Not a Real Job

July 27th, 2009 • Kate

the-proposalI went to see “The Proposal” tonight with some girlfriends, fully prepared to be AMAZED by what Hollywood thinks a book editor does all day. There were, shall we say, some inaccuracies.

Not the least of which was mistaking Massachusetts for Alaska, but that’s another issue all together.

One of the details I thought dated the movie a bit were the stack of clean manuscripts on Sandra Bullock’s editor’s desk. I’m not sure I know of any editors who still reads hard copy submissions.

And I asked about this on Twitter, but I will admit my curiosity is not yet satisfied — what movies and/or books have displayed rampant mistakes in portraying careers, to your mind? The comments are open!

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17 Responses to “Not a Real Job”

  1. Martha Flynn Says:

    Any movie involving a spy! Totally inaccurate.

  2. Amy Lynn Sonnichsen Says:

    This is a silly one, but as much as I loved West Wing, I'm pretty sure the members of the president's staff don't spend most of their time speed walking up and down hallways engrossed in witty banter. They were all way too clever to really work in the White House. πŸ˜‰

  3. Michelle Says:

    As a former band director and percussion instructor, I have to say the movie Drumline makes me cringe.

    There's much, much more to playing a bass drum than shaking your ass.


  4. Megan Says:

    although i completely agree with you, i think that most people would assume an editor's desk would be covered with manuscripts – a common misconception! perhaps the filmmakers thought it would look more realistic? maybe set it apart from other, similar-type looking offices?

  5. SM Blooding Says:

    Um, any movie/show that has construction. Like when there's a murder on a construction site, or there's construction going on in the background, or something explodes and they're looking at this piece of conduit/pipe and trying to rationalize how it happened. In the back of my mind I'm thinking, "Well, first of all, you'd never bury EMT in the ground. That's what PVC is for." And I do this ALL the TIME! My poor roomie. She's just like, "Frankie, please shut up."

    Hollywood takes what people EXPECT to be real and goes with that. Why? If they (and they're millions of dollars of revenue) watched The Proposal and saw an editor's desk that wasn't covered with paper, they'd say, "That wasn't real. Hollywood messed up!" They'd spread the word and then, next thing you know, they missed a quarter of a million dollars in potential revenue, all because they got something right that was perceived as being wrong. *shrug*

    And who cares about EMT or PVC? It's both conduit/pipe. *eye roll*

  6. Megan Says:

    SM Blooding, I completely agree! Hollywood takes what "regular" people think should be the case – ie an editor's desk full of manuscripts – and makes it the case. Completely true!

  7. beth Says:

    No one has mentioned the new Nathan Fillion TV show, CASTLE? Although I'd *love* to think being a writer is like that, I *know* that's not the case.

  8. Leslie Ann Says:

    High School Musical! Can I say that one? Drama Club's not a job but it kind of it for me. I mean three hours of rehearsal fives days a week, for six weeks then a one week break (but not really because some people are so good that they're doing the community theatre show) then auditions, call backs and we start over. Drama club is not HMS; everybody is not against the Drama Club. And in Drama Club there is a lot of DRAMA with all capital letters. They don't mention what really happens in Drama club (especially backstage and in the dressing rooms. It's Crazy!) Because then it would not be a TV-G DCOM it would be an R rated and not made for TV. I'd go see it though.

  9. Meradeth Says:

    How about Indiana Jones? Trust me, I've never had to use a whip, or run from crazed nazis while on a dig πŸ™‚

    Bones and CSI are both completely out of their league on TV. Genetic results in minutes? Try months. All that fansy equipment? Not a chance in a gov't run lab. Being a physical anthropologist really messes with my viewing choices!

  10. Mandy Says:

    Not many movies feature engineers at their jobs, except maybe Star Trek and Apollo 13 (it's funny to hear Jim Lovell talk about everything they changed in that movie). So I rarely watch a movie and think "My job isn't anything like that." Usually I just watch it and think "Man, they broke the laws of physics. Awesome. Sound in space? Really? Explosions in space? What? Why is the super star destroyer falling into the Death Star? Are you telling me the Death Star exerts gravitational pull of that magnitude on the objects around it? Really?"

    That being said I really love science fiction and most especially Star Wars, despite the technical inaccuracies.

    Oh and the movie October Skies? It is mandatory for aerospace engineers to love that movie. If you don't love that movie and if your heart doesn't feel for Homer when he's looking up at the stars but going down into the mine shaft, you have no right to call yourself a rocket scientist.

  11. SM Blooding Says:

    Mandy…*holding in the giggles* Yes, yes, YES! I think the same thoughts too. My roomie HATES me.

  12. Janet Says:

    Almost anything involving a librarian will be totally silly and off the mark. In one recent-ish book, a woman who needed a job got a post as a university librarian: no search committee, no degree, no experience. In what universe would THAT happen? As if that weren't enough, she and some other managerial library person had MUCH FUN in the stacks. And I do mean MUCH FUN. Anyone having MUCH FUN in the stacks is arrested. O.M.G.

  13. Michelle Says:

    Janet- I think that goes along with the whole "what people expect" thing. Unfortunately, most folks don't seem to know just how much work (degrees, certification, etc) is involved in becoming a librarian. I guess because they don't see what the job actually entails- they just think it's keeping books organized and checking them out to people. It seems like retail. Which….um, it's not. πŸ™‚

  14. Kristin Says:

    The Disney channel movie Read It and Weep – about a high school girl who's book becomes a bestseller. Loved the movie until I actually started toward publication. *head/desk* Books are NOT published in a month, people, and they DO NOT hit the bestseller list, complete with book tours and Oprah visits, in one semester.

  15. Joe Iriarte Says:

    Crikey! You moved during my end-of-the-year web hiatus and I didn't figure it out until now!

    I can't stand movies involving teachers, usually because of the bathos and faux-inspiration. But they're also laughable in the way teachers can do stuff that would get me fired. The teachers on television and in the movies seem to have no take-home work. They routinely take kids in their cars, into their houses, or alone in their classrooms with the doors closed. Hah!

  16. Karen Says:

    I know this is late but most medical shows/movies just make me cringe. I'm not a doctor but I work with them and they absolutely hated ER. I thought they were going to have a coronary on that first episode where the woman came in with preeclampsia and they were trying to push the baby back in!!! OMG…the Doc's (who are perinatologist and deal with preeclampsia often) nearly lost their minds.

  17. Ami Glazer Says:

    Ick. Read It and Weep made me want to throw something at the TV. Not only because of what Kristen said, but teenage authors do NOT get that much attention. Take this one girl, Nancy Yi Fan, for example. She had a book signing near my house and I went because I was very inspired by her even though her book wasn't all that great (I was eleven). Someone asked what it was like being a teenage author, and she said that no one at school even mentioned her book. Occasionaly someone would say, "Oh, you wrote a book?" But that's it! Oh, and there are way too many shows/movies for me to list that totally get teenagers wrong. Either they make them little goody-goods *coughMileyCyruscough* or they make them obssessed with drugs, drinking, and sex.