Top 10 Instances When People Who Took Pop Culture Way Too Seriously


Here at Toptenz we’ve never been ones to shy away from admitting our faults, and we know that in the past we’ve been guilty of over-analyzing pop culture perhaps a little too much. That said, we always did so with a tongue planted firmly in our cheek. Today we’re here to talk about 10 aspects of pop culture people took more seriously than we ever imagined. For example, consider the absolute mess that has arose as a result of people arguing about …

10. The pronunciation of the word GIF


We’re not going to insult anyone reading this by trying to suggest that some of you may not know what GIFs are, but for those of you who don’t, they’re the ubiquitous moving images you see everywhere online. They can be used to show anything from a movie clip to a ninja octopus and everything in between, and they’re a staple of the internet ecosystem and a massive part of current popular culture.

The word GIF itself stands for Graphics Interchange Format, which was created by a guy named Steve Wilhite back in 1987. Now according to Wilhite, GIF should be pronounced with a soft “G” sound like in the word giraffe, meaning the word should be pronounced, “Jif”.

The internet however, disagrees, stating that it should be pronounced with a hard “G” like the kind you’d find in the word golf because the G in GIF stands for “graphic” which is also pronounced with a hard G.

This argument has been going back and forth without a clear victor emerging since the 90’s. In fact, the arguments about how to pronounce GIF are so fierce that the Oxford freaking dictionary simply accepts both pronunciations because it’s easier than having people write in to complain (because you know they would).

Seriously, go to the comment section of any article talking about this and you will see literally hundreds of people trying to tear each other’s throats out over how to properly pronounce a three letter word that even the dictionary agrees can be pronounced either way. The fact this argument has been going on for over a decade when the creator of the format itself has already given an incredibly blunt answer to the question is a testament to the lengths people will go to prove a point. Speaking of which…

9. The argument about Game of Thrones that ended with someone (nearly) being thrown through a window.


One of the things that makes the Game of Thrones series so engaging is the fact that nobody is safe from being killed off, maimed or otherwise removed from the show in the most bloody and brutal way possible. Now we don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, so we’re not going to spoil any part of the show for people who haven’t seen it with this entry – all we’re going to say is that something happened in the show that really annoyed this Florida resident.

According to police reports, the man, identified as Michael Podniestrzanski, got into a heated argument with his cousin over an event in the show’s second episode (the exact cause of the argument isn’t known). When it dawned on Podniestrzanski that words weren’t going to sway his pigheaded cousin’s opinion on the matter, he calmly and politely, punched him in the face and tried to throw him through a window.

No charges were filed for the incident, presumably because both men wanted to see what happened in the third episode. Because hey, it’s not like anyone got shot or anything, right?

8. The guy who shot his girlfriend over an argument about The Walking Dead.


Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is a show that has a very devoted fan base. If you’ve managed to venture online this long without ever encountering it, or the comic series it’s based on, the show basically follows the day-to-day adventures of a group of people trying to survive after a zombie apocalypse.

The reason we bring up the premise of the show is because the cause of actual zombie outbreak, which is the entire crux of series, is something that has never been elaborated upon. In fact, the creator of the original comic book has openly stated that he’ll probably never explain how the outbreak began because it’s not important to the story he wants to tell. In other words, it’s supposed to be intentionally vague to add to the mystery of the show.

Jared Gurman however, didn’t want to accept that and was insistent that a “military mishap” of some kind could potentially cause an identical situation. Gurman’s girlfriend, Jessica, didn’t accept this theory, which lead to an argument so explosive she went to stay at her parents’ house. That in itself is kind of ridiculous, but Gurman didn’t stop there. Even after his girlfriend had left the house (the universal signal for “it’s time to stop arguing numb-nuts”), he continued to send her abusive and threatening text messages because how could he be wrong? Showing more patience than her boyfriend deserved, Jessica went back to her house to calm her boyfriend down. Ten minutes later, he’d shot her through the back with a rifle which is a perfectly reasonable response if you’re totally insane.

