Tag Archives: Geekdom

Plot Hole Fun and Frustration

Warning: Movie Nerd Post Ahead

I, like most geeks, have an affection for finding goofs in movies: visible boom mics, plot holes, etc. I’ve made kind of a hobby of it, detailing almost all of the goofs that are currently in TV.com’s Doctor Who Classic section. Finding goofs is a bit of stupid nerdy fun, a bit of a wink that reminds us that this is just entertainment, not real life. It’s especially fun with Doctor Who because the wobbly sets and lousy special effects were part of the fun in the early series.

But you do run into annoyances when you play around in this particular geek pen.

First of all, you have those who try to explain a goof; who desperately scrounge around for some explanation — any explanation — for why an obvious goof is not really a goof at all; how the license plate on the car changed because it was a clever disguise.

The worst are Star Trek fans, who are constantly coming up with some quantum tunneling or space warp effect to explain ST’s wild inconsistencies. And sometimes they resort to being flat-out wrong. An example occurs in Star Trek: Generations. When Soren destroys a star, the gravitational field changes instantly. However, according to General Relatively, the change in gravitational field should propagate out at the speed of light: distant objects will still be responding to the initial gravitational field. Yet, ST fans will continue to insist that Trek is right and Einstein is wrong. Over at Movie Mistakes, which is one of the worst-run of the goof sites, you get this nonsense:

I agree that it should take time for the light from the destruction of the star to reach the planet but not the gravitational effects. Things like planets orbit stars not because there is some kind of particle or energy being exchanged between them but because the gravitational field has warped the space they are travelling through. As a result of this when the gravitational field was changed space would have snapped instantly to its new position producing instant gravitational effects. (see Stephen Hawkins:- A Brief History of Time if you don’t believe me).

This is … uh … not true.

But what’s far worse is people who site goofs that don’t exist. The submitters often rely on faulty memory or someone else’s faulty compilation (I’ve purged dozens of these from the Doctor Who pages). Or, frequently, they haven’t paid close attention to the movie and heard someone explain a plot hole they think exists. Gregg Easterbook, oddly, is one of the worst at this. But Cracked has had a series of articles in this vein that are often badly informed, incomplete and just wrong. Here is the most recent, where they list off eight movies made possible only by incompetent characters.

(I would note that characters acting stupidly, as Movie Mistakes notes, isn’t really a goof. A goof is something that reminds you you’re just watching a movie. Stupidity doesn’t meet that requirement. People sometimes act stupidly. That’s how history is made.)

Some of the mistakes in the Cracked article are valid: the idiocy of Die Hard 2 scarcely needs commenting on. But several are simply wrong. For example, they criticize Men in Black for not sending backup to deal with the stellar cockroach. But the conceit of that movie is that Earth is constantly under threat and the MiB’s are always busy dealing with it. Then they criticize Mission Impossible for network security, ignoring the elaborate plan the MI team use to get access to a secure computer. The most egregious is bashing Star Wars because the Empire doesn’t scan the Millenium Falcon after they capture it (they do, and it’s stated several times).

It’s unusual for Cracked to be so lazy.