5 Things Your Body Can't Do (That Movies Always Say It Can)
One of my favorite movies of all time is Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. I love it for a complex melange of reasons that can be best boiled down to a mix of other people liking it sincerely balanced against how awful it actually is. That so many people loved it despite what a majestic turd it is made me love it. It's the contrast, I suppose.
One of the best scenes in Robin Hood is when Kevin Costner's accent has had enough of Christian Slater's accent, and the two throw down.
Oh no! Now, Slater goes on to butcher the King's English for the rest of the film anyway, but his hand is fine as hell, because in Hollywood, a crippling hand wound that would ensure your inability to properly grip anything ever again is also known as "no big deal, be better in an hour." And do you know why? Because Hollywood understands as much about the human body as I understand about Eritrean politics.
According to the University of Washington website, a 120 lb woman risks alcohol poisoning by drinking nine shots in a three-hour period of time. In Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Marion finishes what looks to be 12 shots within what we can assume would be about six minutes, even though we show up 10 shots into the game.
Effectively, Marion should be dead several times over at this point. But hey, she's a robust movie drinker, so not only is she OK, but she's also ready to engage in a high-stakes action scene only moments later, during which she actually pauses to drink even more, consciousness and balance be damned!
If this is how this woman drinks regularly, then it's surprising that when the Ark gets opened at the end of the film, the wretched ghost of her liver doesn't bloat its way out of the damn thing to kill a few Nazis, as it would be the most terrifying thing anyone had ever seen.
Not to be outdone, here's a badass scene from Tombstone in which Doc Holliday shows up Johnny Ringo despite the fact he's both drunk and has no lungs thanks to tuberculosis -- making his sarcastic cup-handling display all the more impressive, since he should be in a box somewhere.
Essentially, Hollywood has two kinds of drinkers: losers like us mortals who actually suffer the ill effects of alcohol and are quickly ignored as weak and unworthy, and those who have ascended like vikings to the mighty mead halls of Valhalla, where booze can replace plasma in your bloodstream and sobriety is just a phase that interrupts your longer moments of loud creativity and awesomeness.
Nothing gets disrespected more in film than pain. There's no such thing as pain in an action movie. Can you even imagine a cop film that followed real-life reactions in any way? Picture John McClane hiding out in an office building, when terrorists arrive and shoot the glass out as he runs barefoot, his feet being sliced to ribbons until he hobbles to the bathroom, where he removes the stray shards, rinses his feet, and then promptly collapses into a heap of pain as blood continues to flow and his completely unusable feet swell up into pulpy, meaty pain nubs that he'll be unable to put any weight on for well over a month.
While glassy feet are a rare treat, shoulder shots are a dime a dozen in movies. Beverly Hills Cop, Commando, Fast & Furious, Eraser, Predator ... hell, maybe every Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. The shoulder is the go-to "barely hurts" injury in most movies with gunplay. Fact is, you have a lot of bones and soft tissue in that area. Any gunshot wound runs the risk of hitting the brachial artery, which will cause you to bleed out pretty damn quickly, and also shattering some of those bones you're going to want to use later in the movie when you're hanging off of helicopters and firing machine guns. For the most part, a gunshot wound to the shoulder is rendering your arm useless at best, and killing you at worst.
The added bonus here is that, depending on what got shredded, you could have a shoulder blade that's in pieces, bone fragments everywhere, nerve damage thanks to the brachial plexus, or maybe an arm that's only attached by the skin on the outside while the joint inside is completely destroyed. Who knows? All of that should leave you crying like a baby.
On the upside, in a movie, a shoulder wound is a lot like kissing someone who's been chewing tobacco -- there's a moment of unpleasantness, but then you make a face and it's over, and now you have to do other things.
You have about 1 1/3 gallons of blood inside of you at any given time, and when you donate blood, they'll take a good pint or so. That leaves you feeling a little light, and they don't want you donating again for a while for safety reasons. You need that blood inside you to keep you from being dead.
