People Share What The Movies Get Wrong About Their Professions
Movies are supposed to be a reflection of the human condition, but sometimes that reflection gets distorted through the lens. That’s what movie magic is, after all—an exaggeration of certain conditions or events for the sake of elevating suspense or adding a sense of wonder. The most common fact-vs-fiction occurrences are often seen when a movie is trying to portray a specific profession. Real people who work in such a field often find multiple inaccuracies in the portrayals, and that takes away from the validity of the movie. Here’s what movies got wrong about certain professions, based on the testimonials of real people around the world:
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#1 Drinks And Counsel
Bartenders don’t spend their entire shift wiping the bar or polishing glasses. Also, we sometimes give good life advice. I’ve had to console a few people over the years, though—the most memorable was this guy who was watching the breaking news on the TV in the pub I was working in. It was when that truck ran over a load of people on Bastille Day in France. Ten minutes later, he came over to the bar in a serious panic and goes, “Please just give me the strongest drink you have.” I asked him if he was okay and he said, “My brother is at that Bastille Day celebration and now isn’t answering his phone.” I didn’t quite know how to help him besides pouring him the strongest whiskey we had.
#2 Quick Ways To Get Disbarred
Being a lawyer is three months of paperwork and research, then one day of trial… Also, we don’t yell at or intimidate witnesses—if I did what you see in movies, I’d be disbarred pretty quickly. My wife and daughters love Law and Order… I can’t stand to watch it; there are so many ways that even a law clerk could get acquittal… Oh, and Raylan wins in the end.
#3 Hacking With HTML
Computer programmer here. You cant hack with HTML. If you get hacked, it’s probably not some teenage genius hacker with three screens and two keyboards behind it. It’s probably because you use the same password on your internet banking, email account, and whatever else it is you signed up for online.
#4 “Can’t You Just Hack It?”
Also a computer programmer. No, I cannot hack into the pentagon’s mainframe within 30 seconds. I cannot hack into anything, probably… Once, I was trying to figure out my late mom’s email password and my grandma said: “Can’t you just hack it?” No, grandma… I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
#5 Pilot Stereotypes
I’m an airline pilot. I don’t do illicit substance nor do I have a drinking problem. In fact, 99.9% of the other airline pilots don’t. We also aren’t all ex-military. We aren’t some elite breed of people who are super smart or had super good grades. I was a terrible student in high school and college. The guy that is flying your plane is probably just that dorky kid in high school that really liked planes.
#6 Not Sterile
No surgery scene in a movie follows the sterile technique. People are always telling me about “realistic” medical shows, and I 100% of the time have to tell them I don’t watch them. Sterile technique is the most difficult part for me because my job is literally watching for any breaks in sterility. But the most annoying is how ER docs do heart transplants… Ugh!
#7 Farmer Stereotypes
Most farmers are portrayed in movies either as lazy and stupid (a typical racist country hick). In romance movies, they are extremely ripped. Although farming is a very physical job, muscles aren’t as defined as they are in movies I have met a couple of stupid and racist farmers but it’s not nice to be painted by the same brush.
#8 The Reality Of Pizza Delivery
Pizza delivery driver. There are a lot fewer invitations for intimate encounters by sexy ladies or dudes. Though, I did delivery to an adult video company one time. Right to their office. They didn’t even tip. Another time, I delivered pizza to a house and one lady tried to set me up with her daughter for prom.
#9 Serious Arc Burn
Whenever I see someone welding in a movie, I always notice how they aren’t wearing anything to cover the skin on their arms or body. That’s how you get serious arc burn, which is like a super bad sunburn. Hurts like heck. And the smell too—you know the one, where it smells like you cooked yourself almost. I mean, technically, you probably did a little bit.
#10 What Authors Wish
Authors don’t sit in cabins by lakes to write their novels. But we wish we did. In reality, authors are at their day jobs forgetting their ideas. My neighbor is supposedly an aspiring writer. I don’t know how she gets anything done with her three dogs barking nonstop. Might be why she doesn’t have a book deal.
#11 The String Raise
Whenever people play poker in movies they will often say something like, “I see your $200, and raise you $1,000.” That’s an illegal “string raise” and would be treated as only a call of the $200. This is to prevent “angle shooting” whereby a player does something that initially indicates a call, then looks for a reaction, then decides to raise or not based on the reaction. If you want to raise a bet, you either have to announce raise first or put the appropriate amount of chips into the pot in one motion.
#12 Turn On The Lights
Lab research. Have you noticed how research labs are really dark? Like, turn on the lights! You can’t see anything in this lab but you somehow create a cure in two days? You can’t do that stuff so fast. You can’t make a cure for a virus within that time frame. Also: Enhance! Enhance! Enhance! We can now read his DNA molecules right from the security cam footage!
#13 Math Not-So Geniuses
Mathematicians actually often suck at arithmetic and working with numbers. In college, I knew people who could do double and triple integrals in their heads, but couldn’t calculate a restaurant tip. And, as a former waitstaff, I’m willing to bet no one calculates tips better or faster than servers. It’s crazy how that works out, isn’t it?
#14 Not Enough PPE
Any movie or show that portrays the field of a medical examiner or forensics professional working in a luxurious, high-tech office surrounded by beautiful people. Source: I work in a super ugly building that always smells terrible, in a bad part of town. They are also never wearing enough PPE (personal protective equipment). In real life, we basically look like the blue Smurf version of the hazmat teams in movies.
#15 95% Not Exciting
Paramedic here. It’s not constantly stickings, shot victims, etc. 95% of the time, it’s not very exciting. Although, this is just in my experience in a town that isn’t rampant with much violence. I work in northern Canada. While there is some crazy stuff every so often we got nothing of that SoCal frequency where I work.
#16 Fun Fact About Archivists
Fun fact: archivists do not wear white gloves all the time like the movies show, especially not when handling paper documents since they can do more harm than good. Cleaning your hands before working with paper documents can eliminate the issue of oily skin to the extent that wearing gloves would, and then the institution that houses the documents doesn’t have to worry about cleaning more gloves and how the cleaning chemicals can interact with the paper. Also, when wearing gloves, it dulls your sense of touch, so it makes it harder to separate pages and lift things up, which increases the risk of tearing the documents. I’m looking at you, National Treasure.
#17 Truths Of The ER
EMTs never run into the Emergency Room. When we do visit the ER, we usually slowly walk in with a 450-pound dialysis patient or intoxicated college student on the stretcher. I’m a nursing student and I got to see the helicopter EMTs a few times. I was shocked when they just calmly wheeled the patient to the door while talking to each other. I was imagining doctors and nurses running to meet them and just general chaos.
#18 Just Doing The Job
Any movie with a delivery driver. Most of us aren’t maniacs and are trying to get you your food as fast as possible so we can suck every penny out of your tips. That’s how you get someone to call your manager and go, “Yeah, I just got cut off by one of your drivers going 80 in a 35.” We’re just trying to get your food to you before the scheduled time, and it probably doesn’t matter if we’re late because you suckers put the tips on the receipt before you the food is even made.
#19 A Note On CPR
When someone needs CPR, we are usually going at it for a while, inserting central IV lines, running multiple tests at the bedside, switching off and on who is doing compressions, etc. We also never shock when someone is flatlining only for two types of rhythms. We don’t give up after 30 seconds. I’m looking at you, This is Us!
#20 The Real Stress Of Teaching
Teacher. The stress of teaching doesn’t tend to come so much from behavior management or “difficult classes,” but more the pressure, expectations, and workload. Class sizes are also tiny in media. An episode of Boston Public complained about budget cuts making classes over 20! Classes are regularly over 30.
#21 Defibrillator Facts
When someone flat lines (asystole) you can’t use a defibrillator… It won’t work because there are no contractions present. Defibrillators are used to “reset” heart contractions to a normal rhythm. It doesn’t stop the heart per-say but it alters the speed and frequency of the heartbeat so as to return it to normal. Ventricular fibrillation is the most common instance when you’d use a defibrillator. This is when the ventricles have fast and uncoordinated contractions. Not enough blood is pumped and victims of VFib can go into cardiac arrest. I hope this is informative!
