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Mood Whiplash / Real Life

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  • Frankly, any sudden, violent event can be this.
    • The terrorist attacks of 9/11 happened on a beautiful sunny day when New Yorkers were enjoying their morning coffee.
    • December 7, 1941 started off as a beautiful Sunday morning in Hawaii. Personnel on the various ships and bases were lining up for Morning Colors, sleeping off the Saturday night parties from the previous evening, or on their way to church services. The Pacific Fleet Battle of the Bands has been held the night before, with USS Arizona’s band taking home the trophy. Then the sky filled with Japanese bombers, with some men dying violently before they even realized they were at war.
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    • Only a few years after that, schoolchildren were calmly at their desks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the atomic bombs hit.
    • On a smaller scale, you could be driving home, singing along to your favorite song on the radio, when a drunk driver jack-knifes into you and cuts you in half.
    • Even the day you go to "The Happiest Place On Earth" could turn out to be the worst - or even last - day of your life.
    • Can happen to anyone, really. One minute you're on the top of the world because you just got a bonus. Then you go outside and find that some asshole has done a hit and run job to your car in the public garage.
  • The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre. After the failed rescue operation at a Luftwaffe base led to the death of all eleven hostages, initial reports coming out said that the operation was a success and the athletes alive and well. Then, Jim McKay's famous speech:
    Jim McKay: We just got the final word ... you know, when I was a kid, my father used to say "Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized." Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They've now said that there were eleven hostages. Two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They're all gone.
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  • The 1973 Indianapolis 500. During the start of the month, the excitement was high as there was the real possibility of reaching 200 miles per hour, something that was never done at the track before. However, during a practice session, Art Pollard was killed. As the month dragged on, the mood slowly got sour, as the rain kept affecting practice and qualifying. On the day of the actual race, there was a huge crash on the first lap that took out Salt Walther. That crash and rain on both Monday and Tuesday delayed the race to Wednesday... where Swede Savage had an accident that would ultimately end his life. Another track worker, Armando Teran, was struck by an emergency vehicle and died about an hour afterward...
  • Clint Malarchuk gets his throat cut, then a happy song comes up.
  • Happens often in American football commentary. A player will hit another one really quite hard, and the commentators will hoot and holler about it, with phrases like 'Wow, what a great hit!' 'He almost took his head clean off!' till they realize that the player who was hit isn't moving, and the medics are coming on to the field. Suddenly, they start speaking quietly, with phrases such as 'of course our thoughts are with (Player X) and his family at this time'
    • Another notable case:
      Howard Cosell: Yes, we have to say it. Remember, this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses... An unspeakable tragedy referred to us by ABC News in New York City. John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, DEAD ON ARRIVAL.
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    • Interestingly, soccer and rugby commentators don't go to either extreme: we get "well, that was a messy tackle", followed by "well, I hope he'll be OK" as the messy tackle's recipient gets stretchered off and "I think he deserved that" as its perpetrator gets sent off.
      • In the case of soccer at least that's partly because it's not a contact sport. When someone gets hit hard, it's clearly against the rules and not a good play that happened to end badly.
  • Overheard has a number of examples.
  • This news clip. Aww, lookit the cute squirrel! - Now, on a serious note...
  • The Eighth Annual New Hampshire Theater Awards. What was on after the intense, Kill 'Em All Battle of Agincourt? 'We Beseech Thee' from Godspell.
    • Theater competitions and festivals, in general, are prone to this. If multiple groups chose their play independently and organizers had to set the schedule without knowing what was being performed, odd juxtapositions are going to happen.
  • On 6 July 2005 it was announced that London would host the 2012 Olympic games. The media and city of London celebrated. The next day three terrorist bombings in London killed 56 civilians and caused widespread panic and despair.
    • This being London, England, though, everybody was back using the buses and tube as soon as they reopened.
    • A few days before the voting, Albert II of Monaco asked Madrid representatives about the 11-M terrorist attacks and security measures, thus making London look safer by comparison.
    • Beijing wins the 2008 Summer Olympics; weeks before they're hit with a massive earthquake that kills and displaces thousands.
    • Rio de Janeiro wins the 2016 Summer Olympics (and the World Cup); that winter they're hit with record rainstorms and mudslides (currently they're dealing with protests over the venues' costs and the heavy-handed way they're dealing with the favelas).
    • Sochi, Russia hosts an almost problem-free 2014 Winter games despite a lot of controversies; a couple of weeks later, all that goodwill soured when Russia "came to the aid" of their countrymen living in the Crimean peninsula with tanks and "totally not Russian" masked soldiers.
    • In non-Olympic sports: New Orleans is devastated by Hurricane Katrina; a couple of years later, the New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl; months later, a giant oil rig explodes causing almost a dozen deaths and insane levels of pollution.
  • Depending on which show you watch, the commercial break can be a Mood Whiplash. Have you ever watched a TV show covering an eerie subject matter (In Search Of..., Lost Tapes, etc.), and then when the commercial break starts, the first ad that comes on is light and cheerful? It can feel pretty weird.
