Do you know that there are people who devote their spare and even professional time to collecting mistakes and goofs made in movies, TV shows, etc.? There is a successful British website Moviemistakes.com (since 1996) whose creator has built himself an entertainment career and a money-making vehicle doing just that.
Specialists officially distinguish eight classes of mistakes, including ridiculous audio problems and crew visibility. However, themost frequent ones are continuity errors (the yellow Porsche's side was smashed in the previous scene and then in the next one it's absolutely fine) and "revealing" mistakes that remind you it's not for real (Edward is seating under the bright sun during his honeymoon but his skin doesn't sparkle like "the skin of a killer" should).
I have to say, this type of bullshit is completely lost on me. I mean, how many times (and how intently) do you need to watch Commando to notice that thing about the car? And realism of Twilight? Pahlease! Unless I am watching Bergman, Fellini, Kubrick, Tarkovsky, Lee, or Noe, whose every shot is the result of conscious artistic effort, I swear, it's unlikely I will notice visual errors even if I absolutely love (or hate) the movie.
Plus, these mistakes are the consequences of poor production quality and low work standards, and my readers know very well that I expect that and discuss it all the time. Who the hell thinks that this prevailing trend of our lives doesn't apply to the entertainment industry? People are people everywhere. I don't even get surprised by plot holes anymore, even though it's impossible to ignore those. I'm like, "Oh, it doesn't tie well? Surprise, surprise!" You know how it is: the screenplays get nipped and tucked by everyone to such an extent that the story originators cannot even recognize their own creations anymore.
However, I feel differently about factual errors (an official class as well). I notice them all the time. You see, those don't come from producers, editors, the crew, and it's unlikely that actors ad lib them. No, they are products of sloppy writing. I guess I have different standards for writers than I do for everyone else: I get upset with idiotic mistakes made by screenwriters, journalists, novelists, as well as their research helpers and fact checkers. A writer's job is very hard - to construct a flawless plot is incredibly difficult. But to verify the correctness of some piece of information? That's a matter of care and respect for your audience. I take my time to watch or read your thing and you disrespect me? Fuck you!
Of course, different blunders create different levels of annoyance. I don't curse out loud (or at least, not anymore) about the eternal confusion of Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 bankruptcies. I got used to it. Someone always says how "the company has filed Chapter 11 and will be gone, like, tomorrow." Well, no: Chapter 11 means that the company plans to stay in business, already found funding, and is reorganizing itself. This is what Bloomingdale's (or rather the company that owns them - ah, never mind... ) successfully did back in 1991 and it is still operating, thank you very much. But if it were a Chapter 7 filing, then the company would probably be gone already. Of course, no David E. Kelley's show would allow an error like that, since he holds a J.D. degree from BU, but it is very prominent in many a police procedural.
Also pretty low on my scale of discontent are silly foreign-culture mistakes: Like giving a last name Petrovna, which is actually a patronymic and cannot possibly be a family name, to a Russian cyber-genius girl; or attributing a French chanson to the wrong chanteur who never sang it; or redrawing world borders by claiming a German town for Austria. Okay, I am an irritable person, so these things get me annoyed, especially because there are way too many of them. On the other hand, what else can I possibly expect from people who listen to Taylor Swift and Lorde? So, I grumble under my breath, as if I can telepathically correct these factual glitches, but that's about it. I wouldn't turn such bullshit into a blog post.
However, some facts are such a commonplace, they are so prominently a part of the collective consciousness that it is hard to imagine anybody having informational lapses about them.
Case in point: The episode 3.13 of CBS's contemporized take on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Elementary, revolves around a murder of a "debt collector." I probably can spend at least 10,000 words listing all factual errors that assaulted me during 40+ minutes of the episode, but this post is already running too long, so I will restrain myself and point out just a couple of things.
You know, how Conan Doyle famously attributed Holmes's success as a detective to his perfecting of the deductive reasoning (aka logical deduction)? Simply speaking, Sherlock starts with a broad premise and elaborately eliminates all possibilities until only one right conclusion remains.
The writers of the series tried to employ pretty much the same method: As soon as it is established that the victim was an attorney who lost his job at a big law firm and turned to debt collections as a source of his daily bread, the plot's deductive challenge is revealed: there are millions of suspects. According to the writers, every debtor in the victim's collection portfolio is a potential murderer and it's up to Holmes to find the proverbial needle.
