Are there certain things you notice in movie after movie, TV show after TV show, that nip at your suspension of disbelief, because they keep happening as if they're the most normal thing in the world, but they aren't normal at all?

Yes, of course there are. So post 'em!

I'll kick the game off with a few of my own:

1) Aluminum "movie briefcases"

Whenever anybody in a movie or TV show has a briefcase or attache case, it's always this lined, silver metal (I assume aluminum) case that I have never seen anywhere except a movie or TV show. (Google says Halliburton makes 'em.) It's the briefcase with the mystery object in Pulp Fiction. It's the briefcase that MCU Phase One movies arrive in, if you ordered the one with the Tesseract prop. It is the briefcase in every single movie or TV show you have ever seen.

But, while they are remarkable, no one in movies or TV shows remarks on them.

2) Perfect torches

I used to burn the caterpillar nests out of our pecan trees when I was younger. That requires a torch, and proper torches (not of Tiki variety) are apparently not on sale anywhere. So I made my own. And let me tell you, it's hard to make a torch from home materials. Maybe if I had some pitch? Well, I tried all kinds of different approaches, but making a good, long-burning torch was pretty difficult.

From that you can assume that none of my torches look like the ones on TV, which have perfectly match-shaped heads on perfectly straight, lathe-hewn wood handles. And they are always conveniently available, lying around in the haunted tomb or stuck in sconces as the heroes explore the catacombs.

These are not torches that a pre-industrial society could make, and yet, lo, gird your loins, because they're in all those biblical and Greek-god movies. They are in every movie or TV show that requires a torch, from Vikings to the Indiana Jones movies. And they simply should not exist, much less be ubiquitous.

One other thing: The actors are clearly not using the torches to see (after all, we can see them pretty clearly, torches or no torches), which is why when somebody says, "Look" they all thrust their torches forward, as if they are flashlights. If you've ever actually used a torch, you know that thrusting the torch forward A) blinds you with glare, and B) sends smoke right up your nose and into your eyes. No, when somebody yells "Look!" you hold the torch HIGHER,so that it acts like an overhead light. Like, you know, something else that helps you see, like the sun.

3) Running in the woods

You can't.

Uneven ground, treacherous footing, vines and roots everywhere, and all of it covered up with leaves and undergrowth. Run in the woods and you'll twist your ankle. Run in the woods at night and you'll break your ankle.

4) Perfect visibility in the dark

How many movies or TV shows have you watched where the principals engage in combat, or gunplay, or other complicated activities when it's dark -- and yet they (and you) can see everything clearly. Almost as if it's NOT dark, but the middle of the afternoon, and the crew is shooting with night lenses.

Whoops! Let the cat out of the bag. But let me tell you, if you're not near a city or near streetlights, and it's night, it is COUNTRY DARK. Can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark. If you're in the woods, not even the moon helps, because it's blocked by tree canopy. So you have to move very carefully (see "Running in the woods" above). You're certainly not going to be able to, oh, I dunno, fight a horde of zombies. (Looking at you, The Walking Dead.)

Besides, if it's dark, light a fire and the zombies will swarm THAT and leave you alone. But nobody seems to think of it.

5) Perfect visibility while swimming underwater

See above.

This is especially true if you're swimming in something other than a swimming pool, which might have lights. Your basic swamp water, river water, bay water and the like will be murky at the best of times. At night, it will be opaque.

6) A group of five or more where nobody wears glasses

More than 25 percent of the population ages 15-24 needs vision correction, and that's just for myopia. Throw in presbyopia, macular degeneration, astigmatism and other ills, and it's preposterous that the bespecatcled are so poorly representatives. Sure, some could be wearing contacts. But all of them?

7) Magic flashlights

If you're searching a room in the dark, a flashlight is a good idea. But if you're searching the woods, or standing on the porch looking out into the darkness, or trying to see anything more than a few feet from you -- the flashlight isn't going to reveal anything. But it WILL give away your location to whatever you're looking for, and then IT will start stalking YOU. Any time you're in a dangerous situation, guard your light so nobody can see it. Basically all a flashlight is good for in the woods or fields is to point it at the ground so you can avoid breaking your ankle.

