In Media vs. Real Life: What Can’t Hollywood Get Right?
It’s no mystery that Hollywood tropes are a huge part of the entertainment industry. Many film and series fans would argue this isn’t a bad thing. After all, everyone wants to be entertained. We all have our own tastes and will gravitate toward a genre, theme, and even trope that suits them.
Over the course of time, these tropes tend to become more and more ridiculous. A good example would be the nature of the stunts in a series like Fast & Furious. In the first film, the main characters race through the streets of LA, which is fantastical enough. In one of the later films, they’re racing down cargo jets in Jeeps.
Though one of the most adored film series worldwide, audiences understand that they’re looking at a Hollywood trope taken to the extreme. But when it comes to some of the most famous storylines, does Hollywood get anything right? Let’s dive into a few examples below.
Hollywood Mostly Gets it Right
One of the most recent changes to Hollywood tropes revolves around the casino. In the past, films from Ocean’s 11 to Rain Man to the James Bond franchise have tackled the atmosphere and stakes of a real-life casino from various angles. But this trend might fade in the coming decades.
Today, for example, a blackjack player like Tom Cruise’s Charlie Babbitt is more likely to play blackjack online than he is at a major Vegas casino. That’s for the added convenience and deals of an online platform, which allows players to access blackjack games remotely. In other words, a modern iteration would be played online and away from a brick-and-mortar establishment.
And it seems like Hollywood might understand this. One of the latest projects in the genre comes from Paul Schrader, titled The Card Counter (2021). It’s a look behind the scenes of a modern professional gambler and was nominated for five critics awards.
Hollywood Doesn’t Get it Right
Similar to casino projects, Hollywood loves to cover the lives and high-stakes missions of hackers. In fact, Ocean’s 11 spinoff Ocean’s 8 didn’t take viewers back to Vegas. Instead, the film covered an art heist in NYC—and Rihanna’s character, Nine Ball, was a hacker. And, as with most hacker roles, Nine Ball is incredibly adept at her job.
In fact, most would say she’s unrealistically portrayed at almost every level. While Hollywood handles its casino tropes with relative care, most characters who play hackers simply don’t fit the bill. Nine Ball, like most other characters, takes only a few minutes to hack into a ‘mainframe’.
She’s also portrayed as highly attractive, which mirrors Chris Hemsworth’s character in Black Hat along with Fast & Furious character Nathalie Emmanuel. Toss in tons of meaningless jargon, and you now have a perfect hacker. Unfortunately, this character couldn’t be more unrealistic.
Hollywood Definitely Doesn’t Get it Right
A trope can be a place, like a casino, or a job, like a hacker. It can also be an approach to a genre, like action-adventure. These films involve high-stakes stunts… but that doesn’t necessarily mean audiences will be looking for realism. One of Hollywood’s favorite tropes is also one that it handles most carelessly—and that revolves around stunt work.
To avoid revisiting the Fast & Furious or James Bond franchises, let’s cover another famous series: Mission Impossible. Tom Cruise handles most of his own stunts in the film series… but that doesn’t mean the final product follows reality.
One of the biggest issues with Mission Impossible and similar franchises is how often the hero gets battered (or even knocked out) and then is able to wake up and jump right back into action. It doesn’t follow the rules of anatomy, medical science, or even a realistic storyline. Along with scaling the tallest building in the world, Cruise’s character has also gone on motorcycle chases in major cities. Though more feasible than other stunts, it’s highly unrealistic that a motorcycle chase wouldn’t end in an arrest.