Nazis had more legal right to the Ark than Indy: Real jobs vs the media
September 14, 2014 9:11 AM   Subscribe

“True, the Nazis were trying to find the Ark of the Covenant so they could destroy the world,” Canuto says. “But methodologically and legally they were in the right.” Why archeologists hate Indiana Jones. Also, why doctors don't like medical dramas; what is inaccurate about TV portrayals of lawyers and the legal process (PDF); and, finally, the terrific analysis of the portrayal of academics in children's books. When your profession is portrayed on TV, what do they get wrong?
posted by blahblahblah (200 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
 
previously
posted by tonycpsu at 9:27 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think that the "funny how comedies seem more likely to get it right" comment is perceptive. The thing is, most jobs involve a lot of tedium, or at least things that would be tedious to observe. You can make a comedy about tediousness, but it's hard to make a drama or action movie/show in which nothing very interesting to see happens. Anything dramatic is probably going to mischaracterize any job, even the really dramatic ones, because most jobs would be boring if they were accurately filmed.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:27 AM on September 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


I always love that the real-life police preferred Barney Miller to all the oh-so-serious police procedurals, because they really got the atmosphere and the human element just right.
posted by sonascope at 9:29 AM on September 14, 2014 [25 favorites]


the most hilarious thing I've ever read in a pulp novel was about someone who supposedly had a tenure track position in English at an elite university, but was just trying out academia like any other job, and might go work in development or something.
posted by jb at 9:30 AM on September 14, 2014 [19 favorites]


TV Lawyers said incredibly offensive and prejudicial things that would immediately result in a mistrial, but it's all OK because they say the magic word "Withdrawn!"
posted by leotrotsky at 9:35 AM on September 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


When your profession is portrayed on TV, what do they get wrong?

I'm in IT. How much time do you have?
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:38 AM on September 14, 2014 [56 favorites]


Just to note, though, the Nazi operation is run entirely by Jones's nemesis, the rival tomb-raider René Belloq, so their methodology is immediately suspect even from a devil's advocate's position. He even gives Indy the archetypal "You and I are very much alike speech."
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:40 AM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm in IT. How much time do you have?

Have you tried turning it off and on again?
posted by sonascope at 9:41 AM on September 14, 2014 [62 favorites]


I was recently pointed to this delightful piece of NCIS drama. The NCIS computers are getting hacked, and in order to combat the attack more quickly, two people start typing on the same keyboard. So they can issue their defensive commands twice as quickly, I guess? It's stolen the crown from "GUI interface using visual basic to track the killers IP address".

It's hard to not believe the rumors that they intentionally put in details that are so off. I wonder if it's in a spirit of "fuck you nerds", "hey, let's have fun why not?", or "YouTube clips bring buzz; all buzz is good".
posted by benito.strauss at 9:45 AM on September 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'm a theater projectionist.... don't even get me started on the bloopers in movies like Cinema Paradiso....
posted by easily confused at 9:45 AM on September 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


Speaking as a playwright, every depiction of a playwright I have seen in the media has been stunningly accurate -- Deathtrap, Barton Fink, Shakespeare In Love, Bullets Over Broadway ...

My life is pretty much just like that.
posted by kyrademon at 9:45 AM on September 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


Oh, and TV Lawyers don't have any specialties. One week it's a divorce trial, the next week a corporate takeover, the next week an immigration case, because it's all the same, right?

...and because white shoe firms do a lot of divorce and immigration work.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:46 AM on September 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


When I was in library school, there was a long hand-written list of librarians and the various tropes (and more rarely) truths floating about. There was also some talk about creating an cross-reference to it, but I don't know if that ever actually happened. Since then, there's been fewer old maids, anal retentive killjoys in the media, but a veritable uptick in squandered sexpots.
posted by julen at 9:48 AM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


My SO wishes to note that no astronomer actually looks through the eyepiece of a telescope anymore. No, seriously. The telescopes they use don't even HAVE eyepieces.
posted by kyrademon at 9:52 AM on September 14, 2014 [13 favorites]


My first encounter with the CSI effect was in law school. Well...on my way there, actually. Some guy T-boned my car in the middle of morning traffic. Now we're parked across a four-lane road at 8:30 AM on a weekday. I get out, make sure we're both okay, and suggest we move the cars onto the adjoining side street. "No," he says, "we need to leave everything in place for the police." Like some accident reconstruction team was about to arrive to take measurements for our injuryless fender-bender.

Then I discovered just how stupid these CSI-effect people are. I laughed and moved my car, he blocked traffic awhile longer, then caved and pulled onto the side street and started ranting. Then a police cruiser arrives. While I'm talking with the officer, the other driver walks across the street to a school crossing guard who witnessed the accident, and he takes her arm and walks her back to where I'm standing with the police officer. The officer plays along and asks the crossing guard what she saw. She points to the other driver. "HE hit HIM (points to me)." She says it again. I'm not sure what he expected her to say, but he sure looked surprised. I always remember that last part when I hear about the CSI effect. It's not a phenomenon. It's just dumb folks bein' impressionable.

When people hear what I do, they often ask if Law & Order is accurate. I always say the same thing: all of the legal stuff is surprisingly accurate right up until they walk into the courtroom, at which point reality is out the window. The courtroom dialogue is awesome. You can't say any of that stuff in court. My favorite is the episode where Jack McCoy prosecutes a gun manufacturer and demonstrates the lethality of an automatic weapon by pouring bullets onto the counsel table. I would totally do that if I could. I cannot.
posted by cribcage at 9:52 AM on September 14, 2014 [30 favorites]


No one will ever do a dramatization of my current profession.
posted by boilermonster at 9:52 AM on September 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


My father became a lawyer in part because of legal dramas he used to watch as a kid. He really liked the image of the heroic court room lawyer defending the wrongly accused.

Ironically, the kind of law he practices never requires him to enter a court room. I don't think he has been in one since I've been alive.
posted by tnecniv at 9:54 AM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


As a linguist I'd like to point out that every portrayal of a linguist in pop culture. . . oh wait never mind.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 9:55 AM on September 14, 2014 [29 favorites]


Ah, the "slappa da bass" of archeology. Good to know.
posted by thelonius at 9:57 AM on September 14, 2014


As a linguist I'd like to point out that every portrayal of a linguist in pop culture. . . oh wait never mind.

It really is a shame "The Sparrow" never got filmed.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 9:57 AM on September 14, 2014 [18 favorites]


The best portrayal of IT work is House, with a vocabulary switch.

CHASE: House, we need to cure this server. It is very sick.
HOUSE: Did you rebooting it?
CHASE: I did try rebooting it.
HOUSE: Only stupid people try rebooting. You are stupid.
SERVER: Beep.
HOUSE: You are stupid too. Did you try re-installing windows?
FOREMAN: I re-installed windows.
HOUSE: You are an MCSE.
FOREMAN: This vexes me.
SERVER: I found errors on this drive that need to be repaired.
CAMERON: That's bad!
SERVER: Also, this miracle drug will make your penis larger.
CUTTY: You need anti-virus. Also, I have not spoken in awhile.
HOUSE: No! Anti-virus will just slow the computer down! We just need to enable the firewall!
CHASE: [Shocked]
CAMERON: [Shocked]
FOREMAN: [Vexed]
HOUSE: More firewalls!
CUTTY: I forbid this.
HOUSE: Don't care.
CHASE: [Downloads Windows Defender]
HOUSE: [Blocks all the things.]
SERVER: I feel better. No more porn pop-ups! Thank you sysadmin!
HOUSE: I am very smart.
WILSON: I, too, am in this episode.
FOREMAN: This vexes me.
posted by empath at 9:58 AM on September 14, 2014 [129 favorites]


For a while I had a job that also happened to be featured in a pretty well known network television show (JAG). If people learned what I did, they'd commonly ask, "So is it like the TV show?" or "Just like the TV show, huh?" So I got used to just saying "Yes" with a matter of fact expression and then changing the subject.

(I don't know that my reaction on seeing an episode of JAG was annoyance as much as it was WTF? In the only episode I remember seeing, a service member was somehow on trial before an Islamic court, maybe because he married a Muslim woman? Or maybe the servicemember's wife was the one on trial, I can't recall. In any event, at some point it looked as if the person on trial was going to be tried without representation, and the tribunal was not going to allow this Marine lawyer to appear, when the Marine lawyer--a co star of the show I think--all of a sudden comes out with "my grandmother was an Imam," and just like that she could appear in the case and of course win it. So, yeah, JAG pretty much nailed it as far as I'm concerned).

Oh and also I think (hope?) most practicing lawyers get over the "but that would neverrrrr happen!!!" impulse, but law students, without exception, are fucking obnoxious about this.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:59 AM on September 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Enhance."
posted by ardgedee at 9:59 AM on September 14, 2014 [26 favorites]


"The jungles of the Peten are hot and sweaty. Most of the best places for archeology are. Field seasons are especially hot, since they are always during the driest time of year so that the site doesn’t get flooded. Howler monkeys boom from the parched trees, which barely twitch during the windless days. Meanwhile, pasty grad students toil away in the hot sun, quietly picking away at a stucco relief or the markings on a stone pillar."

I love that this article - that does a pretty good job laying out why Indiana Jones is really just a looter - has an opening paragraph that's from Wrong-Wrong Wrongsville. I'm reading this interpretation of what 'best' is as 'anything the author considers exotic'.

Also, they're clearly only thinking of academic archaeology. When I've worked for developer funded units, we dig all year around. Ask me about having to sweep the snow off of our site before we could continue recording.

Also, pasty? Seriously? There's an archaeologists' tan, which is akin to farmer's tan, but the parts you're going to see exposed on site are not going to be pasty, even if you're looking at a red headed scot who's good at smearing the SPF 50 billion on themselves.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:59 AM on September 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


- I'm in IT. How much time do you have?

-- Have you tried turning it off and on again?

No joke, I had to reboot a soda vending machine last week.

----------

My job has never been portrayed on television or in movies as far as I can tell.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 10:08 AM on September 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's hard to not believe the rumors that they intentionally put in details that are so off.

I think these rumors are vastly underestimating the immense lack of fucks given by Hollywood writers, producers and directors.

