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Hollywood Faux Pas

  1. Sep 22, 2010 #1
    While watching Sanctuary Season 2, Episode 9, "Penance," I saw three potentially dangerous blunders in one scene!

    Faux pas: When the girl was shot, the guy said, "we've got to get the bullet out or you'll bleed to death." Adding injury, he used a fairly large pocket knife!

    Truth: Upon entry into the human body, bullets are fairly warm. How warm depends on the calibur, but they're upwards of 180 deg and more, which is relatively sterile, so "getting the bullet out to prevent infection" is bogus. The best bet is leaving it in until you get to a hospital, where your system can be monitored and kept stable during removal of the bullet and any shrapnel. The other issue is that they tend to leave a fair amount of tissue damage, but the body's response to trauma is to swell the tissue, effectively acting as pressue which aids to reduce bleeding and allowing clotting to take place. As for the area immediately surrounding the bullet, the best pressure is coming from the bullet itself. Removing it removes that pressure, reinjures the tissue, breaks clots, and results in significantly more bleeding than leaving it in place. The correct answer is to leave it in!

    Faux pas: When the girl stopped breathing due to the pain (hey, it's possible, due to shock), he administered CPR, but left out the cardio part. Just did the mouth to mouth, and failed to check for a pulse.

    Truth: This is much the reverse of modern CPR, at least one technique of which no longer requires. mouth to mouth. Thirty years ago it was 5:1 (compressions/breath). About fifteen years ago it was 15:2. Now it's 30:2 (ILCOR), though some medical institutions are sticking with the 15:2, and others advocate compression-only resuscitation, as ventilation continues to occur with chest compression. Best bet is to follow ILCOR or the Red Cross' guidance. If you don't know CPR, take a class. Taught at least one Saturday a month at several locations near you.

    Faux pas: The girl, shot, exhausted from adrenaline overload, closed her eyes. The guy kept talking to her to keep her awake.

    Truth: This falsehood comes from a doctor's/nurse's need to periodically evaluate patients for responsiveness. It's actually a delicate balance, as patients also need to sleep, particularly after various forms of trauma. Even something as simple as my scratching my cornea last Saturday resulted in my sleeping ten hours out of twenty four, broken up between my usual seven hours and an additional three-hours a day in the form of a nap! I usually just sleep the seven hours. The fact is, sleep is one of the best forms of therapy for a patient. All sorts of healing occurs, and at significantly faster rates, when one is sleeping than when one is awake, and this goes double for head trauma victims. Yes, doctors need to evaluate responsiveness, but they can do something about it if a victim is sliding under. We can't. Best thing to do if someone who is injured wants to sleep is to let them sleep.

    Thoughts? Comments?

    And please add your own faux pas excerpts from Hollywood! Hopefully the writers will read this page and use it as a resource of what NOT to do, as well as what to include that's actually correct. I do know some TV shows bend over backwards to break down the falsehoods that are floating out there instead of negligently perpetuating them.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2010 #2


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    Not sure if it counts as Hollywood, but so far I have seen one episode of Dr. House. There was a lot of hype around so I decided to take a look. It was a pilot, with girl that was finally diagnosed with some kind of tapeworm. At some point docs performed tracheotomy to save her. Later she is shown with an adhesive bandage - on a larynx. As far as I know it should be definitely lower.

    Somehow I didn't want to watch the next episode.
  4. Sep 22, 2010 #3
    Try http://www.nitpickers.com" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Sep 22, 2010 #4
    They always get blood wrong. It's either too dark, too light, too thick or too thin. I've seen it about as thick as honey before.
    By now you'd think they could have developed fake blood that looks like blood and could also coagulate like blood. Instead, I think they're still using water and red food coloring. Or honey and red food coloring.

    You mention bullets; I always hate when someone gets shot in a movie and it catapults them backwards. I also hate when someone gets shot and blood immediately sprays out of the wound.
    It also looks so fake when someone gets slashed with a knife and right afterward you see just a line of red on them. I've gotten cut before and seen other people get cut and it doesn't bleed immediately, and when it does bleed, it bleeds more than just one line along the cut.
  6. Sep 22, 2010 #5


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    This latter is due to the fact that most cuts are faked by using a binary chemical, half of which is on the skin and the other half on the fake knife. When they combine, they turn red.

    I've seen far too many factual or continuity errors to even remember—literally thousands. Sometimes you just have to shake your head and move on. Dwelling upon them can drive you batty.
  7. Sep 22, 2010 #6
    Best place I've found:


    Aside from the annoying ads, they have the best collection of mistakes. Although they do spoil a lot of films for me. Anytime I see a new one I have to look it up and see what people have put.
  8. Sep 22, 2010 #7
    This sounds like a carefully concocted plan to ensure secondary infection, then suck her face a bit. There was a time (med-school) when these kinds of things drove me insane, but after a while you just let it go. I also enjoy research into NBC (not the network) weapons and their effects, which are usually butchered in movies and TV. Another fine example that drives me nuts to this day are: Flamethrowers!

    1.) I CAN TELL THAT'S PROPANE... and not thickened fuel.
    2.) Modern throwers have impressive range, and will bounce around some corners... but in movies they have to use crop-burners (usually for sugarcane), and they are rather different.
    3.) Inevitably, the tank(s) are shot with a handgun, and the soldier/criminal/hero/terrorist EXPLODES. Wow, I didn't realize everyone carried incendiary rounds in their pistol, and knew to shoot the fuel tank and not the nitrogen tank.

