Computers and the internet are such a common part of everyday life now that it is no surprise that they serve as important plot devices in so many TV shows and movies. However, it sometimes seems that the writers are actually quite unfamiliar with the subject matter, to the degree where the average tech savvy eight year old can spot the flaws.
Here are two of the most common – and most annoying – ideas perpetrated in the entertainment industry about two of the most commonly used services on the web – Google and YouTube.
Google Sometimes Doesn’t Find Anything
In the early days of search engines (back when you might say to yourself “hmmm, which shall I use today, Lycos or Ask Jeeves?”), sometimes, very rarely, a search would come back with nothing. This simply doesn’t happen anymore. There is no combination of words that could make up the length of the average search phrase that won’t return anything. This is partly because of the way Google works, and partly because there are simply so many words on the internet that the two or three you put in are going to come up in the same piece of text somewhere. You may not find anything useful, or anything that answers your question, but you’ll find something.
Why then, in the movie Wanted, are we told just how pointless and insignificant James McAvoy’s character is by him Googling himself – just the name “Wesley Gibson” – and seeing “No results”? This movie is by no means the only offender, but you can’t even explain it away because he’s using some fictional search engine that perhaps isn’t very good – you see the Google logo right there on his screen.
Viral Videos Go Viral Within Minutes – Even If They Aren’t Very Interesting
TV shows and movies often have plots based on something embarrassing being caught on film, and immediately seen by millions of people all over the world. In Zack and Miri, the whole concept of making an adult movie (which is basically the premise of the film) comes to Zack because of the sudden fame Miri has found as the star of a viral video where she’s seen dancing around in some “granny panties”. Not only did this video become so viral that she is getting recognized on the street and at parties, but this all happened without her knowing about it. You might think this is therefore a common danger with communication technology.
Similar instances of mildly embarrassing but not especially interesting videos becoming huge global phenomena in mere moments have happened in shows like Glee and iCarly, too. In reality, there is so much stuff on YouTube that the odds of a video like this going viral are tiny. Major marketing budgets are spent on trying to cause the viral effect by big brands who have spent a lot of money on making funny and interesting videos – and even then it doesn’t always work.
There is always the odd breakthrough thing, but you’re more likely to win the lottery than get the kind of unexpected and unwanted fame from a YouTube film that Miri got in the movie. Sure, your friends might see your embarrassing video thanks to social media shares, but it is unlikely that you will become an overnight global star or laughing stock.
This post was written by Todd Nash; he is a keen follower of the latest gadgets and technology that hit the market. A voracious blogger, he enjoys sharing his opinions about the internet and other communication technologies.