More specifically, though, the real issue is that audiences are more easily distracted by reality than unreality. If Hugh Jackman in Swordfish we're doing his hacking like real hackers -- plain text on screens and phoning secretaries to lie and ask for passwords -- the audience would be going, "Huh?"

In Ghost Rider, Nicolas Cage jumps his motorcycle the length of a football field. The announcer says "goal post to goal post, 100 yards." Except, that distance -- post to post -- is 120 yards.

But most people have 100 yards burned into their heads as the length of a football field, and "post to post" sounds better than "the front end zone line to the other front end zone line."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:09 AM on September 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


Aeronautics is another good one for this type of thing. My dad was a pilot, and I don't think an airplane appeared on our TV without him riffing on some wrong procedure or lingo they would use.
posted by history_denier at 10:09 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think this is the closest my profession has ever come to being on TV. It was pretty accurate.
posted by moonmilk at 10:10 AM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I've actually had an archeology class with Canuto; he's a great teacher, and he complained about Indiana Jones every other week or so.

It still didn't stop three of the archeology majors from dressing up like Indy for Hallowe'en.

Canuto also talked about the serious problems with looting at Guatemalan sites. I was mostly familiar with English archeology, where it's not that big of a deals, though medieval statues in village churches have been stolen (or had just their heads stolen).
posted by jb at 10:12 AM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Black Books was more like how booksellers wish they could work. I don't think anyone on tv has had my current job since "That 70s Show."
posted by drezdn at 10:13 AM on September 14, 2014


ardgedee: "Enhance."

The funny thing is that the "enhance" trope's days are probably numbered. Sporting events are already being recorded in 4K that can be zoomed into 1080p with full detail at that resolution, so it's only a matter of time before those resolutions (or even higher) make it to consumer-grade surveillance cameras and the like.

Of course, camera sensors still have problems getting detail at this high resolution in low light, but that tech is getting better as well. In a decade or so, kids watching old CSI: Miami re-runs may not find it silly at all that someone can just keep zooming into footage to get better detail.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:13 AM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


All scientists wear labcoats and work in EXTREMELY clean, neat, tidy, and sparse labs. Riiiiiiiight.

Current worst offender for this is Black Orphan. Every time Cosima hits the screen I'm in eye roll mode. but I keep watching it anyway
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:14 AM on September 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


I have never cringed so hard before as when Frida Pinto's vet/primatologist character happily gave veterinary care to James Franco's kidnapped baby chimpanzee who was part of the most un-IACUCed set of biomedical research experiments who otherwise lived in James Franco's attic. I enjoyed the most recent Planet of the Apes movies for the beautiful CGI, but as far as portrayals of primate behavior or primatologists' behavior, it was very silly.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:16 AM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I don't know what people think children's librarians do but they are always shocked to find out what I really do. I do a drop-in story time for babies and toddlers and sometimes I'll hear a new family come in and the mom is all "now, Braden, the library lady is going to ask you to sit still and be quiet" to her 2 year old. Then when I start singing and dancing and hopping like a frog and telling poor little Braden to hop along his mom is looking around like "what is this? This isn't how libraries work!" Except it is. It has been since I've been a librarian, and that's going on 18 years.
True fact: I haven't shushed anyone in years.
posted by Biblio at 10:16 AM on September 14, 2014 [62 favorites]


- I'm in IT. How much time do you have?

-- Have you tried turning it off and on again?

No joke, I had to reboot a soda vending machine last week.

----------

My job has never been portrayed on television or in movies as far as I can tell.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom


Not even in The IT Crowd? I figured that the characters are (mildly) exaggerated, but the work was accurately portrayed.
posted by jb at 10:16 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am one of those lucky many whose job is too boring to show on TV. Plus I don't have a TV. Happiness abounds! Yay!
posted by YAMWAK at 10:17 AM on September 14, 2014


Oh and also I think (hope?) most practicing lawyers get over the "but that would neverrrrr happen!!!" impulse

From watching TV shows, or from appearing in small claims court?
posted by Hoopo at 10:18 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I may have mentioned it before. But I have a friend whose father was an HVAC engineer. Surprisingly, this is the WORST profession to have of you enjoy action movies. He couldn't sit through Die Hard, since the vents that Bruce Willis climbed through were (1) outsized for the building, (2) improper gauge steel, and (3) would never have supported the weight of a human crawling through them.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:20 AM on September 14, 2014 [99 favorites]


I think that the "funny how comedies seem more likely to get it right" comment is perceptive.

Yeah, I drove a cab for almost a decade, and TAXI was seriously the show that came closest to what it was really like. Certainly more so than Taxicab Confessions.

I was also a magician for about the same amount of time, and I stand by my opinion that Ocean's Eleven is the best "magic" movie ever made even though there isn't a single magic trick in it.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:20 AM on September 14, 2014 [13 favorites]


"When people hear what I do, they often ask if Law & Order is accurate. I always say the same thing: all of the legal stuff is surprisingly accurate right up until they walk into the courtroom, at which point reality is out the window."

I think Law & Order does a great job dramatizing legal questions ... of course the legal procedure is terrible. I love The Good Wife for getting drama out of legal procedure (especially pre-court procedural maneuvering), although of course it is still considerably sexed-up and sped up.

As far as local government-ing, Parks & Rec is pretty much exactly my life. I'm fascinated, though, by how often local officials are portrayed as outsiders who come in to RUIN THE TOWN, and how thoroughly this has been absorbed into people's ideas of the world. People talk ALL THE TIME like their city councilmen or whatever are bizarre aliens from elsewhere who are there to milk the town dry and, not, like, a mostly-bald 50-year-old guy who lives three doors down from them whose son plays soccer with theirs who is so crazy invested in local sewer infrastructure that he ran for unpaid office. NO NO HE'S HERE BECAUSE HE HATES YOU AND WANTS TO DESTROY YOU.

As far as grave robbers, my husband occasionally has to deal with them in the course of his work. Around here, they mostly rent or steal yellow excavators to dig up the graves. On TV they're always digging with shovels in the dark or breaking in to a big open tomb with ROOMS. In fact, no -- earth-moving machinery. To move all the earth on top of the grave!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:23 AM on September 14, 2014 [23 favorites]


I'm in retail. Only Kevin Smith nailed it.
posted by jonmc at 10:23 AM on September 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


"Enhance."

I actually saw that trope mocked in another crime procedural, and it was awesome - on an episode of Cold Case, two cops in the Philadelphia PD are looking at a photo of a crime scene on a bulletin board. "You see anything?" One asks, and the other days no. "Okay, let's enhance this Philly style," the first one says, and they both take one step forward, closer to the photo.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:23 AM on September 14, 2014 [50 favorites]


Well, I can say that the portrayal of linguistics in Stargate SG-1 is pretty accurate.

We do speak over twenty languages, at least half of which are dead, and we do travel vast distances between galaxies to translate mysterious written artifacts made by cultures who somehow speak English, but write in Elamite or whatever. We're also all anthropologists and archaeologists, because we have to fill our spare time with something.

(We need more linguistics in pop culture. Not that I'm complaining about SG-1.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:23 AM on September 14, 2014 [29 favorites]


I'm in computer security. Pretty much every scene in shows where "hackers" are shown they can break any level of security in seconds. Even short, poorly-chosen passwords take longer to guess than that.

And don't get me started on screens full of scrolling source code. I can see "tail -f" on log files, but not on source code.
posted by tommasz at 10:24 AM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


There is nothing about my profession anywhere. At all. Even Neal Stephenson's big MMO novel had nada about community management. It was awesomely clueless.
posted by emmet at 10:27 AM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


> The funny thing is that the "enhance" trope's days are probably numbered. Sporting events are already being recorded in 4K that can be zoomed into 1080p with full detail at that resolution, so it's only a matter of time before those resolutions (or even higher) make it to consumer-grade surveillance cameras and the like.

I doubt it mostly because the big problem in surveillance is storage, not camera quality. A single camera shooting 1080p at 10-sec intervals can fill half a terabyte of disk space each month. That gets expensive fast. The more you try to economize by compressing that video stream, the more detail you lose, and the quicker you're back to wishing you had CSI:BigCity's magical "Enhance!" software.
posted by ardgedee at 10:28 AM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I actually saw that trope mocked in another crime procedural...

One of my favorite moments in The Blacklist is in the pilot episode when Reddington, the criminal mastermind assisting the FBI, walks up to their bulletin board. He looks at a series of photos of the suspect. "At least you know what he looks like." Then he looks at a photo of someone else. "Fascinating character! But completely unrelated to this."
posted by cribcage at 10:30 AM on September 14, 2014


I was recently in court for the first time and, having watched legal dramas for years, I was disappointed at how boring it was. Not even an "Objection!"
posted by desjardins at 10:30 AM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, PS, busting all those children's media academic stereotypes, in Curious George the children's TV show, the local academic is Professor Wiseman, who is a woman of color who works at a local science museum and they show her doing research AND administration! She does, however, wear a lab coat.

She is also abnormally nice about monkeys wrecking her museum repeatedly.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:31 AM on September 14, 2014 [29 favorites]


I used to work for a labor union, and I couldn't understand how writers, presumably WGA members, would portray a strike demonstration by having a crowd of people stand in one place chanting "Union! Union!" over and over (House of Cards). I've had to write my share of picket chants, and while they can be somewhat awkward, they're never that dumb. Or the classic Norma Rae holding up a piece of cardboard that says "UNION." What? Who does that? In real life you use your words.
posted by univac at 10:37 AM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


moonmilk: there was some shitty serial-killer-of-the-week show in the '90s, where one of the villains was an experimental composer who encoded secret taunting messages to the police in perplexing atonal piano solos. They traced him back to UIUC, of course.
posted by idiopath at 10:38 AM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm a journalist. I do like to drink whiskey, so they got that right.
posted by 256 at 10:38 AM on September 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


For some reason, TV writers often have an excellent grasp of how things go in a TV writing room. 30 Rock is not far off.

