Here’s a question: is Shrek real? Bear with me. Is he? There are lots of arguments to suggest that he is not real. For one, he is a cartoon. I’m not suggesting there is a cartoon ogre in the swamp named Shrek. Please be realistic! Cartoons are drawings. What I am arguing is maybe there is a flesh and blood ogre in the swamp named Shrek and they based the cartoon off of him? I don’t know! I’m not saying this is for sure, obviously I don’t know if he’s real or not, that’s why I’m posing the question. But I for one don’t go to the swamp practically ever. What do I know about the swamp and who lives there in a little house with a fireplace? Practically nothing! (If you live in the swamp or if you go to the swamp on a regular basis and have a good sense of its residents, please feel free to chime in! I would love to hear from you!) If there was an ogre in the swamp named Shrek who had a donkey for a best friend, I feel like that would be a story worth telling, and you’d probably have a bidding war for the rights to tell it, right? And so it would definitely be a pretty big Hollywood company that would win those rights. Uh, Dreamworks, anybody? They’ve got the cash! Again, this doesn’t prove that Shrek is real. Maybe he isn’t. But you can’t just discount it. You might argue that donkeys can’t talk. That’s a good point. But up until now we didn’t know that ogres were real. Again, maybe they aren’t. BUT, if there is a real ogre living in the swamp and his name is Shrek and he sold his life rights to Dreamworks in a handsome deal, then I kind of feel like that opens the door that maybe at least one donkey does talk. Again: this is totally speculative, but let’s think about it for a second! I love to approach the world with an open mind. Is Shrek real? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. What do you think, though? If you say he’s not real, how can you prove it? If you say he is real, how can you prove it? And don’t just copy Wikipedia either, everyone knows that thing is full of factual errors. Please help me to prove whether or not Shrek is real (I don’t know either way! Is he?) and let’s finally show the old dinosaurs of traditional media why our generation of crowd sourcing and social networking is the way to get the story right.

Comments (47)
  1. There are lots of arguments to suggest that he is not real. For one, he is a cartoon.

    That is the funniest thing I have read in a long time. 8.5, would lol again.

  2. Using Kirk Cameron logic, a banana is made to fit in an ogre’s hands. Ergo, ogres exist.

    • I’d actually just been thinking “if you replace ‘Shrek’ with ‘God,’ this blog post begins to read like a lot of awful dinner conversations I’ve had.”

  3. OMG you guys, is Gabe gonna get a buzzcut?

  4. I read somewhere on the internet “…there is a real ogre living in the swamp and his name is Shrek and he sold his life rights to Dreamworks in a handsome deal…”. And not even on Wikipedia. If it’s on the internet it’s true. Everyone know that.

  5. Based on this graffiti I found by my local swamp, I think he could be real.

  6. Snopes was no help, but I can report that Mikey from the LIFE cereal ads DID NOT DIE WHEN HE MIXED POP ROCKS WITH SODA POP!

  7. Hey, you guys. I just had a thought. What if, like, Shrek IS real, but the color that I see him is green, but you, like, see him in a totally different color, and you also call that green, because, like, how would we know?

  8. Is anything real?

  9. He’s based off of a real person:

  10. Gabe, are you going to ask Tommy Wiseau this?

  11. Speaking of think pieces, I just read this one and had my mind blown:
    SO! As I’ve mentioned before I spent many an hour as a kid trying to figure out back to the future, and right now we are going to figure out this fading away thing. This is a whole childhood of thinking about time travel in this movie paying off here. Here we go:

    To buy into Back To The Future, you need to accept not only that time travel exists, but that there exists a META-TIME, because changes to the timeline THEMSELVES take time: Marty stops his parents from meeting and rather than disappearing right away, he has a week in 1955 to sort this out before the consequences of that become critical. In other words, whatever change you make to the timeline ripples through it like a wave in a bedsheet, altering things as it goes, and you’ve got until when that wave catches up with you to fix things if you’ve done something dumb like prevent yourself from being born.

