“Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!”
“I’ll create a GUI interface using VISUAL BASIC, see if I can track an IP address.”
“I love you, let’s get married!”
Technobabble sounds convincing to a lay audience. If you’re not a computerist, then “hacking the mainframe” sounds plausible. If you’re emotionally immature, then “I love you! That’s why I have to leave you!” sounds like something a normal person would say.
If you ever watch old episodes of Doctor Who, you’ll notice a certain emotional immaturity from the writers. Female characters will suddenly fall in love and disappear from the TARDIS. Arguments will erupt and dissipate with no preamble and no consequences. People behave strangely. Part of this is the necessities of dramaturgy, but I think it is mostly a lack of understanding of human behaviour.
I remember, as a young man, being bewildered by what was going on in my friends’ emotional lives. Relationships flourished and collapsed and I couldn’t understand why. A casual word proved harmful. Arguments sprang up, seemingly out of nowhere. If I were to write a screenplay based on my experiences, any normal person would find the behaviour of the characters to be farcical.
Is accuracy important in fiction? There’s a sub-genre of movie reviewers who fixate on technical accuracy in films. Specifically, gun use:
American History X “the main character wielding a Ruger P94. This gun holds 10 rounds but the main character discharges it 24 times without reloading.”
True Lies “If you look closely in the scene just prior, you’ll see Harry firing at his attackers with a crossed-thumbs grip on his Glock 19; another bad Hollywood move! In real life, that would have cut the dickens out of this thumb.”
“The worst has to be the lobby scene in the Matrix, where Neo is firing Chech Scorpion machine pistols, and they offer a close up of… .223 brass hitting the floor.”
The High Road
I could list off a dozen inaccuracies in the way computers are portrayed in the media – but I wouldn’t be able to spot a dodgy gun, or an emotionally wonky scene.
I mean, I adored “Love Actually”. It seemed fun! The way people behaved seemed consistent with my lived experience. It’s only when I read the reviews from people who understand emotional complexity that I began to appreciate how deeply disturbing some of the behaviour in the film is.
I’m slowly beginning to understand the emotional world that many people inhabit.