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Suspension of disbelief [Apr. 30th, 2009|01:14 pm]
dalekboy
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[mood |curiouscurious]

Films and tv shows usually rely on suspension of disbelief.

To me, if one is going to maintain the suspension of disbelief, you have to obey all the ordinary everyday rules that people know and understand. One can believe an massive alien invasion with giant biomechanoid floating death cannons, so long as the world rules beyond that are consistent. But if a human character, in avoiding one of these cannons, jumps off a ten storey building without any sort of aid, or interruptions to their fall, and land unharmed and run off - that's the deal breaker. One knows that's not possible, and suddenly one is left questioning that moment, and by default, the rest of the film.

I mentioned in a post yesterday that I hate it in films and tv when medics use the defibrillator paddles on a woman to try and restart her heart, and they are using them through material - bras, tank tops, etc. - rather than on bare skin. It pulls me right out of the moment, because I know it's not right.

I also mentioned hating when people can just break passwords when they have no information on the person, which has become really common in shows. Any computer whizz can break any password, within a relatively short time.

Another one I hate is when someone who is driving spends time looking at the their passenger rather than paying attention to the road. Quick glances are fine, but when they're maintaining eye contact for whole big chunks of conversation it annoys me. If you regularly did it in real life there's no way you wouldn't crash.

king_espresso mentioned that he hates when people don't wear ear protection on board military helicopters, which is a great one. Well, except now I'll be looking for it and getting annoyed by it.

kaths brought up the way people type madly on computer keyboards to do things that the rest of us would do with a mouse. We're in the internet age, everyone uses computers, we know they don't work this way.

kaths also mentioned the way they can zoom in on a small section of a photo, blow up that section, sharpen/clean it up, and suddenly have a incredibly clear and detailed picture. It's the equivalent of being able to blow up my icon for this post to read all the book titles.

So what about you? What regularly used, unrealistic film and tv conceits pull you out of the moment?
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[User Picture]From: sjl
2009-04-30 05:26 am (UTC)
kaths brought up the way people type madly on computer keyboards to do things that the rest of us would do with a mouse. We're in the internet age, everyone uses computers, we know they don't work this way.

Speak for yourself. I still make a lot of use of the command line, because there are some things that are far more efficient that way. In my first job, I'd do certain things through the CLI, and get them done far more quickly than my colleagues could do them with the GUI, even with the ridiculously excessively verbose commands the system forced me to use.

It does depend on the circumstance, though. And having said all that - somebody tapping on the keyboard, and not touching the space bar for hours? I think not.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-04-30 05:52 am (UTC)
I also use a fair few keyboard shortcuts.

Her example is more to do with the stuff where a mouse is the obvious way it would be done. Selecting a part of a picture to crop and blow-up, for example.
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[User Picture]From: capnoblivious
2009-04-30 05:29 am (UTC)
My degree is in chemistry - it doesn't show up very often in film and TV, but when it does, it's usually wrong.

I vaguely recall an episode of the X-Files, where Scully, a medical doctor with physics training, takes a fairly simple NMR spectrum from a scientist, shows it to Mulder, saying in serious scientific tones, "This is a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrograph."

Mulder, a psychologist, says something like, "But this chemical is ten years beyond our technology!"

And I thought, it shows hydrogen atoms relative to each other on a carbon framework. How the hell do you work that out?

Then they showed the molecule on a computer screen, because you can do that, in TV-land, go straight from a printed spectrum to a 3D computer program.

As near as I could tell, the compound was ethanol, or something similarly small and simple. Which was fair, because the NMR was clearly also of something small and simple.

The mistake wasn't so much the science - it was a sf show - so much as trying to create an aura of scientific realism, badly.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-04-30 05:54 am (UTC)
If the writers have done their research, there should be specific bits written into the script explaining what needs to be onscreen. Maybe they did, and production got it wrong, but I think a lot of writers are lazy and fudge things for TV.
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[User Picture]From: dortamur
2009-04-30 05:34 am (UTC)
I'm very good at suspending disbelief, or at least accepting wacky things in the context of a film, but sometimes I get pushed way over the edge.

