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7 Lessons About Communication Technology Learned from Movies

Movie and television cliches have been unable to keep up with the rapid advances in communication technology. We don't expect them to know all the subtle nuances of the latest online meme. It's less understandable that they still seem to be baffled by how the internet, and even phone conversations work. For instance ...

#7. Never Say Goodbye

Regardless of coolness, characters do not say "goodbye," "see ya" or any variant thereof when concluding a phone call. Characters on both sides of the little divider line that appears on screen during movie phone conversations seem to have a telepathic awareness of when the other person is hanging up. No matter how abruptly the conversation ends, we never linger on the protagonist repeating, "Hello? Hello??" into the phone like an elderly victim of a prank phone call.

This holds true even if both parties are on mobile phones, where a hang up sounds exactly like a pause in conversation.

#6. Voice Changing Technology Should Make Your Voice Sound Creepier

Depraved killers and kidnappers who need to disguise their voice all seem to shop at the same voice modulator store. The preferred varieties either make you sound like a creepy pervert ...

... Darth Vader ...

... and, that's about it actually.

The decision to disguise one's voice is more of a stylistic flourish, usually favored by kidnappers and serial killers. Foreign terrorists will usually address the FBI using their regular voice.


Even if they can do a perfect American accent.

#5. There Are No Such Thing as Area Codes

New Yorkers might be smart enough to remember seven digit phone numbers, but they're clearly not smart enough to remember that metro areas with more than 9,999,999 people require more than one area code.

In Date Night, Tina Fey and Steve Carrell sneak behind the desk of the hottest restaurant in Manhattan to find that the restaurant only keeps the last seven digits of a given phone number, apparently preferring to guess whether they should be dialing a 212, 646, 917, 718 or 347 first.

#4. Videos Posted On YouTube Will Be Watched By Millions of People (Immediately)

Video of you doing something mildly embarrassing will rack up millions of hits in a few hours, regardless of how uninteresting it might be to a stranger. As long as it's embarrassing for you, people will find it fascinating.

Glee, the young hip show about kids-these-days showed they were down with the internet when the kids find a video of cheer-leading coach Jane Lynch jazzercising, and post it to YouTube. Not only does the video make the rounds at their school, it becomes a national phenomenon, and leads to a duet with Olivia Newton John.


"My friends must know about this unattractive stranger doing something unremarkable!"
X 1,000,000
= How the Internet works

In Zack and Miri Make a Porno, a video of Miri wearing ugly underwear turns her into an online porn phenomenon known as "Granny Panties" because it features the two things people like in their online pornography: funny voices and partial nudity.

Of course, both of those sensations take hours and even days. In the world of commercials, viral fame happens in minutes. Footage of Dwyane Wade saying "get me out of here" can be edited into a dance remix and sweep the nation in the time it takes him to get out of the broom closet he's locked in. Also, a man can wake up in the hospital following a ski accident to be informed that footage of the accident has already been viewed a million times -- presumably during the course of the ambulance ride over.

#3. Answering Machines Are Still a Useful Piece of Technology

Despite the convenience of voicemail and text messaging, clunky answering machines have been the preferred reliable messaging system over the past 20 years.

This is so that the answering machine can dramatically tell our lovelorn protagonist, "You have no new messages" after they've blown their shot with the girl of their dreams.

Even in movies where cell phones exist you can be sure that each message left will be separated with a series of obnoxious beeps, and the protagonist will still say things like, "I know you're there. Pick up. Come on!"

#2. Libraries Never Found Out About the Internet

Your local library never obtained Internet service or one of the millions of free AOL trial discs mailed over many decades. They did score an assortment of obscure news clippings and microfilms that explain why your house is haunted.

This is especially unfortunate in the 1998 film Urban Legends, when college students find themselves in a race against time to research bullshit the Internet was invented to collate, and one year later in Arlington Road, when Jeff Bridges gets busted researching his crackpot conspiracy theory in the public library microfilm room.


Because where else are you going to find information on crazy conspiracy theories, ghost sightings and urban legends?


Three years after the founding of Snopes.com.

#1. Google Exists, But Does Not Work

In the future, skilled experts will be able to search through entire databases of information by conducting their computer like a 60 piece orchestra.


What Hollywood thinks is happening inside your computer every time you Google something.

Of course, some movies seem to be aware that Google exists. For instance, early in Wanted, James McAvoy's character does something we all have: He Googles himself. It turns out he's such a loser that he has sucked any record of either of his names off the face of the Internet.


Sorry. Neither of those words has ever been published on the Internet.

Be sure to purchase our new book because Hollywood fat cats aren't the only folks we're calling out on their bullshit.

And see what else tinsel town bones up in 5 Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do and 7 Bullshit Police Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies).

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