September 2, 2008

10 Lessons From the Movies

As summer ends, so does the blockbuster season. It’s time to stop watching movies all day and start attending classes. But wait! What if there were a way to do both? I thought it would be interesting to see what lessons are taught in the movies, so I’ve rounded up 10 classroom lectures from a variety of films. See if you can remember what movie each lesson is from. Answers are at the end.

(Hint: One of them is actually a lesson from a field trip, not a classroom).


1) “Parenthesis means multiply. Every time you see this, you multiply. A negative times a negative equals a positive. A negative times a negative equals a positive. Say it. A negative times a negative equals a positive. Say it!”


2) “The parts of a flower are so constructed that very, very often the wind will cause pollination. If not, then a bee or any other nectar-gathering creature can create the same situation. Yes, anything that gets the pollen to the pistil’s right on the list. I’ll try to make it crystal clear. A flower’s insatiable passion turns its life into a circus of debauchery! Now you see just how the stamen gets its lusty dust on to the stigma and why this frenzied chlorophyllous orgy starts each spring is no enigma. We call this quest for satisfaction a what, class?”

3) “Archeology is the search for fact. Not truth. If it’s truth you’re interested in, Doctor Tyree’s Philosophy class is right down the hall. So forget any ideas you’ve got about lost cities, exotic travel, and digging up the world. We do not follow maps to buried treasure and X never, ever, marks the spot. Seventy percent of all archaeology is done in the library. Research. Reading.”

4) “For many days before the end of our Earth, people will look into the night sky and notice a star, increasingly bright and increasingly near. As this star approaches us, the weather will change. The great polar fields of the north and south will rot and divide, and the seas will turn warmer.”


5) “You remember that thing we had about 30 years ago called the Korean conflict? And how we failed to achieve victory? How come we didn’t cross the 38th parallel and push those rice-eaters back to the Great Wall of China then take the fucking wall apart brick by brick and nuke them back into the fucking stone age forever? Tell me why! How come? Say it! Say it!”

6) “Three weeks we’ve been talking about the Platt Amendment. What are you people? On dope? A piece of legislation was introduced into Congress by Senator John Platt. It was passed in 1906. This amendment to our Constitution has a profound impact upon all of our daily lives.”

7) “In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the… Anyone? Anyone?… the Great Depression, passed the… Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?… raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression.”


8) “In this life, you can’t win. Yeah, you can try, but in the end you’re just gonna lose, big time, because the world is run by the Man. The Man, oh, you don’t know the Man. He’s everywhere. In the White House… down the hall… Ms. Mullins, she’s the Man. And the Man ruined the ozone, he’s burning down the Amazon, and he kidnapped Shamu and put her in a chlorine tank! And there used to be a way to stick it to the Man. It was called rock ‘n roll, but guess what, oh no, the Man ruined that, too, with a little thing called MTV! So don’t waste your time trying to make anything cool or pure or awesome ‘cause the Man is just gonna call you a fat washed up loser and crush your soul. So do yourselves a favor and just GIVE UP!”

9) “You’re quite correct, you can’t dance to Mr. Beethoven. Can you tell me why, Mr. Manfield? Because the Beethoven piece doesn’t use a constant rhythm or tempo. Madonna is 4/4 time all the way through. The melody changes but the rhythm is constant. So you can dance to it. The quartet changes both melodically and rhythmically. I’m going to play them again. Listen for this.”


10) “Excrement. That’s what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. We’re not laying pipe, we’re talking about poetry. I mean, how can you describe poetry like American Bandstand? I like Byron, I give him a 42, but I can’t dance to it. Now I want you rip out that page. Go on, rip out the entire page. You heard me, rip it out. Rip it out!”


11) “Now we’re going to do something extremely fun. We’re going to play a game called ‘Who is my daddy and what does he do?’”

Okay, pencils down. Trade answer sheets with your neighbor. Here are the answers:

1) Stand and Deliver; 2) Grease 2; 3) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 4) Rebel Without A Cause; 5) Back to School; 6) Fast Times at Ridgemont High; 7) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; 8) School of Rock; 9) Running on Empty; 10) Dead Poets Society; 11) Kindergarten Cop


Uh, oh:

Factual error: In history class, Mr. Hand tells the students that the Platt Amendment was an amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed in 1906. In fact, it was a rider attached to the Army Appropriations Act of 1901.


good! it’s funny how, knowing the movies, you easily remember the actor’s intonation and speech.
best lesson is #8

Answer to No. 5 (my favorite).
“All right. I’ll say it. ‘Cause Truman was too much of a pussy to let MacArthur go in there and blow out those Commie bastards!”

Also, #7 was delivered by Ben Stein. That scene made it seem possible that he might be, you know, quirky and cool. I guess he’s quirky alright.