    That... is ONE weapon. Another great medical one is the "injection anywhere in the body..." myth.

    1.) In a truly unlikely "asylum" somebody becomes violent and the doctor appear with a preloaded syringe and gives them an IM (IntraMuscular) injection and within seconds... calm returns. *rubs temples*
    2.) Every other iteration of the IM injection of sedative, from blowgun darts on.

    And many mooooooore...

    Danger is right, at some point you just let go if you enjoy the story, and either way it's not worth dwelling on. The disturbing part is that so few people seem aware of the massive inconstancy between real life, and movies/TV at the technical level. What can you do though?... nothing, that's what! :tongue2:
  9. Sep 22, 2010 #8


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    I've always loved the one about shooting the gas tank of an escaping car, then tossing down a cigarette and watching the car explode.
    When Mythbusters finally got around to trying it, they couldn't light the bloody gas for anything even after waiting for a proper air/fuel mixture to develop. I think that they finally put a blowtorch to it and achieved ignition. Even then, the flame pursued the car at about 5 km/h. They then let the fire catch up to the tank, whereup it went out.
  10. Sep 22, 2010 #9
    It seems to work on bears.
  11. Sep 22, 2010 #10


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    But his point is that it takes a while. You don't shoot a charging bear with a tranq dart and live to tell about it...
  12. Sep 22, 2010 #11
    In the videos, they shoot the bear, then cut to the bear falling out of the tree. I forgot they do that.
  13. Sep 22, 2010 #12


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    This thread would be a LOT shorter if we simply listed films and TV shows that did NOT have egregious technical errors.

    I only know of one film that could ever hope for that honour.
  14. Sep 22, 2010 #13
    Star Trek???
  15. Sep 22, 2010 #14


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    [sarcasm so obvious, it need not be marked up]
    [/sarcasm so obvious, it need not be marked up]

  16. Sep 22, 2010 #15
    Science it may have got mostly right, but I thought the film itself was poor. Just didn't enjoy it.

    Personally, I'm happy to suspend my beliefs to enjoy a film.
  17. Sep 22, 2010 #16


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    You're young. It's forgiveable.

    Just you wait until the next generation younger than you starts dissing <popular recent sci-fi "classic" flick>.
  18. Sep 22, 2010 #17
    Yeah, but it probably makes for an interesting story. :biggrin:

    Anyway, I'd add that if you watch some wildlife shows you'll see how long it takes (2-5 minutes at least) to take down large game with a dart. Usually the drug is Widlnil (carfentanil citrate) which is ridiculously potent. There's a good reason that they carry plenty of Naloxone just in case of respiratory arrest. Carfentanil is about 10,000 times as potent as Morphine, which makes it a hell of a lot stronger than fentanyl, sufentanil, and even 3-methylfentanyl which is possibly what was used in the Russian Theater (only 4000-6000 x Morphine).

    Even then, with an IM dosage, you're talking minutes to get a bear, rhino, moose, or similar animal down. If you took that same dosage and administered it parenterally (IV in this case) you'd be killing the bear without a HUGE dose of a reversal agent. If you want to incapacitate someone or an animal "instantly" you need to come very close to killing it with a nerve agent, or hit a vein. Maybe a cocktail of a deliriant, a benzodiazapine, and a fatal dose of carfentanil in a dart would do the trick in well under a minute, but you'd probably just kill the person. Either way, you'd need to reverse the cholinergic agent, and the opioid IMMEDIATELY.

    Anyway... that kind of research is generally banned by treaty in use as a weapon of war, and impractical or illegal within a country. I could go on, but this isn't a "how to stun a moose" thread. :tongue2:
  19. Sep 23, 2010 #18
    Just watched the recent 'Star Trek' again last night (the kiddie Kirk/Spock etc.)

    They use one drop of 'red matter' to create a black hole that consumes the planet Vulcan. Planet gone in seconds. Later, they use a meter diameter ball of the stuff to create a black hole that sucks in the bad guys mining space ship (assumed to be much smaller than a planet). It takes several minutes to slowly, and agonizingly suck in the ship. Which retains all of its structural integrity in the process. And allows the romulan bad guys ample time to sit calmly at their comm console and hurl epithets across to Kirk and Spock on the Enterprise. Excruciating.
  20. Sep 23, 2010 #19
    Yeah but if it had been sucked straight in instantly on creation of the black hole, I don't think it would have had quite the same effect. After all, they have to show kirk offering to save them (he's the good guy after all).

    I can live with things like that, because it doesn't hurt the film so much if I'm fully immersed in it.

    The biggest thing that annoys me is people and guns. Unlimited ammo, no need to reload, until right at the end when they need just one bullet to take care of the good/bad guy.
  21. Sep 23, 2010 #20
    One really annoying one I can think of is in The Dark Night. The antagonist fires an RPG-7 at a hospital convoy about 20 ft. from him and

    1) The RPG didn't penetrate the vehicle. It isn't even heavily armored (e.g. M1-Abrahms).

    2) The antagonist doesn't get hit by shrapnel. Huh? Kill radius for a normal m60 frag grenade is 30m, and he's much closer than that.

    3) His cronies are standing behind him (in a closed semi trailer) and they don't get fried by the backblast.

    Best movie weapon-wise I've seen was Blackhawk Down. Not so with Batman.
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