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
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
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.
"Surprise Lesbian Reveal" sounds like a special technique from a fighting manga/anime:
"Soul Spirit Punch!"
"Spinning Demon Kick!"
"Surprise Lesbian Reveal!"
I’ll just piggy-back off of yours for now.
You already mentioned Tiki torches, but my motto is “Never pass up the opportunity to ridicule Nazis.”
PERFECT VISIBILITY IN THE DARK:
I’ll tell you a show that is particularly egregious about this: Swamp Thing. Man! You’d think there were a half dozen 500 watt klieg lights suspended above the trees just out of camera range (which, of course, there are). I have spent a lot of time in the woods after dark in my youth, not even necessarily all that far from the city. A swampt must be 100 times worse. “Country Dark.” Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.
One time I was by myself, way after dark, on my way to the Missouri River near my home. I don’t even remember why, but I remember how dark it was. I was walking through a small sliver of woods, between the the railroad tracks and the river, which I knew well. I was walking and walking. I kept thinking, “Should be there by now.” Suddenly I noticed, off to my right, the glint of water which shouldn’t be there. This was a spot that would flood, but we hadn’t had any heavy rain lately. Then I noticed the water was moving. Then I realized it was the river! Somehow, I had gotten turned around and had been walking parallel to the river when I thought I was walking perpendicular to it. Man, that was a weird feeling when my perception suddenly shifted 90 degrees!
THE SURPRISE LESBIAN REVEAL: Saw one of those just last night on a Netflix show I won’t mention (to avpoid spoilers) because I know many of us watch it.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
I have spent a lot of time in the woods after dark in my youth...
I had a similar adjustment when I moved from the most built-up part of Framingham (where even at night it was never completely dark) to the rural parts of Marshfield where it was DARK at night. Made me realize how much of a city boy I was.
Captain Comics said:
6) A group of five or more where nobody wears glasses
This brings to my mind Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, in which the Enterprise crew is in 1980s San Francisco, and needs some money. Captain Kirk sells some now-ancient spectacles to an antiques dealer (a gift to him from Dr. McCoy, as Spock objects) and afterward, outside the store, doles out the cash to his team. My wife said that scene looked like a drug deal.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
THE SURPRISE LESBIAN REVEAL: Saw one of those just last night on a Netflix show I won’t mention (to avoid spoilers) because I know many of us watch it.
Pretty sure I know which show. I may be be wrong, but there also appeared to be a gay reveal although it was a little more subtle.
Some other tropes:
Obviously, Ashildr/Arya was getting rides in the Doctor's TARDIS.
Detective 445 said:
- Characters travel vast distances in a very short period of time as the story requires. Game of Thrones got worse and worse with this until it appeared they must have been teleporting.
"Surprise Lesbian Reveal" sounds like a special technique from a fighting manga/anime" -- The Baron
That is an awesome insight. And what if the move was to reveal to your opponent that he was a lesbian? Talk about a surprise! (Not so much to female combatants, I guess.)
"My motto is “Never pass up the opportunity to ridicule Nazis.” -- Jeff of Earth-J
Words of wisdom, Lloyd, words of wisdom.
"PERFECT VISIBILITY IN THE DARK: I’ll tell you a show that is particularly egregious about this: Swamp Thing. Man!" -- Jeff of Earth-J
Weirdly, it was Swamp Thing I was thinking of as the most recent example. I mean, every scene ought to be country dark in that show, but none of them are. But the kicker was when Abby was searching for Mrs. Sunderland in the swamp, and she opens her eyes underwater. My first reaction was: "That is some seriously nasty water, Abby, and you're going to get an infection." My second thought was: "... and you're not going to be able to see anything anyway." Then my THIRD thought was: "How can WE be seeing this? That water should be pitch black!"
"THE SURPRISE LESBIAN REVEAL: Saw one of those just last night on a Netflix show I won’t mention (to avoid spoilers) because I know many of us watch it." -- Jeff of Earth-J
I'm pretty sure I know what you mean as well, and if so, I called that one an episode in advance. Hard to believe -- it was well concealed -- but it had to be somebody, and I had eliminated all the other female characters and focused on her. The gay male reveal has been discussed by the principals online as "you can take it that way if you want." There's only going to be one more season of this show, so it's probably moot for obvious reasons.
"Everyone with a pistol is a dead-eye sharpshooter who never misses." -- Detective 445
I whine all the time about Deadeye Dicks on Walking Dead shows on those threads. Every character routinely hits a head shot while on the move, and their targets are moving, which is preposterous. Especially when the shooter is someone with no firearms experience, like a high school girl (Alicia on FTWD) who'd never held a gun before. (Similarly, when anyone riding a horse shoots someone else riding a horse successfully, I laugh out loud. It is virtually impossible, yet it's done in every Western.)