The first big thing that leaps to mind is The Mummy II with the dawn sunlight creeping across the ground as they outrun it and hope it won't reach the big crystal at the top of the pyramid. Basic geometry and physics please! Then again, if it was a Discworld film, it'd be more forgivable, because light is described as crawling over the land.

Oh, and cars on the ground outrunning the orbital laser closing in on them. Hmmm, another Geometry one.

There's scenes that make me wince in disbelief - Doc Oc in Spiderman 2 getting thrown about (he's still just a human with uber-arms), Iron Man slamming into the ground in suit #1, Indy (4) slamming into the ground in fridge #1, etc...

Then you take a film like Wanted, which I caught recently and thoroughly enjoyed, curving bullets and all. In my mind it was a silly action fantasy film, so bullets curving around things were just fine.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-04-30 06:09 am (UTC)
The commentary on Mummy 2 has Sommers saying that the light is wrong, but he chose to do it that way so the audience would have a visual reference for the light approaching the building. I can accept that reasoning even if the physics are wrong, because it's an artistic choice. That said, having a big mountain behind the building with the sunlight creeping down it would give you the same reference.

I bloody hated the blimp with jet engines. Seriously hated it. Still do.

Still on Mummy 2, when characters go against everything they represent for no good reason. Anck Su Namun running away and leaving Imhotep to die betrays the core motivation for everything both characters go through over the two movies. If she had died trying to save him instead, you've stayed true to that, and him consigning himself to Hell still works.

Van Helsing has a number of scenes where normal humans take incredible hits only to get straight back up again. It was also a rubbish film.
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[User Picture]From: kateorman
2009-04-30 05:41 am (UTC)
... tell you what really drives me crazy, though: when there's food and people never get around to eating it. The bloody Herbs and Stewed Rabbit! And that Admiral in Next Gen, where they made such a big deal of how she liked canapes, and then she never actually eats them! I always think: if you're not gonna eat it, give it to ME!
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[User Picture]From: fuschia17
2009-04-30 06:02 am (UTC)
Maybe that would send production costs too high... But they had to procure the food in the first place...

Or the actors have a clause in their contracts about eating - i.e. they've spent too darn long dieting to the size they are, they can't afford the extra kilojules!
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[User Picture]From: fuschia17
2009-04-30 06:00 am (UTC)
My biggest peeve that I can think of is there is a critical situation as in the Torchwood episode "They keep killing Suzie" Where they have a limited time to warn the woman in danger and instead of telling the woman while she has time to turn around and come back they call someone else to help them get out instead! (Trying not to make this too spoilery)

and another pet peeve which can be applied to tv shows in general is the "time limit" i.e. "you only have several minutes to the bomb exploding" scenario - it gets to the last countdown of a minute and a few minutes later after initially hesitating the protagonist has of course saved the day, just in the nick of time. What's even worse is usually during the course of this 60 seconds there's an argument between characters telling them to hurry up.

Or another variation is there is a dire situation where someone has been driving/travelling all night and if they don't get help by a certain time they will die... Help gives chase and they only take half as long to arrive and always with a couple of minutes to spare. Not that you want bad guys to win, and as Dr Who points out, time isn't a straight line, it's a wibbly wobbly ball, but still...

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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-04-30 06:45 am (UTC)
Star Trek Next Gen used to regularly have problems where characters were being exposed to radiation due to a shield failure or something. And you'd have the computer saying things like, "Two minutes to lethal exposure."

At the thirty second mark, they'd get the shield back up, and everyone was perfectly fine. They've still been exposed to high doses of radiation! They're still going to get very sick and need treatment. And if someone was already sick or weak, then they'll probably die, because people have different tolerances.
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[User Picture]From: gemfyre
2009-04-30 06:45 am (UTC)
Oh! Volcanoes. Movies volcanoes are bound to emit both pyroclastic flows AND liquid lava flows. In real life it's either/or. You can have a safe, non-explosive Hawaiian type volcano with it's pretty glowing red lava, or you can have an Andesitic type volcano which creates a massive boom and great clouds of ash but very little in the way of lava flow.

You're not going to outrun a pyroclastic cloud. You're not even gonna beat it if you're driving.
Your car will not drive over lava unscathed.

