Thursday, April 08, 2010

Haven't These People Anything Better to Do?

There was a bizarre TV show on BBC Three last night that tells us much about who we are as a culture in this twenty-first century.

It was called Great Movie Mistakes, it was presented by the sometime comedian Robert Webb, and it was compendium of movie clips where there’s been a mistake. You could see someone’s digital watch in a pirate movie, the cable holding a stuntman to a wall, or some other mistake in continuity.

This thing is that the thing was on for three hours. Three hours is a long time. Bearing in mind that each clip lasts about ten seconds and is shown twice – in the format here’s the clip, wisecrack, identify the mistake, show the clip again, wisecrack, next – there was a whole lotta movie mistakes exposed to the Great British public – and Paddy leaning over the ditch, of course – before midnight last night.

But to what end? Isn’t it all the one mistake? Doesn’t this show ended up like those 1,001 Best Liverpool Goals that nobody watches after twenty-odd because they all get a bit ... samey? This is the BBC, for God's sake. They're supposed to be better than this.

There is a whole culture that exists to tell us the world of make believe may in fact be a make believe world. There are websites that monitor these things, looking out for mistakes, evidence for a case that, far from Discovery Channel documentaries or live CNN-style reportage from the scene, something like Iron Man II or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen may just be a movie. Nothing more, nothing less.

People get tremendously upset over some tiny mistake in continuity. They refuse to suspend belief in the slightest. In one website, a sage has spotted this in Buffy: “While it is established that Angel doesn't age, it's obvious across both Buffy and Angel that David Boreanaz gets older. More unavoidable than deliberate, but still worth noting.”

Still worth noting. There’s clearly no fooling this man. He’s got an eye for detail. He can’t prove anything – yet – but he is beginning to wonder if Angel is a vampire at all, and not, like, some actor, or whatever.

What are they trying to prove? Sophistication? How sophisticated are you if your greatest insight into Being is to carefully note that in the movie The Bounty Hunter, currently on general release, “Milo gets out of the car to pump gas, but they are in New Jersey where pumping your own gas is illegal.”

In his book, Which Lie Did I Tell, the great screenwriter William Goldman address the question of how it is that characters in the movies can always find a place to park. Goldman asks the obvious question: how many people want pay ten bucks to spend twenty minutes in the theatre watching some guying driving around looking for a place to park?

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