(Studio 60, however, was ridiculous. Nobody writes a successful variety show by himself.)
posted by musofire at 10:39 AM on September 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


I used to work in a nonprofit research lab. Whenever there was a tour for prospective donors, everyone had to leave their offices, go to the labs, and pretend to be doing sciencey stuff, because no one wants to see scientists reading articles, writing grants, responding to emails, etc. One guy I worked with used to fill beakers with dyed water and hold them up to the light, examining them carefully.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:41 AM on September 14, 2014 [196 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Okay, let's enhance this Philly style," the first one says, and they both take one step forward, closer to pour Cheez Whiz and onions on the photo.

FTFY.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:41 AM on September 14, 2014 [26 favorites]


a realistic show about mathematicians would have all the intensity of a drama about people who spend a lot of time doing crossword puzzles... alone.

But occasionally Hollywood gets it right, like that almost-documentary about Albert Einstein and his mathematician niece...
posted by ennui.bz at 10:42 AM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or the classic Norma Rae holding up a piece of cardboard that says "UNION." What? Who does that? In real life you use your words.

Maybe it's like Repo Man.
posted by desjardins at 10:43 AM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Teaching, ugh. Women teachers in movies are either fascists (Jean Brodie) or circumvent the ridiculous rules imposed on them without being openly defiant (Up the Down Staircase, Dangerous Minds), while men tend to make good rules if they are authoritative (Stand and Deliver) or openly defy the shitty rules they have to follow if they are rebellious (Teachers, Conrack, Dead Poets Society).

Sometimes a black authority figure can be brought in to take drastic measures and yell at black students the things an unimaginative white audience wishes it could throw at the problems of urban education, like kicking out the troublemakers and telling kids to pull up their baggy pants (Lean On Me).

In the movies, it usually isn't hard to get a teaching job, and there's not a lot of collaboration, with coworkers often being incompetent.

There are probably exceptions like Half Nelson and Detachment, but there's a lot at play regarding gender and race that goes into the way teaching is portrayed, before you get to the actual pedagogy, which in my experience has a large technical component.
posted by alphanerd at 10:44 AM on September 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


My doctor yells "Objection!" while infinitely zooming in on a CT scan and reaching inside my chest to pull out a gold monkey.
posted by univac at 10:50 AM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Enhance."

I had to review some security camera footage with a couple of members of our otherwise extremely knowledgeable and competent management team due to an employee dispute over a fender bender in the parking lot. (Name omitted to protect the clueless.)

Manager #1: Can we zoom in at all?
Me: Not really. There's a zoom button there, but the resolution's not great so it's going to be a bit grainy. (The accident occurred during the late evening.)
Manager #2: Try clicking the "focus" button.
Me: No, the focus button is for the iris. You can't change the focus on a recording.
Manager 1: It doesn't work.
Me: It works just fine. See? You just made the live feed blurry.
Manager 2: Try zooming in again.
Me: You're just going to make the image worse.
Manager 1: That didn't work either. How do we clear it up?
Me: We don't.
Manager 2: Try the focus button again.
Manager 1: It still doesn't work.
Me: I really hate CSI.
Manager 1: I can't see anything. I think we need to get this serviced. Look, the camera's all blurry now. This thing's broken.
Manager 2: Too bad that focus button doesn't work.

I took an early (and extended) lunch.
posted by dances with hamsters at 10:50 AM on September 14, 2014 [77 favorites]


One guy I worked with used to fill beakers with dyed water and hold them up to the light, examining them carefully.

I've often wondered why there hasn't been a TV drama set in a small, dysfunctional nonprofit. Giant Egos! Funding Deadlines! Clashing Ideologies! Cute Kids! Goofy Volunteers! Staff Turnover! The very special episode where your fundraising video goes viral and you suddenly have more money than projects!

.... seriously, someone get on that. It's ripe for exploitation.
posted by anastasiav at 10:52 AM on September 14, 2014 [29 favorites]


Oh weird - that Karen Pike who consults for Grey's Anatomy was my MD while in the ER for extreme dehydration from food poisoning. I only remember because the staff were like "she consults on Grey's Anatomy" every five minutes.
posted by univac at 10:56 AM on September 14, 2014


"funny how comedies seem more likely to get it right"

I think this is for two reasons:

1. Comedies are shorter. With only 22 minutes to accomplish a ton of stuff in the narrative AND jokes, you just don't find yourself getting into the finer details of what it's like to be a worker in a small-town parks department.

2. Comedies rarely spend a ton of time on the nuts and bolts of what the job actually is, unless it's something we've seen a million times with a very clear description and visual impact, like doctor, teacher, or cop. I know David Brent is the boss on The Office, but I don't really know what actual work tasks he performs. So I don't really have a sense of how closely that hews to what actual managers at paper companies specifically do.

In contrast, dramas spend a LOT of real estate talking about the mechanics of exactly how things are happening and who is doing what.

For example. Right now I'm playing around with the idea of a medical sitcom. In ~30 pages, I deal pretty much not at all the question of why my main character chose to practice medicine here vs. somewhere else. Yesterday I watched the pilot for the drama Hart Of Dixie, which has a somewhat similar premise to my idea. They blew like ten minutes telling me why this woman became a doctor, what kind of grades she got in med school, what her residency was like, what specialty she originally wanted to practice, this internship she didn't get, her ex boyfriend, this guy who really wanted her to work at his practice but she said no like forty times, etc etc etc. all to get her to a family practice in a small town, through several complete misunderstandings of how practicing medicine works. Ten minutes is half of the screen time for a sitcom. I'm just not going to go there.
posted by Sara C. at 10:57 AM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I used to live with some volcanologist PhD students, round about the time both Volcano and Dante's Peak was released. They were very much in favour of the Brosnan portrayal ("I'm a volcanologist"). This may not have been anything to do with its accuracy.
posted by biffa at 10:59 AM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


> .... seriously, someone get on that. It's ripe for exploitation.

Oh god no. Most of the good nonprofits are already starved for funding. Elevating public cynicism about nonprofit activities is the last thing they need.
posted by ardgedee at 11:00 AM on September 14, 2014


Oh god no.

Heh. I've worked in nonprofit development for more than 15 years. An accurate description of nonprofit activities, big egos and all, could hardly do more damage than NPOs themselves (often inadvertently) do.

Plus, if it were really realistic, nobody would believe it.
posted by anastasiav at 11:07 AM on September 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


Or the classic Norma Rae holding up a piece of cardboard that says "UNION." What? Who does that? In real life you use your words.

Sorry, but that actually happened. (I think it was more about the machinery noise than anything.) Not to say that the woman on whose life Norma Rae was based didn't have an opinion about the movie....
posted by dhartung at 11:07 AM on September 14, 2014 [9 favorites]




On the other hand, it might kill off a few mediocre non-profits. More money for the good ones!
posted by michaelh at 11:10 AM on September 14, 2014


I'm a writer(*), and this reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend, some years back. I'd been on her case to watch Babylon 5 since maybe Season 3 was actually airing, and her husband finally talked her into it. So she dropped me an IM to tell me, and I asked her what she thought.

She promptly critiqued their hair, of all things. It was too neat after Sheridan got tortured, it was too nice after Ivanova had a dust-up in the green vs. purple episode, etc. That, of all things, took her out of it.

Apart from that, she said it was fine.

I learned two things from this:
1) She will never live this down. Whenever she's seen a show or movie, I ask her what she thought about everybody's hair(**).

2) I realized I will never get all the details of anything right, unless it's something I've done. I still try: I have the 'napkin math plus five minutes with Google' rule on anything I'm uncertain of. Like, I'd never get the length of a football field wrong in anything despite knowing nothing about the sport... but past that? I know it ain't happening. Even if by some miracle I get all the major stuff right, I'll still have someone in the wrong shoes or something, and at some point you just gotta let it go. I expect a lot of TV writers have had some version of the Great Hair Revelation too, and made their peace with it in various ways. Like, whoever writes CSI and NCIS is probably just trolling us.


(* Disclaimer: no, not one of those fancy ones anybody's ever heard of, or read, or anything.)
(** No, I am not sure why anybody would stay friends with me for this long, either.)
posted by mordax at 11:13 AM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I couldn't understand how writers, presumably WGA members, would portray a strike demonstration by having a crowd of people stand in one place chanting "Union! Union!" over and over

Three reasons.

1. If the striking workers just chant UNION! UNION! over and over, it is immediately apparent to the dumbest viewer that they are striking workers and it all has something to do with labor issues and unions and stuff.

2. Much easier to direct a crowd of background actors to all shout UNION! in unison rather than teaching them a long specific chant. You don't want to ruin a take because this one dumbass misheard the words or clapped out of rhythm or something.

3. Less writing for the writers to write. Screenwriters also have to write all the jingles, bad poetry, protest chants, silly pop songs, etc you hear in the course of a given TV show. Which takes time, even for someone with a real knack for it. You could say, well, just use real protest chants, but that, too, creates more work for the writers' office as someone has to do the research and then decide which pre-existing chant to use AND the whole thing has to get vetted by both the studio (standards and practices, tone deaf executives, etc) and the legal clearance people. Just having the background actors holler UNION! saves hours of work and accomplishes the same task.
posted by Sara C. at 11:15 AM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


My spouse has learned to wait for commercials to ask why I'm scoffing at military things.

The producers of the late, lamented Enlisted had the right idea -- when the pilot aired, they held a contest to see who could find the most mistakes.
posted by Etrigan at 11:17 AM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


She promptly critiqued their hair, of all things. It was too neat after Sheridan got tortured, it was too nice after Ivanova had a dust-up in the green vs. purple episode, etc. That, of all things, took her out of it.

What? I *date* old movies by the actresses' hairstyles and makeup. And their 50s bullet bras, once in a while. I can't be the only one who does this.

Which only goes to show that expertise in a topic (no matter how tenuous) takes you out of a lot of media, regardless of what the topic is.

I'm a sysadmin, so let me just upvote any other commentary about IT above.
posted by sukeban at 11:18 AM on September 14, 2014


...meanwhile his collaborators are mostly monkeys and showgirls.
As if that's a bad thing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:23 AM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


When your profession is portrayed on TV, what do they get wrong?

Trust that they also get unemployment wrong.
posted by philip-random at 11:44 AM on September 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


I work in the world's second oldest profession, and I have never seen it portrayed whether accurately or otherwise on TV or in a movie.