You may think that this is a farce (hey, our life nowadays is a farce!), but no, this is a "serious" show! Then what about the materiality threshold? I mean, I know there are people who kill for less, but, seriously, what is the likelihood of someone in Nebraska coming to NYC to kill a collector for $10K? The size of the debts alone should've narrowed down the pool of suspects to a size of a soup bowl in a shorter time than it took Holmes to pin up all those endless lists of names on the wall.
Further on materiality: It is implicit that the debtor must've been severely threatened to go for a kill, right? But what's the big scare here? While larger debt recovery organizations employ or contract multiple lawyers pretty much in every state and therefore can litigate even small balances, it is impossible to imagine that one attorney can stretch himself over more than 20-30 cases at the same time.
All that is just common sense. Unfortunately, it is an unattainable commodity now. So, how about the technical side of the business that could've been easily researched? The reality is that no one can survive in the highly regulated asset-recovery industry without a decent collection software, expensive access to personal records database (such as Lexis Nexis), and on-demand automated call distribution solution (like LiveVox). You see, violations of collection rules and standards, including the timing and the language of calls, can be sufficient grounds for law suits. In fact, there are lawyers who specialize in suing collection agencies on behalf of debtors. Therefore, there is a necessity to digitally record all collection efforts for evidential reasons. Checking those records would've instantly limited the list of suspects even further - to only those potential murderers who's been actually contacted by the victim's firm.
My spirits were lifted a bit when Holmes correctly re-labeled the victim as a debt merchant, i.e. someone who buys, at a 95% discount, portfolios of consumer debts written off by financial institutions and makes money successfully collecting a small portion of them. My elation lasted exactly 2 seconds. You see, respectful writers who gave their viewing audience a modicum of intellectual credit would've left it at that: one has to be from Mars to be completely unaware of the concept.
But noooo! These hoodlums sent Holmes on a ranting explanation of the debt-trading plague's basics to... Watson. Most ridiculously, her scripted response to Holmes's briefing is that of bewilderment: "Really?"
Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Are you kidding me? Are you telling me that a sophisticated New Yorker, a former successful surgeon, and, at this point, a full-scope PI who lives and breathes research has never heard of sub-prime mortgages, multibillion-dollar bank write-offs, and consumer-debt securitization that led to 2009 global financial crisis and bailouts? Was she actually on an interstellar journey? Or were you, the writers, out to lunch?
Now, to connect the victim to the final suspect the writers had to create an unfathomable possibility of somebody being able to pluck out a specific bad debt portfolio containing a specific stale mortgage. Well, that would be like looking for a needle in a haystack for real! The delinquent debt industry is vast and sophisticated, with leaders such as SquareTwo Financial (owned by Collect America Holding) buying billion-dollar packages of charged-off receivables directly from financial institutions and distributing them for collections through their national franchises. After a time, uncollected accounts are further repackaged and resold with deeper discounts. To trace a single debt in this dark labyrinth would be absolutely impossible for the perp in question.
The part of this ignorant bullshit that turned out to be far more disturbing than the factual errors was the resolution of the case. At the end, Holmes deduces that the debt collector/debt merchant was killed because he realized what a "disgusting business" the collection of financial delinquencies was and tried to erase debtors' liabilities.
Note what the liberally confused writers found appalling: not the packaging of unrecoverable receivables as marketable instruments by opportunistic financial brokers; not the investment of people's savings and pensions into this imaginary "securities" by brainless money managers, but the straightforward effort of making consumers pay for goods, services, homes, etc. they bought and used. Hmm... Taking something out of a store and not paying for it - isn't it, like, shoplifting? Ordering something online and not paying for it - isn't it, like, mail fraud? Residing somewhere without paying for the space - isn't it, like, squatting?
I don't expect laymen to be fluent in the mayhem of American economics as it has been for the last 20 years. All I'm asking is a little awareness. Are all these people really this ignorant and stupid? It's too bad they don't read my blog. Four years ago (oh, my God!) in my post The Infinite Wisdom of Trey Parker and Matt Stone I was already referring the confused masses to South Park's episode Margaritaville (2009!!!) - the most genius breakdown of the financial crisis in popular culture. They are your colleagues, people! And they made it ELEMENTARY for you!
I'm just grateful that my knowledge of cryogenics, genetic re-breeding of extinct animals, cloning of rare plants, drone operations, and some other topics that feed (or are fed to) entertainment writers are only rudimentary. I am suspicious, but at least I can pretend that they may be represented correctly. But financial stuff? Culture stuff? I can't help myself there. I hear that doctors usually have conniptions when they are exposed to shows like ER, House M.D., etc. I totally understand: the idiotic errors - they are unbearable.