Dante's Peak has a lot to answer for.
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[User Picture]From: kaelajael
2009-04-30 06:57 am (UTC)
One of my biggest beefs with Star Trek was the security on the transporters. Anyone and everyone including children and total strangers unfamiliar with Starfleet technology could and would over ride it and lock out the command.
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[User Picture]From: strangedave
2009-04-30 07:29 am (UTC)
Another amusing thing -- when you see a panel of fancy equipment on TV, it is very often professional audio gear, no matter what it is supposed to be, which is funny if you recognise it. At least one audio magazine has a regular feature documenting the phenomenon. Basically, they need a shot of some fancy high tech looking gear with lights and knobs and things, and there is always this one guy involved in production with a big rack of gear that looks just like that, so they just borrow it for the shot....

A particular high point was Abby from NCIS using a pro-tools audio mixing controller to control the magic photo enhancing software.
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[User Picture]From: strangedave
2009-04-30 07:31 am (UTC)
which obviously, is particularly funny for those shots when you get the impression the villains high-tech control room is mostly filled with the audio engineers that provide enhanced surround sound gloating ability.
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[User Picture]From: arcadiagt5
2009-04-30 07:44 am (UTC)
I think the biggest one for me is inconsistent handling/development of a character, possibly the most egregious example of which is Xander in BtVS.

Almost every other character CONSISTENTLY grows in power, abilities, depth etc but Xander will be written back to S1 goofiness whenever convenient to the current episode.

(Possibly this is why so much BtVS fanfic seems to be Xander centred...)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-04-30 08:25 am (UTC)
Actually, the Xander problem is down to Joss Whedon. Xander is Whedon, as in, Whedon based the character on himself when he was young and dorky. And Whedon couldn't see that he had grown beyond that, so it tended to hamstring the Xander's character.
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[User Picture]From: bunnikins
2009-04-30 01:55 pm (UTC)
I hate it when action occurs in water that either should be or clearly is filthy - and it's crystal clear when they cut to the underwater scenes. Like when people are wading through sewers waist deep in brown murk, but when they wrestle with the bad guy in said murk they have no trouble seeing the gun he kicks away to retrieve it at a dramatic moment. And said gun usually works despite said murk, too.

Also, not a regularly used annoyance thankfully, but I had to be physically restrained from standing up to lecture the screen at several points during The Ninth Gate, namely the parts where Depp's supposed 'rare book dealer' character shoves ancient books in his shoulder bag to transport them, smokes and drinks over them, and *cracks the spine* to make copies of Ye Olde Satanic Clues.
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[User Picture]From: ghoath
2009-05-01 02:23 am (UTC)
woah this comment thread is way to long to read what other people said, which is a shame.

My big one is the pictures getting cleaned up thing. If they do that on a show, I completely lose the plot; yelling at the TV.
Now when I even see the adverts for Spooks I yell.
Getting the serial number off a granade pin, from a camera phone shot that was pointing up to the sky...no way!


PS I think you should redo this as a poll; it would be interesting to see the distribution of results.

Edited at 2009-05-01 02:24 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-05-01 03:41 am (UTC)
Problem is, it's too big to do as a poll!

Though I may be able to fudge something.
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[User Picture]From: cumbernotathome
2009-05-01 04:34 am (UTC)
Again on computers, it always irks me a little when some fantastic computer-whiz is knocking up something quickly (hacking into something is very common, but there are other similar scenarios), and then we see on the monitor some simple gui showing the audience "computer is hard at work doing what the computer-expert just said they were going to make it do; oh look it's done now", with embellishments that are specific to whatever is being done. i.e. there either already was a GUI program for doing this, or the hacker decided to write one on the way, there and then. A very common sub-type is the number of corporations and government agencies that, according to film and TV, seem to have elements in their servers' interface software specifically to let hackers know when they've successfully bypassed the security mechanisms.
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[User Picture]From: sjkasabi
2009-05-02 06:07 am (UTC)
I hate the compulsory bit in fight sequences where someone falls over a ledge and dangles from one arm and then pulls themselves back up and shows no sign of a dislocated shoulder thereafter. Grr!

Thanks for the opportunity to share that :)
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