I grew up during television’s true golden age, when everyone was sure it would lay waste to movie theaters in short order via the VHS player. TV’s impact was so great, it actually ingrained itself nicely into the cinematic world, creating a whole paradigm of storytelling gimmicks screenwriters love to include, whenever they can. Usually when they shouldn’t.
As opposed to other, non-intrusive throwaway lines like “We’ve got company!” and “Get out of there!” – these little nuisances bend the narrative line in jarring doses more along the lines of Breaking the Fourth Wall.
Television Announcers For Sports Events-
It started with Major League, really. The two announcers became characters in their own right, making audiences laugh with lines like “Just a bit outside.” It was supposed to be a simple way of keeping us up on the score, granted… but soon followed many clones, including (somewhat ironically) the worst offender of all.
Which leads us to:
Cable News/Talk Shows-
For the past few years, I’ve started noticing that I’m attending movies in which I watch people watch television, with many close-ups of that one-eyed monster displaying (usually) news or talk shows. Our heroes/villains/innocents/knaves all watch as some stereotypical news report narrates an event that while central to the film’s story/character/conflict/whatever, could be (and is) cheaply done in this manner.
This was especially annoying in Iron Man II, which shouldn’t be surprising. As much as I love the Marvel movies, they’ve never really sucked me into their narratives; but this was blatantly unnecessary and jolting. Tony Stark appearing before the Senate Select Committee would have been perfect if they would have left that CNN coverage thing out. The switching back and forth between Favreau’s cameras and “CNN” cameras, which were obviously the same cameras, actually induced a facepalm from me. At one point the cut went to such a similar frame, it seemed like the CNN logo just appeared on the screen.
Nothing so great as going to a theater to feel like you’re watching TV. Let’s not even get into the litany of movies that feature an ostensible appearance on Leno, Larry King, or Letterman. Can we please just have a moratorium on crap like that? Because it will also phase out the one that really bugs me. Has, for over a decade at least.
This is that annoying behavior that hack script characters engage in, wherein they tune in to some disaster being played out on live television. “Turn on channel 2! You gotta see this!” And after a brief description of a horrible incident, or perhaps even a surprise announcement from a rival character, someone grabs the remote and switches the TV off. As if there’s no inherent interest in that story anymore. Nobody does this, ever.
I can’t find any clips featuring that gimmick, but I know I’ve seen it done a thousand times. And each time I want to yell at them, “Wait, what else? They didn’t finish the story!” And then I realize I was watching TV when I was supposed to be watching a movie.