Staying in the acronym-cop-show family, CSI writes a dialogue exchange using what sounds like a Random Computer Term Generator:
A couple of cops stare at an online chat, when one of them realizes that "this is in real time." A third cop in the background announces, "I'll create a GUI interface using Visual Basic. See if I can track an IP address."
Odds are that some of you reading this don't know what a GUI is, and that's fine. Do an experiment for me -- Google it. See how long it takes to find out.
Answer: one tenth of one second. That's how much work the writer of this script didn't bother to do.
And now you know more than they do, which is that a GUI is the part of the program you see and interact with, the buttons and shit you click with your mouse. It's a thing that basically every piece of software you use already has. You don't need to run out and build one every time some task needs done on your PC. This line of dialogue is exactly like saying, "The suspect is getting away! I'll go build an internal combustion engine and mount it on a four-wheeled vehicle to see if I can converge on his location."
Oh, and she's going to build her GUI so she can track the guy's IP address. And really, how else could you ever do that?
Gotcha covered, chief.
So at this point, it's almost a challenge to see how simple a piece of computer software has to be before they won't treat it like an arcane subject that only engineers understand. I fully expect to one day see a TV character strap on a full radiation suit and climb into a duct to "hashtag the Twitter."
Actually, it's almost that bad. This clip is from Numb3rs, a cop show that features a freaking math genius. Here they are talking about the rock-simple chat program, IRC:
In the world of Numb3rs, this simple text chat program used by millions is actually a secret place where "hackers talk when they don't want to be overheard." They follow this with a meaningless, ridiculous analogy comparing the program to drug dealing ships on the ocean, with a helpful CGI animation in case that's too complicated for us.
She then sets up an alarm to go off when anyone logs in with the names "The_Fist" and "Oozemeister." OK, well, that will work as long as nobody thinks to change their username. Oh, and there are a few thousand IRC servers and hundreds of thousands of channels and millions of users, so I'm thinking somebody logs in as "The_Fist" once every 10 minutes or so, which would mean their alarm would be going off every few minutes. Just like the sirens of two cop boats in the ocean.
But there's another problem. The cops worry that once the two guys meet and start discussing whatever it is they're supposed to discuss -- dealing drugs from their ships or whatever -- nobody will be able to understand them because they'll be speaking in leet. But wait! The retarded boat girl tells us that luckily she speaks leet. Ah, cool. g0 phuX0r uR$3Lph.
Sigh. It's CSI again.
So the cops on CSI are tracking down a character in the online game Second Life that they believed was no longer active in the game. Then this happens:
They find her in-game avatar. Clueless Dipshit #1 tells Clueless Dipshit #2, "I'll distract her. You ping her IP." Because if she isn't distracted, you wouldn't be able to do that? Wait, why would you need to ping her IP address in the first place? To see if she's online? Because that's actually what you're doing there: seeing if there's a response from- oh, fuck it.
So out of the blue, some fox looking avatar comes up to them in the game and says, "Hey you, stop pretending you're Venus!" The character of Venus disappears, and the cop starts asking the fox questions -- but the fox doesn't want to answer them.
So does the guy who doesn't want to be questioned just, you know, disconnect from the game? Does he shut down his computer? Does he put the cop on ignore or disable voice chat? Nope. He runs away. In the game.
Because if someone tries to talk to you in an online game, running is your only option.
The cop grabs a portable remote control keyboard thing, stands in front of a TV the size of your living room wall and gives chase. The resulting scene is among the top five stupidest things I've ever seen on television.
And all of that leads us to the most infamous of these clips, and the one that answers the key question here: Why doesn't Hollywood care about getting these simple details right?
The answer, as this clip demonstrates, is that they think if you're the type of person who cares, you're a worthless loser. This is from the blandly-titled cop show Life on NBC (since canceled), which had this plot point about a secret file hidden on a suspect's XBox:
So the cop leading this investigation first has to ask another cop what a video game console is. "It's like a computer, isn't it?"
They figure out that the only way to access that hidden file is to play Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones to level 10, at which point the secret files will be opened and displayed onscreen. Because evidently, the game console comes installed with Windows, Microsoft Office and the hacker has the ability to rewrite the actual game code to trigger that file.
"He must have had at least three people on that keyboard!"
But anyway, to get to it they have to actually play the game. But where will they find someone with that obscure, geek ability known as "playing video games"? I mean, this is back when games were purely the hobby of a select group of underground hackers living in dark basements (that is, 2007). Fortunately, they have a video game expert in-house. They ask another cop, "Do you think you can get to Level 10?" His response?
"Detective, I'm 30-years old, I live with my mother and I have a Captain Kirk costume in my closet."
That is what Hollywood writers think of you. That is why they don't give a shit about taking an extra minute to make sure their tech jargon isn't a bunch of random bullshit they vaguely remember from The Wizard.
Of course we're skipping right over the "Level 10" bullshit ("All games have numbered levels like Mario, right?") which again could have been resolved with a brief glance at Google. Anyway, the gamer cop tries to hack the game by winning at it, and he fails because he must have had sex with a girl at some point. But as he's failing, the main cop notices a female police officer doing that thing gamers always do when watching other people play games: mimic the controller movements with your thumbs while holding your hands in mid-air ...
You know how you do.
Knowing that this means this woman is clearly a member of the highly exclusive club of Video Game Players, the cop walks over and, without a word, pulls her over to the XBox. She takes the controls, and beats the game even though she's a girl.
Somehow that ending is even more insulting than the "Captain Kirk uniform" bullshit. They actually think they're reaching out to you with that message of, "See, even video game players can accomplish things like regular human beings!" To them, normal people lowering themselves to interact with gamers is like that movie where Dennis Rodman teaches a team of dwarfs to play basketball.
Only not as well acted.
Check out more from John in 5 Gaming Technologies That Are Making Virtual Sex a Reality and 5 Ways Television Went Crazy Since I Quit Watching in 2003.