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Have you ever watched a movie set in the present where a guy was, say, using a pay phone, and thought, "Man, how old are these writers? Use your cellphone!"

The thing is, writers often reference not real life, but the shows they grew up watching as kids. So they wind up writing scenes that made sense in the 1970s, but are hopelessly out of date today. That's why in movies and TV ...

Psychiatrists Make You Talk About What Your Dreams Mean


As Seen In: Analyze This, Bones, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Sopranos, Two and a Half Men, Desperate Housewives, Numb3rs, Dexter

What Movies and TV Say:

People in movies and TV visit psychiatrists for a variety of reasons: Maybe he or she is a cop who was traumatized after a shooting, or someone dealing with repressed childhood memories, or (in a surprising number of cases) a notorious crime boss with mommy issues ...

Yes, two times absolutely counts as "a surprising number of cases" for this.

Whatever the problem, they'll always end up sitting or lying on a psychiatrist's chair, talking about themselves and what their dreams symbolize for an implied hour until the shrink says something profound that leads to a life-altering realization. It's mostly stuff about the character's mother, and wanting to bang her.

Sometimes the psychiatrist even becomes a permanent member of the cast, offering insights into the psychosexual stages of childhood or quipping about Freudian slips (like in Bones).

That expression is not a coincidence.

The Reality Today:

How many times have you heard a movie psychiatrist say "Our hour is up" when there's still so much to talk about? If you've actually been to one, however, you know that most psychiatrist appointments in America today last only 15 minutes ... and don't involve a lot of talking.

"The first three sessions involve no talking, just rape-eyes."

Even if you do manage to find a psychiatrist or therapist to listen to you monologuing, it still won't be the familiar TV fare about dreams and secretly wanting to bone everyone in your family. Concepts like Oedipus complexes, repressed urges and psychosexual stages -- in other words, the 1920s-era psychology of Sigmund Freud -- are now viewed by most psychiatrists and mental health professionals as about as scientifically valid and useful as Freud's cocaine use. These days, between 75 and 90 percent of psychiatric practice is based not on talking about your problems, but on drug therapy. When you do get to talk to somebody, you'll find they prefer "evidence-based" treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, a short-term treatment that focuses on changing unhealthy behavior and thought patterns.

"Absolute nonsense. Now show me your anus."

So if you want to tell someone about your weird sex dreams for an hour without being arrested, you might be better off seeking out a homeless person instead.

Catholic Nuns Still Dress Like ... Nuns

Jesus Leon

As Seen In: CSI, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, House, Constantine, End of Days, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Boondock Saints, Supernatural, The Exorcism of Emily Rose

What Movies and TV Say:

Even if you've never stepped inside a church, you probably know all about the Catholic religion just from watching TV and going to the movies -- whether the plot revolves around faith, ancient conspiracy theories or just plain old exploding demons, the Catholics will always be there doing their instantly identifiable Catholic stuff. For example, if you see these ladies in CSI ...

Semen is present on at least one of these habits.

... or this one in the film The Da Vinci Code ...

... or Dogma ...

Both Matt Damon and the nun were played by Kevin Smith.

... you instantly recognize them as Catholic nuns, because everyone knows that's how they all dress. Catholic churches themselves are just as easy to spot in movies: They will inevitably be dark, with stained glass, flickering votive candles and spooky Latin chanting coming from nowhere in particular -- like this one in The Boondock Saints:

Yeah, this looks like the house of a God who speaks mainly through Berettas.

And if there's an exorcism or some other type of Catholic ritual involved, you can bet your ass that it will be in Latin, a language that every priest has memorized with nearly as much devotion as a Trekkie learning to speak Klingon.

The Reality Today:

If you have stepped inside a Catholic church, however, you've probably noticed that a lot of the newer ones have a tendency to look like empty DMV offices:

Steve Cadman
"Blessings in the left line. Everlasting purgatory in the right."

Even the traditional church candles have been replaced in many places with electric lights, due to fire's propensity to burn shit to the ground. But at least those habit-wearing nuns and Latin-speaking priests are still going strong, right? Sure they are, probably. Just not in the U.S.

You see, in the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council loosened the guidelines on things like habit-wearing and Latin-speaking. Other countries applied the new rules in moderation, but it turns out that Americans were about as into Latin in their religions as they were subtitles in their movies. So Latin rites were largely replaced with English versions ... back in 1964. Today, most priests coming out of seminary do not even speak Latin, let alone perform rites in it.

"Oh jeez. Look, everyone just be excellent to each other. Church dismissed."

Nuns, for their part, mostly stopped wearing habits in the '60s, totally missing out on the whole nunsploitation genre. In fact, the number of habit-wearing nuns in the U.S. went from 180,000 in 1964 to a third of that in 2009, and today, the vast majority of religious women dress like ... women. This means that there are probably more nun costumes in America right now than there are actual nun habits, begging the question: Who is dressing up as whom?

Ken Bosma / devan.laney
Who do we shoooot?

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You Can Adopt Kids from an Orphanage


As Seen In: Orphan, Despicable Me, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Problem Child, Smallville, Big Daddy

What Movies and TV Say:

Traditionally, orphans have filled a wide range of TV and movies roles, from deranged killers to adorable angels who are hiding the fact that they are deranged killers. And if Hollywood is to be believed, the adoption process doesn't vary significantly between a kid and a dog: You just drive out to the place where they conveniently store them and pick one out.

Usually the one who doesn't bite you.

Oh, sure, sometimes movies will include talk of "waiting lists" or some other type of bureaucracy, but not before the parents are at least allowed to browse through the orphanage for a kid they like. Most of the time, the orphanage practically hands them their secretly evil new child right away, like in 2009's Orphan and 2010's Despicable Me:

One is a disturbingly violent and psychologically horrific film, the other is Orphan.

And in those cases when an orphanage isn't actually depicted, it's at least mentioned as the place where a character has been (like in the show Smallville) or where they are in danger of ending up (like in Adam Sandler's Big Daddy).

The Reality Today:

It turns out that what we think of as an "orphanage" doesn't even exist in the U.S. anymore, and hasn't for decades. Following the 1980 Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, most orphaned or abandoned children were placed with relatives or in foster homes. This was the killing blow to the American orphanage system, which had been in decline since we stopped encouraging unmarried mothers to give up their whore-babies in the '60s.

"Yup, it's the last you'll see of him, but don't worry -- he'll get all the cigars and brandy he'll ever need."

The closest thing we have now to a traditional orphanage is a group home, but those are usually reserved for much older children who haven't done well in foster homes. So to make most adoption movies accurate, you'd have to either change the setting to the '50s or replace all the little kids running around with awkwardly mustached teenagers.

"I'm less about whimsical adventures and more about heroin."

Not that you'd be able to directly adopt one from a group home, anyway. These days, most adoptions are done through the foster system or by arrangement with birth parents, and the whole process is much, much more expensive and time consuming than your television would have you believe: An average non-foster adoption will set you back around $32,000 in legal and other fees and takes between six months and two years. So by the time Adam Sandler's slacker character in Big Daddy had saved up the money and dealt with all the paperwork, he would have ended up with a full-grown blond version of Jon Stewart.

"Nope, you're gonna have to go pee on that door alone, champ."

Everything in England Is Old-Fashioned and Cobblestoned


As Seen In: Harry Potter, The Holiday, V for Vendetta, Bridget Jones's Diary, Bones, What a Girl Wants, National Treasure 2, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, Love Actually, anything starring Hugh Grant

What Movies and TV Say:

According to Hollywood, England is a magical kingdom that was frozen in time at some point in the early 20th century (sadly, after all their dragons became extinct), but that's why we like it: We want to see quaint, old-fashioned things that you'd never find in America, like royal weddings, boarding schools and free public transportation. V for Vendetta takes place in an England entirely covered in charming cobblestones, and that one's supposed to be set in the future:

This must mean we already have flying cars in America at this point.

Or look at the Harry Potter movies -- even Harry's "normal," non-wizarding family dresses like they're in a period piece:

The wizard world has already reduced the U.K. to an economic and cultural wasteland.