Heck, even when searching a room, guard your light. Someone waving a flashlight around in a dark room makes a very distinctive and eye-catching searchlight effect to people outside. Like neighbors. Or cops.

But on screen, flashlights always reveal what the protagonists need, and nobody else notices the existence of this light in the darkness. It's magic.

7) The Surprise Lesbian Reveal

It's become virtually customary that for any movie or long-running TV show with two or more women, one of them will be -- surprise! -- a lesbian. Here's the thing: If everybody does it, it's not a surprise any more.

On Fear the Walking Dead, I predicted to my wife that Al would be the Surprise Lesbian Reveal. (I was right.) On NOS4A2, my wife called the chick with the Scrabble tiles as the SLR. (She was right.)

I don't have any problem with gay characters on TV or in movies. But I would argue that lesbians are laughably over-represented in movies/TV -- maybe 50 percent at this point -- whereas gay men are almost invisible. And if it happens on every show, as I said above, it ceases to be a surprise. But most of all, stop treating the reveal like it is sensational, stunning news. For one thing, A) lesbians exist, and nobody is surprised that they do, and 2) sexuality is just one aspect of a person. So when you present the lesbian reveal as an OMG moment, it's just pandering.

Your turn!

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Speaking of the night sky, here's something we just saw on TV:

Star Train

Watching The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean I was reminded of another trope that makes me roll my eyes. And it's this: Movies and TV make it look ridiculously easy to dig a grave. And not just any grave, but one that is a perfect 8x2.5 shape.

Folks, digging is hard work. Really hard work. Back when graves were dug by hand, a couple of men would take several days to dig a grave -- if there was a rush, they'd add more men. And it wasn't until the addition of modern earth-moving machines that graves were those perfect 8x2.5s with plumb-straight walls and perfect 90-degree-angle corners.

There's a reason why serial killers use shallow graves. Deep ones are hard to dig!

And yet, people on The Walking Dead dig graves all the time, and it only takes a couple of hours. And nobody even seems to break a sweat. And the graves are perfect. It just makes me laugh.

Roy Bean reminded of this because Anthony Perkins dug a row of perfect graves, maybe seven or eight, in an afternoon. The Rock couldn't do that, and Anthony Perkins is no Rock.

Yep.  When I lived in Crete, Greece, I had a couple of cats that died and in each case I had a very difficult time digging holes in the very rocky land big enough to bury them (and although I lived in a very rural area, near the coast, in an apartment complex surrounded by olive trees, there was no place nearby with soil that was easy to dig).  So the pet graves were very shallow, but then I covered them with the multitude of nearby rocks.  I can appreciate how much more work, strain and time it would be for one person to dig even just one standard six-feet deep grave.

Captain Comics said:

Watching The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean I was reminded of another trope that makes me roll my eyes. And it's this: Movies and TV make it look ridiculously easy to dig a grave. And not just any grave, but one that is a perfect 8x2.5 shape.

Folks, digging is hard work. Really hard work. Back when graves were dug by hand, a couple of men would take several days to dig a grave -- if there was a rush, they'd add more men. And it wasn't until the addition of modern earth-moving machines that graves were those perfect 8x2.5s with plumb-straight walls and perfect 90-degree-angle corners.

There's a reason why serial killers use shallow graves. Deep ones are hard to dig!

And yet, people on The Walking Dead dig graves all the time, and it only takes a couple of hours. And nobody even seems to break a sweat. And the graves are perfect. It just makes me laugh.

Roy Bean reminded of this because Anthony Perkins dug a row of perfect graves, maybe seven or eight, in an afternoon. The Rock couldn't do that, and Anthony Perkins is no Rock.

Many, many moons ago, I was a regular customer of a comics shop that was not close to home. Getting there meant hours of riding on public transit, or walking for miles in the snow -- uphill, both ways, I swear! -- just so I could get my weekly fix and my back issues of Our Army at War featuring Sgt. Rock and Weird Western Tales featuring Jonah Hex (which I still have, by the way).

