Feature, Random Safari Express

What We’ve Learned From Movies and TV, Part 1

By Carlos Eton



“We need you to write a feature about culture.”

“Culture?  Are we talking about yogurt?  Medical testing?  Biology?  People?”  I joked.  I couldn’t help injecting puns into the conversation, especially since they drove my boss crazy.

“Society, you nitwit!” my boss replied, chuckling with mild amusement.  “The other reporter who was supposed to write the piece has inconvenienced us by deciding to elope yesterday.  The nerve!”

We both laughed.

Without hesitation my random mind selected a random idea that transported me back to a lecture I had in art class years ago.  (To be fair, the art class was really, really boring.  We spent five weeks drawing popped popcorn kernels.  Five weeks!  This probably explains why I never eat popcorn unless I’m watching a movie in a theater.  That, and my popcorn maker is broken.)

Art imitates life” the instructor said with total conviction.  He even said it with a straight face.  Of course, even back then, I was a skeptic.  If art really did imitate life then where were my flying car and interplanetary teleporter?  Where were those pills that replace three-course meals?

Well, if art does imitate life, then everything I see in movies and television must be true.  Hmm.  [Don’t worry, I’ll cover “if it’s on the internet it must be true” in a future piece, but the same random ridiculity applies.]

Well, if art does imitate life, then everything I see in movies and television must be true.  Hmm.

So, in what will probably be a regular callback to this topic, especially when my brain is wracked with writer’s block, here are a few things that we have probably learned from TV and movies.

In a non-Bollywood movie, a couple speaking in a language other than English will spontaneously speak in English (with some sort of foreign accent) for the duration of the conversation. I am always impressed when a family from Zambia discussing a daughter’s upcoming wedding allows us to be part of the conversation.  I keep hoping they will break the fourth wall and tell us what to bring to the wedding.  I’m thinking Portuguese Ginja.  I also wonder if they switch languages because it’s more cost effective than adding subtitles.

Police officers must be members of a modeling agency before they become detectives. We as the viewing public can take comfort in knowing that these detectives will never experience middle-age weight gain, crow’s feet, wrinkles, gray hair, indigestion, fallen arches, or unibrows.

Sheriffs in small rural towns are in their mid-twenties. This is extraordinary considering that the voting age in these fictional towns seems to be three times that of the unanimously elected young sheriff.  It’s even more extraordinary since the amount of training and experience generally required to become a successful law enforcement executive officer is generally one or two decades.  Perhaps the sheriff began working as a police officer at the age of eleven?  Or maybe the sheriffs are really much older but have somehow uncovered a Ponce-De-Leonic youth serum that conceals their true age?  If so, maybe they can share the serum with the rest of us?

Extremely high heels are a prerequisite for women running from massive explosions. This is good to know!  Perhaps all movie heroes should wear stilettos while fighting crime.  We should relay this idea to Marvel and DC Comics—time for all superheroes to sport spiked footwear.  Spiderman stilettos.  Batman ballroom pumps.

“Hi, I’m Clark Kent, also known as Superman.  When I’m fighting crime I always wear Kingshill Ankle Strap Heels.  They are sooooo comfy.  They cradle my feet so tenderly, it’s like a foot massage with every step I take.  They’re also  perfect for Karate style combat.  Kingshill Ankle Strap Heels.  Available at your nearest footwear retailer.  Get yours today.”

And what about the villains?  They don’t appear to wear spiked footwear.  Maybe that could explain why the villains always get away.

Anyone can end a conversation by saying “now, if you’ll excuse me” then flippantly walk out of the room. This is practically a staple of every police drama, mystery, or detective show.  This one is especially interesting.  Think about it.  How do you think your boss would react if you pulled that one?  If you do, you better have a lot of personal leave time available.  Or imagine dismissing your Chemistry 566 professor by saying “I know I didn’t do the work, but I deserve an A.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get a pizza.”  Better yet, try that the next time you have heated discussion with your significant other or spouse and see how that works out.

Every crime boss owns a night club. The club is always packed with dancers drinking colorful drinks.  There is never a shortage of inventory, which will most likely comfort us with the knowledge that we can get Cruzan rum in Lisbon, Casablanca, or Hong Kong.

Every rebel drives a red 1964 Ford Mustang convertible. And even though the red rebel-mobile has been on the road over fifty years, it runs perfectly, never needs an oil change, tune-up, or gasoline fill-ups.  Hubcaps never fly off when taking corners at 84 miles per hour in a crowded downtown intersection.

People look camera-perfect the morning after. Waking up from a night of intimate events, as the sunlight beams through the bedroom window, the well-rested couple sporting perfect hair styling; perfect un-smudged makeup; requiring no antacid, or trips to the bathroom; and no urgent need for mouthwash; engage in a deep morning kiss.  Amazingly, during the night neither lover snored, suffered from sleep apnea, or excessive flatulence from their candlelight dinner.

Frankly, I’m grateful for the things I’ve learned in TV and movies.  I think I am a much more societally sophisticated person as a result of my exposure to those media.  I’ve learned a lot.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to jump in my red 1964 Mustang convertible, stop at a night club for a scotch (neat—never on the rocks), visit the sheriff, then go fight crime.  I have to.  Captain America broke his ankle wearing new spiked footwear.

Oh, I didn’t have to write anything about culture after all.  The other reporter married a travel editor.


The Random Safari Express, a serial feature column by senior UVI Communication student and humorist Carlos Eton, celebrates comedy, philosophy, and the thousand (often ridiculous) random thoughts that pop into our heads during the quiet moments of our day.



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