Top 10 Misquoted Celebrities
Let’s face it, nobody cares what YOU have to say. Even if it’s the most profound, life-affirming statement ever, the fact that it comes from you and your anonymous little mouth renders it meaningless to all but your closest friends and maybe your Mom (if you’ve been calling her lately, that is).
In cases like this, many people take that quote, line, lyric, or anecdote, and attribute it to somebody famous. This tends to work because, as we all know, famous people are smarter and more profound than any of us, so of course they would utter that awesome quote that now graces your Facebook page.
Except they probably didn’t say any of it. Such as:
10. Winston Churchill
Famously never said: “Attitude Is A Little Thing That makes A Big Difference,” “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”
Aside from Neo-Nazis, who doesn’t love Winston Churchill? He led England to victory in World War II, helped his country recover from the conflict, and told an ugly woman to her face that she was ugly and would wake up ugly the next morning as well…we think.
He apparently spoke in nothing but quotable platitudes, unable to even ask where the bathroom was without inspiring everyone around him to become better human beings and to always fight, never surrender, blah blah blah. This can’t possibly be true, since the man was a raging drunk half the day who spent the other half eating. The man loved putting things into his mouth, is what we’re saying.
Now unless your father ran it before you, you obviously can’t run a country without being at least a tad intelligent. And he truly WAS a well-spoken, highly quotable man. But not to the extent people think; let’s give Churchill a break and stop pretending every movie-worthy quote about war and life originated from his lips.
Famously never said: “We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul,” “I like big cars, big cigars, and naturally big racks,” anything else your Inbox says he said.
Good ol’ angry opinionated George. He never had any issue with speaking his mind, and virtually everybody respected him for that. So, when some random nobody wants to make a point, stick ol’ George’s name on it and people will listen!
Problem: a good chunk of these misattributed essays, quotes, and stories didn’t even come close to what Carlin truly thought. Racism, homophobia, jingoism, and not being funny in the least; none of these positions Carlin endorsed, and yet all appear in these anonymous essays credited to him. It actually embarrassed him, and when the guy who proposed that Colorado be fenced in and that chronic drug addicts and alcoholics should be sent there gets embarrassed, that’s saying something.
Luckily, Georgie offered a very easy way to determine if that blurb in your inbox is his: “Nothing you see on the Internet is mine unless it comes from one of my albums, books, HBO specials, or appeared on my website.” Has this stopped people from forwarding “George Carlin’s” insightful essay on why he likes big cars, big boats, and big tits? Of course not, because facts are silly!
Famously never sang: “Windows 95 Sucks,” “What If God Smoked Cannabis,” “Dirty Deeds Done With Sheep”
Whenever somebody has a “funny” song that can’t get promoted because it’s actually not funny in the least, they just stick Weird Al’s name on it and sit back as tons of suckers download a track that’s actually more tragedy than comedy.
Why do they do this? Because Al’s incredibly popular and, for many people, he’s the only guy ever to parody other people’s music. The problem here is that they attribute songs to him that are distinctly R-rated, and sometimes racist or sexist, while Al is very much family-oriented (that one song about Santa Claus murdering everybody notwithstanding).
How can you tell if “Walk With An Erection” is an Al song or not? Simple; is it on an Al CD? Or mentioned on his web site? No? Then it’s not his. Gee, that was easy.
7. Mother Theresa
Famously never said: “Good works are links that form a chain of love,” “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”
If you have something you want people to take seriously, just precede it with the phrase “like Mother Theresa once said…” Because who doesn’t love Mother Theresa? Even the most non-religious of people would concede that, by and large, she was pretty cool with the whole vow of poverty and devoting her life to the poorest of the poor thing.
The best part of everybody loving her is, who’s gonna call you out if you misattribute some random BS quote to her? Who are you to doubt the (then) Living Saint? As a result, an ever-growing number of quotes and lines are floating around, very few of which were ever uttered by her. She was too busy aiding the sick and hungry to work on her sound bites, anyway.
6. Ben Franklin
Famously never said: “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself,” “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
Ben Franklin, much like Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, gets quotes attached to him all the damn time, for two reasons. One, he was incredibly smart and respected, and continues to be so to this day. Also, he’s dead. So he can’t exactly go on Conan tonight and tell the masses that he never said God made beer because he loves us. Besides, if that were true, explain Coors Light.
Tons upon tons upon tons of lines are slapped with Franklin’s name. Many of these are either mangled versions of something far less profound that he actually said, things said by politicians much less interesting than the $100 bill guy, or just something completely made up by AwEsumDoode420187, who at least realized nobody cared what he had to say because he is, in fact, not very awesome at all.
