I Fought Google's "Bacon Search" and Google Won
Kevin Bacon killed my weekend
Like every other person in the country, I was quite charmed with Google's new "Bacon number" search tool. If you didn't read the Internet this weekend, you may have missed the landslide of blog posts, news articles and the like raving over how much fun you can have finding the degrees of separation between Kevin Bacon and any other actor you can come up with. According to the rules of the game, any actor can be connected to Bacon within six movies or less.
The Kevin Bacon separation concept isn't new by any means, it's been a cocktail party game for years. In fact Bacon has a charity with the name Sixdegrees.org based on the namesake. With Google's new search function, it just became much easier and much trendier, for a hot minute.
Patch.com among other sites are calling it the "Best 5-Minute Time Waster." "Touché to that," I say; this tool is the best five-hour time waster! I spent much of this weekend trying to stump the Google tool, with very little success. There has to be an actor that's more than six degrees away from Bacon, and I was on a mission to find that person.
My first approach to this conundrum was to go random. The more random the actor, I assumed, the more degrees of separation there must be. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Raven-Symoné's Bacon number is 2 Raven-Symoné and Oliver Platt appeared in Dr. Dolittle. Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon appeared in X-Men: First Class.
That is so Raven of her to be connected to Bacon via Oliver Platt!
Liberace's Bacon number is 2 Liberace and Roddy McDowall appeared in The Loved One. Roddy McDowall and Kevin Bacon appeared in The Big Picture.
I was not sure if Liberace had ever made any films, although I assumed he had scored a few. Not only was Bacon connected to Liberace by two degrees, but I also found myself wasting a good 30 minutes watching Liberace footage on Youtube. Damn you Bacon!
Since random wasn't the key to frying the Bacon (zing), I decided to go for old -- old as in dead. How could Bacon be so closely connected to a group of actors that were corpses just when he was breaking into the business? Again, I was sorely mistaken. Bacon has apparently been acting since the advent of the kinetescope.
Humphrey Bogart's Bacon number is 3 Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre appeared in Casablanca. Peter Lorre and Jack Nicholson appeared in The Raven. Jack Nicholson and Kevin Bacon appeared in A Few Good Men.
Since Bogart has been in so many movies, it is natural to assume he would be connected to Bacon somehow, but I thought it would be more like five connections.
James Dean's Bacon number is 3 James Dean and Dennis Hopper appeared in Rebel Without a Cause. Dennis Hopper and Chris Penn appeared in True Romance. Chris Penn and Kevin Bacon appeared in Footloose.
James Dean, despite being one of the most recognized actors of his time, was only credited in three movies during his short career. Again, I was surprised that only three other actors separated Bacon and Dean. At this point, I had probably been Googling for about two hours and I was starting to go blind. Additionally, it occurred to me that perhaps Chris Penn is the real connection here and Google should consider giving him his own "degrees of separation" search tool. And I realized that I need to rewatch Footloose, or at the very least the "dance in an abandoned tunnel" scene. Don't dance angry.
Neva Gerber's Bacon number is 4 Neva Gerber and Jack Perrin appeared in The Santa Fe Trail. Jack Perrin and William Gould appeared in Wolf Riders. William Gould and Frances Lee McCain appeared in Phantom Thunderbolt. Frances Lee McCain and Kevin Bacon appeared in Footloose.
Getting closer! Neva Gerber was an actress of silent films and made more than 100 of them. One of last films she acted in, The Voice From the Sky, was the first serialized film to use synchronized sound. It is very bizarre.
To be fair, there are a ton of silent film actors and actresses that Google found no connection to, but that's no fun. The point of this heated competition between Google and I is to find a connection that is more than six degrees. So in some sense, I have won, but in another sense no loud bells went off on my computer and my disc drive did not start shooting out quarters as I imagined it would.
My next thought was to go porn. I don't think Bacon has ever done a porn, which is not to say he isn't closely related to the porn industry.
Jenna Jameson's Bacon number is 2 Jenna Jameson and James Hong appeared in How to Make Love to a Woman. James Hong and Kevin Bacon appeared in R.I.P.D..
I was hoping Jenna Jameson was in a Kevin Bacon movie, but instead they are connected through James Hong, who you would recognize from the bazillion cameos he's had in movies and television for the past five decades.
Ron Jeremy's Bacon number is 2 Ron Jeremy and James Gunn appeared in Tales from the Crapper. James Gunn and Kevin Bacon appeared in Super.
Admittedly, I don't know that much about porn. Jameson and Jeremy are basically the end of the dirty-movie line for me. What I do know is that Tales From the Crapper seems like a quality film.
As difficult as it was to find a seventh degree of separation, it was even harder trying to avoid all of the other posts about this topic to not skew my own search. Wasn't there some sort of protest going on that the New York Times should be reporting on rather than a flawed Bacon search?
My last ditch effort was to go fake. How can Bacon be connected to something that is not a person?
Kermit the Frog's Bacon number is 3 Kermit the Frog and Frank Oz appeared in Frog Prince. Frank Oz and Rose Byrne appeared in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Rose Byrne and Kevin Bacon appeared in X-Men: First Class.
Once again, I was slapped in the face by my Google nemesis. I suppose if you assume that Kermit had his own trailer and demanded fly-flavored M&Ms, then he could be considered an actor and then, of course, he is connected to Bacon via the plethora of actors he has worked with over the years. Although, I may have connected them by way of Ed Koch, who was in the The Muppets Take Manhattan.
Then I started Googling all of the actors on the WB tween drama series. Not that I don't consider these people real, I just don't consider them real actors. Nope and more nope. The entire cast of Vampire Diaries is connected to Bacon by no more than two degrees of separation.
After what felt like all day, because it was, I decided to concede to Google. And I Googled "highest Bacon number" and was pleased to find that even The Guardian is tackling this most pressing of journalistic issues. According to The Guardian:
And the notion that Bacon can always be reached by six degrees or less as the most connected actor in Hollywood is resoundingly false. There are 196 other actors whose connection is greater than the six-degree mark, which is one reason why the site has Bacon currently ranked as the 444th most connected actor in Hollywood.
Why didn't you tell us this to begin with? I want my 24 hours back.
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