    • Or the reverse: you've been watching the pleasant inanities of How I Met Your Mother and then suddenly are confronted by the image some hungry child in rags or beaten dog in a cage, as the solemn voice drones about their suffering and how "only you can help."
    • "Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode" can have this effect as well, depending on the show and whoever is saying it. For example, after a particularly gory and somber episode of Criminal Minds, Matthew Gray Gubler delivers the message in his usual cheerful chirp.
    • On the other hand, "Hi, I'm Sarah McLachlan, and I'm about to ruin your whole day."
    • In Finland it caused some stir when a commercial TV-station was broadcasting Full Metal Jacket, the evening sponsored by a local pizza store chain. Right after private Pyle shoots his brains to the wall the movie cuts to commercial with a happy upbeat jingle and "This delightful movie evening brough to you by..." The station later apologized about the unfortunate combination of placing the commercial break and upbeat commmercial.
    • As mentioned in the Other page, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when shown on NBC. For example, 2013's parade had an eerie ad for another NBC production, Believe, as the last ad in the slot. Back from commercial, and we're greeted by the Power Rangers.
    • During the 2017 ABC showing of Frozen (2013), the Tear Jerker ending of "Do You Want To Build A Snowman?" was followed immediately by a peppy Walmart commercial.
    • Still another example: The first commercial during the May 15, 1972 edition of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite (in which the lead story was the attempted assassination of Alabama Governor and 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George Wallace, who was shot and left paralyzed during a Maryland campaign stop)? A Savings and Loan ad, complete with a cheesy jingle.
  • Done deliberately by John Cleese at fellow Monty Python member Graham Chapman's memorial service, in which he goes from a typical recitation of what a great man the deceased was, to slating him as a freeloader who should burn in hell. Justified, according to Cleese, because Chapman "would never forgive me if I didn't."
  • Take a baby. Add "The Victors" (the University of Michigan fight song). Stir. And here is what you get.
  • This is nearly inevitable if you use Tumblr. It may depend on the blogs you follow, but it's very common for one's dashboard to have news about tragedies like the Trayvon Martin shooting sandwiched between lolcat pictures.
  • Facebook can be the same way. One friend will tell a funny story about their day or post a funny joke, the very next thing on your timeline could be "Please keep my grandfather in your prayers, he's not getting better."
  • The success of the charming movie My Neighbor Totoro helped Studio Ghibli recover from the initial non-success of the movie it had been double-featured with... Grave of the Fireflies.
  • The Great Depression, one second your life is great, everyone is rich from the stock market, life is great. Yay! Then one second later... pffffffffff! Your stocks crash and you lose A LOT of money, then it gets worse, and you start thinking of jumping out a window or putting a pistol in your mouth like a lot of people started doing...
  • The entire idea behind the BBC's Comic Relief charity event. Comedians join together to create a great many shows, all focused around gaining money for various charities, often to do with starving children. 2011 featured David Walliams doing a 24-hour panel show run, and clips were shown, interspersed with David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) and others visiting malaria-infected five-year-olds.
  • Anytime a program is interrupted by a news bulletin involving some calamity or, even worse, an "Emergency Alert Notification" of the style of the old CONELRAD and Emergency Broadcast System, which anyone over the age of 40 was conditioned to treat as a warning of an imminent nuclear attack. Which is why blood pressures go up in some people whenever the same warning signal is used for amber alerts and thunderstorms, especially if said alert goes off in the wee hours of the morning.
  • At the 24-hour news channels, strange news segment juxtapositions cause this, whether it is due to bad editing procedures or not. In Cti news reporting of the 2012 Bhoja Air Flight 213 airplane crash was followed straight by reports of pet cafes in Japan.
    • Or, for that matter, any local news broadcast period will have instances of Mood Whiplash, roughly one per broadcast. For example, one news reporter will be closing up on a live broadcast from the scene of a horrific home invasion-turned-slaying and then, after a brief acknowledgment from the in-studio anchors about the news story, those same anchors will start cheerily reporting on a family fun event at a local park, say, or about the surprising benefits of some commonly consumed food item.
    • A variant of this: When John McCain died on August 25, 2018, NBC interrupted a Saturday-night rerun of America's Got Talent for its special report. When the report ended, the show was rejoined in the middle of Yumbo Dump's act — which involves using their bodies to comedically re-create sound effects. they were doing a segment they dubbed "Dolphin Love Story", and the result was ... a little odd.
    • On March 11, 2020, President Donald Trump gave an oval office address at 9:00 p.m. ET to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who had been watching Fox were treated to such whiplash, where the speech was preceded by former governor of Alaska (and John McCain's 2008 running mate) Sarah Palin performing a reprise of "Baby Got Back" over the credits of The Masked Singer after getting eliminated.
  • A British radio DJ documented a tragic example of this on his blog; he had been doing the post-game show for a football game, when a producer phoned him to announce that the Queen Mother had died and that they would be going to a special news bulletin after it wrapped up at the top of the hour. What did the DJ accidentally do instead? Announce that the Saturday-night "party mix" was coming up next. In fact, many other stations may have been caught off-guard by the news too; Independent Radio News, a network that syndicates national news bulletins for commercial radio stations in the United Kingdom, had made the mistake of not properly activating the system of "OBIT lights" installed in the studios of its affiliated stations (one report says it requires two buttons, but only one was pressed). They're meant to avert this by signaling official news of a death in the royal family so that stations have forewarning of the news and begin to change their programming accordingly.
