another entertainment industry rant

Some of you may have read my post “10 things about the entertainment industry that piss me off” before; in it I rant about some of the inaccuracies and liberties that entertainment types take with the military and LE professions.

Well just the other day I was watching a rerun of the CBS series “NUMB3RS”, a portion of which is below:

Now..I know, I know, it’s just entertainment. And to be honest I actually somewhat like this show even though it is one of the biggest offenders of the “unreality factor”. You frequently see the heros going in “point” on Tactical Assaults with in their shades, street clothes and unhelmeted heads amongst the “cannon fodder” SWAT guys who are just there for backdrop. Not to mention the “egghead” science types who are miraculously experts in any and every topic known to man…but I digress.

What really “popped” out for me in this episode can be seen by forwarding to the 3:00 mark of this clip. Note when the Russian Mob guys bust in with their armored HMMWV..guns a-blazin.. that two of the “cannon fodder” cops fall. Nobody appears to rush to their aid, but when the “hero” gets his shoulder wound everybody rushes to help him out. You never see or hear about the welfare of the two other officers for the rest of the show. Not one word. WTF?

I know full well “why” it’s done in terms of script writing and story telling, but the whole thing seems to really reinforce the impression that in Hollywood the “Uniforms” are nothing but worthless backdrops.

I guess this is a corollary of “3. Uniformed Cops as props” from my Top 10.



8 thoughts on “another entertainment industry rant”

  1. Ya know… this is an interesting piece of observation. There has been long standing criticism for the stereotypic/negative portrayal of ethnics and minorities in movies (and I think rightly so in many cases) but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of criticism of a movie/tv show portrayal of something like this…

    If pictures are used as metaphors and/or symbols, then moving pictures that leave the impression that the ‘institution’ doesn’t take care of it’s own could partially responsible for the ‘antiestablishment’ mentality that ppl have – or at least reinforcing that perception.

  2. Dear tgace,
    I read your list from the cited post, and most of the list adds up to ‘dismissive’. Failing to show team values as well as technical skill.

    The other aspect, and it crops up everywhere, not just law/military flicks, is the deus ex machina / ‘the gods arrange’. They always bring this in to compress time, and in so doing, are dismissive all over again.

    I don’t see an answer. The CSI effect is a real liability, some suspended disbelief. After all, we are not exactly funding staff at the microscope, morgue, or curb, are we?

    Really great observations.
    Ann T.

    1. Yeah..I know that it’s just entertainment, but some of the details just “bother me” and to some extent it wouldn’t really make much of a difference if the directors just went with “realistic”. The incessant racking of bolts and slides for example. Do they REALLY need to have that “click clack” sound effect to reinforce the “were going in” moment that badly??

      1. Actually I meant dismissive in a really bad way.

        As for the click-clack, no, they don’t need that. The actors could have expressions (tightened mouth, bit lip, raised head, rub chest)that signifies. That would require talent.

        They could heighten tension with the wait before entering a door, too, as you and others advise in real life. Add suspense this way.

        But very few artists convey low relief in low relief. Almost always it gets compressed to high relief/greater contrast. I learned this drawing a crumpled paper bag in art 101.

  3. Good point Ann T.,

    The pace of creating these tv shows is incredible and, as we know from our own art of martial training, speed kills quality in many cases.

    I think there could be A LOT to be gained in storytelling (as well as a level of social commentary/responsibility) by injecting some of these ‘real’ procedural practices.

    I remember a huge “Firemen are NOT monsters” campaign as a kid because SCBA/breathing masks could make them look terrifying to a child trapped in a fire….

    Why wouldn’t ‘hollywood’ writers take a page from that lesson and take every reasonable opportunity to portray leo/police as humanly as possible. Do they forget that the kids are watching too?

    Of course, I see nothing wrong with ‘cops as bad guys’ portrayed as long as it’s part of the story as well. I’m not putting all leo/military types on a pedestal of course.

  4. Dear Paul,
    Sometimes I think the Hollywood effect hits even technical advisers. They do not position themselves against the glamor of that job and the self-love attendant on it.

    Yeah, bad. This series of posts and comments is a real challenge to writers of all genres.

    I really agree with you.
    Ann T.

  5. Mistakes in firearms safety and handling is also commonly seen. If you see the finger “glued” to the trigger it’s a pretty good indicator on the realism of the show your watching.

    But wrong terminology ticks me off the most.

    The word “clip” is the biggest killer for me…seriously…

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