#3. 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.
#2. 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.
#1. 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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