Urban Legends And Modern Myths

Urban myths and legends have been around for years. While some scary urban myths have evolved from campfire ghost stories or tall tales, others are the result of miscommunication. In some instances, urban legends reflect a primal need in human nature: the need to make sense of the complicated world we live in.

Regardless of how each myth came into existence, here is an overview of some popular urban myths and legends. Some are scary urban myths that strike at our deepest fears. Others are so silly it ‘s hard to believe that anyone could take them seriously. And, just as the legend of Troy turned out to be based on fact, one of these urban legends and myths is actually true.

Scary Urban Myths

The Internet was a godsend for modern day myths. Scary urban myths spread rapidly through e-mail. In some ways we are in the Golden Age of urban legends and myths: never before have stories traveled to so many so quickly.

The attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, spawned a host of scary urban myths. E-mails told tales of supposedly imminent terrorist attacks. Conspiracy theories accused the government of knowingly allowing the attacks to occur, and several e-mails claimed that, on the day of the attack, members of certain ethnic groups were noticeably absent from the Twin Towers.

Out of all the scary urban myths spawned by that terrible day on 2001, one stands out. About two weeks after the attacks, a chilling image circulated the Internet of a smiling tourist on one of the World Trade Center ‘s observation decks. Behind him you see New York . . . and one of the doomed planes as it hurtles towards the building.

People were quick to point out inconsistencies in this horrifying photo. First and foremost, the attack on the World Trade Center occurred at 8:49 a.m., but the observation decks don ‘t open until 9:30 a.m.

The plane in the picture is an American Airline 757, but the only American Airline plane to hit the Twin Towers was a 767. The picture was clearly a fake, but as scary urban myths go, the doomed tourist was one of the most disturbing.

Humorous Urban Legends and Modern Myths

While scary urban myths abound, other urban myths and legends use humor to make their point, if indeed they have a point. Take, for example, the case of the insured cigars.

According to this modern myth, a man insured his cigar collection against fire. He then smoked the cigars and made an insurance claim. While some versions of this legend claim a court battle upheld the man ‘s claim, others suggest that he was charged with individual acts of arson and insurance fraud for each cigar smoked.

The story has no basis in fact, but it remains a popular urban legend.

Smut, Disney and Modern Urban Myths

Corporations are often the target of urban legends and modern myths, and Disney has suffered more than its share of urban legends (including the ever popular theory that Walt Disney ‘s corpse is cryogenically frozen beneath Disneyland).

One urban myth claims that a topless women can be seen in videos of Disney ‘s The Rescuers. The scantly clad lady, as the legend goes, can be seen as the rescuers fly through New York on the backs of their albatross friend.

Guess what? It ‘s true! In 1999, Disney recalled video copies of The Rescuers. Although the image could only be seen in two separate frames, and you ‘d have to forward the tapes frame by frame to see them, the topless lady was in there.

How did a naked lady get into a Disney flick? The best theory is that they were inserted during production by a disgruntled animator (a character who appears in other, less factual urban myths and legends about Disney) or that the images were someone ‘s idea of a joke.

Bonsai Kittens

Urban myths and legends often take the form of outraged e-mails. One such e-mail warns against the horrors of the Bonsai Kitten.

According to the e-mail, a Web site is advertising the latest fad in Japan, the Bonsai kitten. To create these tiny kittens, the e-mail indignantly reports, kittens are shoved into glass bottles, much like model ships. The poor wee animals spend their entire life in these bottles.

There was indeed a Web site “promoting ” bonsai kittens. It was, of course, a gag site with fake images that would be at home on a supermarket tabloid. Someone obviously either didn’t share the Web site owner ‘s peculiar sense of humor or was very gullible.

In an interesting sideline, this is one of the few urban myths and legends investigated by the FBI, who had to investigate because complaints of animal cruelty were filed.

Granny Nuked the Dog

Of the many urban legends and modern myths, the legend of the old lady, the microwave and the wet dog may, perhaps, be the most famous. Some poor, doddering old lady, as the story goes, tried to dry her pet lapdog by putting it in the microwave. Imagine the poor dear ‘s horror when the dog, irradiated with microwaves, explodes!

This is the grandmother of all urban legends and modern myths. In fact, the story predates the microwave oven. Earlier versions of the story have the poor old lady shoving Fifi into clothes driers or roasting the pet in a regular oven.

Although there ‘s no evidence this event ever occurred, the story continues to circulate. The old lady and her microwaved pet friend have truly become legend, a cautionary tale about the evils of microwaves (or old ladies; the message isn ‘t entirely clear).