Want to inject some honesty and accuracy into the world? Read on. I’ll show you how!
We all have our fields of expertise. Something we know inside and out. It could be a TV show or a period in history. For most of us, it’s as simple as what we do for a living. You might not feel comfortable calling yourself an expert. In fact, in a moment of self-questioning, you’ve probably wondered how long it will be before you’re “found out!” We’ve all done that.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, says it takes 10,000 hours’ practise to become expert in something. I say you achieve it when you can watch a TV show or movie and spot mistakes.
I’m not talking about continuity errors –my favourite of which is the car chase in Diamonds Are Forever, where James Bond (Sean Connery) drives into a narrow lane on just the two right-hand tyres. As the car leaves the laneway, it’s flipped onto the left! I mean mistakes you could have fixed if only the studio had hired you as a consultant!
Brad Pickersgill, who runs a fire prevention consultancy, says he regularly has to reassure clients that sprinklers do not all go off at once like in the movies. Brad continues: “Don’t even get me started on Towering Inferno, with its gas mains inside fire escapes, elevators that don’t shut off during a fire alarm and a water tank on top of the building which would weigh enough to collapse any structure.”
Forensic scientist Jen Dainer says TV shows like CSI and Law and Order present real problems for police and the courts because of “how much forensic evidence they always seem to have lying around and how rapidly they can get results from the evidence”. She says jurors now expect forensic evidence all the time.
Former drover David Morgan says he lost count of the number of mistakes in the movie Australia: “When the cattle jumped and rushed (or to use the American term, stampeded) the manner in which the mob was wheeled and brought to a stop had tears (of laughter) running down my face.”
Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra concert master Robyn Gray says: “In the opening scene of August Rush, Keri Russell holds a cello back to front!”IT support worker David de Groot points to the movie Hackers with its “blatant ineptitude about computer hardware, such as referring to the specs of a PC-style laptop then showing a Mac instead”.
“Mad keen golfer” and film critic Matthew Toomey says the climax of Tin Cup sees Kevin Costner’s character hit his ball onto the green with a three wood. It appears to sit a metre from the hole then somehow spins back off the green and into the water, destroying his chances.“Firstly, you can’t spin a ball with a three wood and secondly, there’s no way they’d put a pin placement on a slope where the ball runs so easily into the water.”
You get the idea! It makes you wonder how these mistakes slip through. Of course, by the time you see the show or film, it’s too late. All you can do is shout at the screen! However, and this is my point, if ever you hear a radio interviewer failing to understand something about which you are an expert, there is more you can do than just scream.
This is my 20th year presenting live daily radio. Every day, I conduct interviews on seven or eight different topics. That’s a lot of interviews over the years. Try as you might to stay on top of everything, there are times when you say goodbye to a guest wondering whether the conversation was accurate and useful for someone who really knows the subject (not to mention someone who doesn’t). This is especially important when you’re interviewing someone who may be trying to avoid telling “the whole truth”.
I’m sure I speak for my colleagues at the ABC and other stations when I say we truly appreciate you phoning, texting or tweeting a critical snippet of information that can be woven into a live interview. No, you can’t change a mistake in a movie, but you can play a part in ensuring the accuracy of live radio in this city.