    Proof for this is that Marty’s siblings faded away in order from oldest to youngest – the change caught up with them first! We’re going to assume you start to fade when your birth gets interfered with. The fading isn’t consistent (Brother Dave fades from top to bottom while Marty just gets less and less opaque), but we’re estimating! Here we could assume instead that you start fading when the date of your conception gets messed with rather than date of your birth, but we’re not, because that’s a rabbit hole of tracing events back to causes that puts us back in 1955 again.

    So! Since we know the day Marty arrived in 1955 and stopped his parents from meeting (Saturday, November 5th), the day he started actually fading away (a week later on Saturday, November 12th, 1955), the year Marty was born (1968) AND we even can guess at the day (most stuff puts his birthday at either June 12th or June 9th (same as Michael J!)) we can calculate pretty reliably how fast this meta-time lets changes move in this story, which is how fast changes to the timeline propagate.

    A change made to the timeline on November 5th, 1955 takes 7 days of real time to ripple through time and reach June 9th, 1968. That’s 4,604 future days to ripple through (inclusive, so we’re assuming that Marty was born near the end of the day, but it doesn’t make THAT much of a difference), therefore meta-time travels at about 657.71 times faster than regular time here.

    One problem, cats and kittens: with this number Dave actually fades out too soon (he’s not born till 1963 but he shows effects of fading early in the morning of November 6th, 1955, and with our meta-time speed the changes should only 3.6 years out by then, back in good old 1959). So we adjust our theory to say that these changes here travel at a speed that AVERAGES out to that 657.71 times faster number, but it can go faster and slower in places.

    This raises the question: what does this propagation speed depend on? Well, there’s actually evidence in the movie that lets us conclude that the speed of changes to the timeline is dependent how much it’s being changed from its original shape. AND I CAN PROVE IT WITH MATHS AND LOGICS:

    So remember that Marty starts to fade, and then Lorraine and George kiss and BAM, everyone in Marty’s photograph fades back in right away, one after the other. This is obviously way faster than our number from before, but we incorporate this by assuming that the timeline is flexible, but like a spring, it has a preferred shape. Changes that restore it to its original form propagate much faster (30 years of timeline gets restored in about 4 seconds here, which is a meta-time transmission speed of a zany 236,676,945 times faster than regular time), while those that deform it into unusual shapes travel at our (much) slower speed.

    HOWEVER: it gets more a teensy bit more complicated when you do something that changes the timeline back to its original form in one way, but changes it in another way (like oh I don’t know coming up with and then executing a plan to get your parents back together in such a way that one of them experiences an epiphany and moment of personal growth while the other gets assaulted??). In this case you have TWO ripples going out: the restorative one that puts things back as they were originally with children being born and what not, and the altering one that applies the changes from that baseline.

    That’s RIGHT: two ripples, baby, and they’re travelling at different speeds, with the restorative one several orders of magnitude faster! This is critical because soon when Marty returns back to 1985 he’ll witness himself going back in time again as he remembers it happening, go to bed, and wake up in a future he barely recognizes. The restorative ripple goes through time, restoring his family, in about four seconds. We see that happen with the photograph.

    What we don’t see (because Marty travels through time pretty quickly after this dance and never looks at the photograph again) is the alterations to the baseline timeline that are happening in the meantime, at a slower speed. These are the ones changing his family history to the “improved” edition. When Marty arrives in 1985 he actually gets there BEFORE the alteration ripple gets there (he’s travelled through time and in doing so jumped over the ripple travelling through metatime), so he can watch himself, then he goes to bed. As he sleeps the altering ripple catches up and changes things around him, causing him to wake up in a 1985 he doesn’t recognize. This ripple goes faster than the original one did, travelling 30 years in only about 8 hours of real time instead of a week, but here the changes are proportionally much smaller! All that’s changing is jobs and lifestyles for a few characters, we’re not dealing with an entire family never existing.

