Going all the way back to the first gunfights on film, shooting a bad guy meant he fell to the dirt like a rag doll, out like a light. Which meant that all you ever had to do to win a gunfight in Hollywood was to be fastest on the draw -- and even if the falling bad guy lives long enough to get a round off, it's going to fly harmlessly into the air, giving you just enough time to think of the perfect quip to murmur as soon as he hits the ground. In reality, you have no freaking idea what will happen after a person gets hit with a bullet. And we mean that literally no one has any idea -- it's impossible to predict.
"I did not see that coming."
"There's a scene in Young Guns," Jerry says, "where a guy files down his front site so he gets an 'eighth of a second drop' on the bad guy. An eighth of a second? Are you fucking kidding me? Maybe, if you pull off a perfect shot right to the apricot [the medulla oblongata, a part of the brain] that might -- might -- matter. But in real life, getting shot is almost never immediately fatal. I've seen people do all kinds of stuff after they get shot, including stay in the fight for hours."
Another thing you see in movie firefights is that dramatic moment where the hero shoots until he hears a dry "click" of the trigger, then has to dive behind cover to reload. In reality, that's the equivalent of driving your car until the tank is completely empty, knowing it will leave you stranded in bear country. "Any time you get a chance, you top-off," Matt says. "And if the mag still has rounds in it, you dump it into your drop bag, a loose-carry pouch, so you can keep those bullets for later. Running your gun empty is a sign you've done something really wrong."
To learn that, watch less movies and play more video games.
Cartel gunmen may be the foot soldiers of an unspeakably evil crime syndicate, they were kids once and they watched exactly as much Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sylvester Stallone as you did. This has gotten some of them killed, according to Jerry. "Working in South America, so many of the bad guys would just stand there shooting until they're empty -- and then have no idea what to do. To be entirely honest, I saw the last frame in a bunch of people's reels be them just standing there, looking down at their own weapon in confusion and disbelief because the gun ran dry. Apparently the idea that they'd be fucked when the bullets ran out had never occurred to them."
And, while pretty much any solid object can stop a Hollywood bullet, the real ones tend to punch through anything short of a concrete wall or an engine block. The average person clearly doesn't realize this. According to Jerry: "We once had a guy pop up, shoot at us a bunch and then drop back down 'into cover.' We heard him laughing like he'd gotten away, but he was hiding behind a couch. A couch. You'd also see guys hide behind sheetrock walls, corrugated metal sheets, and car doors. But none of those things stop bullets."
Don't count on your late father's police badge saving you either.
"Yeah," Matt agrees, "you could definitely tell that a lot of the insurgents and terrorists throughout the world got most of their 'training' from movies, or from TV, or from fuckwits who had gotten their training from movies and TV."
So in a way, you could argue that all of Hollywood's gunfight bullshittery is a significant asset to our national defense. And, therefore, when Jerry and Matt transitioned from battlefields to movies and TV, they still played a role in fighting America's enemies, through sheer misinformation. Keep that bullshit flowing, Hollywood. America needs you.
For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Ways Growing Up in North Korea Is Crazier Than You Think and 5 Things I Learned Sneaking Over the U.S.-Mexico Border. Have a story to share with Cracked? Reach us here.