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Thursday, February 17, 2011

No, Hollywood Is Not a Credible Source

While I have the attention span of a gnat and am in the middle of ten different books at any time, I do pay attention to details. I can recall entire passages from books I read at the age of seven. It's the anal-retentive, OCD part of me that only gets worse with age. I also have an amazing amount of useless information in my head. Like knowledge of martial arts, blowing things up, and Michael Bay flicks. (Yeah, I'm a philistine.)

Now, imagine my horror when I came across a fight scene where the hero makes every mistake in the book. As the scene played in my head, I was thinking a nice, solid low kick to the side of the knee or a good head butt to the nose followed by a strike to the Adam's apple would do the job. But this hero does a bunch of fancy things that would make my hapkido instructor shake his head. Me, being me, flipped to the back of the book and noticed the author bio says she holds a black belt in Korean karate. Yeesh. Either she's lying or her instructor's a fraud because there's no such thing as Korean karate.

I should've stopped at that point and filed the book under DNF, but that OCD part of me doesn't like it when I don't finish what I start. So I kept reading--and had to put the book down unfinished. I was defeated when it became obvious the author depended on Hollywood for her research.

The villain tossed a blob of C4 into the microwave, set the timer for fifteen minutes, and--miraculously--the bomb went off when the timer hit zero.

Yeah, I've seen that scene in many movies too, but I always take Hollywood with a block of salt. And had the author realized Google is her friend or spent a little time watching the awesomeness that is MythBusters on the Discovery Channel, she would've known her microwave bomb would be a fail.

So, moral of the story: Hollywood is not a credible source. And watch MythBusters. It's fun to blow things up in the name of science. You'll thank me.


Kathy Ivan said...

Oh, Ann, I love MythBusters! They have so much fun disproving or "busting" these urban myths. And blowing (or not blowing) things up. I do agree, people tend to rely on splashy Hollywood special effects wizardy instead of doing their research, which is a necessary thing as a writer. Fun post.

Elise Warner said...

First time I've ever heard of anal-retentive used in a positive way.
You never know when something that sticks in your memory will come in handy. enjoyed your blog.

Ann Bruce said...

@Kathy Ivan-Personally, I think research is half the fun of writing.

@Elise Warner-Thanks! I waste a lot of time absorbing useless information, so it's nice to have a payback once in a while.

Clare London said...

I love Mythbusters too :). And of course I have a house full of 3 males, so I'm not allowed to make sweeping statements - even in my books - that make a fool of science or combat or trains or ... whatever.

I remember picking Son#1's brains for my thriller "Freeman" because although Freeman isn't really an action hero, he does attack the villain's security guard in one scene. I mean, where to start? I only ever slapped someone's face in my life LOL.

But Son#1 rolled his eyes and gave me a rather chillingly perfect and plausible description of how to bring down a much larger guy. Down and dirty, nothing like Holywood at all :). He assures me to this day he's never actually put it into practice!

MaureenAMiller said...

MythBusters is a hoot! I know what you mean though, Ann. Sometimes I will literally groan out loud and say "Oh no, they didn't."

Research is great, but I still believe one day the Google Gods are going to descend on me and confront me with my bizarre research history! :)

MaureenAMiller said...

MythBusters is a hoot! I know what you mean though, Ann. Sometimes I will literally groan out loud and say "Oh no, they didn't."

Research is great, but I still believe one day the Google Gods are going to descend on me and confront me with my bizarre research history! :)

Wynter Daniels said...

I'm a MythBusters fan, too. It always stops me cold when I read something I know is wrong.

Ann Bruce said...

@Clare London-I laugh a little when the fight scenes in books are more like ballet recitals. Everyone's twirling and jumping and doing slow-mo shots. In reality, it's fast and brutal and not very pretty. And I love how no one gets bruised or bloodied in books. For the longest time, people thought my boyfriend was abusive because I'm constantly covered in bruises from my hapkido classes.

@MaureenAMiller-I'm not afraid of the Google Gods. I'm afraid of US Homeland Security.

@Wynter Daniels-It may not be right, but when I read something that is wrong, I assume the writer is lazy. If she's too lazy to get the details right, I'm too lazy to buy and read her book.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Great post, Ann! I love Mythbusters, too. My pet peeve are fight scenes, whether in books or in the movies. I mean really. What human being can take that kind of physical punishment without keeling over dead? Or at least unconscious? And inflicting damage on someone damages YOU, too, in the form of cracked knuckles, etc. And if you've been beaten up, no, you're NOT going to jump up and run fleetly through the woods. Sheesh.

Thanks. Apparently I needed to vent. :->

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