    I hope that this post convinces you that changes to the timeline in the Back to the Future (Part 1) universe take time to travel through time, and that the speed at which this metatime allows changes is proportional to the size of the change being made!

    INTERESTING ASIDE: One cool thing we get from this theory is that a more minor change Marty made in 1955 could’ve affected him while he was hanging out there, and it’s a shame he didn’t put any money in a bank account when he was there because midway through his week in the past he could suddenly discover that he’s rich!!

    INTERESTING ASIDE 2: some of you are probably saying “Wait when Marty watches himself it’s the Lone Pine Mall instead of the Twin Pines Mall he remembers, this ruins the theory!” but ACTUALLY, it only strengthens it. One of the first things Marty does when he arrives in 1955 is kill a pine tree, and that minor ripple had a full week of real time to arrive in 1955. When I said earlier there are TWO ripples, I was simplifying: each change actually gets its own ripple, which propagates at a speed dependent on the magnitude of the change. This makes sense as soon as you realize that changes are obviously a spectrum, and not just “major” or “minor”. When Marty arrives in 1985 again it’s already changed from what he’s remembered in minor ways, in the process of changing in more major ways, and will change more over the next few hours as everything stabilizes into the new normal.

    • Too Long, TOTALLY READ. A+.

      • I admire your logic, Facetaco, but I will present an alterna- theory:

        There is a meta-universe and Marty is simply traveling between different potential timelines. As soon as he arrives back in 1955 prime, he has changed history enough to make it 1955 Prime-A. On the other hand, one could imagine Doc’s initial trips have altered history enough to make whatever present Marty was living in Prime-A. So, regardless, Marty changes history in 1955 Prime to cause the track to shift to 1955 Prime-A. Whatever is happening is causing him to fade out in Prime-A, though one might argue perhaps he is just fading *in* to another universe there (which is unexplained). By the end he has caused a new 1955 Prime-B to exist, and it is that universe into which he goes forward. By the end of BTTF 2 he and Biff have created 1955 Prime C (and the weird alterna-1985 that existed I’d call 1985 Non-Prime), and I’d argue by the end of BTTF there is a Prime D world they are operating in, seemingly.

        • Ryan North’s logic, actually. And he TOTALLY addressed that! Like, an hour ago! And now I’m gonna ignore Doobie Keebler because his name is Doobie Keebler, and post it thusly:
          So! Let’s talk about Marty. Specifically, let’s talk about this sequence of events:

          The Marty we’ve been reading about (Marty Prime) goes back in time at the Twin Pines Mall.
          Marty Prime has some adventures that change things (the name of the mall, the circumstances of his parents meeting, his family’s history)
          Marty Prime goes back to the present, goes to the Lone Pine Mall, and watches himself go back in time again.

          See the problem? Whether or not you buy my meta-time explanation of Back To The Future’s time-travel mechanics (though you TOTALLY SHOULD because it TOTALLY WORKS), Marty has returned to a future where at least SOME things have changed: we know for sure the name of the mall has, and we know for sure that Doc’s spent the past 30 years trying to act natural while knowing he’s totally going to invent a time machine and meet Marty and wear a bullet-proof vest someday! And if you don’t buy my theory of changes to the timeline themselves take time, then you’re arguing that EVERYTHING in 1985 has already been altered, and we’re already fully in this Improved 1985 that Marty created for himself.

          Either way, the world we’re in isn’t identical to the one that Marty left at the beginning of the story. And that’s a problem. It’s actually a huge problem, because it means the Marty going back in time NOW isn’t the same Marty that left at the beginning of the story, and time travel is basically the poster child for sensitivity to initial conditions.

          This new Marty has had different experiences, from things as small as the name of the mall to as large as what his family does for a living and whether or not they hire their old high-school bully and sexual assaulter to wax their car (yes this happens, no I dunno why). Due to different life experience, this Marty is a different person than the one we met at the beginning of this story. Let’s call him Marty 2.

          Marty 2, being that different person, is absolutely going to have different adventures in 1955 than Marty Prime did. There’s a few ways these adventures could turn out, especially considering how narrowly Marty Prime avoided disaster when he was running through them:

          Marty 2 doesn’t get his parents back together, and so he ceases to exist. RESULT: Marty 2 and Marty Prime were never born, which causes major damage to the space-time continuum.
          Marty 2 does get his parents back together, but slightly differently, as Marty 2 would interact with Doc differently, blabs about the future differently, steps on different bugs, etc). This results in a new, again altered 1985 where Marty 2 watches Marty 3 go back in time. RESULT: a loop, potentially infinite. The timeline may never stabilize into a solid reality ever again, and Marty 2212626 could watch Marty 2212627 go back in time. This is probably a bad thing.
          Marty 2 doesn’t mess with his parents meeting at all, and so has a different adventure in 1955! At the end of this, either he returns or he doesn’t.
          If he DOESN’T return, then no Marty returned to 1985, INCLUDING THE MARTY PRIME WHICH CREATED HIM. RESULT: Paradox, Marty 2 ceases to exist (and maybe the entire universe does too? I dunno)
          If he DOES return, then he still altered 1955 as he must interact with Doc to get the machine to work, and we’re left with the again-altered 1985 where Marty 2 watches Marty 3 go back and all the potential for infinite loops that presents.

          So either Marty is never born, Marty’s successful trip back to 1985 gets erased (undoing all the work Doc and Marty have put into it and maybe destroying the universe in a paradox), or the timeline starts looping, never reaching a stable new reality. Those are really the only options we’ve got, and none of them are great! They all kinda suck, actually!

          “But Ryan!” you’re saying, “The movie doesn’t show any of these catastrophes happening! So there’s got to be a different way.”

          And this is true. When we reach a conclusion from a set of facts that doesn’t match up with reality, our only option is to look at our reasoning and find the flaw in it. And I totally slipped in an unfounded assumption earlier on you guys when I was talking about the sequence of events. It’s this part:

          3. Marty Prime goes back to the present, goes to the Lone Pine Mall, and watches himself go back in time again.

          Here’s the thing: we only saw Marty 2 travel through time. We never were told his destination. And I submit to you this hypothesis, this wham-bang anagnorisis that changes everything now and forever:

          Marty 2 didn’t go back in time.

          At least, not like Marty Prime did.

          Doc’s a smart guy, and he’s had thirty years to work out the consequences of what happened during that week in 1955. He would’ve gone through this reasoning and made all the same conclusions we did here. So what’s the third way? How do we solve this? There’s two solutions:

          Option 1
          Step 1: Kill Marty McFly.
          Option 2
          Step 1: use these thirty years to design a different time machine, one which rather than travelling within one timeline, allows you to also travel sideways to a different timeLINE.
          Step 2: (Optional) Kill Marty McFly.

          Option 1 is the cleanest, but it’s pretty clear why Doc didn’t chose it. If he had, all he had to do was send Marty 5 billion years into the future, when the sun’s a red giant. Poof: Marty McFly killed instantly in a causality-free way, he never goes back in time, and we avoid the undesirable outcomes of “Marty never born/universe destroyed” or “Timeline constantly in flux”. Instead, Marty dies, Doc never got warned about the terrorists so Doc dies too, and the timeline stabilizes at the cost of both Doc and Marty’s life.

          Option 2 is trickier, but it’s the only thing that gets us to what we were shown happening in the movie and book, so it must’ve been what happened. Here’s how it goes down.

          Doc uses the thirty years head start he has to design a new DeLorean, one that looks the same but operates slightly differently. Rather than go back in time along one timeline, it takes a step sideways and sends you back in time in a parallel timeline. That means that Marty 2 goes to Hill Valley X, and Doc doesn’t have to worry about Marty anymore. Our Doc’s timeline has finally stabilized, with Marty disappearing and, a few months later, presumed dead by his family who misses him terribly.

          But he’s not dead! Marty 2 is in 1955 in Hill Valley X, where he can mess up all he wants and it’ll only affect the future of Marty X, who is causally unrelated to him. This is the critical part. Marty 2 no longer can mess up his own birth, only Marty X’s birth. Let’s say he ends up keeping Marty X alive and then makes it back to 1985. When Marty 2 arrives in 1985 in Hill Valley X2, he’ll watch Marty X2 (as both the town and Marty X himself were altered by Marty 2’s actions) travel through time.

          The problem is this: if Doc X lets Marty X2 go into ANOTHER new parallel timeline, this whole mess repeats, only instead of a constantly-shifting timeline we now have a messy and potentially-infinite explosion of parallel timelines. That’s probably not wise. So instead Doc X (perhaps informed by a note Bulletproof Vest Doc hid in the machine) punches in a different demonstration date of 5 billion years in the future, and Marty X2 quickly burns to death in the heart of our dying sun.

          And that’s it! Both timelines are now stable AND we’ve eliminated the chance of them being altered by killing off an alternate Marty as he makes his first trip in time. Things are stable, the timeline avoided both catastrophic destruction AND an infinite series of Marties, and all it cost us was the life of one Marty X2 McFly.

          I’d say that’s worth it, and it seems like both Doc and Doc X agreed with me.

          (It’s worth noting that the book and the movie both gloss over this point and skip right to the scene of Marty 2 arriving in 1985 Hill Valley X2, which I can only assume was for time concerns.1)

          • I just upvoted both of facetaco’s posts and you should too. Because that way he can get both posts into Monsters’ Ball and it can be the longest, most annoying Monsters’ Ball ever.

      • Are you Doobie Keebler?

    • facetaco, you bojo!

      • Facetaco,

        The second explanation you posted is very interesting but… it only matters if there are finite timelines or parallel worlds. So, when Marty Prime shunts himself into a new timeline/world, and travels forward into it, we have to assume he’s doing so in a world where time travel invented by Doc exists, and Doc has sent Marty somewhere in time. That Marty – call him Marty 2 if you like – can indeed go back to 1955, it’s like that as soon as he does, he’s changed his 1955 forever to make it yet another new world. Doc would never have to worry about killing him because once you go back, you never return to the same timeline. That means *some Marty* would also have ended up in Marty Prime’s original world, just not him (poor guy). It also means the Doc at the end of BTTF3 is not the original Doc nor the Doc2 from the end of BTTF or BTTF 2! Crazy, right? This is some serious Sliders parallel worlds weirdness, but I love it.

  12. guys, I’ve written one of these of my own. It’s titled Are Your Trying To Parody Journalistic Think-Pieces? You’re Doing It Wrong

  13. I just think, the movie exists, and therefore pretty much proves that Shrek is real. Otherwise, why would all these men have created these sections of film that were out of sequence originally and put them together to make one cohesive narrative which tells of Shrek’s existence? The evidence is irrefutable!

  14. there are several swamps on the east coast gabe, you live in new york right? just head south, it keeps getting wetter and wetter. i live in d.c., i would say i encounter approximately forty people a week with a slightly shrek like air. so i shall say yes, shrek does exist.

  15. We’ve got a real Schrödinger’s Shrek thought experiment going on here.

    I would just like to point out that if we lived in the world of South Park where Imagination Land is real, then Shrek is just as real as ManBearPig.

  16. We need to call a Saturday morning Videogum staff meeting to have a detailed PowerPoint on this, if only to conveniently get us all in the office and ready to go live in the unlikely event that breaking news happens.

    Maybe some people can do some petty sniping about relationships in the middle of it. If anyone’s feeling up to it.

  17. Test: test test

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