#22 Holding A Lighter To A Sprinkler
Sprinklers don’t work that way. Not all of the sprinklers go off at once. The heat has to be strong enough to break the little glass bulb inside making the water come out. So when you see someone holding a lighter to a sprinkler in the movies and they all go off, that’s bull. Also, it’s not pretty, clear water. It’s water that’s been sitting in pipes for ages. He’d come home with his overalls stained in black from the water that would come out of these pipes. It would smell and everything. Lastly, just a misconception, fire sprinklers aren’t there to completely put out a fire. They are a fire suppression system.
#23 They’ll Click Anything
Just once, instead of the hacker banging away at the keyboard to gain access to a secure system, could they just show how it really happens: some dumb employee clicks on a spearfishing email? Is that too much to ask? I’d find a plot a lot more believable and interesting if they’d show the reality of how dumb most employees are. They’ll click anything at work, trust me. I spent almost 20 years fixing these disasters.
#24 Not All Chefs Are Rockstars
I’ve been working at a restaurant for the last five years, first as a waiter and now as GM. Not every chef is a rockstar looking for fame and fortune with their only concern being to exert their creative will. And not every cook, waiter, waitress or dishwasher is a burnout who is miserable day in and day out. I have never seen anyone spit in food or tamper with food. I have seen people joke about it though. Most people I work with are just decent humans looking to earn some money and feed people.
My favorite type of restaurant worker who I haven’t seen much of in the film is the journeyman. Someone who has been working in the industry since they were a kid washing dishes or doing prep; who’s been in every kind of kitchen—fancy, dive, OCD clean, pick-food-up-off the-floor-and-throw-it-on-a-plate dirty. Usually, these guys know their stuff and settle into a place that respects their experience and gives them space to do their thing.
#25 Multiple Ph.D.
Ph.D. here. No one gets two doctorates by age 26. Just one, and 30 would be on the early side. Isn’t it enough to be a world-class (or even regionally acceptable ) researcher or teacher in just one field? Having the patience to finish the thing and coordinate your committee is almost more work than the actual science. Unless you’re a massive masochist, you aren’t going back for another Ph.D. Multiple Master’s degrees are totally doable and not insane, though.
#26 Military Misery
Almost everything involving the military. That’s because a realistic showing would absolutely freaking suck. Lots of swearing, dip, Article 15s, asking Joe why he married a dancer he just met, police calls, toolbox inventories, etc.
#27 Nanny With A Magic Purse
I have no interest in sleeping with your husband, as popular movie stereotypes may have you believe. I don’t work for the rich and famous, and the majority of people in my line of work are woefully underpaid. I do, however, have a magic purse that basically contains everything I could ever need. I’m a nanny.
#28 The Fun World Of Retail
Retail is not portrayed as bad as it really is nor do they touch on the harmful tendencies one experiences 100% of the time whilst on the job. There’s a general dullness that sweeps over you and erases your personality on the job. You kind of need it when you get yelled at 10 times a day for charging 5 cents for a bag.
#29 Misleading PR Portrayals
Public relations. Working with celebrities is rare. Most of us work for regular companies outside of the entertainment industry. The job is a lot less glamorous than it’s made out to be. Most of us don’t have the time or money to be as perfectly groomed as Samantha from Sex in the City or to have busy social lives for that matter.
#30 Printing Press Tragedies
People don’t always die when they get stuck in a printing press. Yes, it happens but movies portray it as happening all the time. It’s more likely you lose the skin on your arm, requiring skin grafts. Broken bones. Years of physical therapy. But not always death.
#31 Tomb Raiding
Tomb raiding. Less sexy chicks and evil organizations; more secrecy during operations and more self-interest. Less action too. Not much less action, but less action. I have an archaeologist parent and grandparent. Cannot, sadly, go into details on a non-throwaway.
#32 When The Water Breaks
In most movies, a woman’s water breaks and she immediately goes straight into labor, goes straight to the hospital and in the space of about five minutes, she has given birth to a child that is roughly six months old. Granted, it is a necessity for labor scenes to be made shorter, I’m also sure it is incredibly difficult to get ahold of an actual newborn baby for a film too. First-time mothers are generally in early labor for a good 24 hours, the average active labor phase for a first pregnancy is about 12 hours and the amniotic sac is actually ‘meant’ to break when you are 10 cm dilated. Obviously, this is a very individual thing and labor turns out differently for everyone, but I do enjoy laughing at the different depictions.
