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Cartoons Show Their True Colors: Fact Checking Animated Characters in History


There’s nothing wrong with historical fantasies, but it’s worth considering how they differ from the reality.

When we watch a movie like Selma or The Imitation Game that is based on historical events, we often wonder how closely they resemble what really happened. It can be a lot of fun to compare the events of the movies to the historical record and point out when the two don’t match up.

At Buzzfeed, Eugene Yang has applied that same logic to Disney Princesses, digging deep into Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Pocahontas, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to determine when and where the films’ heroines lived. Unsurprisingly, their lives would’ve been pretty different in reality than they were in the movies: no harem pants for Jasmine, for one thing.


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Yang’s project serves as a reminder of how many animated movies employ historical settings while ignoring actual historical fact. Yet as obviously fictional as most animated films are, they can still influence our perceptions of history—half my elementary school was convinced that Pocahontas and John Smith were romantically involved, when in fact she was just twelve years old when they met.

There’s nothing wrong with historical fantasies, but it’s worth considering how they differ from the reality. The addition of dancing candlesticks and talking parrots is one thing; idealizing the extremely constrained life of a fourteenth century noblewoman is another.

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Political Battle Rap: Breaking Down Obama’s Back to Back Diss Track

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If you don’t know Alphacat by now, get familiar. He’s been killing it on YouTube with his spot on impersonations of old POTUS Barry. But, just this month, he broke the internet with his best-produced and best-choreographed video yet: Back to Back. This video takes Drake’s original diss track and turns it into a response against Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the Commander-in-Chief.

This video hits on the core controversies of Donald Trump’s rise to prominence: his virulent anti-Mexican statements, his advocacy of family values while being questionable in his own personal life, and his opposition to mainstream conservatives.

This video makes a lot of claims about Donald Trump, as a man, as a candidate, and as a public figure. But it’s not always a good idea to trust the “interwebs” to be completely accurate about politics.

When it comes to politics, it’s always a good idea to fact-check it before supporting a candidate. Finding political facts can be hard because there is so much bias out there, especially on the internet. You would think News sites are a good first step, but even then, journalists and the channels they work for can become bias or even make mistakes and editors can insert their own views. Fact-checking organizations are better, but the best option is to go to the source: the politicians themselves.

Alphacat spit straight bars on this track, riddled with references that refer to many issues going on in recent heated campaign battles. Break down the lyrics in this diss track and see what political facts you can uncover.

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WikiLies: 5 Ways You’re Being Lied To By Trolls on Wikipedia


For years, teachers and college professors have discouraged students from using Wikipedia as a research source because of the public editing allowed by the Website. If anyone can post on the site, it’s fair to doubt the accuracy of the information.

At the same time as teachers discredited Wikipedia, comedians like Stephen Colbert and Daniel Tosh encouraged their fans to edit Wikipedia to reflect false information. Colbert and Tosh used the Website’s publicly editable content to get laughs.

But while Colbert and Tosh encouraged mostly harmless – albeit hilarious – changes to Wikipedia, other falsehoods on the site have been far more serious.

In a recent online article, Complex counted down the craziest lies in Wikipedia history. (Let’s call them WikiLies for our purposes here.)

Here are the categories into which most of the WikiLies listed by Complex fall:

Mocking Celebrities

Haters have used Wikipedia to embarrass the rich and famous, from Drake to the Dutch royal family.

Shaming Rival Athletes

It seems that fans of all sports, from hockey to golf, sometimes take those games too seriously. While some sports fans posted innocent fibs about players from other teams, several athlete-related WikiLies have grown very mean-spirited. Complex describes one hacker who wrote that pro soccer player Ritchie De Laet would “shoot himself” if he ever played for his new team. Repeat after me, guys: It’s only a game.

Fake Deaths

One of the most popular categories of WikiLie is the fake celebrity death. This includes the reported passings of people like Vernon Kray as well as more popular celebs like Sinbad and Miley Cyrus. Premature reports of Rick Ross’s death take the No. 2 spot on Complex’s list of WikiLies.

Innocent Jokes

Hackers have infiltrated Wikipedia to label actor Gary Oldman as a giraffe and write that the Greek philosopher Plato was a Hawaiian weatherman and surfer. These jokes are stupid but ultimately harmless.

Political Attacks

Five of Complex’s top six WikiLies concern political figures. The bogus entries for Sarah Palin and Tony Blair especially confirm what many people have known for a long time: In politics, there are very few rules.

Judging by this history of incorrect Wikipedia entries, it seems fair that teachers require their students to steer clear of the site. After all, you never know when you might be reading a WikiLie.

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How Does the Black Panther Party Compare to the KKK and ISIS? Students can settle the debate once and for all.


Is it fair to compare the Black Panthers to a hate or terrorist movement? Let’s look at how they really compare to the KKK and the world’s most known terrorist group, ISIS.


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The public reaction to Beyoncé’s Formation video and Super Bowl performance was, well, maybe it’s best to let Saturday Night Live demonstrate it. Among the controversial images are a child not being shot by police, a police car sinking into a storm surge in New Orleans, and, at the Superbowl, a black power salute while wearing black berets, a nod to the Black Panther Party (BPP).

Support for the Black Panthers has stirred a lot of debate, not all of it measured. Newscaster Tomi Lahren referred to the Black Panthers as similar to the KKK. A city councilor for the city of Toronto has asked the Canadian government to investigate Beyoncé for possible terrorist links.

Pundits and police unions have made similar claims, calling the Black Panthers a hate movement. Is it fair to compare the Black Panthers to a hate or terrorist movement? Let’s look at how they really compare to the KKK and the world’s most known terrorist group, ISIS.



  • The Black Panther Party was founded as an organization in Oakland in 1966 that advocated resisting police brutality with deadly force. They soon embraced revolutionary Black Nationalist, Maoist, and women’s liberation politics, performing activism and providing social programs to uplift African-Americans.
  • The KKK was founded in 1865 by a former Confederate officer to attack freed slaves, Northerners, and federal government employees. Due to a federal crackdown, it remained small until around 1917, when it rapidly grew to include millions, including many politicians.
  • ISIS was founded as a Jordanian terror cell in 1999, dedicated to establishing a single fundamentalist government ruling the entire world. In 2003, it gained prominence through participation in the Iraqi insurgency and later gained real territory as a result of the chaos of the Syrian civil war.



  • The Black Panther Party committed at least seven homicides, roughly two dozen assaults, and several counts of jury intimidation. Most victims were police or members of the BPP itself.
  • The KKK’s violence is difficult to estimate. About 3,500 African-Americans were lynched during the years of KKK activity. Anywhere between 1000 and 50,000 people were also killed in anti-black riots. However, the KKK may not have committed all of these. Most estimates fall between a minimum of 2,000 homicides and a maximum of 50,000. Tens of thousands more were tortured or had their homes destroyed.
  • The official count of ISIS’ victims is around 10,000 dead, but due to the chaos of the region, this number could be much higher.


Size and Representation

  • The Black Panther Party had a peak membership of 2,000 in 1969, thus including roughly 1 in every 11,000 African-Americans.
  • In 1925 the KKK had a peak membership of five million, thus including roughly 1 in every 20 white Protestants in the United States.
  • By the Pentagon’s estimate, ISIS had a peak membership of 50,000 in early 2015, thus including roughly 1 in every 600 Sunni Muslims in Syria and Iraq.

In this lesson, students will look at different document sets, comparing the three organizations on issues such as community service, violence, ideology, aims, the reactions of society, and the roles of women.