Humans have been using scales for over 5,000 years; weighing is one of our oldest technologies, and the temptation to cheat a scale is one of our oldest crimes. Scales are pervasive and highly regulated and the focus of a surprising amount of drama. You see trucks all the time but you never see them being weighed, which happens to most of them at both ends of every journey and every time they cross a state line. You see warehouses full of pallets and you see forklifts but you never see a forklift put a pallet on a scale. Sometimes you even see industrial production lines but you never see the line shut down and workers milling about as they try to figure out why the checkweigher started flagging everything.

Most disappointingly you never see a Redneck Bad Guy get his comeuppance because it never occurred to him that jiggering the scale isn't just lying, it's very highly illegal and there are licenses for those of us who work on the equipment and special cops whose whole job is to enforce that shit. No, for the most part when we go hiring we have to explain to our applicants exactly what it is we do even though our entire civilization is pretty highly dependent on us doing it right.
posted by localroger at 11:44 AM on September 14, 2014 [36 favorites]


What? I *date* old movies by the actresses' hairstyles and makeup. And their 50s bullet bras, once in a while. I can't be the only one who does this.

Well, it wasn't even the styles - we're talking a science fiction show, and there's no telling why the Centauri showed up for work like this. It was simply that getting the crap kicked out of you in various space battles ought to muss your hair up, regardless of what you did with it in the first place. This is so common in TV that I simply hadn't thought about it. Despite my teasing, I thought she had a great point.

Which only goes to show that expertise in a topic (mo matter how tenuous) takes you out of a lot of media, no matter what the topic is.

Yep. And again, the flip side is: as a writer of fiction, a person needs to be comfortable being at least a little wrong at all times, because it's going to happen. Some people are more ashamed about this than others, but everybody has to let it go at some point and just accept that nothing's perfect.

TV is probably worse than many storytelling mediums for the reasons Sara C. listed above.
posted by mordax at 11:48 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I slept a few centuries and let me tell you, Sleepy Hollow is just dead on correct about this.
posted by jeather at 11:49 AM on September 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm the box office manager for a historic non-profit movie palace, and you will never see a movie made about the work day of a box office manager, because that would be like writing a book about owning a bookstore and HEY WAIT A MINUTE
posted by penduluum at 11:50 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


getting the crap kicked out of you in various space battles ought to muss your hair up

200 years from now your hairspray will have more computational power than an iPhone.
posted by localroger at 11:54 AM on September 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


I work in the world's second oldest profession

You're a spy?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:54 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone on tv has had my current job since "That 70s Show."

You sell blenders?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:57 AM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


We do speak over twenty languages, at least half of which are dead, and we do travel vast distances between galaxies to translate mysterious written artifacts made by cultures who somehow speak English, but write in Elamite or whatever.

make that nine languages (and read more than speak), five of them dead, and you could be discribing a friend of mine with a PhD in philology.

She also travels extensively, but mostly in East Asia teaching ESL. No degrees in archeology officially, but she is an expert on early medieval weaponry (making, use, language about), and has made her own chainmail.
posted by jb at 11:59 AM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Similarly....

Oh, and TV Lawyers don't have any specialties

Exception is LA Law.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:02 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


None of the journalism I've seen in movies / TV has ever included any of the "I'd like to get a story put in the paper" or the "you should really cover our (non-)event" or the "I'm pretty sure I could do your job better than you" or the "zomg help me blow the cover on this conspiracy" or the "i'm runing for prezident" or the "FUCK YOU I'M OUTRAGED" stuff that is real and happens all the time.
posted by Chutzler at 12:02 PM on September 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


I haven't seen a show about a social non-profit; Slings and Arrows is an excellent depiction of a arts non-profit, but definitely falls into the thing where people in film/television/acting always want to write about their own creative process.

Just had a thought: a television show set at a homeless shelter would be rich for episodic drama. You could have the staff and a few regulars as on-going characters, and all the stories of the clients coming and going.
posted by jb at 12:04 PM on September 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


I doubt it mostly because the big problem in surveillance is storage, not camera quality. A single camera shooting 1080p at 10-sec intervals can fill half a terabyte of disk space each month.

They need smart systems that track the people who walk by and get one or two super-good stills of each person in addition to the bad video.
posted by pracowity at 12:05 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


but maybe no one would want to watch a show set at a homeless shelter because it would be too depressing/too much an indictment of our society.
posted by jb at 12:05 PM on September 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


ardgedee: I doubt it mostly because the big problem in surveillance is storage, not camera quality.

Yes, but storage is getting cheaper too, at an even faster rate than the high-resolution camera sensors are. My statement was about what things will be like a decade or so, not what they're like now.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:08 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was actually talking about this in class the other day, when the subject of the Jack Ryan books and movies (created by Tom Clancy) came up. Ryan, if you'll recall, is a fictional naval historian.

I told them that these portrayals get some things right and some things wrong. Yes, our work is, in fact, that glamorous and exciting. Harrison Ford, on the other hand, is not handsome enough to be realistic in the role.
posted by Dreadnought at 12:10 PM on September 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


blahblahblah: "When your profession is portrayed on TV, what do they get wrong?"

Sometimes they portray bankers as sympathetic.
posted by chavenet at 12:13 PM on September 14, 2014 [20 favorites]


I have never cringed so hard before as when Frida Pinto's vet/primatologist character happily gave veterinary care

Hollywood has no idea what biologists even do so they end us giving us all kinds of random extra science powers. Random physics question? Ask the biologist! Arcane statistical issue? I think we've got a scientist here somewhere. They do the same thing with engineers too.

The part they do get right is the delight biologists take in gross things.
posted by fshgrl at 12:21 PM on September 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


The annoying thing, to me at least, is that TV gets my profession wrong whether it's fictionalized OR reality TV. I'm a professional organizer, a small enough profession (4000 or so of us in the US) that until recent years it was ignored. When it is portrayed on television, it's invariably played for comedic effect, even if not on a comedy, by completely untrained individuals who go about it sans education or ethics. Examples:

--On an episode of Two Broke Girls, one of the two girls was hired to "clean up" and "organize" a hoarder's dwelling. Hoarding is a medical condition in the DSM-V and that it's handled in a team approach with psychiatrists, therapists, professional organizers and HAZMAT professionals in a team approach. The woman brought along her buddy (a violation of ethics) and jumped in, literally, to the mess (a violation of all safely protocols). The reality is that professional organizers who work with hoarders have extensive training and work according to very specific protocols because, if they didn't, it would cause danger to their physical health and the clients' mental health. The scene was played for maximum gross-out humor, but to me, it was like showing CPR done incorrectly.

--On Rizzoli & Isles, Mrs. Rizzoli decides to become a professional organizer and works, gratis, for Isles. She alphabetizes (and labels) everything in the kitchen so that it makes no functional sense, and both damages and disposes of Isles' items. Her sole "training" is that she's working her way through a random book.

--In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon takes on the role of professional organizer for Penny and proceeds to actually do what appears to be an incredible job. However, while he claims to be acting according to a code of ethics (something that exists, in writing, in our profession), but he has read the contents of Penny's diary, and alludes to said contents in conversation.

In every fictional TV/film example, the professional organizer acts without ethics or education, which (certainly most of) our professional takes very seriously, and does the work in the absence of the client, which is almost never appropriate (except for packing for relocations). Most of my colleagues are initially annoyed by such portrayals and try to have thick skin, figuring that any portrayal of our profession, even if played for laughs, means people are becoming aware. But still...

But it's the REALITY SHOW treatment of our profession that galls. Shows popular over the last decade, like Clean Sweep and Clean House, show clients with identifiable (but undiagnosed, for the show's purposes) mental health issues being swept under the rug (pun intended), their possessions being stewn on the lawn and sold without any real evaluation of their value beyond monetary concerns. There's no focus on maintenance or after-care, and the hosts and others, who seem to be acting under the auspices of the organizers, are bullying. Even shows like Mission: Organization, by the way they are shot, imply the work is done over a much more brief period of time than it actually occurred. (FWIW, Hoarders, and similar shows, however, do a remarkably good, and relatively unexploitative job illustrating the process for the very far end of the client spectrum.)

I've no doubt it would be incredibly boring to watch a realistic portrayal of professional organizing, at least without speeding the video up to the point that all of the audio is removed (with the cognitive/emotional/motivational aspects eliminated). But imagine if every single portrayal of a doctor or lawyer or accountant were shown to be unethical, uneducated, unprepared goofballs? Sigh. (On the plus side, I used to work in TV, but can now blissfully enjoy the ridiculous portrayals of television station employees.)
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:23 PM on September 14, 2014 [21 favorites]


Long ago I stopped expecting Hollywood to accurately depict any task less universal than using an ATM. Makes watching TV a lot simpler.

But it messes up the criminal justice system. The first time I was called for jury duty, I was placed on the jury for a 1st degree murder trial. What should have been a 1 hour deliberation to get to guilty was messed up a bit by incompetent prosecution, and inadmissible evidence "accidentally" mentioned by a policeman (that resulted in the jury being sent outside while the judge did a whole bunch of shouting). But the biggest barriers were the two jurors who were unable to vote "guilty" without a TV show gotcha in the trial. One refused to follow the judge's instructions because that wasn't how they did it on Matlock. We ended up being sequestered at a shitty motel and wasted a day trying to deprogram them.
posted by jaut at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


No one will ever do a dramatization of my current profession.
posted by boilermonster at 9:52 AM on September 14
[2 favorites +] [!]


I'm pretty sure that was actually a fairly important plot point in Home Alone.
posted by graphnerd at 12:29 PM on September 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


So at the end of this thread I just want to check that people know the generic items in Repo Man are actual generic branding from Ralph's in the 80s that people (like me!) had at home?
posted by dame at 12:37 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Wrong Kind of Cheese: Have you seen the "Leslie's House" episode of Parks and Rec? Leslie is a problem collector (they never misuse the word hoarder!) and Ann says she needs a "team of professionals." She calls in a professional organizer who teaches a course on personal organization. Leslie is involved in the cleaning process and the organizer does a great job! It's a pretty small and tangential moment but it seems like a representation that addresses some of your complaints.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 12:46 PM on September 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


I always enjoy Scotty using a Mac.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:49 PM on September 14, 2014


the generic items in Repo Man are actual generic branding from Ralph's in the 80s that people (like me!) had at home?

Ralph's sold "Food"?
posted by philip-random at 1:02 PM on September 14, 2014


... or maybe it was "Meat".

excellent. I have an excuse to watch Repo Man again.
posted by philip-random at 1:03 PM on September 14, 2014


Okay, I'm stumped.

Localroger, what exactly is your job?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:05 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Taxman, I figure.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:11 PM on September 14, 2014


"None of the journalism I've seen in movies / TV has ever included any of the "I'd like to get a story put in the paper" or the "you should really cover our (non-)event""

If you made a realistic newspaper TV show, you'd definitely have to include the REALLY ANGRY PEOPLE haranguing you about the syndicated crossword puzzle. Nothing provokes more reader rage than a problem with the crossword.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:18 PM on September 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


LOL. Empress C I am a specialist technician who works on weighing equipment -- a "scale man." My job requires a license from the state where I'm working, and state inspectors check my work. There are protocols and sealing procedures to make sure someone hasn't come after me and tampered with what I've fixed.

I am actually a specialist within my specialty, since I write original application software for our customers (mostly embedded data collection and process control). But when the programmable device is also a NTEP certified legal for trade scale, I have to have the license and all the tools like test weights at my disposal to touch it.
posted by localroger at 1:20 PM on September 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


dame: "So at the end of this thread I just want to check that people know the generic items in Repo Man are actual generic branding from Ralph's in the 80s that people (like me!) had at home?"

Beer was the thing. And why the Repo men could be Bud, Miller, Lite & Oly.
posted by chavenet at 1:33 PM on September 14, 2014


My job in the media.

It's not like that.

Except when it is.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 1:45 PM on September 14, 2014


I want to hear from folks in electoral politics / electeds' staff an opinion of Veep.
posted by salvia at 1:49 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know if anyone saw Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies but it's maybe the one film I am in a position to know whether they got shit wrong and boy howdy did they get shit wrong.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:51 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, re hair on TV, especially 90s sci fi hair on TV, I'm pretty sure the main reason everyone's hair stays so neat after an action sequence is due to the use of wigs and hairpieces. Which are much more routinely used than you'd think. Fake hair just doesn't behave the same way that real hair does, and so naturally disarrayed hair following an action sequence would look really bizarre and obviously not real. The way to get around this is just to keep everyone's hair perfect at all times.

The thing that really killed me, though, was in an emergency situation in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Janeway's updo falls down during the shakycam attack scene. The emergency continues, and we cut to Janeway rushing into Engineering with a perfect updo. Giving the impression that she'd stopped to fix her hair along the way. So I guess there are some things Patrick Stewart's bald head actually made easier.
posted by Sara C. at 2:15 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


“True, the Nazis were trying to find the Ark of the Covenant so they could destroy the world,” Canuto says. “But methodologically and legally they were in the right.”

Sending a psychopathic German hitman to Nepal to torture an abandoned expat to find a medallion is methodologically sound? Man, I knew Tulane peeps rolled hard but jeez.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:18 PM on September 14, 2014 [34 favorites]


Of course, you do realize that people aren't necessarily watching tv to see reality, but to take a much needed break from it.
posted by jonmc at 2:19 PM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Arcane statistical issue? I think we've got a scientist here somewhere.

Sorry, I'm an ecologist and you've just described 50% of my inbox.
posted by Jimbob at 2:29 PM on September 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Medical Reviews of House got me through many later season episodes.
posted by exact_change at 2:36 PM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Trust that they also get unemployment wrong.

The 1980s series Boys from the Black Stuff got that very, very right. It features a virtuoso performance by a young Bernard Hill, portraying Yosser, a single parent with disintegrating mental health desperate to get any kind of paid work. The Liverpudlian accents may make non Brits seek proper subtitles but this series is well worth the effort.
posted by epo at 2:45 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have to say that Academic Librarians always get treated accurately in the media. People are honestly afraid of my shushing power, for example.

Also:

MetaFilter: a veritable uptick in squandered sexpots
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:46 PM on September 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


A friend of mine who is an academic historian teaching mostly medieval and ancient history has a blog, An Historian Goes to the Movies, which he started partly so he could direct students there when they ask "is this movie realistic?"

He mostly talks about the way the movies represent history, usually with some appreciation of the pressures of film-making rather than just angry ranting "at what they got wrong" (300 and sequel excepted). Some of the more interesting posts include discussing why directors need to respond to history in a different way than historians and why crazy versions of history make it into movies. He also thinks that Disney's Robin Hood is more authentically medieval than you might imagine.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:24 PM on September 14, 2014 [20 favorites]


All the things in the background of the jpeg desjardins posted is Ralphs-generic brand. And also beer.
posted by dame at 3:29 PM on September 14, 2014


Shows popular over the last decade, like Clean Sweep and Clean House, show clients with identifiable (but undiagnosed, for the show's purposes) mental health issues being swept under the rug (pun intended), their possessions being stewn on the lawn and sold without any real evaluation of their value beyond monetary concerns.

Just as an aside, I was on Clean Sweep and can assure you that there were no mental health issues. We cleaned out the garage in advance, so we knew what we were getting rid of. Brought all that stuff into the house to make it look messy for "the before," then were easily able to take it out, "purge it" (often pretending like we wanted to fight about it), and sell it. It was all set up and editing. I'm sure there are programs that operate as you describe, which is cause for great concern, but I never got the feeling that Clean Sweep was one of them.
posted by buzzkillington at 3:34 PM on September 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Police don't much like television drama either. I spoke to a personal acquaintance who is a police officer thought the Wire didn't get much right.
posted by xtian at 3:51 PM on September 14, 2014


Genii - my God that looks like an awesome web site.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Misconceptions the media has about my job.

Nurses are not sexy.
We do not fuck our patients.
We do not fuck the doctors.
We do not stand around waiting for doctors to make decisions and then say "Yes doctor!" and go do that thing.
We are not angels. We are also not Nurse Ratched. Some of us are great and some of us suck and most of us fall somewhere in between.
We are not hired, fired, paid by or have our shifts organized by doctors.
We are highly trained medical professionals with our own autonomous practice. We work alongside doctors, not under them. We are not lackeys - we are coworkers.
We do not all work in hospitals.
We are not a touchy-feely profession. Nursing is and art, yeah, AND A SCIENCE - we have to take biomed, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, pharmacology, and whole host of other things to be nurses.
We do not yell "stat!" when something needs to be done.
WE DO NOT SHOCK PEOPLE WITH NO HEART RATE (god that one still irritates me even now).
We do almost all bedside care - in a medical show where the doctor sits by the bed and has a long heart to heart with a patient who is just lonely and needs a friend? We are laughing our assess off at that because no doctor does that - it's not their job. Also they're too busy.
Basically if on tv you see people talking and making medical plans about treatment courses and pathophysiology and interventions and investigations - that's what doctors do.
If you see people actually doing something with a patient - that's probably what a nurse does.
We are overworked, understaffed, and underpaid, as a rule. And we also generally love our jobs despite the high rate of burnout, because dedicated passionate people are drawn to be nurses. And also a few fruit loops.
We work through our breaks and work unpaid overtime so that we don't get yelled at by bureaucratic idiots who have no idea how the shop floor actually runs and think we can do 12 hours of tasks in 8 hours of time.
We do not sit around gossiping and cracking jokes because ain't nobody got time for that.
We do not have the power to do shit to you against your will (unless you have gone mental). If some nurse ever did that to you they suck, and I'm sorry.
No we will not give you a sponge bath or a back rub, are you freaking kidding me?
We will give you a bed-bath if you're unable or unsafe to get out of bed, but it will not be sexy - you will hate it and it will be awkward. For you. We've seen it all and don't care.
posted by supercrayon at 4:03 PM on September 14, 2014 [38 favorites]


They didn't show the materials scientists and engineers designing the Jaegers in Pacific Rim but I was taken out of the story by the talk of making them out of "pure titanium" or having a "solid iron hull, no alloys" as if either of those made any sense whatsoever. Yes, I realize the rest of the film was as ridiculous... but those few lines are what got me.

Now when Thomas Pynchon wrote about the elastomeric hysteresis Imipolex G in Gravity's Rainbow he did pretty well.
posted by mountmccabe at 4:21 PM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I write code, but I don't code like this. As great as it would be.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:24 PM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Teachers in movies have one class of twenty students. I have 179 students, in six different classes, of thirty or so in each. I could go on and on about misrepresentation of my profession in films, and worse, in the media, but oh well. I'm just going to keep on trying to get my kids to read more closely and write more wonderfully. I wish I could ignore the administration and their "peer observers," but I can't. I just went into work Saturday to put up a "word wall" because that's one of the things I will be graded on next week.
posted by kozad at 4:39 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm a USDA scientist, and it was a great day when Lucy Lawless played a USDA scientist in "Locusts". When she burst into a room holding up her USDA badge and shouted "USDA!", well, let's just say that never happened before she did it, but it certainly happened the next day.
posted by acrasis at 4:40 PM on September 14, 2014 [71 favorites]


We do not yell "stat!" when something needs to be done.

I... I am surprisingly forlorn to hear this.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:02 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Movies and TV shows that purportedly show movie sets and their ilk. A grif is never seen in the background "covering up" something. You don't light an interior set with TWO 18Ks banging on the actors as keylights, they'd melt like the Nazis did when they opened the Ark. There's an Aleve ad on right now that shows the director(?) looking intently at the monitors but there's no CAMERA on the set. And he's standing right where he'd be in the shot. The list is endless. And you'd think that someone on the crew might just mention it but it almost never comes up. We're not the writers or the directors, we're here to make their product, so silence is golden.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:07 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Somehow museums are rarely captured with mysterious smudge marks on the cases, and everyone is a curator, the offices are clean/well-lit/furnished sometime after 1972, and the hallways aren't lined with mysterious extra storage units/dinosaur skulls/petrified trees. Also there are no intense closeups of data entry, addressing exhibition mailings, or hours of footage of provenance research.