Johnny Depp and his belly shirt famously challenged the notion that a human only has nine or 10 pints of blood by showing that he had about 100 or so in Nightmare On Elm Street:
He was basically pure Depp juice. Since that movie, anyone who sustains a decent wound has been free to dribble gallons around town while barely suffering any ill effects -- or if they do die, doing so in such a fashion as to demonstrate just how wrong medical science is about the tiny volume of blood it thinks we possess. Everyone in Kill Bill is made of pressurized blood and carefully curated oldies music. Kurt Russell in The Hateful Eight has kept all of his blood in his stomach, and promptly spews it across hell's half acre about midway through the film, just in case we doubted it:
There are also plenty of times when the implication of massive blood loss is there, but apparently it just resolves itself. Merle from The Walking Dead has to use a shitty hacksaw to take his own hand off, then escape from a massive mob of zombies, which is the sort of activity that would likely get the blood pumping out of your already-dangerously-close-to-killing-you stump, and he makes it out fine. This is a severe arterial bleed we're talking about -- one that had to be self-inflicted, too. He had to cut through bone and everything, then escape a rooftop while being pursued by monsters. So basically: No, Merle died up there, and go fuck yourself, writers of The Walking Dead. Your show about zombie hordes is unrealistic.
Pregnancy And Birth
I'm not sure if anyone has ever accused Hollywood of sexism before, but there's definitely something afoot in the way women tend to be portrayed in movies. For instance, how do you know a woman is pregnant in a movie without her telling us? Two super-reliable things happen: She vomits for no reason one day, and has an emotional reaction to a situation that just doesn't seem to fit, and might even be considered a little loony. And why? Because hormones!
Yes, every pregnant woman is puking her guts out "mysteriously" for several scenes, and is an emotional basket case for the duration of the pregnancy. Once the puking stops, the emotional stupidity actually gets worse.
Next come cravings, because you're not pregnant if you don't want pickles and ice cream at 3 a.m. Or maybe caramel sauce and clams. I don't know.
It's something silly at a silly time, and because she's hormonally unreasonable, she won't take no for answer. Pregnant women are like bloated monsters, you see, and they must be appeased at all times, lest they cast their evil spells on a hapless man and give him micropenis, or whatever it is screenwriters think pregnancy can do.
You can tell the baby is about to come when the water-breaking scene arrives. It's like a handy timer meaning you have 30 minutes at the very most to deliver this baby. Never mind the scores of women in real life who then go into labor for hours or days; this movie baby is on its way pronto. As an added bonus, the mom-to-be will now be at her hormonally most unpredictable, and thus some kind of rage monster. Will she hilariously grab the father and yell "You did this to me!" displaying superhuman strength? Or will she hilariously scream for an epidural? Whatever happens, count on it being hilarious. Unless you're not watching a comedy, in which case, everything still applies, only toned down in ways so that it's not funny.
When the baby arrives, you get to see how much of a budget the producers saved for the scene. No budget? It's a six-month-old, perfectly clean baby they hand to the actress playing mommy. Some budget? A three-month-old they wiped cream cheese and grape jelly on. Gross.
At this point, the birth is done and everyone can go home. There is no placenta, because what the hell is that? No need for follow-up tests or even those eye drops they give babies, because that just wastes time. And if you were planning on having a C-section, well, obviously you didn't, because how would that fit into the script?
Judging by most films, no one in Hollywood has ever vomited before. Which I find hard to believe, given the lifestyle so many people in the industry seem to lead. You can't tell me Charlie Sheen didn't wake up in a lot of his own vomit over the years.
A typical Hollywood puke scene goes like this one, in which Kevin James shares his body of work:
Suitably gross, and lasts about nine seconds. The alternate Hollywood puke scene is this one from Stand By Me:
In this instance, puke is powered by pressurized gas and instantly contagious, like that disease in 28 Days Later. It spreads like wildfire, and no one is left unscathed. You'll see such things again:
People just love a good group puke.
The reality of puke is somewhere in the middle. Most of us never puke in large groups; it tends to be a private affair. If you feel a puke coming on, you want solitude. When you get there, you don't spit a mouthful of pudding into a pristine toilet, then wash your mouth in the sink. I, for one, sound like my insides are yelling at my outsides. It's like a bear fight is happening somewhere in my guts. Just a rage sound as a wash of madness bursts forth. And it's never a single plopper, nor is it a nonstop "better hold my breath so I don't aspirate this vomit and die" sort of hose affair, either. It's puke, then heave, then puke, then heave, then puke again. It's like doing sit-ups, only instead of flexing those abs, you're dumping beef stew from your face into a toilet while your nose begins to run and your eyes water like a child with a skinned knee.
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