But the genre that has exploited England's cultural stagnancy the most is the romantic comedy, because they allow us to travel back in time to an era where everyone was polite, well spoken and addicted to tea just by crossing the Atlantic. For example, the 2006 romantic comedy The Holiday shows Kate Winslet, a British woman visiting Los Angeles, rejoicing hysterically when she finds herself in a kitchen equipped with something more modern than her stovetop kettle:

"Oh boy! They have mixed fibers in their clothes, too!"

The Reality Today:

The British are partly to blame for all these misconceptions -- their entire film industry is now largely based on the fact that Americans think it's a pre-modern country. Film-location businesses in the U.K. overwhelmingly advertise old locations like manors and castles, because they figure that if the Americans wanted asphalt roads and glass buildings, they'd just stay home.

Before Hollywood, this was all syringes and hookers as far as the eye could see.

And yet 2012 England often isn't "old" enough to satisfy American tastes for films set there. Movies like Oliver Twist, A Knight's Tale, From Hell and Shanghai Knights, and the TV series Robin Hood, among others, were all filmed in other parts of Europe that apparently look more English to us than England itself.

Hell, even the tea thing is in question -- the whole British tea-drinking tradition is now in decline.

"You know what, don't bother."

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Teenagers Still Have Porn Magazine Stashes


As Seen In: Transformers, Bad Teacher, Skins, Shameless, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, You, Me and Dupree, 90210, Glee, The 40 Year Old Virgin

What Movies and TV Say:

You've probably seen it in dozens of movies and TV shows -- someone opens the teenage protagonist's closet or looks under his bed and stumbles across his hidden porn stash, consisting of nudie magazines, VHS tapes and (if he's at the cutting edge of modern technology) a few DVDs. The character is shamed, but what else was he supposed to do? Not look at porn?

You, Me, and Dupree / Universal
"What do you mean, 'What other possibility is there?'!"

We're not just talking about '80s sex comedies here -- we've seen variations of that same scene in movies as recent as Transformers and Bad Teacher and current shows like Skins and Glee. It doesn't matter if the characters are teens or very modern adults (Steve Carell's friends in The 40 Year Old Virgin are man-children who are into video games, yet one of them has a cardboard "box of porn" he gives him).

"Only like 40 percent of this stuff is legal. I think it's mostly human, though."

The Reality Today:

Of course every man on earth knows this is no longer true. It turns out that if you offer people a convenient, free way of viewing and storing porn that's less likely to get found by others, most people will go for that choice. Today, we can safely assume that most teenagers' "porn stashes" are confined to a computer folder titled "Boring School Stuff," which is apparently not cinematographic enough for Hollywood.

In fact, the purchase of actual, physical pornography has shrunk so much that the traditional porn DVD industry is on the verge of collapse, as revealed by this cleverly titled article in The Economist:

Editor's note: Hard because of boners.

Magazines are doing even worse, which is not surprising, considering you can get a million times as many pictures for free by typing "boobs" into Google (and without having to sift through rock star interviews and "dude" articles). Even pay-per-view porn on television is down 50 percent since a few years ago, presumably because the nation discovered they could just open their laptops. So what's replaced it? Piracy, mostly, and free websites substituting any part of the word "YouTube" with something lewd.

So. It has come to this.

Dangerous School Pranks Are Still Treated Like Harmless Fun


As Seen In: Friday Night Lights, iCarly, 8 Simple Rules, 90210, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Mean Girls, Drumline, A Walk to Remember, Blue Mountain State, American Pie Presents Band Camp, She's the Man, Sorority Boys

What Movies and TV Say:

Whether it's the entire football team enacting an elaborate joke on a rival school, like this "field covered in toothpicks" prank in Friday Night Lights ...

"Dear God. We are dealing with someone who has no life."

... or just one guy performing some good old-fashioned bullying, wacky pranks are always fair game as long as everyone involved is a high school student. It's a classic staple of teen comedies that we still see all the time, including variations like stealing the school mascot (8 Simple Rules) or letting farm animals loose in the rival school's cafeteria (90210). Then there's the wacky sex-related fun, like in the recent film Sorority Boys, where undercover male characters secretly live (and shower) with college women.