On the plus side, I used to be able to convince children that we had a mummy who hates bedtime running around, so thank you, Hollywood!

Most of the best places for archeology are.

This also made me sad because archaeology is everywhere, hooray, everyone should be able to learn about the awesome history of their community. Not just the ones with golden idols and weird decrepit knights hidden in a mausoleum "temples".
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:08 PM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would like to know: Law students on Reddit say that 'My Cousin Vinny' is better than most TV lawyer stuff. Is this true?
posted by ovvl at 5:43 PM on September 14, 2014


Can i just say "In real life, computers don't make little beeping noises as things appear on the screen!"

Thanks.
posted by mmoncur at 5:55 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


buzzkillington, thank you for raising that. By saying "...Clean Sweep and Clean House, show clients with identifiable (but undiagnosed, for the show's purposes) mental health issues being swept under the rug…,", I didn't mean to make it seem that I thought those shows ONLY showed such situations (or that all the people on the shows were in such situations), merely that they DID show them at all. Unfortunately, I deleted the sentences in that section on the annoyance I have with those shows' fakery-for-TV, because the post was getting too long.

rabbitbookworm, cool! I don't watch Parks & Rec, but will seek out that episode and share it!
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 5:57 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


In When Harry Met Sally, Harry says he is a "political consultant" but is never even once portrayed as working. That's pretty true in my case too.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:17 PM on September 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


supercrayon, I wish I could agree with your take on nurses. But like everyone else, some of us are awesome, some of us suck, and we all have our bad and good days.

I've seen plenty of nurses who sit around gossiping, and unfortunately our work "alongside" doctors is often still at their behest. In union states we get paid a totally reasonable living wage (well earned considering what a high-stress, high stakes job it is). And some of us are very sexy thank you very much! However, I think you call out a lot of stupid nurse cliches correctly.

My big beef with nurses on TV is, we're mostly not there. Are there even any nurses on Grey's Anatomy at all? As you say, doctors don't really do much of the stuff, outside of surgery and ER. But the touching, interacting, doing is more nurses and that is invisible on TV. (If but we had time to do the heart-to-heart conversing you sometimes see TV nurses doing. Sadly, I think many in this profession have shit emotional support skills and I've literally heard a colleague tell a bereft patient, "Don't cry" and leave the room.)

Since I started working as a nurse I thought a really great TV show could be made about the hospital Nurse's Aids. These folks see patients on every floor, they work with doctors and nurses on every unit, they know everyone, know all the gossip, see all the nastiest shit (literally and figuratively) and do the most of the actual hands on work because face it, now a days nurses are mostly handing out medicines and sometimes doing wound care - we don't touch people much either. Nurse's Aids/CNAs are a working class lot who, speaking generally, have highly stressful lives and shit pay. A totally killer TV show would show the CNAs and janitorial staff as much as they show the residents - kind of a medical Upstairs Downstairs.

Your welcome Hollywood!
posted by latkes at 6:21 PM on September 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


I used to watch the sitcom Nurses. It was very much the Barney Miller approach. But would any actual nurse like to report back on how accurate it was?
posted by jb at 6:30 PM on September 14, 2014


As you say, doctors don't really do much of the stuff, outside of surgery and ER. But the touching, interacting, doing is more nurses and that is invisible on TV.

This is interesting to me, because most of the wrong stuff with people's jobs on TV is in the name of getting people to DO stuff, because it's much more visually interesting to have a doctor talking to a patient rather than just like referring to a file or something. And yet there've only been a few TV shows about nurses, and another small handful about medical stuff in general that feature nurses prominently.

Oh and BTW anyone who hasn't seen at least a season or two of Nurse Jackie is really missing out.
posted by Sara C. at 6:39 PM on September 14, 2014


it's much more visually interesting to have a doctor talking to a patient rather than just like referring to a file or something. And yet there've only been a few TV shows about nurses,

But doctors are culturally higher status (and traditionally more white, more male, and more rich, although all this stuff is changing dramatically) therefore the TV shows must be about the doctors and we pretend they do the kind of hands on and counseling that nurses do more of (but also don't do enough of).

Obviously I'm speaking in massive generalizations here...
posted by latkes at 6:53 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


A totally killer TV show would show the CNAs and janitorial staff as much as they show the residents - kind of a medical Upstairs Downstairs.

I seem to recall St. Elsewhere having CNA's & janitorial staff as regularly appearing characters (in addition to the doctors and nurses), though my memory may inaccurate.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:58 PM on September 14, 2014


An otherwise forgotten romance called It's My Turn is known among mathematicians for including a correct proof of the snake lemma in the opening scene.
posted by jomato at 7:00 PM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


A totally killer TV show would show the CNAs and janitorial staff as much as they show the residents - kind of a medical Upstairs Downstairs.

Scrubs!
posted by Small Dollar at 7:10 PM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


> Can i just say "In real life, computers don't make little beeping noises as things appear on the screen!"

I used to be able to hear CRT transformers change pitch as the screens got brighter and dimmer. Some were louder than others, but few were totally silent in sufficiently quiet rooms.

So you're not wrong, but you're not entirely right either.
posted by ardgedee at 7:16 PM on September 14, 2014



I work in a cheese factory. Don't think I've seen that portrayed on tv or a movie.

I mostly work in the office now though. I share an office with the production manager and the CEO is next door so I either hear or witness everything that's going on as I sit in my little corner. The two of them are hilarious when they get going in conversation so any office comedy show pretty much matches my work environment. I have to wear earphones most of the time in order to get anything done. This works well because I've found that they're so used to thinking that I can't hear or aren't paying attention that I overhear things I probably shouldn't. Of course I would never turn the volume down to eavesdrop on a conversation...

I could see room for quite a bit of comedy on the production floor. It does get dramatic at times mostly due to equipment not working properly. So maybe their should be a show. Plus cheese!
posted by Jalliah at 7:22 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Funnily enough the most realistic portrayal of my profession (geologist) came in American Dad.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:24 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]



Oh duh. I also work for an artist, a sculptor. I run the business side of things. Can't think of any specific shows but I know I've seen this job many times. Any that depict the relationship between a stereotype of the rather excentric, a bit flighty, totally non-linear thinking, utterly non-techie artist and a more business minded, organized, tech minded and at times rolly eyed exasperated manger then that nails it.

He's great and I love the job but it is so much a job of stereotypes.
posted by Jalliah at 7:31 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh man the art world is, like, uniquely terribly depicted across all American media. I mean, christ, no wonder everyone in America hates art. We do such an awful job of talking about artists in this country, from journalism to depictions on TV/movies and back again.

I was actually surprised to hear the term "installation artist" in an episode of The West Wing I watched recently, and even then it was used scornfully to refer to some obvious bullshitter dilettante.
posted by Sara C. at 7:35 PM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


supercrayon: "No we will not give you a sponge bath or a back rub, are you freaking kidding me?"

When I was 25, I was in the hospital two different times. During one stint, an attractive young nurse asked me if I wanted a back rub. During the other, a different attractive young nurse asked me if I wanted a sponge bath.

I declined both offers.

Now you're telling me these attractive women were likely hitting on me? OMFG! I need a time machine, stat!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:40 PM on September 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


The Whelk: What movies actually depict your profession well?

Human Centipede
posted by dr_dank at 7:56 PM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm an objects conservator, so I got that pretty racist episode of Sherlock. Hooray!

(I don't remember anything standing out as particularly bad, although it's been a few years since I watched it.)

Mostly we get ignored, which is a) pretty accurate to real life and b) JUST FINE BY ME.
posted by kalimac at 8:01 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also I forgot my most irritating one: Nurses are not failed doctors! It's not like there is the profession of doctor and then the nurse is like doctor junior, or like a back-up plan if we can't get into med school. Yes some nurses wanted to be doctors originally (including me, lulz no), but mostly people actually want to be a nurse.

Also it's actually competitive to get into most nursing schools, it's not like a fall-back if some other option doesn't work out. I thought I heard that getting into nursing school in California is more competitive than getting into engineering school (although anecdotal so take that with a grain of salt).

Also speaking as a CCU nurse - people don't have heart attacks because they got in a fight! It's not like "You'll never inherit the apricot factory Roger!" and then Roger just gets so mad he keels over and yells "My heart!" You pretty much have heart attacks because you have coronary artery disease. Nothing to do with fighting or apricots.

My big beef with nurses on TV is, we're mostly not there.
posted by latkes at 2:21 PM on September 15 [1 favorite +] [!]


I agree, that is my main issue with media portrayals - when we're not the "sexy nurse" (which - seriously?) then often we're just erased. Considering how many of us there are and how much patient care we do it's kind of insulting that we're just absent in most instances.

Also I should have noted, I'm speaking from a New Zealand context.

I... I am surprisingly forlorn to hear this.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:02 PM on September 15 [+] [!]


If it makes you feel any better we will sometimes turn to each other with a stern harried look and yell, "I need a cappuccino, stat!" and this is understood to mean I am going on my tea break. We do have stat orders, we just don't go yelling about them and announcing them to everyone. It's more boring like, "Oh look, Dr. Doctor asked for stat medication." and then we wander in and get it.

If it's an emergency situation every order is pretty much understood to be stat. Like if a patient codes and the doc calls for adrenaline we're not going to be like "Did you mean now? Or in a couple hours?"

Now you're telling me these attractive women were likely hitting on me? OMFG! I need a time machine, stat!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 3:40 PM on September 15 [+] [!]


Don't hit on a nurse even if they're hitting on you! They might have just thought you were stinky! Or that your back looked like...it needed a rub? I don't know I got nothing. We're nominally supposed to use non-pharmacological interventions alongside analgesia for things like pain (like heat, or touch, or distracting people with hand puppets) but we usually don't do these usually because we don't have time.

Also we get hit on all the time by our patients who think they're being clever and it is hard to politely smile and demure while inside you're like, no thanks.

Lastly speaking on behalf of my male colleagues - please do not call them Focker. You are not as funny as you think you are.
posted by supercrayon at 8:07 PM on September 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


supercrayon: "Don't hit on a nurse even if they're hitting on you!

Never would. I find that life is easier for me if I assume everyone I encounter is spoken for.

Lastly speaking on behalf of my male colleagues - please do not call them Focker."