#33 “How Does That Make You Feel?”
Psychotherapists don’t (or shouldn’t) say, “How does that make you feel?” Mainly because it suggests that someone or something is making you feel a certain way and you have no control over how you feel. Therapy should be about helping the client realize their responses are something they themselves control and are responsible for.
#34 Can They Even Fit Under There?
Car mechanics usually don’t lie on a little board beneath the car. They lift the car over their head using hydraulic elevators.
#35 Frustrated Chemist
Chemist here: so many shows and movies call a piece of lab equipment something completely unrelated to what it actually is. The funny thing is that neither the equipment’s actual purpose nor what they claim it to be would actually be of any use to them. It takes two minutes to Google something. Frustrating.
#36 Pro Google User
IT worker here. I don’t know everything, and I certainly can’t hack. If I don’t know the answer from experience I use Google. But I do wear cargo shorts every day so they got that right. I have to explain daily to my fiance that I cannot hack things and he just gives me this look. People tend to think we are gods of computers. No, I really think my degree should be called: Pro Google User.
#37 Architect Realities
Architect here. In the movies, they are rich young men of leisure with beautiful homes and nice cars. Most young architects cannot afford any of that. Only the principle of the firm can afford that stuff. Not bitter. No, not me. Not bitter at all.
#38 Unarmed Security
I work unarmed security. Other than Paul Blart, most movies don’t really exaggerate it too much, but if I had to pick something, it might be that we really don’t care much about our jobs on the whole (and aren’t encouraged to). People in the industry call this “Security Theater.” I’m there to make you think twice about doing something, but my official orders are to do nothing except observe you if there is an incident (this is not the case for bars and nightclubs, where I will drag you out if necessary).
#39 Not The Sheldon Type
Autistic people don’t actually all act like the Sheldon type. ASD works by having some regions of the brain overdevelop and some underdevelop. I’ve met many autistic people who care more about sports and don’t give two cares about school subjects, and many with low egos or lots of empathy. At this point, we are one DSM edition away from everyone being on the autism spectrum.
#40 Impossible Crawling
Anything that has someone crawling through an air duct. You’ll be covered in sticky sealant and punctured to heck with screws within 20 minutes of going attempting to go through one… There are bucket loads of sealant to seal up all the air gaps and screws pointing in to keep each section together. I’m an ex-duct worker. You can’t crawl from one part to the other without being covered in gunk and getting torn up by screws.
#41 Sugar-Coated By TV
Doctors don’t talk with patients more than ten minutes half the time. And their medical emergencies aren’t ever as graceful as TV makes it out to be. CPR doesn’t work 100% of the time, either.
#42 Worst Bollywood Star
Many PR pros who do get to work with celebs have awful experiences. I did at the beginning of my career when my job was focused solely on consumer clients. One of my projects involved a notable Bollywood star—a total nightmare! He wanted only good things to be published about him but flaked out of a public appearance at the last minute. Media and fans were enraged and sure enough, one of the reporters wrote a scathing article. He threw a fit and my team and client had to spend the weekend nursing his ego so he would show up for the subsequent public appearance he was contractually obligated to.
#43 Too Much Ab-Fab
I watched far too much Ab-Fab growing up, got my PR degree, sat around confused with my degree in my hand for three years, then went back to university to become an educator. Thanks a lot, French and Saunders.
#44 No Injections Unless Necessary
Mental health technician here. We do NOT like giving injections unless absolutely necessary. Too much paperwork. Also, most of us aren’t complete controlling jerks that ignore or abuse patients. Everyone I work with is kind, patient, and respectful of our patients.
#45 Professional Artists
I’m not an artist, but all my life, I’ve been shown that tattoo parlors are all kinds of trashy and that the artists themselves are unapologetic jerks. That is entirely not accurate—when I got my tattoo the parlor was clean and well maintained, and the artist was very nice and professional.