Using #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly in History

--Originally published at FLN – Education Generation

Sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places.

You know those times when you’re on social media, late at night, and you get sucked into the black hole that keeps fueling your desire to click here and there even though it’s 1:00 am on a school night and you know better? Yeah, that was me last night. However, some good did come out of it. I created a new lesson for my world history courses.

Somehow I came across the hashtag: #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly. I realize this is a few years old, but nonetheless I kept reading and found myself chuckling out loud at the creativity. Here’s the premise: You take a movie and use one sentence to twist the plot into a humorous tagline. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Grown man lures 5 children to his home with candy – Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • A family’s first Airbnb experience goes very wrong – The Shining
  • Drug addicted girl takes advantage of mentally challenged boy…for 3 decades – Forrest Gump
  • Older sister ruins younger sister’s chance to be on nationally televised game show – Hunger Games
  • A guy learns to love a girl without her Instagram filters – Shrek
  • A billionaire devotes his fortune to cosplay and beating up the mentally ill – The Dark Knight
  • Father reunites with long lost son, wants him to take over the family business – The Empire Strikes Back
  • Insubordinate employees purposely sabotage their company’s multi-million dollar strategic business plan – Major League*
  • A woman’s life in turmoil after her boyfriend fails to deliver a package – Cast Away*

* Only these are mine. The rest were taken from the internet.

I’m sure you get the idea. Well, I had an epiphany. Let’s take this exact idea but change it to historical events. I call it: #ExplainHistoryBadly. Students will use two hashtags. The first one identifies the event/person and the second is #ExplainHistoryBadly. Here are a few I created:

  • A man with commitment issues becomes a serial killer. #HenryVIII #ExplainHistoryBadly
  • Selfish rebels disrupt life in quaint community. #AmericanRevolution #ExplainHistoryBadly
  • An insubordinate worker dislikes the conditions of his contract and attempts to destroy his employer. #Reformation #ExplainHistoryBadly
  • American president refuses to enforce the values of the Declaration of Independence and the right for Southerners to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. #CivilWar #ExplainHistoryBadly

This is a good review activity because after studying a unit students will have the knowledge necessary to understand historical events and then are required to display their understanding of the event by twisting it into a humorous synopsis. Got some of your own? Please share them in the comments.

Until next time…



  • We’re working on molecular genetics right now in AP Bio and I’m am definitely stealing this to see if they can abstract ideas.

    But, so much of the Internet explains science bad…

    Great idea.

  • Thank you for sharing this idea. I am flipping part of a history class in the spring and have been looking to try something new. I’ll have to come up with a few to serve as examples for my students.

    To their cost, the Germans and Japanese ignored Vizzini’s admonition never to get involved in a land war in Asia. #WW2 #ExplainHistoryBadly

Leave a Comment