a defective item, Omidyar discovered the buyer collected broken laser pointers.

Where Pez comes into the story is that, at the time Omidyar launched AuctionWeb, his future wife was big into Pez and traded a lot on AuctionWeb. Omidyar thought it was interesting that collectors were so passionate about ordinary items, obviously not realizing he was about to create a billion dollar empire on that very notion.

3. First Book Sold on Amazon

amazon got its start in 1995 when founder Jeff Bezos left his position as a vice president of a Wall Street firm. He moved to Seattle and began working on his website, which he originally called Cadabra. Bezos eventually changed it to Amazon in part because Cadabra sounded too much like cadaver, but more importantly because it started with an A, meaning it would be high up on lists ordered alphabetically.

Amazon originally launched as an online book retailer, and the first book sold in July of 1995 was Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought, by Douglas Hofstadter. A computer scientist named John Wainwright purchased the book, and to thank him for his business, Amazon named a building on their campus after him. Man, all they ever do for us is offer lousy recommendations on bad movies.

2. First Downloadable Music


It’s hard to say definitively what the first song on the Internet was, since no one really knew what relationship the web would have with music in the early 1990s. However, it’s widely believed that the first people to put a song online were two guys named Jeff Patterson and Rob Lord. Sometime in early 1993, they uploaded some .MP2 audio files by a punk band that Lord played in called The Ugly Mugs to a file transfer protocol (FTP) portal.

The Ugly Mugs mostly played in Santa Cruz, but wanted to find a wider audience. Soon after getting their own music online, they started uploading other local bands, effectively creating the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA). Eventually, they had over 25,000 bands and artists, and over 680,000 songs.

The first Internet single released by a major label happened a little later in 1993, when Geffen Records released the single “Head First” by Aerosmith on the Internet in .WAV format.

1. First Banner Ad


They may be the bane of your online existence, but banner ads are essential in keeping the Internet humming along, providing revenue streams for all of those free websites you scramble to delete from your browser history.

The origin of this basic staple of the Internet and e-commerce dates back to October 27, 1994. Joe McCambley, who ran a small digital advertising company, created the first banner ad for AT&T. The all-text ad – which said “Have you ever clicked your mouse here?” – appeared on, the first digital magazine. When the user clicked on it, the link took them to a site where they could do a virtual tour of seven of the world’s top museums. The idea was to show that AT&T could take you anywhere on the Internet.

It’s hard to believe now, but people actually loved it. Amazingly, 44 percent of Hotwired’s visitors clicked the ad, and some even shared it with friends. Compare that to today, when only about 0.0004 percent of website visitors click on banner ads, and sending one to your friends is a good way to lose those friends. McCambley believes his ad was successful because it was part of a marketing strategy, it was fun, and it wasn’t made with bad intentions. Unlike those “discreet encounters” today’s banner ads keep urging you to explore.

The Internet

– There is a 1st for Everything

Hooray (हुर्रे Hurrē) for Bollywood – WIF Cultural Exchange

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Bollywood Movies

that Show India

from an Indian Perspective

Most people outside a specific culture rely on television and movies to learn about that culture, unless they get a chance to visit the concerned region. When it comes to India, some of us watch ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘, and ‘Life of Pi’, and take that to be India, but the problem is these movies are made from an outsider perspective, not Indian. If you want to get to know India closely, the best bet is to watch Indian Cinema instead of Hollywood, let it be the Hindi Cinema (Bollywood), Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, or any other Indian regional cinema. India has a very different culture, especially compared to the western countries, and these Bollywood movies will have you seeing things from an Indian perspective. You can watch dubbed versions in English, or use English subtitles.

Bollywood, as a film industry, churns out a lot of movies, some magnificent, some other unfortunately outright crap. Here’s a list of 10 Bollywood movies that have minimal superficiality, but a strong storyline, that will leave you mesmerized:

10. Andaz Apna Apna (1994)


The comical masterpiece starring seven of Bollywood’s most acclaimed actors and actresses of all time, is the highest rated Indian movie on IMDB. The storyline is nothing out of ordinary, as two guys attempt to woo a girl, by pretending each as a blind person and a doctor. The story gets complicated as the story moves, as the movie combined all the typical aspects of Bollywood movies in the story; people falling in love, an evil twin, villains, a girl getting kidnapped by the villains, the heroes trying to save the girl, and all ending well. The movie is one of the masterpiece comedies of Bollywood. Every character in the movie is a laugh riot in his or her own right, while the character of ‘Crime Master Gogo’ became the ever invincible comic villain in the history of Bollywood.

9. Udaan (2010)


Lacking any leading Bollywood actor, the film became obscure after its release in the cinema halls, only to travel through India with word of mouth later, and became a cult film.

The movie tells the story of the never ending problem of Indian students belonging to economically middle-class families. Rohan, a high school student, gets expelled from his school, after getting caught watching an adult film by his hostel warden, leaving him with no choice but to return to his drunk abusive father, who was forcing Rohan to pursue Engineering even though Rohan wanted to become a writer.

The movie is full of laughter in the beginning, but takes a serious turn soon, and ends at a happy note as Rohan finally takes his ‘udaan‘ (flight). The movie gives a good insight into the life of an Indian student, and his struggle to live his life his own way!

8. Queen (2014)


In India, marriages are a big deal, and arranged marriages are very common; but what happens when a day before your wedding, your fiancé tells you that he can’t marry you? You go on your honeymoon solo! That’s right. When Rani’s fiancé runs out on her a day before her wedding, leaving her in awe and shock, the girl born and brought up in a conservative environment flies to Paris and Amsterdam on her preplanned honeymoon alone, without knowing either French or English. During her solo honeymoon stint, Rani rediscovers herself, and figures out the real value of independency and freedom, through cross-cultural exposure and external support, as she befriends Vijaylakshmi in Paris, and later shares a hostel room with 4 guys of different nationalities in Amsterdam. The movie has a simple plot, made extraordinary by brilliant acting and direction.

7. 3 Idiots (2009)


The movie has the central theme of the Indian education system, which produces too many engineers, without inculcating in them the curiosity to learn and innovate. The film focuses on the stories of three engineering college students, Rancho, Raju, and Farhan. Rancho is an inquisitive learner, Raju is under stress to get a well paying job after graduation as his family lives in terrible poverty, while Farhan is pursuing engineering to please his parents even though he wanted to be a wildlife photographer.  The movie also has the side story of a romantic relationship between Rancho and Pia (their college director’s daughter).

The plot touches on many emotions in an entertaining way, as it elaborates on many social issues faced by students in India, such as, suicide rate among Indian students, stress to perform well because of poor family background, peer-pressure, pressure from the society, ragging by senior year students, among others.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, described 3 Idiots among his favorite movies of all time.

6. English Vinglish


The movie starring the ever gorgeous veteran Indian actress Sridevi, narrates the story of Shashi, an Indian house-wife, who is constantly mocked by her husband and daughter for her lack of English speaking skills. Tired of the mockery, on her visit to New York to attend her niece’s wedding, she enrolls in an English speaking course. The movie was inspired from the real life story of the movie’s director Gauri Shinde’s mother’s story, who used to run a pickle business from her house. The movie covers prominent issues such as superior-inferiority complexes arising from which language a person uses to communicate in, the way teenagers behave with their parents sometimes, family values, and acceptance of sexual minorities. The film also touches on the theme of  romantic feelings arising due to complete acceptance by another person, as Shashi shares some moments with her French classmate Laurent at the English learning class in New York.

The film and Sridevi’s acting were applauded internationally, and the film also became one of the highest grossing foreign language film in Japan.

5. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)


Unable to pay the high taxes imposed by the British, the people of a small village in British India stake their future on a game of cricket, to get their tax laid off. Set up in Victorian India, the plot revolves around the cricket match, and the villagers’ team learning the game, and preparing for the match that will decide their destiny, along with reflecting on the brutality of the colonial rule in India, the persisting untouchability and caste discrimination at that time. The movie has a side story of a love triangle between Bhuvan (the leader character and the captain of the villagers’ cricket team), Gouri (a villager who is in love with  Bhuvan), and Elizabeth (sister of the British officer Russell who is also the captain of the British team). The movie is enthralling, with suspense lasting until the very last moment, and as if that’s not enough, the award winning (two Oscars,  two Grammy, one BAFTA, and one Golden Globe) composer AR Rahman’s will make you jump on your feet.

The movie was nominated for the Academy Award for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, and also listed in Time Magazine’sThe All-TIME best 25 sports movies“.

4. Salaam Bombay! (1988)


Listed among the “Best Thousand Movies Ever Made” by The New York Times, the movie bagged two awards at Cannes Film Festival, three at Montreal World Film Festival, and was also nominated for Oscars’ Best Foreign Language Film Category.

The movie narrates the story of Krishna who, tired of his brother’s bullying, in a fit of rage set alight his motorbike. The mother leaves Krishna at the Circus, and asks him only to return home after he has earned enough money to get his brother’s bike repaired. Krishna faces many problems earning the money, as the Circus owner turns out to be a fraud, and later Krishna is robbed of his money by thieves when he moves to Bombay. He lives with a drug addict, and falls in love with a prostitute who doesn’t love him back, while all this time, he keeps nurturing his dream to return home to his mother one day!

The movie is both enthralling and appalling, definitely a must watch for lovers of Hindi Cinema!

3. The Lunchbox (2013)


Named after the famous lunchbox delivery man of Mumbai (known as‘dabbewalas’), the Lunchbox is perhaps one of the most serene movies ever made in Bollywood! The movie received a much deserved standing ovation at its premier at Cannes Film Festival, and later also won theGrand Rail d’Or award at Cannes itself, along with many other international nominations and awards.

A small mistake of a lunchbox deliveryman incites an exchange of letters between Mr. Fernandez and Ila, a housewife whose husband is having an extramarital affair. The two fall in love without ever meeting each other. The movie narrates the story of loneliness, and hopelessness in life. Great storyline and effortless performances by the actors make this movie a worthwhile watch for everyone, as anyone who has ever tackled loneliness, or depression in life, will be able to connect with it.

The movie has an English version available.

2. Taare Zameen Par (2007)


Ishan, a dyslexic child who is considered by everyone around him as lazy and troublemaker, who doesn’t put enough efforts in learning, until one day when he finds the right teacher who has the passion and compassion to understand the problem behind his inability to learn. Unable to cope up with what his father considered was his stubbornness, he puts Ishan in a boarding school, where he initially finds it difficult to settle in, but later finds a friend, and a new art teacher who previously had worked with differently-abled children.

The movie has the potential to make anyone cry and feel for Ishan, as he, with the help of his art teacher, battles dyslexia. There’s an English version of the movie available by the name of “Like Stars on Earth” distributed by Disney.

1. A Wednesday (2008)


The astounding drama thriller film’s story covered only a short time span of 4 hours, between 2 P.M. to 6 P.M. on a Wednesday afternoon. The film has a very simple plot, with plot twists that will astonish the audience. That’s why we are not describing any details of the movie here at Toptenz, as that would spoil the movie for you, in case you plan to watch it! However in the basic essence, the film is about an anonymous person having planned 5 bombs in the city of Mumbai, and demanding 4 terrorists’ release in return of not detonating the bombs.

The film inspired many remakes including the English remake, ‘A Common Man‘, starring Oscar winning Ben Kingsley. However, the English remake failed to achieve the level of the original movie by a margin, and it is recommended to watch the original movie.

Hooray (हुर्रे Hurrē) for Bollywood

Life of Pi

– WIF Cultural Exchange