Saturday, March 19, 2011

Where Do These Get Started?


Occasionally I will pull up an old post for those who were not following me when it was originally posted. This one I wrote almost two years ago about crazy stories and rumors that people believe to be true.

There has been so many folklore or urban legends that have been spread around from person to person, and from generation to generation. What about those stories told about death, murder, and ghosts in movies that a supposed to be real, and subliminal messages in certain songs? There are movies like “The Haunting in Connecticut” or “Amityville Horror” that are supposed to be based on true stories and proven to be hoaxes, but there are other types of folklore that have been spread around as well. These stories happened behind the scenes or during filming of a movie, or while recording a song. Some of these stories are told of subliminal messages hidden in songs and can be heard if the song is played backwards. These stories end up bigger than anyone expected causing controversy and even spreading like wildfires. Who starts these rumors and how do they get out of hand? Here are just a few examples:

Urban legends:
Let’s start with the biggest stories or rumors told, an urban legend. An urban legend is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories thought to be factual by those circulating them. The term is often used to mean something related to an "apocryphal story." Like all folklore, urban legends are not necessarily false, but they are often distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized over time. Urban legends are sometimes repeated in news stories and, in recent years, distributed by e-mail. People frequently allege that such tales happened to a "friend of a friend" so often, in fact, that "friend of a friend," has become a commonly used term when recounting this type of story. There are many people that believe these stories to be true, even to this day.

The Blair Witch Project:
This was a low-budget American horror film released in 1999. The story is depicted as a documentary pieced together from amateur footage. The film tells the story of three young student filmmakers (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams) who are believed to have gone into the Black Hills of Burkittsville, Maryland to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. The three students never came back. The spectator is told that neither the students nor their bodies were ever found, although their video and sound equipment (along with most of the footage they shot) were discovered a year later. So many people believed this to be a true story that many inundated Brukittsville in search of the three students and the legendary Blair Witch. It was found out later, after the movie made millions of dollars, which it was not a true documentary but a mockumentary instead.

Three Men and a Baby:
This one was a huge story that even hit the news media and other entertainment shows and got way out of hand. In the scene where Jack Holden's mother visits the house and is playing with the baby, you can see in the window there's a human figure in a top hat, appearing to be hiding partially behind the curtain. Supposedly the legend states that the human figure was the ghost of a boy that had shot himself and died in the house, but that turned out not to be true. The figure was a prop left by accident on set, of a stand up cardboard cutout of Jack used for a commercial. You see it again later in the film, as Jack stands right next to it. I still have the newspaper article, from the Phoenix local paper, of the story, tucked away in my VCR copy of the movie.

The Wizard of Oz:
This was another story shown over and over on the news. Directly after the Tin Man scene, as they skip toward Oz and singing "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" song, unexpected movements are seen in the forest background. Rumor has it that a munchkin or stage hand suffered from depression, rumored to be because of a romance that went bad, and hung himself in the back drop. In reality, there were many birds put into the scene to give it a taste of reality, and the unexplained movements were caused by a crane's spread wings. In another rumor, it was told that a large number of eerie harmonies can be heard when playing the movie alongside Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon" album.

Ohio Players "Love Rollercoaster":
In the background, during a music portion of the song, a scream can be heard. This scream was supposedly a terrified or torturous scream where rumors had it was the murder of a woman caught on the recording. Some have said that it was the album "Honey's" cover model, and caused by the manager. Others state it was an anonymous murder in the next room. The truth was that the guitar soloist made a screaming noise on his guitar. The band agreed to a vow of silence, due to the fact that the urban legend boosted the record sales.

Backmasking/subliminal messages:
(Taken from Wikipedia) Many songs, especially those from the 1960’s and 1970’s, have been rumored to have hidden messages done with backmasking. Backmasking (also known as backward masking) is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward. Backmasking is a deliberate process, whereas a message found through phonetic reversal may be unintentional. Backmasking was popularized by The Beatles, who used backward vocals and instrumentation on their 1966 album Revolver. Artists have since used backmasking for artistic, comedic, and satiric effect, on both analog and digital recordings. The technique has also been used to censor words or phrases for "clean" releases of songs. There are rumors that the Beatles were involved in the spread of backmasking both as a recording technique and as the center of a controversy. This all came about in 1969, when WKNR-FM DJ Russ Gibb received a phone call from a student at Eastern Michigan University who identified himself as "Tom". The caller asked Gibb about a rumor that Beatle Paul McCartney had died, and claimed that the Beatles song "Revolution 9" contained a backward message confirming the rumor. Gibb played the song backwards on his turntable, and heard "Turn me on, dead man … turn me on, dead man … turn me on, dead man". Gibb began telling his listeners about what he called "The Great Cover-up", and to the original clue were added various others, including the alleged backmasked message "Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him, miss him", in "I'm So Tired". The "Paul is dead" rumor popularized the idea of backmasking in popular music. Following Gibb's show, many more songs were found to contain audible phrases when reversed. Initially, the search was done mostly by fans of rock music, but in the late 1970s, during the rise of the Christian right in the United States, fundamentalist Christian groups began to claim that backmasked messages could bypass the conscious mind and reach the subconscious, where they would be unknowingly accepted by the listener. In 1981, Christian DJ Michael Mills began stating on Christian radio programs that Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" contained hidden messages that were heard by the subconscious. In early 1982, the Praise the Lord Network's Paul Crouch hosted a show with self-described neuroscientist William Yarroll, who argued that rock stars were cooperating with the Church of Satan to place hidden subliminal messages on records. Also in 1982, fundamentalist Christian pastor Gary Greenwald held public lectures on dangers of backmasking, along with at least one mass record-smashing. During the same year, thirty North Carolina teenagers, led by their pastor, claimed that singers had been possessed by Satan, who used their voices to create backward messages, and held a record-burning at their church. Allegations of demonic backmasking were also made by social psychologists, parents, and critics of rock music, as well as the Parents Music Resource Center (formed in 1985), which accused Led Zeppelin of using backmasking to promote Satanism. On the April 28, 1982 edition of the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather discussed the finding of possible backmasked messages, and played reversed sections of songs by Led Zeppelin, Electric Light Orchestra and Styx.

These are only a few of the stories of movie ghosts, or haunting screams, and even subliminal messages found when songs are played backwards. Some of the movies and songs even made a hefty profit when the rumors came out. It just makes you wonder who really starts those crazy stories.

8 comments:

  1. I love this stuff! Can't get enough! I think it'd be fun to do a documentary in search of urban legends. I've been to some small towns that have their own weird and lesser known ones. I remember when Blair Witch came out, I thought that was the future of movies--to get a lot of hype online and rumors and urban legends about it. People in the theater were turning to me right and left going "this is based on a real tape? how scary!" Haha

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  2. I remember hearing most of these from the beginning. I must have played Love Rollercoaster so many times listening for the scream. The same goes for some of the others. The Blair Witch was cleaver marketing which made the producers millions of money. I got wrapped up in the reality/non reality of it all and love it! Sis, we need to put it on our bucket lists to do a documentary, Searching for Urban Legends. I bet we could find some doozies.

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  3. Interesting how things get all twisted around. I had forgotten all about the Wizard of Oz. I still love "Love Rollercoaster." And the Beatles. If you promise not tell. ;)

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  4. cool post. i had forgotten about these too!

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  5. I've seen that Three Men and a Baby thing before. Creepy. These are all pretty interesting. Following.

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  6. Wow, really great info. followed! alphabetalife.blogspot.com

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