    • The majority of that post is about how he handled the death of Princess Diana (which happened during a late-night shift), having to go right from Sheryl Crow to the news bulletin. The instructions stated that the report was to be followed by a playing of the national anthem "God Save the Queen", and then a programme of appropriate music until the bulletin was played again. However, chaos ensued when they were only able to find a copy of "God Save the Queen" on a type of tape they couldn't play anymore because they had switched to a computerized system (they decided against playing Queen's version from A Night at the Opera on vinyl instead, which would have really been Mood Whiplash). They skipped to playing a tape reel of mourning music... only to find that the tape also contained jingles from before the station was rebranded, necessitating them to do their own mourning playlist instead.
    • One of ITV's late-night lineups (specifically, one produced by Carlton and LWT's joint backend and news department, London News Network) had its own case of whiplash earlier that same night; a commercial break had an ITN news update that featured an early report on Diana's car crash, sandwiched between an ad for a sex feature in tomorrow's News of the World, and Carnal Knowledgea game show about sex. This can be blamed on the lineup (and especially the continuity) being pre-recorded, with the schedule only allowing for quick, 90-second long news updates every so often (evidently they hadn't thought about contingency plans for things like this happening overnight).
    • The entire freaking ITV lineup after the death of the Queen Mother in 2002 also qualifies. Half the schedule (Saturday night light entertainment) was torn to shreds, half of it still aired, and this was the end result. That episode of "Denis Norden's Laughter File" aired against BBC news coverage, and turned out to be the most-watched show of the night.
  • College day 1: You enter college. You meet your teachers and new friends. College day 2: More introduction, some guy runs around in an initiation. Day 3: A student's body has been found behind the school.
  • Happened on one episode of the Irish chat show The Late Late Show. From thousands of entries for a postal quiz, the name chosen at random turned out to be a recently bereaved mother. Straight from levity and laughter to "My daughter died last night." In fairness to him, Gay Byrne handled it beautifully.
  • Tornadoes, which tend to accompany sudden changes in temperature. One moment you're enjoying the beautiful spring weather that seems to have come from nowhere, the next you're listening to the terrifying howl of tornado sirens and heading for the nearest basement or storm cellar in fear of your life.
  • The Christmas truce of 1914, when Allied and German forces stopped brutally killing each other for a week or so in order to sing carols, exchange gifts, and even play games of football together. Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, seeing as the fighting was back on in full force after Christmas, and such truces became rarer as the war went on.
    • A number of German soldiers were sentenced to death for refusing to open fire on the men they had just spent a week becoming friends with.
  • The Sago mine disaster, in which 12 deceased miners were mistakenly reported to be alive.
  • A reverse of the above: the 2010 Copiapó mine accident, in which 33 miners thought to have died in a cave-in proved to be alive, though trapped 700 meters underground. All were rescued, with the last miner reaching the surface 69 days after the cave-in.
  • Celebrating the new year: going from the exciting countdown to "Oh man, I have to work the next day." Worse if you have a hangover.
  • If you have a sufficiently varied taste in music, set your iPod or mp3 player to shuffle... guaranteed mood whiplash at some point. Same applies to Spotify, Pandora and your iTunes playlist.
  • After about a year in North Korean custody, college student Otto Warmbier was freed and returned home to the U.S.... only to die immediately afterward.
  • Efteling: This Dutch theme park, one of the most important of Europe, is remarkably spread out - e.g. comparing it to Europa-Park in Germany, Efteling's area is about 75% of the latter's, but the latter has 100+ attractions to Efteling only having about 35. Therefore, visitors are more or less compelled to visit attractions in a certain sequence, but this leads to some odd juxtapositions:
    • Right in the section of the Park called "Marerijk" ("(Fairy) Tale Kingdom"), which is otherwise dedicated to fairy-tale, fluffy, child-friendly and elf-like things, there's the Madhouse ride called Villa Volta, which is a haunted house and is more akin to a Ghost Castle attraction than to the fairy tale / elf-related rest of the attractions in the area.
    • If one walks to the even comparatively remote section of the park called "Reizenrijk" ("Travel Kingdom"), the biggest two attractions there, that one will be compelled to visit in succession, are 1) Carnaval Festival, a colourful and (some might say overly) cheerful Dark Ride tailored to families with small children, that is akin to "It's a Small World" in Disney World, having just as much a catchy, cheerful tune; and 2) "Vogel Rok", an exiting and wild, and in the dark (compare Space Mountain in Disney World, but without the Space theme) roller coaster.
    • Only remarkably averted in the section of the park called "Ruigrijk" ("Rough Kingdom") - which consistently only consists of the rougher, more mature kind of wild roller coaster rides.
  • This list. It is a wide collection of events including the horrifying, the heartwarming, and the humdrum.


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