If Phone Calls In The Real World Were Like Phone Calls In The Movies

Wednesday, October 12 by
The phone is a goddamn hamburger.  

Hollywood gets a lot of things right, but telephone etiquette and technology is not one of them. While anachronistic details for the sake of story are common in bad movies, even big-budget, competent films seem to disregard the current state of cell phone technology and manners in order to further their cause, regardless of what we know would or wouldn’t be the case in real world call.

The following three scenarios are so common in films and so wildly uncommon in the real world that it merits mentioning and criticism. Since they won’t adapt to the way things are done, it’s probably a lot easier if everyone just starts adopting their telephone behavior and equipment to those of film.

Don’t argue. Just do it.

Scenario 1:

Back At My Place, Making Out With Hot Executive I Met At The 2011 Businessmen’s Conference

The house phone rings, but being deep in the throes of passion, I let it go to voicemail. But my “voicemail” is actually a 1988-style answering machine that plays all incoming messages aloud, so while I’m rounding second base, a message from my ex-girlfriend plays, notifying both me and my new ladyfriend that my ex has tested positive for…crabs, and I should get to the crab doctor as soon as possible. The hot female executive leaves, and it’s never been clearer that I just can’t win.

The whole answering machine-as-an-expository-device is ridiculous. Nobody has owned an answering machine in 15 years, and the ones that play messages out loud haven’t existed in probably 20. I understand it’s a convenient way to let the cat out of the bag, but having a party read someone else’s text messages or email is way more believable.

Few anachronisms end suspension of disbelief likes this one does. It would be like if the next The Fast and the Furious movie featured only racing with horses and buggies. Wait. It wouldn’t be like that at all, because that would be awesome and inspired, and the presence of answering machines in contemporary films is lazy and cheap.

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