5. Yogi Berra
Famously never said: “A home opener is always exciting, no matter if it’s home or on the road.,” “I can’t concentrate when I’m thinking.,” “I usually take a two hour nap from 1 to 4.”
Yogi was famous for saying things that made absolutely no sense. But, because he was an amazing baseball player, he got away with it. This is the guy who said “it ain’t over till it’s over” which contradicts itself so much it actually un-contradicts itself and makes perfect sense the more you think about it. If any of us said that, we’d be committed immediately. But when he does it, it’s a charming “Yogi-ism.”
But wait, did he even say that? Nobody seems to know. So many of these goofy lines are attributed to Berra, but are typically un-sourced otherwise. No dates, no places, no footage of him flapping his gums and actually saying “I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous”. Just somebody who wrote something silly down and stuck Yogi’s name on it. Because then it’s not stupid, it’s profound!
Yogi himself doesn’t seem interested in setting the record straight, unlike some other figures listed here. And why would he? It’s his legend, for better or for worse. Best to run with it as long as possible.
4. John Lennon
Famously never said: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time,” that really long quote in the picture above that’s too long to write again down here but then again we have no problem writing this really long run-on sentence in its place which kinda negates the point of not re-writing the quote so we’re just plain stupid now aren’t we?
Lennon is like Mother Theresa in that you can put his head next to just about any pseudo-inspirational quote and it immediately gains street cred, because it’s John Lennon and he wrote” Imagine”, and he obviously knows how life works. So he MUST’VE said that awesome bit you stuck on your Facebook page about how any time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
Well, no, he didn’t say that. He also didn’t say that his teachers didn’t understand life, and when he sang about life happening while you make other plans, he was aping that line from somebody else. Suddenly, John Lennon isn’t the all-knowing guru he’s hyped up to be. But he DID sing “Imagine,” so you’re right about that one at least.
3. Steven Wright
Famously never said: “As of 1992, they’ll be called European Economic Community fries,” “What are imitation rhinestones?” “If God dropped acid, would he see people?”
Steven’s stand-up is based on absurd and incredibly surreal one-liners such as, “one day I was walking alone in the forest, and a tree fell right in front me me…and I didn’t hear it.” Occasionally, he plays guitar and teases performing songs titled, “They’ll find her when the leaves blow away, cuz I’m not raking ‘till Spring.” He’s an odd duck, is what we’re saying.
Even though he tells said jokes in an incredibly droll monotone, he can still fit a couple hundred of them into one performance. This makes attributing random, much less funny quotes to him incredibly easy. After all, many of us have barely enough attention span to make it through a two-minute YouTube video without losing patience and clicking to porn; if we see a website with 500 jokes “by Steven Wright” we’re just gonna assume they are and move on with our lives.
2. George W. Bush
Famously never said: “Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child,” “The reason we start a war is to fight a war, win a war, thereby causing no more war!”
Yes, we know. Bush was a moron. And yes, he did say a lot of incredibly stupid things. However, over a remarkably short period of time, the legend of Bush’s idiocy has ballooned to cosmically absurd proportions. All you need to do is take a vaguely political sound bite, mangle the grammar, throw it out on the Internet as a “Bush-ism” and BAM! Instant credibility. Even if the quote was blatantly made up in an attempt to mock Bush, it’ll likely be taken as a real quote by a good chunk of the population
There is no real reason for this, since Bush was more than capable of saying stupid crap on his own. And unlike old-timey people who may or may not have said stupid things, his blunders are largely documented on video. No outside help is necessary. But them’s the breaks when you submit one of the worst Presidencies of all time: people mock you endlessly and just assume you’re even more brain-dead than you truly are.
1. Mark Twain
Famously never said: “I have never let schooling interfere with my education,” “A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on,” “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
To hear most anybody speak of it, Mark Twain is the funniest person in history, just ahead of Morrissey and the guy who first sprayed a bunch of shaving cream into a pie plate. As such, he gets all sorts of (sometimes) witty one-liners credited to him, even though he has books upon books upon books upon books upon books of ACTUAL witty lines he truly did write. And yet we STILL insist on using his name for anything that sounds vaguely old-timey and might garner a chuckle or two.
Probably the silliest example of this is the “lies, damned lies, and statistics” line he is famous for saying. Except he didn’t; in fact, his writings make it extremely clear he got the line from former UK Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. However, in a rather fun twist, many people believe Disareli didn’t say that line EITHER, making the great Mark Twain no better than the hordes of morons slapping his name on random half-baked jokes in order to make them seem funnier. That would probably depress him, if he weren’t too dead to care.