The Disturbing Truth About Lemmings
First, there’d be no kickass ’90s video game, Lemmings, recently rated the 82nd best game of ALL time; second, Apple Computers would never ever have wasted most of their marketing budget on a kinda lousy, over-produced Super Bowl ad called “Lemmings” in 1985; and last and most important, we humans would have no other species in the animal kingdom to share our suicidal tendencies with (that’s right, humans are animals. It’s a scientific certainty. Either deal with it or move to Kansas).
Now, while you let those life-altering, lemming-less thoughts marinate, have a think on this: That whole mass suicide, hurling-themselves-off-a-cliff-and-into-the-sea thing lemmings ostensibly perform to curb overpopulation—it’s a LIE. Total propaganda, propagated by none other than Disney. Fucking DISNEY, people.
Before you shit your pants, please allow me to expound.
The year was 1958. Animal Planet didn’t exist. Discovery Channel didn’t exist. Neither did that lengthy insurance ad cleverly disguised as a nature show, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Nor the Internet—except maybe in Al Gore’s head. The only way to discover facts about distant places was through the Dewey decimal system, from feature film nature documentaries, or to travel and see for yourself. So Disney opted for the latter two, trekking up to the almost-sorta-Arctic latitudes of Alberta, Canada to document wildlife habitats and behavior in the inhospitable hinterlands—featuring, of course, our legendary rodent martyrs, lemmings. The film was given a perfect, alliterative, memorable (and methinks racist) title, too: White Wilderness.
First problem: Arctic lemmings don’t live in Alberta, Canada. So Disney made a few calls, and poof! a few dozen freshly-caught lemmings arrive from Hudson Bay, quite a ways east of Alberta and certainly Arctic. With that problem now averted, they quickly ran into their second problem: lemmings don’t commit suicide, let alone suicide en masse.
Don’t think that deterred Disney, either. They came for a lemming mass suicide; that’s exactly what they were going to get. Disney took its handful of imported lemmings, shoved them onto a large, snow-covered turntable, scared the snot out of them, then resumed faking—I mean, filming. This time they stuck only to close-up shots and filmed from various angles to make it look like many hundreds of lemmings were intentionally “migrating” towards their knowing doom.
When the turntable—and thus the lemmings—arrived at the edge of the cliff, Disney had its carefully-edited hero shot.
The audience then leered in morbid fascination as “droves” of lemmings blindly geronimo’d off a cliff, only to be swallowed up by cryogenic arctic waters, as those who survived the fall swam out to sea (despite Alberta being landlocked and having no outlet to the sea), never to squeak again. Mission accomplished, and all for the greater good.
For their deception, Disney filmmakers snagged an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. But more than that, they catapulted a dubious myth into widespread, culture-changing fact.
Here endeth the lesson.
(worse than those commie propaganda posters, eh?)