Hahaha! They're not allowed within 100 feet of a playground!

And of course, when the characters are found out, the punishment is always limited to stuff like "detention" or some contrived form of making up for it, like being forced to join a drama club and then star in the school play. But then again, these are just kids: What are you gonna do, call the cops on them?

The Reality Today:

Well, yeah, for starters. Nowadays, students can face felony charges for pranks like spray-painting graffiti on a rival team's property, or releasing live chickens into a school, or building a swimming pool on school grounds overnight.

You know, the classic building a swimming pool overnight joke.

In fact, last year a bunch of seniors in Texas were charged with criminal trespass for breaking into their own school, even though they were caught before they could do anything. And in 2007, students in New York were charged with "planting false bombs" after a senior prank that involved taping alarm clocks to walls. While these kids are no doubt dumbasses, it's easy to see how they could get the idea that they were gonna get away with it without any consequences: That sort of shit still goes on all the time on TV.

"Man, the clip show is going to suck balls."

And when it comes to the type of sex-related pranks that we see in the never-ending American Pie series, it's even worse. Children can now get charged with sexual assault and even become registered sex offenders for life for the kind of vaguely homoerotic bullying that still gets riotous laughs in the cinema, like taking a picture of a beer bottle between someone's butt cheeks, sitting on another kid's head or dressing up as a member of the opposite sex in order to fool your friends into making out with you.

Granted, high school seniors probably could get away with a lot of this stuff in the '80s, before Columbine or the changes in sexual harassment laws, but that only confirms what we already suspected -- that most teenage characters on TV today are being written by perverted 50-year-olds.

Continue Reading Below

The Population of Minorities Hasn't Changed Since the '50s


As Seen In: Pretty much anything, especially if it's set in Southern California.

What Movies and TV Say:

Apparently, America is a diverse paradise of attractive white people, some attractive black people and a vague smattering of others, if you look really closely at the screen and never blink. Here are the lineups for some of today's most popular comedies:

How I Met Your Mother / Fox
White People Who Will Never Resolve the Plot

Big Bang Theory / Warner Brothers
Mostly White Nerds Horribly Compounding Stereotypes

White People Wearing White on White oh God So Much White

OK, so there are fewer minorities on TV than Caucasians. "But that's why they're called minorities," you might say. And every show has a token minority character or two. So overall, the percentage of Asians, Latinos and Miscellaneous in these shows is probably proportional to the amount of real people of these ethnic backgrounds living in the country, right? Or, like, at least somewhere in the same vicinity?

The Reality Today:

Not even close.

Minorities are actually represented on TV in proportion to the real America -- that is, the real America of about 50 years ago. For example, Latinos, whose population in the U.S. has more than doubled since 1980 and who now include almost one in six Americans, get a whopping 3 percent of TV representation -- the same level as it was back in the 1950s (and by some accounts it's even lower). It's like as soon as Desi Arnaz showed up, TV executives said "Yeah, OK, that's enough."

"And make sure he speaks a lot of Mexican. Americans think it's hilarious."

Asian-Americans have it slightly better, with 3 percent representation in TVland compared to 4 percent in the actual country, but most of those characters are one-off minor roles (where most of the dialogue is "Here are your chopsticks"). Native Americans, according to a 2002 study, go from around 1 percent in real life to ... "already extinct," apparently.

The Lone Ranger / Disney
Naw, there's probably at least 1 percent Native American blood here.

Even prime time shows set in Los Angeles County, which is 45 percent Latino, feature only 14 percent Latino characters, and shows set in New York (27 percent Latino, 10 percent Asian) managed a combined Asian/Latino character rate of 9 percent. It's practically a different city.

African-Americans are the only exception to this trend -- apparently, TV execs figure that as long as they throw a black guy in there, that whole diversity issue is taken care of. Maybe everybody else just needs another 50 years or so to catch up.

Follow C. Coville's awful Twitter here.

For more things Tinsel Town gets wrong, check out The 5 Most Statistically Full of Shit National Stereotypes and Hollywood's 6 Favorite Offensive Stereotypes.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn whose hair Jack O'Brien set on fire.

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