The classic of this trope -- and I encourage everyone to watch this scene again -- is when in the first season of The Walking Dead, Glenn and Rick are running from a bunch of zombies in Atlanta, and Rick fires three shots blindly, over his shoulder, and three zombies obediently fall down.
"Characters who are riddled with bullets but keep on ticking. They appear somewhat impeded at first but as the fight goes on they appear to get better." -- Detective 445
The "riddled with bullets" trope is my wife's favorite pet peeve, and you're both right. When you're hit by a bullet, you don't just wince, grit your teeth and move on -- it will likely knock you off your feet, depending on caliber. Many bullets these days carom around inside you, or are "dum-dums" that virtually explode inside you, meaning not only are you going to be knocked off your feet, you're going to die in excruciating pain in the next few minutes. Even before sophisticated bullets, one that went through you would leave a gaping exit wound -- even though on TV someone always assures the victim that they're lucky the bullet "went right through." Incorrect, because blood loss and shock are going to kill the victim pretty quickly, while a bullet trapped inside will give them sepsis, which takes considerably longer to kill them.
The Golden Bullet Award for this is The Punisher Season 2, where my wife and I were actually laughing at the screen when in one scene Frank, who kept getting shot (at least four times), gritted his teeth and moved on (and he was in a stairwell, to boot). By the next scene, he was showing no distress at all.
There was another scene where Frank was shot, and in the next he was doing pull-ups.
"Characters travel vast distances in a very short period of time as the story requires. Game of Thrones got worse and worse with this until it appeared they must have been teleporting." -- Detective 445
Game of Thrones is certainly the award-winner there. But as you note, it happens elsewhere. Pretty much any show set before industrialization (or after an apocalypse) should show difficulty in traveling, but only does so when it's a plot point. Other times characters move about by magic. In Fear the Walking Dead Season 4, Morgan kept teleporting between Texas and Mississippi. I could hear the groans from Jeff of Earth-J (who lives in Dallas) all the way to where I live in Tennessee.
Discussion of Swamp Thing reminded me of another trope, which is kind of general, but when it's specific it's head-slappingly stupid. And that is: "Dear scriptwriters, get out of L.A. and New York when you're writing about places other than L.A. and New York. Because we folks in flyover country don't live like you do."
The classic example of this is people getting on a subway in a city that doesn't have one in real life. The reverse of that is someone from, say, Memphis going to New York and knowing how to use a subway instantly. I'm not the stupidest person on the planet, but I'd need a tutorial to ride a subway. Do you need change, like on a bus? What are these tokens I hear tell of, and where do you get them? How do you know what train to get on? And so forth.
But the most recent example of this that literally made my wife and I laugh out loud was on Swamp Thing, when the cops called "the Marina" in Marais and asked who all had taken a boat out the night before.
"The Marina," in a hole in the ground like Marais? "The Marina," in a swamp town where everybody has a skiff next to their shack and go craw-dadding and fishing whenever they're sober enough to try? I guarantee that it would be impossible for police to know who took a boat out on a given night in most towns on a swamp, river or the Gulf. in the South Because those folks don't like the gummint and they don't tell anyone what they're doing, and don't feel they should have to.
The Baron said:
Good one! Yes, I got used to the idea that getting knocked out was easy and harmless by watching Wild, Wild West and other shows of that ilk as a tadpole. I swear, Jim West got knocked out every single episode by somebody sneaking up behind him and swinging a gun somewhere in the vicinity of his head.
At that age, all I wondered is why the bad guy didn't simply shoot West, instead of going to all the trouble of knocking him out. (Actually, that's still a good question.) But as I got older, and was in car wrecks and accidents and such with head injuries, the first question the doctor always asked was "Did you lose consciousness?" On the occasions where I did, they were very concerned and would run concussion protocols.
Getting knocked out is serious business. There is danger of brain damage every time, and the damage accumulates. Jim West, Batman and all the other guys who routinely get knocked out should be suffering memory loss, delusions, hallucinations, rage issues and other mental issues by now.
That makes me think of pro wrestler "Crippler" Chris Benoit, who made a specialty of the diving head butt, and who eventually killed his family and then himself. At the instigation of fellow wrestler "Harvard" Chris Nowinski (who quit wrestling at age 25 owing to concussion) , an autopsy was performed and it was found that Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient.
Captain Comics said:
The Baron said: