Pop Culture Shards From the Trash Heap of History

Memorable garbage from Woodsy to Wall-E.


Year

Trash

Treasured?

1969

Oscar the Grouch debuts on Sesame Street.

40 years later, kids still sing “I Love Trash!”

1970

Woodsy Owl implores kids to “Give a Hoot. Don’t Pollute.”

In 1997, Woodsy changes his tune: “Lend a Hand. Care for the Land.”

1977

Plastic bags first appear in grocery stores.

Everybody now: “Paper or plastic?”

1985

Garbage Pail Kids trading cards parody ubiquitous Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.

Up Chuck and Ray Decay make GPK “the gross-out phenomenon of the ’80s.”

1999

American Beauty features two-and-a-half-minute shot of floating plastic bag.

Film theorists still debating whether it’s a metaphor for a society hurtling toward ecological destruction—or just a bag.

2000

Wilson the volleyball becomes Tom Hanks’ best friend in Cast Away.

In a realistic touch, Wilson eventually washes out to sea to become turtle food.

2008

Wall-E cleans up the world by himself, one garbage cube at a time.

Spawned timeless products such as Wall-E flip-flops.

2008

As part of a $1.2 million office remodel, Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain expenses a $1,045 trash can.

Shamed into paying for the can, Thain says it was “a mistake in light of the world we live in today.”

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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