The proprietor once told me a story I never forgot about his days in the Army, and a sergeant who punished two guys for some infraction. I forget what, specifically, they did wrong, but the sergeant made them dig a 6-foot hole, all the while reading a magazine as they did their work.

When they finished, he tossed the magazine into the hole, and then had them fill it back in.

Then he said, "I want my magazine back." 

So, yes, they had to re-dig the hole to get the magazine back. And then fill it back in. 

Whatever it was those poor saps did, I'm sure they never did it again. 

Another one is when someone doesn't give  a straight answer in order to serve a dramatic reveal:

Captain:  "Lieutenant, what's going on down there?"

Lieutenant:  "Captain, you'd better get down here and see this."

I keep waiting for the Captain to say, "No, jackass, how 'bout you answer my question?"

Oh, man, CK -- I can't tell you how much I love this. It's just merciless!


ClarkKent_DC said:

Many, many moons ago, I was a regular customer of a comics shop that was not close to home. Getting there meant hours of riding on public transit, or walking for miles in the snow -- uphill, both ways, I swear! -- just so I could get my weekly fix and my back issues of Our Army at War featuring Sgt. Rock and Weird Western Tales featuring Jonah Hex (which I still have, by the way).

The proprietor once told me a story I never forgot about his days in the Army, and a sergeant who punished two guys for some infraction. I forget what, specifically, they did wrong, but the sergeant made them dig a 6-foot hole, all the while reading a magazine as they did their work.

When they finished, he tossed the magazine into the hole, and then had them fill it back in.

Then he said, "I want my magazine back." 

So, yes, they had to re-dig the hole to get the magazine back. And then fill it back in. 

Whatever it was those poor saps did, I'm sure they never did it again. 

Y'know what bugs me...

WET STREETS: This always did kinda bug me when streets in a movie were wet when it hadn't rained earlier in the day, but when I found out directors wet down the streets because it supposedly "looks interesting," it really bugs me. Nothing yanks me out of a movie more, except maybe...

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Possibly the most obvious example being Godzilla 1985.

I think that product placement of real products is less likely to pull me out of a story than placement of obvious fakes with names similar to real products. 

I'm with Richard Willis on this one. I remember a Dudley Moore film, Crazy People, in which he plays an ad executive who has a nervous breakdown and checks into a psychiatric hospital. While there, he and his fellow patients come up with ad campaigns that are brash and blunt ("Jaguar. Sleek and Smart. For Men Who'd Like Hand Jobs from Beautiful Women They Hardly Know"). The movie used a lot of real company names for the fake campaigns, which made the fake name used for the package delivery campaign -- which featured a driver recklessly careening through the streets at full speed -- really glaring ("CONTINENTAL EXPRESS. We'll Screw Them to Get Your Package There On Time").

On the other hand, there's Cast Away, part of the cycle of films that prove it's dangerous to travel with Tom Hanks. The film producers knew they had to use a real company to give the movie emotional heft. FedEx agreed -- although they weren't too wild about the plane crash early on in the story -- and gave the filmmakers lots of access to its facilities.

FedEx, however, did not give the filmmakers any money. Not every product placement is paid.

(Plus, the promotional value of Cast Away -- despite that plane crash early on in the story that they weren't too wild about -- was well worth it to FedEx.)

Oh, man, you said Crazy People, and I *immediately* remembered that Jaguar tagline! Whatever else was going on in that movie, that was a gag that LANDED.

Product placement done badly can be grating. Like in the 2014 remake of Annie; there's a scene in which several character ride in a helicopter, and actor David Zayas asks which model it was (it's a Bell 429 GlobalRanger). Or the Fantasticar in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which was a Dodge! No friggin' way! (Not just because Dodges are uncool, but because the Fantasticar isn't really a car; it's an aircraft.)

Done matter-of-factly, it doesn't have to be so bad. I recall a scene on an episode of One Life to Live in which a character is eating lunch -- a new variety of Campbell's Soup. Done tongue-in-cheek, it can be even better, like the way Subway sandwiches were integrated in Chuck.

Crazy People is a Dudley Moore movie we somehow missed. Will see it soon.

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