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Web Video / Ruining History

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"Some say history is boring- but I think Ben Franklin was involved in some weird sex parties."
Shane Madej

Ruining History is a web series hosted by BuzzFeed, created for the purpose of telling tales kept out of textbooks. Produced by Shane Madej (perhaps best known for co-hosting Buzzfeed Unsolved, it stars himself, his Unsolved co-host Ryan Bergara, and fellow BuzzFeed producer Sara Rubin. Joining them is a shifting roster of BuzzFeed employees, who listen in awe (and horror) as Shane tells them some of history's more... distasteful tidbits.

Released in August of 2017, Ruining History so far has had only one season. Shane has hinted at a second season on his twitter, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

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     Season 1 
  • Was Ben Franklin in a Sex Cult?
  • The Bizarre Life of Johnny Appleseed
  • The Most Insane Battle in History
  • The True Story of a Pirate Queen
  • That Time Britain Burned Down the White House
  • The Deceitful Imposter King of Persia
  • Three Hilariously Terrible Popes
  • The Adorable Bear that Served in WWII
  • The Horrifying Shipwreck that Inspired Moby Dick

Today we're gonna talk a lot and learn a little about the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Both Anne Bonny and Mary Read are this trope- even when they’d been ordered to stand down, they kept fighting.
  • The Alcoholic: John Chapman (AKA Johnny Appleseed) was one of these- especially since the apples he planted (essentially crab apples) were perfect for making Applejack.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Anne Bonny married a man, ran off with a male pirate, and may have been involved with fellow pirate Mary Read.
  • Barefoot Loon: John Chapman was apparently this- reportedly, he would stick pins in his feet to entertain children. Thanks, John.
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  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted with Wojtek, an Iranian bear adopted by a company of Polish soldiers during World War II. During combat he was known to help carry munitions, and once even managed to accidentally capture and interrogate a spy.
  • Bucket Helmet: Much of the Johnny Appleseed episode was spent debating whether or not he had one. He did.
  • The Casanova: Julius Caesar was described by his men as a, "bald whoremonger.”
  • Dirty Old Man: The first episode in the series is about this trope.
  • Drawing Straws: Done in the Essex episode to decide who would be eaten. Shane lost.
  • Fluffy Tamer: John Chapman apparently had a wolf as a companion. Lucky guy.
  • Dressed to Plunder: Everyone does this in the pirate episode- except for Shane, who notes that none of the hats fit him. Ryan finds this greatly amusing.
    "He has a plus-sized head, it's not his fault."
  • Four-Star Badass: Julius Caesar was well known for being this if the Battle of Alesia is anything to go by.
  • Friend to All Living Things: John Chapman appeared to have been this- when in town, he spent his time attempting to entertain children (albeit in… strange ways), and when on the road, he refused to harm any animals (even if it meant potentially getting killed by aforementioned animals).
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Discussed in the Essex episode- wracked with hunger, the sailors had no choice but to eat their fellow crew members. One boat was found with two men upon it, surrounded by the bones of their former crew members, which they took with them upon being rescued. Yikes.
  • Karma Houdini: Anne Bonny, who like Mary Read managed to avoid being executed for piracy at first because she was pregnant at the time. Unlike Read, however, she eventually wormed her way out of her piracy charges and managed to return to domestic life, dying 50 years later.
  • Kavorka Man: Ben Franklin. It’s even stated on his page!
  • LadySwearsALot: Anne Bonny and Mary Read would both apparently curse as an intimidation tactic. Shane tried it, too, with less success.
  • Myopic Architecture: The wall around Alesia had a single area that did not go over a nearby hill. You’ll never guess what happened.
  • Mystery Cult: The Hellfire Club was something of this- though, contrary to popular belief at the time, they probably weren’t Satanists.
  • Oh, Crap!: The reaction of the Gallic forces when faced with the German soldiers- they ran back to Alesia, and were slaughtered after being locked out.
  • Pirate Girl: Anne Bonny, who was perhaps the greatest example of this trope. Mary Read as well.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Discussed in "The Story of the Pirate Queen" episode- while piracy is cool in theory, in practice, it's, "not good for the community," mostly for these reasons.
  • Really Gets Around: Ben Franklin, as was made apparent in the video.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Anne Bonny delivers an absolutely phenomenal one as her last words to Jack Rackham;
    “I’m sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog.”
  • Seadog Beard: They all don these in the Essex episode.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Anne Bonny disguised as a boy by her parents, and apparently did so as a pirate- though, only when she was in battle. Mary Read disguised herself as well, though she did it full time.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Julius Caesar’s first-hand account on the Battle of Alesia was most likely subject to this, considering the supposed odds the Romans were up against.

"That's been Ruining History! Thanks for learning with us."

Example of: