5 Everyday Products That Hollywood Thinks Have Magical Power
Hollywood gets stuff wrong about the real world all the time, but we don't mind it because their version of reality is usually much better than what we have to work with. We would love it if a billionaire could dress up as a bat to fight crime or if the fat/awkward guy always got the girl.
But then, there's the everyday stuff you constantly see in movies that's both glaringly wrong and, when you think about it, terrifying as hell. If the universe operated by any of these Hollywood rules, life on Earth would become a nightmarish carnival of death and destruction where ...
Crashing Through A Window Is Safe And Easy
In action movies, glass is made to be broken. A character smashing through a plate-glass window looks awesome on camera, and it speaks volumes about the hero's toughness ... even though said hero never gets so much as a scratch from it. Hell, it's so easy and harmless that you wonder why these people ever bother with doors.
So, in the classic 1984 action-comedy movie Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy plays a non-Beverly Hills cop who, at one point, confronts the film's villain only to have the villain's bodyguards throw him through a glass door:
And the villain completely fucks himself in the process.
See? He doesn't have a single scratch on him. So, there are two problems with this -- first, in real life, glass is way, way more durable than you think. Here's a naked man running full-speed into a glass wall and bouncing right off:
But, whoever has to clean that glass of dick smudges probably would have preferred he just break the damn thing.
"Yeah, but that was probably some kind of special reinforced glass meant to resist breaking!" Right, as is virtually all glass used in windows -- otherwise, that shit would be shattering every time a bird flew into it. Even beer bottles are sturdier than anyone thinks -- you would have more luck clubbing someone to death with an empty beer bottle than smashing it over their head, which we know thanks to the combined magic of YouTube and alcohol.
And as for car windows, forget about it -- it's hard to smash them even if you have a hammer, to say nothing of using your fist like in 2 Fast 2 Furious or The Karate Kid, Part II. Hell, a British thief once tried to use a brick to get into a car, only to have it rebound and hit him right in his stupid, freshly bruised face.
We can hear the sitcom laugh track from here.
And if you do successfully break it, you're rolling the dice on what happens to your soft, delicate flesh. Here's a guy who fucking died when he fell through the glass door of a restaurant and had his neck sliced open as a result. The drummer for ABBA died when he fell through a glass window in his home. Glass shower doors -- which are made of tempered safety glass -- send people to the emergency room every year when they shatter.
Even "merely" having a bottle break in your hand often leaves people sliced up so badly they need to go through months of physical therapy and still end up losing the feeling in some of their fingers. We're telling you, you would probably fare better going through the gun-toting henchmen at the door than diving out the window.
Pillows Are Great Tools For Assassins
Maybe it's the almost-poetic contrast between violent death and soft feathers, but fictional killers love incorporating pillows into their repertoire, in one way or another. Like, when they suddenly decide that someone's face is suffering from severe lead deficiency but, wouldn't you know it, they left their silencer at home. Not a problem -- all they have to do then is follow Mel Gibson's example in Payback by grabbing a pillow and putting it over their piece to make the gunshot no louder than a fart on chili night.
And half as messy.
You've probably suspected that the pillow silencer was bullshit, but it's not. It's more of a gigantic crock overflowing with the feces of every animal on Earth. You see, "suppressors" work by containing the gases expelled by a gunshot, thus reducing the loudness of the bang. A pillow cannot do that. Or, rather, the best it can do is take the sound of a gunshot from 165 to 140 decibels, which is still incredibly loud -- enough to cause permanent hearing damage.
That's why real (movie) pros skip the gun part entirely and use the pillows themselves as weapons -- by putting them over their victims' faces and suffocating them with comfort. It works remarkably fast: about 60 seconds in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, 25 seconds in Revenge, and a zippy 10 seconds in Vampire Diaries.
Which is still slightly more time than it takes for him to hurl a 400-pound water fixture through a window.
Now, it's true that, when held tightly over a person's face, pillows really can restrict air flow. And you could maybe restrict all of their air as long as you have a victim who can't, you know, turn their head (remember, you're trying to get a perfect seal over both their mouth and nose) -- so at least Jack Nicholson had the excuse of being lobotomized in his scene.
Then, there is the length of time it takes for the victim to expire. While unconsciousness can set in sooner, "often the fatal period is three to five minutes" because of course it is. Try holding your breath for a half-minute. Are you still alive? There you go.
Seriously, if you've ever ridden public transportation, odds are it's what kept you alive.
It's true that there are real cases -- horrible ones -- of people getting killed by pillow smothering. But you really need a victim who is very old, very young, or already unconscious. If you want the typical "victim flailing with muffled cries" pillow murder such as in The Blacklist, you'd better pack a lunch because you're going to be there for a while.
Nail Guns Are Actually More Dangerous Than Regular Guns
Nail guns are a lazy screenwriter's wet dream because they're a household object for someone to use as an "improvised" weapon, yet are basically just huge firearms -- only somehow more brutal. They also provide loads of opportunities for horrible puns such as: "Nailed 'em," "You've got nail," or "I've just killed you with a fucking nail gun." Quick, have Danny Glover do both in Lethal Weapon 2:
Dammit, Murtaugh, spin him around and then you can nail his ass to the wall!
Sure, Danny could have taken those guys out with a bullet gun, but killing them with nails looks so much cooler on screen. Same for Final Destination 3, where a nail gun kills a girl by sending nails through her skull and brain until they come out of her fucking face (disclaimer #1: NSFW; disclaimer #2: duh.)
Nail guns are also super accurate, apparently. For example, the killer from Nail Gun Massacre (1985) manages to use the tool to go on a killing spree, while in Casino Royale, James Bond kills a guy with a precise nail shot to the eye. It makes you wonder: Why the hell doesn't the law require a firearms license to buy these things?!
"Sorry, Bond, power tools are only for triple-O status agents."
It's because real nail guns aren't that good at killing. First off, they have safety mechanisms that won't let you fire them unless they're pressed against a hard, flat surface -- meaning James Bond would have had to press the gun against the villains head for anything to happen. But, let's assume the safety mechanism is broken. Even then, nail guns would suck as actual guns because they only shoot nails at about 90 to 140 feet per second. That is less than one-third the speed of a typical bullet, for which we should all be grateful. Also, nails aren't aerodynamic at all -- bullets and gun barrels are both carefully designed to make a projectile sail flat and perfect through the air, while a nail would just start flipping end over end, bouncing sadly off the villain's forehead while he or she looks on in confusion.
And that's true even at close range -- in real life, you can barely make a dent in a 1/8-inch thick piece of paneling from just 10 feet away:
Unable to defend himself, the man was killed by the box mere seconds later.
All of which makes sense -- if commercial nail guns were as powerful as firearms, every construction site would be a literal bloodbath. You try to nail paneling to a wall, and the first time you missed the stud, the nail would go firing through the panel and into someone's eye socket two blocks away.
You Can Use Sprinklers To Flood An Entire Building
As with almost all things in life, you can learn a lot about sprinkler systems by watching Die Hard. At one point in the movie, a quick-thinking Bruce Willis holds a lighter to a sprinkler head like it was a Deep Purple concert. The lighter then trips every other sprinkler throughout the building, allowing our plucky hero ample opportunity to escape the evil German terrorists hunting him down. The lighter tactic works equally well when you're fighting demons like in Constantine:
"See you sprink-later!"
But, if you're really in a hurry or don't want to risk getting your lighter wet, simply go find the sprinkler system button like the one James Bond used in Casino Royale to flood an airport or like the one in Mean Girls. In any case, movies have made it clear that every building has a system in place in which anyone can easily and instantly perform an indoor reenactment of the Biblical flood. Makes you wonder why water damage isn't a more common problem, considering every office birthday party would trip the system. Then, it makes you realize that it's because a universal "fuck everything up with water" system is an insane idea.
Yeah, install one in a high school. That'll never backfire.
In the real world, collateral damage isn't just the title of an especially horrible Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. If a skyscraper's entire sprinkler network went off every time some asshole burned a burrito, then flood damages would bankrupt most companies within a year. That's why sprinklers operate individually. Only the sprinkler head directly over a flame will go off while the other ones patiently wait for the fire to come to them (because they are smart!) It's not like in The Matrix, where an explosion can trigger the sprinklers several floors above it.
Furthermore, sprinklers cannot be activated by pressing a button or pulling a switch, except maybe for highly sensitive areas where fires would cause widespread damage, including power plants, hangars, and chemical-processing facilities. Oddly enough, those are the places where action movie finales happen all the time, and you never see a sprinkler system kick on, right up until the entire facility explodes into a giant ball of flame while the hero walks slowly away.
Headphones Leave You Oblivious To Armageddon
Anyone who's ever used 1990s headphones knows that they were shittier at noise cancellation than covering your ears with a pair of conch shells. But, you wouldn't know it by watching movies from that era, such as in Godzilla (1998) where a music-loving truck driver doesn't notice a gigantic nuclear lizard until it tries to eat the car he's driving. That's not noise cancellation, that's some undiagnosed neurological disorder where listening to music somehow turns off all of your other senses. The monster is shaking the ground when he walks!
Maybe he's just listening to the Inception BRAAAAHM over and over again.
Speaking of which, a similar thing also happens in Tremors -- some bargain-price audio equipment is suddenly stopping people from sensing the Earth shaking beneath their feet or catching glimpses of gigantic, mutated monsters rampaging in their peripheral vision. At least the headphone-wearing teen in Grosse Pointe Blank had somewhat of an excuse of not noticing his surroundings getting Swiss-cheesed by bullets: He was busy playing Doom II.
"Whoa, this game is so realistic I can almost smell the blood and gunpowder."
And we're sorry, little boy from Face/Off, but you are probably going to go deaf from standing in the middle of a fierce gun battle with nothing to protect your ears but a pair of plastic headphones. We also have bad news for the janitor from True Lies who failed to notice a fighter jet crashing into the office he was cleaning just because he was listening to music.
"Oh, I can hear them. I just don't give a shit."
For more things Hollywood doesn't get, check out 5 Ridiculous Gun Myths Everyone Believes (Thanks to Movies) and 5 Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do.