Never would do that either because I don't even know what that means.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:37 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I work in privacy law.

I have never, ever mentioned this to anyone without them thinking for a moment then saying: 'I suppose you can't tell me about it then!' and laughing immoderately.

Never.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:39 PM on September 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Lastly speaking on behalf of my male colleagues - please do not call them Focker."

Never would do that either because I don't even know what that means.


In the Meet the Parents/Meet the Fockers/Little Fockers movie series, Ben Stiller plays a nurse named Gaylord "Greg" Focker.
posted by Etrigan at 8:41 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


An otherwise forgotten romance called It's My Turn is known among mathematicians for including a correct proof of the snake lemma in the opening scene.

Holy crap, that reminds me of a Disney shoot I was on where the prop guy was SUPPOSED to cover a chalkboard in complex mathematical equations and some smartypants in the class was supposed to notice an error. Prop guy was a UCLA film graduate, hadn't seen math for ten years. After some quiet inquiries on the set, I was sent home to grab my Gieck Engineering Formulas book and proceeded to fill that chalkboard up with all sorts of crap, then introduced the "error", marked it and lo and behold, it appeared correctly in the film. Something so rare that it really stands out in my mind.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:42 PM on September 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm a superhero. The representations of my job have been fairly accurate in mainstream media.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:43 PM on September 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


I work in privacy law.

I have never, ever mentioned this to anyone without them thinking for a moment then saying: 'I suppose you can't tell me about it then!' and laughing immoderately.

Never.


Ditto. I have had this exact same experience.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:01 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Speaking as a playwright, every depiction of a playwright I have seen in the media has been stunningly accurate...

Even Daylight?
posted by um at 9:38 PM on September 14, 2014


What movies actually depict your profession well?

Brazil.

(The idiots running around with paper, not the PAYG torture - but I'm open to a career change...)
posted by pompomtom at 9:50 PM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


My parents are lawyers and have said that My Cousin Vinny was a pretty good representation of a trial.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:55 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sexy Nurses? But I thought Animaniacs was a realistic portrayal of the world. Next you'll be telling me that squirrels don't beat up bulldogs.
posted by Hactar at 10:37 PM on September 14, 2014


The academic tenure process is often depicted as some kind of zero-sum competition among colleagues, Thunderdome for nerds.

In reality, while it can be a massive mindfuck and a stressful, often needlessly opaque process, if you are hired on the tenure track it is with the ultimate aim of having you earn tenure, along with anyone else who might have been hired around the same time. There are plenty of reasons why this might not happen, of course (some legitimate, others not so much, and all very discipline-, institution-, and department-specific), but you are not competing for a smaller number of tenure spots than there are candidates.

Professors are also depicted as having a hell of a lot more free time, more money, and less stress than anyone I know in this line of work. Not to mention having to deal with students constantly hitting on them, for grades or actual attraction. That last situation, at least, is a lot better in the real world. I have thankfully never been hit on by a student (although I think one from a few years ago might have had a crush), and as far as I know none of my academic friends have had to fend off advances, either.
posted by Superplin at 10:56 PM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


and as far as I know none of my academic friends have had to fend off advances, either.

Your points about tenure are very true, as are your points regarding professors definitely not having more free time and less stress. However, I personally have known three senior (by both definitions of the word) academics who have lost their jobs and marriages after affairs with their postgrad students. So there's that.
posted by Jimbob at 11:03 PM on September 14, 2014


Oh, I'm not saying it doesn't ever happen. But I chose my phrasing carefully, because in every situation of that sort I'm aware of, it was the (male) professor who initiated things, not the student.

Either way is unsavory, but popular culture seems to push the "hot for teacher" narrative pretty hard.
posted by Superplin at 11:18 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


True, I'm guessing the male professor initiated things as well.
posted by Jimbob at 11:20 PM on September 14, 2014


I build corporate websites for a marketing agency. What a breathtakingly boring movie that would make.
posted by brundlefly at 11:31 PM on September 14, 2014


My graduate school project had extremely science fiction-y implications (although in reality was much, much more boring and in reality would never work like that).

At one point, my advisor told the lab to set up Google alerts for buzzwords related to our subfield so we would remain on the cutting edge, and late one night, I got a Google alert for something which unmistakably cited my project. My work. Obviously, this was tremendously exciting to me as a young, naive graduate student! I clicked the link with great excitement, only to discover that my citation was not an academic paper, but a fanfic (!). And not just any fanfic.

It was a fanfic that had cited my paper as the way the evil world-conquering antagonist was plotting to take over the world. If the protagonist did not submit to his will and fall in love with him, he would put my graduate work into action and MWAHAHAHA! The world would be doomed!

I was torn between flattered that someone had thought my work was cool enough to write into a fic, annoyance that they'd clearly skimmed some press release from my advisor and gotten every technical detail wrong, and horror at the realization that I was now the kind of nerd who complained that the science was all wrong, hmph!
posted by angst at 12:29 AM on September 15, 2014 [26 favorites]


I don't think I've ever seen anyone even vaguely attempt to be either a law or systems librarian in any type of entertainment. But I am happy to consult if they're ever interested - after all, it is very hard to do the sexy librarian hair take down move when crawling around under a self-issue machine, trying not to look too closely at the extremely revolting carpet...
posted by halcyonday at 2:10 AM on September 15, 2014


> "Even Daylight?"

Especially Daylight.
posted by kyrademon at 2:19 AM on September 15, 2014


I started watching Silicon Valley this year and although I work in London (in the 'silicon roundabout', eyeroll) I have to say I felt like it really captured a lot of "feelings and atmospheres" that I could relate to. When Jared busts out scrum and the post-it notes I basically screamed "ZOMG I'M ON THE TELLLYYYYYY!!!"
posted by like_neon at 2:26 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also I should have noted, I'm speaking [about nursing] from a New Zealand context.
But what about Shortland Street?? Surely that's totally accurate! Please don't shatter all my illusions, supercrayon!
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:25 AM on September 15, 2014


As my careers have been swiftly mutating into stranger and stranger combinations of tasks, I'm pretty sure I'll never find myself in any film except the one I write for myself, and even then, I'm going to glam it up a bit and leave out the duck euthanizing part.

Of course, as I've got a year and some months of unemployment under my belt, I can say with some assurance that television and cinematic portrayals of this state of affairs don't begin to document the actual situation one at which one arrives after a prolonged failure to get things together on the job front. They'll touch lightly on the compulsive eating and the television binging, to be sure sure, but do they cover the bouts of angry crying, weird it's-all-I've-got-in-the-fridge cuisine, thumb-sucking with one's security blanket until one's teeth hurt, and the nonstop boredom-driven masturbation frustrated by the fact that one can, in fact, run out of both non-horrifying internet porn and the carrying medium for spermatozoa? I think not.

I'm reminded that, in the true story behind Awakenings, what Oliver Sacks actually noted was that most of the awakened spent absurd amounts of time masturbating, but that that somehow didn't fit with the vibe they were going for. Hollywood, sheeesh.

Now, if you don't mind, I am going to watch eleven episodes of the second season of The Mothers-In-Law, eat some bunless hot dogs dipped in sriracha, and then attempt to come up with some fresh sexual scenarios with my childhood star crush, Richard Deacon. Maybe Mr. Deacon as a gruff tax collector and me owing a debt I just can't pay, unless there were some other kind of remuneration I could provide…

Fortunately, I have a second interview scheduled Wednesday for a job that Christopher Guest could properly showcase, so there's that.
posted by sonascope at 3:38 AM on September 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


sonascope: I'm reminded that, in the true story behind Awakenings, what Oliver Sacks actually noted was that most of the awakened spent absurd amounts of time masturbating, but that that somehow didn't fit with the vibe they were going for. Hollywood, sheeesh.

Now that would be a DVD extra worth watching.
posted by dr_dank at 4:34 AM on September 15, 2014


Particularly with the commentary track switched on.
posted by sonascope at 5:20 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Nope, jb, not even The IT crowd. I've kept count over the years, & while I'm sure there have been a few oblique references, the only potentially positive one was a quick aside in a Bruce Willis flick.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 5:29 AM on September 15, 2014


Cardiac Arrest was very accurate for mid-90s UK medicine, and was accordingly super-popular amonst doctors and super-unpopular with the general population because it was fucking miserable. With hindsight all the doctors on it are awful, but it is supposed to be set in a really shit and dangerous hospital. I have certainly met people like that, but fortunately they are few and far between these days.

Green Wing
is surprisingly accurate for tone, if not for events (I've never beaten any dwarves to death with a stuffed heron, but I've met plenty of Dr Stathams). It's also shot at Northwick Park Hospital, so looks right.

Getting on is absolutely spot on, to the point that it isn't really a comedy. For example, I've had many Languageline experiences identical to the one in the clip, complete with phone cord that doesn't reach to the patient's bed.
posted by tinkletown at 5:48 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


She promptly critiqued their hair, of all things.

Ha! the part in Babylon 5 about hair that bothered me wasn't the perfect styling, it was that many of the species had hair growing in ways that hair just doesn't grow! I noticed this in the very first episode and couldn't shake it.

I criticize clothing. For example, if a Victorian prostitute's clothing looks new and undamaged, I lose my sense of belief in this Jack the Ripper story. I can't find it atm, but I recall one came out a decade or so ago and I was very impressed that the poor people's clothing were heavily laundered before filming.
posted by _paegan_ at 6:03 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't really care if they get my current profession, software development, correct but I used to be a house painter and the painting you see on HGTV shows is horrible. You see people with a roller in their hand, without an extension poll, just rolling paint on the wall in random directions. If I was still a painting foreman I'd kick someone off the site for rolling a wall like that.
posted by octothorpe at 7:06 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm annoyed by the perfect hair/makeup/lack-of-sweat thing in media (people looking not like hell in hospital beds, for fuck's sake), but in defense of the Centauris, it took about 2/3 can of L'Oreal Coloriffics Mousse and an ozone-depleting assault of Aqua Net each morning to keep my sky-high mullet sky-high for my mid-eighties work days of duplicating high resolution photographs of air crash victims and examining each little detail of gruesome dismemberment with a powerful loupe to ensure that each photograph represented an accurate document of a person who'd come apart along with their airliner. This, of course, is why I didn't ride motorcycles until I decided that a regulation crew cut was as good as a sky-high mullet, and just pivoted the extra hair down into beard position.
posted by sonascope at 7:10 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


If I was still a painting foreman I'd kick someone off the site for rolling a wall like that.

