I grew up reading about movies and TV. The libraries were filled with books on the subject, and it was always fascinating reading. I remember one TV producer saying “They’ll never notice!”
Unfortunately because so much of this is part of our culture, a whole lot of writers think it’s a good idea to use movies for research instead of either hitting the books, asking an expert, or going out to experience a place. Here are some the reasons why it’s such a bad idea.
Hollywood loves stereotypes and cliches
Every film and TV show has one problem going in: Time. They have to make the movie fit within a certain amount of minutes. So stereotypes become a quick shortcut. A thug has a certain “look” so that when he walks on screen and the ominous music is cued, we know he’s a bad guy.
Cliches are another shortcut. If a producer spots something cool and neat, every movie will repeat it as if it were TRUE for everyone.
Just about every TV show and film with a blind person has had the character touch the face of another character to “see” what he looks like. I have no doubt that there was probably a newspaper article on a blind person who did this. But Hollywood latched onto it and put it into nearly every film and show that followed. A friend who is blind says that they don’t do all the touchy feely stuff.
Problems with accuracy
Films depicting actual events or historical events aren’t always accurate. Many “biopics” have annoyed the original source because details were altered to tell the story. Sometimes there isn’t a reason why they got changed. Historical stories might be loosely told. Heck, even the costuming may not be accurate. A friend checked the medals a military character wore. It was obvious the prop guy grabbed a handful, since it was impossible for the character to be fifty years in the future and be in WWII (well, unless he was a time traveler).
The Hollywood Action Scene
Let’s be realistic here—Hollywood action scenes are designed to be eye candy. Sometimes some scenes may even be designed to be put in a trailer to get audiences to see the movie.
Those scenes are done with wires and harnesses and stunt men. To show Wonder Woman (the Lynda Carter version) jumping up into a window, the stunt woman had to jump out of the window backwards. Then the film was reversed so it looked like she was jumping up to the window.
For those sword fighting scenes where the hero is attacked by multiple bad guys, it’s a one second delay before each man attacks. You wouldn’t think that second would make a lot of difference, but it does. I saw a demo with the delay and then the real thing from re-enactors. With the delay, the lone man could defend himself against all the attackers. With no delay, he got overwhelmed alarmingly fast.
Shooting a criminal in the leg
You know the scene. Bad guy runs away. Good guy pulls out his gun, takes careful aim, and shoots bad guy in the leg.
Right. Looks great. Makes the audience think the detective is a good guy for not letting the bad guy live. And very hard to do.
I was taught in the military to aim at center mass. That’s biggest part of the body. The basic reason? You’ll likely to hit it.
A leg’s a really small target. Add moving in a running motion, and it’s even harder target.
Why do what Hollywood is doing?
Hollywood is very unoriginal. Why be unoriginal?