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What Hollywood gets wrong about [insert anything]

by Buck Hardcastle 13 days ago in movie

Pick almost any topic - it's depicted incorrectly in movies.

Photo by Thea Hdc

When it comes to topics where we don't have direct experience, a lot of our perceptions are likely to come from movies. Except movies often get things completely wrong. In fact you can type "What Hollywood gets wrong..." followed by almost anything else and get results. Here is a random collection of gripes people have about Hollywood blunders.


Movies are often take place in locations different from where they are actually shot. However, birds are not accommodating to film makers. Hence an experienced birder will notice the songs of birds at places where they're not supposed to be. There's a joke that Hollywood has been making an effort to expand the range of birds that are native to southern California. Sometimes though movies will purposefully add bird noises without any attempt at accuracy. In Indiana Jones (1981) there is an opening scene in a steamy tropical jungle includes the sound of a displaying male Willow Ptarmigan [a bird of the Arctic tundra].


The way fictional libraries are organized can drive real librarians crazy "They mix up Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal call numbers together, they include books without call number stickers in a library set (major pet peeve!), they get call number clues wrong…you name it!"

In classic films librarians themselves didn't come off that well. In It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) in the dark time line one of the characters becomes a spinster librarian. Citizen Kane (1941) includes a curmudgeonly petty tyrant librarian.

In modern films librarians tend to be portrayed positively. Librarians are generally viewed as trustable so they can be useful in helping a hero get important information. A favorite film of librarians is Party Girl (1995) about a wild child who discovers the joy of library science.


So you want to steal a priceless work of art, you'll first gather a team of eccentric geniuses. You'll need probably need a demolitions expert, a hacker, a driver who can drift, an actor who can portray a difficult British royal and one of those parkour guys--ah, better get two. Now the only time there's a vulnerability in the museum security is during an upcoming solar eclipse--which is the same day as your wedding anniversary.

Of course real life art thefts generally don't happen like this. They don't really happen at famous museums at all. Most art thefts play out more like this: At a second tier museum with lax security an employee sneaks out a piece they think won't be missed.

Famous art does sometimes get stolen, but it doesn't play out like in the movies. Edvard Munch's The Scream has actually been stolen multiple times. In 2004 masked gunmen pretty much just walked Munch Museum in Oslo and took it. That doesn't mean they committed the crime of the century though. Art has value as an investment and as something you can show off. Both of those things are untrue for stolen art. When you steal a famous work of art you transform it from a multi-million dollar asset into a hot liability. Thieves eventually find out the hard way that the only interested buyers are undercover cops. The Scream was recovered in 2006.


When you think of Irish Americans on film you usually think of cops and priests. But also, when Hollywood wants a white terrorist, then they go with Irish--Patriot Games (1992), Blown Away (1994), The Devil's Own (1997), The Jackal (1997), Sin City (2005), Fifty Dead Men Walking (2008).

Perhaps more interesting is how Ireland itself is depicted: As an almost lost tribe of rural white folk still living a pastoral 19th century lifestyle. This was in peak form in the widely paned Wild Mountain Thyme (2020) whose trailer alone contained almost every Irish stereotype in the book.

There are bad movies, and then there are the mystifyingly bad ones. These are the films that are stuck in the narrative equivalent of the uncanny valley, offering mostly workable stories with a handful of elements that render them strange in a primal, impossible-to-articulate way.

--Katie Rife, AV Club

This sometimes enchanting (but always demented) soda farl of banter and blarney couldn’t be a broader caricature of Irish culture if it were written by the Keebler elves and directed by a pint of Guinness.

-- David Ehrlich, IndieWire


There are a lot of articles from real witches about how movies get witches all wrong.

Contemporary witchcraft is about expressing spirituality outside of organized religion and a kind of meditation through ritual (I think, full disclosure: I am not a witch). Movie witches are depicted as malicious women that have made deals with the devil for power.

I'm going to quibble with the witches a bit though. For centuries the concept of a witch was more aligned with the movie concept than the what the IRL witches claim. When someone was accused of witchcraft, nobody was saying "You've just got too many crystals." Of course the accusations were always baseless, because witches aren't real. At least not in the traditional meaning of the word.

Being a witch is not like being Irish. Anyone can pick up a wand and declare themselves to be a witch--you don't have to fill out a form or anything. And these contemporary witches could have called themselves sorceresses or whatever, but they went with a label that had a lot of baggage. Just because the rest of society didn't shift their definition of witchcraft as well doesn't mean Hollywood got it wrong.

Yet I'm still going to say Hollywood screwed up witchcraft because of the most famous witches (and wizards) of them all.

That's right, I think Harry Potter screwed up the concept of witchcraft. The series turned magic into this set of scientific rules that you study through formal education. They make magic about as mystical as accounting.

Also the sports don't make any sense. That's a fresh take, right? I think I'm the first one to call out quidditch.


Buck Hardcastle

Viscount of Hyrkania and private cartographer to the house of Beifong.

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