This Week in Awesome History: January 30th – February 5th

The death of the face of Anon, Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" and Disney's first animated film all feature This Week in Awesome History.

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro

It's a week of real ups 'n' downs – fireworks shooting up, Janet Jackson's bra falling down…


January 31st, 1606: Guy Fawkes' Execution

On this day in 1606 Guy Fawkes was scheduled to be executed following his attempt to blow up the British Parliament building on November 5th.

The night prior to a Parliament meeting Thomas Knyvet found Fawkes in the cellar of the building with two tons of gunpowder. Fawkes, an English Catholic, was planning to blow up King James I and the rest of the Protestant government.

Following Fawkes' arrest his fellow conspirators were found and either captured or killed by authorities, with many innocents also suffering the same fate. Fawkes was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered on January 31st but, as the noose was wrapped around his neck, he jumped from the pedestal he was standing on and killed himself instantly to ensure that he would not face any further torture.

Although Fawkes wasn't the main conspirator in the plot (that honour goes to Robert Catesby) he has become the name most synonymous with it. His act of rebellion has also made him the face of Anonymous; 4Chan's faceless, nameless band of internet vigilantes.It also led to the annual tradition of Bonfire Night, where people celebrate by lighting bonfires and setting off fireworks.


February 1st, 2004: Janet Jackson's Superbowl "Wardrobe Malfunction"

During the Superbowl XXXVIII half-time show Janet Jackson bared a little more than the crowd and audience watching at home bargained for when, during a duet with Justin Timberlake on his hit single "Rock Your Body", he pulled her leather corset open exposing her breast in the process.

This caused a media frenzy with over half a million complaints recorded, lawsuits filed and sponsors of the Superbowl demanding refunds. This wasn't helped when Jackson, who was practically forced into hiding following the incident, claimed that it was a simple "wardrobe malfunction".


February 2nd, Every Year: It's Groundhog Day!

Though the Bill Murray film of the same name is likely to be the first thing that springs to mind when someone refers to Groundhog Day, it is actually a real celebration that takes place Punxsutawney, Canada, where many gather to wait to see whether or not a Groundhog will leave its burrow. 

According to folklore, if a groundhog leaves its burrow while it is cloudy, the winter weather will end. However, if the groundhog leaves its burrow while it is sunny, the winter weather will continue for a further six weeks.

The celebration of groundhog day dates back to as far as 1887.


February 4th, 1938: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is released

On this day in 1938 Walt Disney defied expectations by releasing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, his first animated feature-length film.

Many (including his wife) believed that a feature-length cartoon would not be profitable, meaning that the $15million Disney required to make the movie he had to borrow, essentially putting the future of his career at risk. Fortunately, his risky decision paid dividends, with Snow White receiving unanimous praise from audiences and critics alike, garnering standing ovations wherever it played.

Reaching the $8million mark in no time, Snow White was the most profitable film ever up until that point. It is now widely regarded as Disney's finest animated feature, with it earning top honours in the American Film Institute's list of the greatest American animated films of all time. It featured at #34 on the AFI's 100 greatest American films of all time, being the only traditionally animated feature on the list.

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