Linking Life and, Um, Art
Long before jury instructions needed disclaimers about Law & Order or CSI ,movies and television were influencing how we behave, in big ways and small. Here's a look at some of popular culture's more persuasive moments, in no particular order.
The cranky alcoholic wine snob in the award-winning movie Sideways refuses to join a dinner if merlot is going to be served, tarnishing the red wine's image. Sales dip. His poetic praise of pinot noir, on the other hand, makes it a red-hot seller--and an embarrassment, too cliched to drink in public.
Law school applications hit record levels in 1991, just as L.A. Law, which glamorized the legal life, peaks in the ratings.
Law school applications hit bottom in 1995, as attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Marcia Clark try the O. J. Simpson case on national TV.
Farrah Fawcett debuts on Charlie's Angels, and the national rush to the blow dryer nearly cripples the power grid. There won't be another hairstyle with such power until Jennifer Aniston christens the "Rachel" more than a decade later on Friends.
Charlize Theron zips through the movie The Italian Job in a Mini Cooper. BMW sells more than 30,000 of the little cars before The Italian Job comes out on DVD.
Happy Days ' hapless greaser, Arthur "the Fonz" Fonzarelli, gets a library card. Applications for library cards increase 500 percent across the country.
ER becomes one of the longest-running medical dramas on the air, and visits to emergency rooms start rising mysteriously at the end of each episode. Doctors are overheard saying: "No, you don't need a lidocaine drip. You saw that on TV."
This story appears in the April 25, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.