Luckily, Gurman was as bad at shooting as he was at arguing and Jessica survived the ordeal. Gurman was later arrested and it was discovered that he was “passionate about weapons” because of course he was.

7. The people arguing about whether or not libraries should stock Harry Potter.


Whether you like the Harry Potter series or not, there is one fact about the books that you absolutely can’t argue with – that it got a ton of kids into reading. That fact alone should be more than enough to warrant the books’ inclusion in any respectable library or place of learning.

However, some people disagree, not because the books aren’t proper literature or because they’re chock-full of plot holes, but because they promote witchcraft. Before you go ahead and think that this is probably due to a small minority of over protective parents yelling loud enough to make it into the local news, we should point out that Harry Potter is literally one of the most challenged books of all time. Challenged in this context meaning that people have formally complained about the book appearing in public and school libraries.

Now the author of this article is no stranger to picking holes in the Harry Potter universe, but this is on another level. Just let it soak in that one of the single most popular children’s books of all time, a book that got millions of children to read and spawned a characters more popular than some real-life celebrities, is constantly having to justify its place in libraries.

6. The guys who got into a fist fight, over a martial arts game.


Because you’re going to see video games rearing their head a few more times over the course of this article, we should stress that we’re not under the impression that video games, or indeed any kind of media, causes violent behavior. We’re well aware that almost all of the arguments and acts of violence we’ll be covering today were caused by stupid people, not the media they consumed. That said, video games seem to attract a disproportionate amount of people with a propensity to do something that makes you shake your head in disbelief.

Case in point, in October of 2012, two Chinese teenagers got into an actual fist-fight over an argument about which fictional martial art was the best in the Jet Li MMO (yes, that’s a real thing) they were both playing in a local internet cafe. Before the two men came to blows, they’d been having a passionate argument about whose virtual kung fu could kick the most ass, and when the owner of the cafe asked the teenagers to shut they hell up, they instead agreed they should take the argument outside.

Long story short, a few minutes later, the police we called to drag the two bloodied teenagers off of each other and they were both given a stern warning to not do it again. We’d end on a snarky comment, but the cafe owner already beat us to it with this quoteI’ve never met such losers in my life, fighting over literally nothing.”

5. The music fans who harassed Lorde, over a quote she never said.


If you’re one of those annoying hipster types who claims to be able to avoid any and all popular music just so that you can look cool and aloof at parties, this is Lorde. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s talk about her boyfriend, James Lowe.

A photographer by trade, Lowe was thrust into the media spotlight when his relationship with Lorde was made public. For the most part this wasn’t a big deal, until One Direction fans suddenly decided that they hated Lorde. This resulted in a deluge of racist, insulting and poorly spelled messages being hurled at Lowe.

According to various sources, fans of One Direction and Justin Bieber, who are widely known for their placid temperaments and ability to take criticism, out of nowhere decided that Lorde had called their musical idols ugly. For the record, there is no known record of Lorde ever saying anything like this. She did however call them overrated, a sentiment echoed by about 90% of the online world. But arguing about why the music you like is culturally relevant is difficult and requires the use of long words, so fans of both acts decided it was just easier to send Lorde and her boyfriend (whom is of Asian descent) racist messages.

Because, there’s no way saying awfully offensive things online at a young age is ever going to come back and bite you in the ass in an age where it takes seconds to screenshot that junk and have it preserved forever.

4. The fans who threatened the creators of a game, over millisecond changes


Like we said a few paragraphs ago, there are a lot of entries about video games in the article because they seem to be the medium that attracts the most people willing to immediately resort to offensive language when things don’t go exactly their way. Something we’d like to dub the FIFA effect, because that game is probably the king of broken controllers and friendships.

Moving away from that, we’d like to discuss what happened when the creators of popular shooting game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 released a patch that literally changed the way some guns fired by a fraction of a second. In short, they went batpoop crazy.

As we’ve mentioned before, in response to a patch that was released with the express intention of making the game more balanced, or in other words, better for everyone except the small fraction of players abusing bugs that were never meant to be in the game, people sent one of the people who worked on the game real-life death threats. In case the full stupidity of that sentence isn’t sinking in, we’ll reiterate what we said: the people sending these threats took time out of killing people in a virtual world, to threaten to kill a man in our world, virtually.

That’s some next level stupidity right there.

3. The beer pong stabber.


We’re just going to jump right into this one because it’s so absurd we didn’t actually believe it happened until we found a CBS article confirming its legitimacy, that a guy was stabbed over an argument about beer pong.

Like many of you are probably doing now, we assumed that someone was stabbed during a game of beer pong and the news just got carried away, but no, police reports seem to totally confirm that the argument was caused, or at least exacerbated by a simple game of beer pong.

Wait, isn’t the whole point of that game is that it’s supposed to be all about drinking and having fun? Since when did knives become fun and when is the best time to pull them out at a party?

2. People really wanted Frozen merchandise


For everyone reading this who doesn’t have a girlfriend, sister, female friends or a Tumblr account, Frozen is a recent Disney movie that seems to have really struck a chord with big chunk of the population, in particular, young girls and boys.

As you’d expect from a Disney movie, Frozen has of course spawned a slew of related merchandise. However, the bigwigs at Disney seemingly underestimated the potential popularity of the film, which resulted in merchandise selling faster than the company could restock shelves.

This left parents with excitable children suffering from Frozen-mania with two choices, calmly explaining to their children that they can’t always get what they want and that they’d have to get something else, or go absolutely insane and start punching cashiers until Frozen merchandise magicked itself into existence. Understandably, a lot of parents chose the latter option.

According to workers in the biggest Disney store in New York, customers didn’t react well to being told that they were sold out of Frozen merchandise. While some customers reacted with the tried and true method of attacking cashiers who were clearly hoarding merchandise for themselves, others resorted to trying to guilt employees into supplying them stock that literally didn’t exist by claiming their children were sick, dying, or worse, a tactic that’s also common amongst parents with no souls who want to get into Disney land for free. For parents who didn’t want  to take the “my child is dying, give me free stuff” route, the only other option was to spend thousands of dollars buying the merchandise online, which is exactly what some parents did, because $1200 is a perfectly reasonable amount of money to spend on a 9 inch tall doll that normally retails for $16.95. That’s a 7000% mark-up.

This whole series of events echoes several toy fads from history, in particular the Beanie Baby craze, which saw parent’s snatching toys from the hands of children, dressing up in different outfits to try and by-pass a three Beanie per person limit at certain stores and buying dozens of happy meals and throwing them away just to get the free Beanie Baby’s they contained. But hey, lying about your kid having a terminal disease, stealing from infants and straight-up assault are perfectly acceptable responses to your child really liking a Disney movie, right?

1. The awful “fans” ruining cosplay for everyone.


Cosplay is the act of dressing like a fictional character from a movie, TV show, video game or Anime for fun. Though it was once a niche past-time enjoyed by a select few super-fans, thanks to a recent explosion of interest in all things nerdy, it has become a far more commonplace aspect of pop culture, which is awesome.

One of the best things about Cosplay is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Want to painstakingly recreate your favorite character right down to the shade of blue on their jock strap? Go for it! Want to gender-bend a well-known and established character? Ballin! Want to cover yourself in red paper and tape and say that you’re Iron Man? We’d be mad if you didn’t.

Despite the fact that cosplaying is something 99% of people do for fun, an increasingly common and depressing trend in the world of cosplay is bullying, with many cosplayers of both genders reporting abuse and general unpleasantness from the very people who call themselves fans of the things they’re trying to celebrate.

Complaints from cosplayers range from being told they’re too unattractive to portray a certain character to their ownership of a penis being unacceptable. And of course, there’s also a healthy amount of sexism and harassment, because it’s not a party without those guys.

We were going to end this article on a positive note, but instead we’re just going to say that if you’re the kind of person who feels like you should be able to tell people not to dress up like a kick-ass wizard or Batman, you’re the one with the problem, not them.

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