Quit it, Hollywood!

Cliches, fallacies, stupidity and things that just cheese me off in movies and TV shows.  Or:

20 Things Hollywood Needs to Stop Doing

1. Coroners performing autopsies while eating a sandwich.

This might have been funny back when Dr. Quincy did it (if he ever did, I remember my dad saying "Quincy did it first" a lot when coroners and medical examiners do something weird or funny not involving tech that didn't exist when Quincy was on), but now I await the day when the defense lawyer walks in on this and uses it to get the case thrown out because the evidence is now tainted.

2. Cars blowing up from slight impacts.

Unless the perp is trying to make his getaway in a Pinto or a Crown Vic, the only excuse for this happening is that he's a suicide car bomber on his way to Rush Limbaugh's house.  This was famously parodied in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) when the main characters were riding a couple of bicycles and got rear-ended, and the bikes blew up.  Yet, it still keeps happening.  I guess Hollywood can't take a hint.

3. Villainous monologues that start just as the good guy finds the right spot in the air vent to spy on it.

If I ever become an evil villain, and I feel the urge to boast aloud about my evil plan, I will immediately dispatch my minions to search for enemy spies or listening devices, then bash my head against the wall until the urge to monologue goes away.  Speaking of air vents:

4. Air vents that support the hero or his girlfriend just long enough for them to overhear the evil plan, then collapse to dump them into the enemy's midst.

Unless the villain has a button that temporarily weakens the structure of nearby air vents to reveal spies hiding there, this doesn't need to happen, ever.  And if he does, then he needs to push the button before he explains his evil plan, not after.

5. Women and children as a reverse Deus Ex Machina.

It's a problem that's far too prevalent in the entertainment industry: They've got a great idea for a movie, but they need an act of utter stupidity to get it going, and there aren't any politicians for miles around.  So, they have some kids stow away on the boat to the secret island and spill their Super Fun Happy Juice all over the control panel for the containment field or push the giant red button that says "DO NOT PUSH."  Or they have a woman do something incredibly stupid in the name of love or animal rights or just misguided pseudo-feminism ("He's just telling me not to open the reactor door because he thinks I'm just a girl and can't take care of myself.").  Seriously, sabotage and industrial espionage are a billion percent more believable, and only half as cliché.

6. Nostalgia movies written by people who aren't fans of the original.

I know you guys want your money, and tapping into the nostalgia of budding thirty-somethings who are now starting to feel old, but you can find a better script for your 80s cartoon movie by plucking a random story off of and running it through spell check, and you won't have to pay the author nearly as much as a Hollywood "professional."

7. Measuring talent by bra/muscle size.

Hollywood would hate it if the California legislature required them to hire two separate casting directors for every movie: A straight male or lesbian to audition the male actors, and a straight female or gay male to audition the female actresses.  But that's probably what it's going to take to bring talent back.  If casting directors want to get the auditioners to sleep with them for the part, they should go into porn.

8. Slow-mo for every damn thing.

Slow-mo is useful if The Flash is disassembling a thermonuclear bomb while dodging bullets from Iranians with machine guns, or when the medical examiner is explaining how someone died, and it looks kind of cool when Neo is punching Smith in the face so hard it makes the rain fall up, but that's about it.  Instead, we've got a bunch of directors who are saying "Hey, this scene isn't suspenseful enough.  Shot it at OVER 9000 frames per second."

9. Scenes with actors playing video games, directed by people who've never played video games.

Unless the character's playing Mortal Kombat to work out his anger over being bullied, there's no need for aggressive button-mashing, to say nothing of all the spastic controller movements on anything other than a Wii that go on in these scenes.

10. "Keep him on the line so we can trace the call."

Caller ID has been around for ages, but Hollywood won't let go of this cheesy plot device.  About the only problem cops have nowadays when someone calls them is if the villain is on a disposable prepaid cell phone with no GPS, and even then it doesn't take that long to triangulate the position using two cell towers.

11. Clones who have the memories of or a psychic link with the original.

Memories are carried in the neurons, not the DNA, and psychic powers are also a function of the brain.

12. Using 40-year-old actors to play 20-year-old characters.

Unless you're doing a remake of Big, just...don't.  And if you ARE doing a remake of Big...please kill yourself.

13. Calling 911 and telling the truth when something unbelievable is happening just so the cops can hang up on you.

If you've got half the brains God (or nature) have an overripe banana, you don't tell the cops that aliens are attacking your house if you want them to come help you.  You tell them that members of a minority group that's disliked in your local area are raping your hot teenage daughter at gunpoint.  The cops will come running for the opportunity to oppress a minority and see a hot young girl naked, then call in the military when they find out that the aliens in your house are not the Spanish-speaking kind but the raygun-shooting kind.

14. Stereotypes.

Scientists (or just nerds with asthma) who know dick about anything other than their specialty.  Corrupt politicians who speak with a Southern accent.  Dumb blondes with big boobs talking like the chick from Legally Blonde.  Black guys saying "Sup Dawg" while dragging their pants on the ground and knowing precisely dick about anything other than being "Gangsta."  Anyone who's the least bit religious having to be a carbon copy of Carrie's mother.  Football heroes who are misogynistic bullies off the field and have an IQ somewhere between mayonnaise and dog mess.  The token Asian who happens to be either a martial-arts master or an electronic genius if male, and if female is probably someone's girlfriend.

15. Poisons that can be counteracted by taking the antidote beforehand, or that work slowly enough that the hero can go on a quest to retrieve said antidote and bring it back in time to save the victim's life.

While it looks good on paper for an assassin to kill a careful public figure by taking the antidote beforehand so he can trick his victim into drinking poison by drinking it first, in reality, there aren't a lot of substances like that, and long-term use of that technique (like, long enough to become a professional assassin) is bound to have severe side-effects.

16. Supposedly intelligent characters behaving like morons when you've written yourself into a corner or want to create a little tension.

It's as bad as the women and children as reverse Deus Ex Machina thing.

17. Letting the child/spouse abuser, corrupt politician, sadistic villain or antagonist's lawyer survive the end of the movie.

It's supposed to be a morality tale, right?  Good guys have a happy ending, bad guys go down?  Make ALL of the bad guys go down.  Feed Uncle Vernon to Fluffy, have the politician who accepted a bribe to let the chemical company dump toxic waste into the river be eaten by the monster created by the sludge, have the lawyer be in the car discussing how he's going to help get the antagonist off with community service when the hero locks the car doors, parks the car on the railroad tracks, takes off his chauffeur disguise and waves bye-bye to the bad guy just before the train comes out of the tunnel.  Also, sadistic villains should be killed in such a way that there's no DNA to scrape up off the sidewalk for cloning purposes, and their peculiar psychoses should preclude breeding.

18. Random killing of hot chicks (other than the female lead) and black people.

Would it really kill you to have the monster chomp down on a few fat trailer park residents?  Or give the villain a taste for killing wealthy, white men?

19. Evil geniuses whose plans have flaws a five-year-old child could figure out.

20. Holding handguns sideways.

Yeah, sure, it looks "gangsta" and all, but what good is looking "gangsta" when you can't hit the broad side of a barn at point blank?
Uploaded 04/05/2011
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