You Might Be a Zombie . . . (7 page)

BOOK: You Might Be a Zombie . . .
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In reality . . .

First, while Gardner was focused on getting the job that would eventual y earn him his mil ions, he didn’t actually know where his son was. For the first four months of his program, Chris junior was living with his mother, Jackie (Linda in the movie), who refused to tell Chris where they were.

In addition, the movie tell s us Gardner got arrested for unpaid parking tickets, forcing him to show up to his first day of work wearing his friend’s grubby clothes. It’s one of the only memorable scenes that actually happened, except instead of parking tickets, Chris was arrested after Jackie accused him of domestic violence (he claims she fel into a rose bush). That’s why she wouldn’t tell him where she was. During the events depicted in the movie, Chris wasn’t caring for his adorable son, he was crashing on his friend Darnel ’s couch while the mother of his child and his son hid from him.

Don’t get us wrong, Chris did indeed get his life turned around. But in the book the movie was based on, he also admitted to some things they couldn’t quite bring themselves to have will Smith do on screen. Like sel ing drugs or doing cocaine with Jackie (who it turns out was his mistress from a previous marriage).

Doing drugs and having sex with your mistress? Not having to worry about the resulting offspring? It says something about the man that he didn’t drop the pursuit, despite having pretty much found happyness already.


The Hollywood version

Joe Clark is badass. When Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey, found itself on the brink of being taken over by the state due to piss-poor test scores, Clark was brought on board as principal to right the sinking ship.

And right it he did, by fighting expel ed students in the hal and throwing chains and padlocks on the doors. After all , if Joe Clark was going to go out in a blaze of glory he was going to take as many students with him as possible. In the end, thanks to a hip new school song and the bul ying ways of Principal Clark, Eastside saw a meteoric rise in its test scores, and everyone celebrated by joining together in song, as inner-city ruffians often do.

In reality . . .

Apart from the fact that the test scores never improved, or that state takeover had never actually been threatened, or the various ways they fudged facts to make it appear that Joe Clark was a super badass, it’s pretty close to the real story. That is to say, a man named Joe Clark did serve as principal at Eastside High for a short time in the eighties.

Here’s the punch line to the whole thing: One year after Clark resigned and less than two years after the film’s release, the state came and took control of the school. And since they weren’t actually threatening takeover in the first place, we’re forced to assume they got the idea from the movie.


The Hollywood version

Back in the seventies, there was a plucky little footbal player who dreamed of nothing other than playing for Notre Dame. Unfortunately for Rudy, he was small enough to be played by Samwise from the
Lord of the Rings
trilogy, and his support system consisted of people who repeatedly went out of their way to let him know that dreams are the main ingredient in the devil’s pudding.

After graduating from high school, Rudy and his best friend resign themselves to a life spent laboring in the same factory as Rudy’s father and brothers.

Luckily, his best friend gets blown up right in front of him, teaching Rudy a valuable lesson about how much hard manual labor sucks and reigniting his childhood dream of playing at Notre Dame. And play he does, no thanks to the evil scheming of head coach Dan Devine, who only all owed Rudy on the field after the entire team threatened to walk out otherwise.

In reality . . .

The real-life Dan Devine was actually the one who insisted on playing Rudy in his final game; they were good friends. Sounds like one helluva guy, right?

So naturally he was repaid for his kindnesses by being turned into the Snidely Whiplash of college footbal in the film.

By the way, ever wonder who saw Rudy play that day and got so inspired that they just had to make the humble young factory worker’s story into a movie? Nobody. Rudy himself spent a ful decade trying to convince studios that his life deserved a movie before one of them finally relented. That’s the spirit, little guy!


The Hollywood version

The Hurricane
is the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer boasting great talent and a badass Bob Dylan song he inspired. The movie tell s us how Hurricane was a promising middleweight who was falsely accused and convicted of a triple homicide, derailing his boxing career but making him prime to be the subject of a great protest song.

Luckily, after twenty years in prison as an innocent man convicted by a bitterly racist system, a few people took up his cause and, after discovering a key piece of evidence, proved Hurricane’s innocence!

In reality . . .

First, there’s a scene in the film where Carter beats the shit out of an inferior white boxer, Joey Giardel o, only to lose when racist judges award the fight to the white man. In real life, Carter lost the fight so badly that the real Giardel o sued the filmmakers and got a nice settlement out of it.

Now the murder thing. We’re not saying Carter committed the crime, but we’l just point out that by the age of fourteen he’d already been arrested for assault and armed robbery. By twenty-two, he’d been imprisoned twice for “brutal street muggings.” He was booted from the military after being court-martialed four times. But that doesn’t mean he kil ed anyone, right?