To say nothing of their absurd faith in that shitty blue tape.

Yeah, I'll have a jagged line at all my borders, please.
posted by sonascope at 7:12 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a jagged line at all my borders
posted by moonmilk at 7:22 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


The portrayal of beekeepers is also laughable. I mean, Ulee's Gold, its fine, its an okay movie I guess, but DID YOU SEE THE SIZE OF THE NAILS HE USES TO MAKE THOSE FRAMES? Totally takes me out of the moment.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 7:47 AM on September 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


I've been wondering if there's any portrayal of jury duty that actually has the jurors obeying their jury instructions. At least in the MacGyver episode he ended up kicked off the jury and replaced by an alternate.
posted by ckape at 8:06 AM on September 15, 2014


I worked with a guy who was in the US Navy working on submarines (Nuclear Wessels). He claimed that the most accurate submarine movie ever made was Down Periscope.

I recall him telling me two coffee facts (and I am probably misremembering them):
1. If power fails in a nuclear sub, the first two circuits to restore are the one controlling the reactor and the one controlling the coffee maker. The logic being that once you solve those two issues, you can apply as much coffee as needed to get everything else fixed.

2. He stopped by the Wardroom to get a cup of coffee and was directed away from the pot by a cook. Apparently one of the other officers treated him badly so he made a pot of revenge coffee.
posted by plinth at 8:21 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


I work for the Federal government (not on the Hill and not for Congress) and though the scale may be different, Parks & Rec really does capture the facts that:
  • a lot of effort goes into programs & projects that no one notices (until they fail in some minor way),
  • whether something gets done at all is often entirely contingent on whether someone with the right amount of juice makes a power play (there are more Councilman Jamms than you can imagine),
  • various government offices that work together regularly still treat one another as alien species,
  • people really do stick around for years and years without any change in duties redardless of who's at the top (I'm more the Mark Brendanowicz of the group, I guess), and
  • there are Jerrys, Donnas, Rons, and Aprils everywhere. (In the typical office, it's like 20 Jerrys and 10 Donnas to every April or Ron.)
Far as job titles go, many more economists are doing cost-benefit analysis of pavement material upgrades than working in the banking & investment sector.
posted by psoas at 9:38 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Worked in politics for a while. And politics on tv is usually quite different than real life, although that has been changing recently.
Campaigns
- Most people aren't in suits. Most people don't look well groomed or together. Only the candidate looks camera ready (The West Wing makes everything about campaigns and politics look way more glamorous than it is.
- Campaign offices look sparse and unappealing. The reason we are in that building is because the rent was cheap and it was in a central location, not because it had air-conditioning, a decent bathroom, or decent lighting.

Working in a political office
- Unlike House of Cards, rarely can someone mastermind anything. Things that happen tend to be much less intentional or ployed. Only Members of Congress think they have that amount of control, because they usually have delusions anyway. Veep isn't bad on this front.
- Usually, political offices look far more opulent on tv than they actually are. House of Cards actually did a good job of this.
- The Congressman isn't riding around in a limo. He or she is riding around their beat up, stained, messy car that they, themselves, have to drive, or the least important staff member is driving as a one off.
posted by troytroy at 9:43 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm more of a writer these days, so focusing on my former life as a stage manager - I cannot recall a single instance of a stage manager's job being depicted at all. Which, right there, is pretty damn accurate because if anyone outside the rehearsal room actually sees us at work, we're doing it wrong.

(About the only time I ever saw a spotlight shone on a stage manager was when David Letterman asked Biff Henderson to do something, but that was more of a setting-up-a-wacky-hijinks thing.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:46 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Professors are also depicted as having a hell of a lot more free time, more money, and less stress than anyone I know in this line of work. Not to mention having to deal with students constantly hitting on them, for grades or actual attraction. That last situation, at least, is a lot better in the real world. I have thankfully never been hit on by a student (although I think one from a few years ago might have had a crush), and as far as I know none of my academic friends have had to fend off advances, either.

Movies and TVs grossly understate how much time faculty (and everyone else, now that I think of it), spend in meetings either bored or frantically trying to head off really bad ideas. Or, I admit, trying to get really good ideas adopted. Meetings: they are the plague of our age.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:51 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I cannot recall a single instance of a stage manager's job being depicted at all.

Isn't Scooter from The Muppet Show the stage manager?
posted by Sara C. at 9:56 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Isn't Scooter from The Muppet Show the stage manager?

Some of the duties are that, yeah, but he defines himself as a "gofer", so I don't know that anyone would recognize it as such.

Actually, Kermit seemed like more of a stage manager sometimes insofar as he was the one who was always calling out what act was next before going out to introduce it, and Scooter was mainly just telling people the time and running errands. So he was more like an ASM.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:58 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Maria in Slings & Arrows is supposed to be a very good depiction of a Stage Manager.

And there's Tim Allgood in Noises Off.
posted by kyrademon at 10:12 AM on September 15, 2014


Jalliah: "I work in a cheese factory. Don't think I've seen that portrayed on tv or a movie.

I mostly work in the office now though. I share an office with the production manager and the CEO is next door so I either hear or witness everything that's going on as I sit in my little corner. The two of them are hilarious when they get going in conversation so any office comedy show pretty much matches my work environment. I have to wear earphones most of the time in order to get anything done. This works well because I've found that they're so used to thinking that I can't hear or aren't paying attention that I overhear things I probably shouldn't. Of course I would never turn the volume down to eavesdrop on a conversation...

I could see room for quite a bit of comedy on the production floor. It does get dramatic at times mostly due to equipment not working properly. So maybe their should be a show. Plus cheese!
"

Kaas. I haven't seen the movie but the book is wonderful.
posted by chavenet at 10:24 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


> I work in a cheese factory. Don't think I've seen that portrayed on tv or a movie.

Not quite a factory, but The Back-Up Plan (2010) does involve commercial cheese making:
As she leaves the doctor's office, the only question is how long it will take for a man to — wait, there's one trying to steal her cab! His name is Stan (Alex O'Loughlin), and while he's obnoxious and weirdly aggressive, he does in his favor have two legs, two arms and a full head of hair. Plus, he's an artisanal cheesemaker, the 2010 version of a sexy carpenter.
...
Stan names a new "sassy and complex" goat cheese after Zoe (source)
Next you'll be telling me you don't have a "cheese muse" at your factory.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:55 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


pracowity: I doubt it mostly because the big problem in surveillance is storage, not camera quality. A single camera shooting 1080p at 10-sec intervals can fill half a terabyte of disk space each month.

They need smart systems that track the people who walk by and get one or two super-good stills of each person in addition to the bad video.
Post-processing several frames into one to add detail is becoming a possibility.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:17 AM on September 15, 2014


For some years I was a taxonomist, albeit in the library science sense. Those were good times. The only fictional recollection I can recall is Billy in the book Kraken by China Miéville. This bore very little resemblance to my daily work as, rather than dealing with squid cults, I spend more time confirming the exact legal spelling of the latest doomed product to be coming out of a Software Company on the Eastside before it faded into obscurity. Punctuation counts people!
posted by stet at 12:20 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ha! I love this:
In this way – and please don’t hate me for saying it – Lara Croft is more honest than Indiana Jones. She doesn’t pretend to be an academic or make speeches about what belongs in a museum. She’s a wealthy, corrupt tomb raider and she doesn’t hide it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:21 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


> For some years I was a taxonomist, ...

Seriously?

> ... albeit in the library science sense.

Okay, confirmed.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:28 PM on September 15, 2014


I'm a high school teacher and let me tell you... Hot For Teacher is a very real thing. I'm not even cute or anything, just young, white and unmarried.
posted by subdee at 2:48 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I ride in helicopters a fair amount for my job. Helicopter depictions in film and tv are generally aweful. People can not sit inside a flying helicopter and have a conversation without a headset on. And I can't count the number of times a helicopter is depicted as spoiling down before it is even on the ground.
posted by vansly at 6:21 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I work in oil and gas, favourite film on every rig offshore is Armageddon, but not for its accuracy.
posted by arcticseal at 8:59 PM on September 15, 2014


Jalliah: "I work in a cheese factory. Don't think I've seen that portrayed on tv or a movie. "

Clearly you have forgotten this episode of MST3K.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:29 PM on September 15, 2014


Adding my vote to Parks & Rec as being a pretty accurate (at least the first season) portrayal of local government. Of course they got rid of the most realistic character (Marc Brandanowicz) but hey it's a comedy...
posted by gofargogo at 1:16 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


plinth: "I worked with a guy who was in the US Navy working on submarines (Nuclear Wessels). He claimed that the most accurate submarine movie ever made was Down Periscope.

I recall him telling me two coffee facts (and I am probably misremembering them):
1. If power fails in a nuclear sub, the first two circuits to restore are the one controlling the reactor and the one controlling the coffee maker. The logic being that once you solve those two issues, you can apply as much coffee as needed to get everything else fixed.

2. He stopped by the Wardroom to get a cup of coffee and was directed away from the pot by a cook. Apparently one of the other officers treated him badly so he made a pot of revenge coffee
"

The first coffee thing is absolutely true. So is the thing about Down Periscope.

The boat I was on had it's engine room coffee maker on the same protected power supply that ran all of the critical electronics that monitored the conditions in the power plant.

---

anastasiav: "One guy I worked with used to fill beakers with dyed water and hold them up to the light, examining them carefully.

I've often wondered why there hasn't been a TV drama set in a small, dysfunctional nonprofit. Giant Egos! Funding Deadlines! Clashing Ideologies! Cute Kids! Goofy Volunteers! Staff Turnover! The very special episode where your fundraising video goes viral and you suddenly have more money than projects!

.... seriously, someone get on that. It's ripe for exploitation
"

Have you ever seen Better Off Ted? The company in the show is not a non-profit, but it is a research organization.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:29 AM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


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