When it came to the murders, there was enough evidence to convict him twice. Carter failed a lie detector test and at his second trial, several witnesses who had provided Carter’s alibi admitted they had been asked to lie for him.

But what about that evidence that proved his innocence? There was none. The judge was forced to throw out the conviction because the prosecution failed to turn over some evidence and thus didn’t give Carter a fair trial. The prosecution could have chosen to retry the case from scratch, but they decided it wasn’t worth doing since twenty-two years had passed and all the people involved were either dead or ridiculously old.

The Hollywood fact-checking process.

Of course the law is the law, and the law said Carter could go free. But it’s probably not quite accurate to use Carter’s story as proof that the criminal justice system is run by the Klan. The whole thing has really made us question Bob Dylan’s research skills.


Islam, Jediism—many of the world’s great religions teach that the soul lives on forever. But what about the rotting hunk of Schlitz-cured blubber your soul leaves behind? If you leave your body to science, you and your soul might find yourselves watching jealously from the other side as your meat suitcase gets to . . .


Regardless of how kick-ass it looks in super slow motion, head butting a windshield at eighty miles per hour is general y a poor idea when you’re alive.

“But why would anyone want to be filmed flying into a windshield?” you might ask, if you’re a nerd. The answer is simple, and also largely explains the teenage smoking epidemic: Brad Pitt made it look awesome in
Fight Club

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be more than happy to toss your stiff corpse into a car, drop a cinder block on the gas pedal, and send you flying into a ditch. In fact, the NHTSA and other agencies routinely use cadavers as crash test dummies, closely studying the carnage, frame by frame, to extract valuable insights about vehicle safety and, presumably, the occasional bel y laugh.

If you
one of the aforementioned nerds, we’ve got you covered too, since dying qualifies you to . . .


Al little boys dream of strapping into a captain’s chair and hurtling up into space atop a puffy white firebal oddly reminiscent of Anderson Cooper’s pubic mound. Unfortunately, unless you’re reading this book while doing quadratic equations upside down in the deep end of a pool, NASA probably isn’t all that keen on letting you pilot their multimil ion-dol ar spacecraft. At least not while you’re alive.

However, while developing its
spacecraft, which will begin shuttling nondead astronauts to the international space station in 2015, NASA admitted to testing its landing systems on human cadavers. In fact, NASA’s been using crash test zombies since at least the 1990s, when Department of Defense- sponsored shuttle missions brought the head of a human cadaver along to test the effects of space radiation.

While NASA probably won’t be changing the motto of its space camp to “You’re more useful to us dead than alive,” for anyone reading a book that equates space shuttle exhaust with Anderson Cooper’s pubes, that’s probably not far from the truth.


Back in 1994, a Polish man named Gunther von Hagens looked at the museum scene and realized something was missing. Namely, terrified, weeping children. Thus was born
Body Worlds
, an exhibit featuring corpses that had been stripped of their skin and pumped ful of plastic to preserve the appearance of every internal organ and viscous fiber. Realizing he’d created an army of terrifying meat monsters, von Hagens decided to pose them in a variety of active positions to make the exhibit fun for the whole family. After 27 mil ion spectators across the world flocked to see his cadavers posed to mimic everyday activities such as javelin throwing, in late 2009 von Hagens decided it was time to just make them bone already.

That’s why, if you die at exactly the right moment and donate your body to a sufficiently shady laboratory, you could pass from this mortal plane directly into the bone zone (medical term). While critics have denounced the exhibit as an affront to God, for those of us who spent the better part of our lives lobbying to have our gift for boning honored with a museum exhibit, there is finally hope.


Body farms are outdoor research facilities that all ow scientists to monitor decomposing corpses as they bloat and waste away in the sun for months on end. Essential y, it’s like summer at the Jersey Shore, except the purpose is to better inform law enforcement about the decomposition process (as opposed to nailing a half-literate hairdresser).

Body farms at the University of Tennessee, Western Carolina University, and Texas State University painstakingly chart the progress of cadavers as they decompose, providing critical information used to analyze homicide victims and helping to bring murderers to justice.

Most of us have a difficult enough time guessing who is the bad guy in a
Law & Order
episode (hint: It’s the pervy guy they interview first and hastily write off). Turns out that if you want to be the next Jack McCoy, all you have to do is lie around turning into Chester Copperpot.

BOOK: You Might Be a Zombie . . .
13.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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