I am a complete pain in the ass as a media consumer because I have a fairly broad range of interests to being with, widely varying life experiences, and little patience for inaccuracy. However, when it comes to my profession and my hobbies, I have a terrific depth of knowledge that will bore the living daylights out of most people (You didn’t think I make my living as a writer, did you?). If I found a willing buyer, I would make an excellent technical consultant on a couple of different subjects. Then again they would likely disregard my advice in favor of silly things like dramatization and advancing plot. So since nobody is offering me paid work, I will have to be satisfied with complaining here.
Things that leave me cold in books, TV, and movies:
Explosions: I have been around more explosions that I can remember. Fortunately, none close enough to hurt me, but plenty close enough to knock things off the wall and scare me nearly to the point of peeing myself. I am man enough to admit that. Even when you are warned they are coming (as in a controlled detonation), they catch you off guard. At least, they do me. I still jump a little at the the really nasty ones. I guess my reflexes are still in working order.
You can’t outrun an explosion as it is happening. They come out of nowhere and by the time you realize what has happened, it is over. My buddies and I joke that if you heard it, you’re in good shape. The expression “You don’t hear the one that gets you” is one of the few things writers get correct.
While on the subject of explosions, they are not an orange-red color. That coloring comes from burning accelerant. Explosions vary from black to shades of gray. And if you are caught in one, you won’t be pushing your way out of the rubble to continue the fight with some torn clothing and a two-inch scratch on your forehead. Sorry, Arnold.
Anachronisms/historical inaccuracies: Aside from Science Fiction, I have little patience for historical inaccuracies. Not surprisingly, the better the job of convincing me to suspend disbelief, the more inclined I am to overlook anachronisms and inaccuracies. The Patriot was such a good story and so well acted, I completely forgot to nitpick. Well, except for the scene that looked like a Sandals resort for the escaped slaves. That looked just a little too idyllic.
Also, if a movie (really the worst offenders) features a percussion lock system and is set during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, I am likely to dump my popcorn and soda on the theater floor and go home as soon as I spot the transgression.
Another pet peeve of mine is the left-handed bolt action rifle. I understand they exist in the civilian market, but I defy anyone to produce an example that was issued to any soldier in any army. They don’t exist. In the days of bolt-action battle rifles, lefty soldiers either learned to shoot right-handed or modified the manual of arms to operate them left-handed. Either way, he conformed to the rifle, not the other way around.
I understand about turning the picture around to keep the movement flowing in the correct direction in order to not confuse the audience and the resulting mirror image, but it still drives me batty. Just another instance of the requirement to convince me to suspend disbelief.
Gun play: This is a massive turnoff. I am not talking about the technicalities of a bullet really being just the projectile that exits the muzzle and the entire package actually being a cartridge. Or that fully automatic fire is generally only supposed to be used in three to five round bursts. Or that sustained full-auto fire is terribly uncontrollable in most systems.
What annoys me far more is sloppy weapon handling. For example, fingers inside trigger guards, holding a pistol up by your head, the sound of the slide being racked every time it is pointed (especially in a revolver where there is no slide), and firing from the hip. And by the way, “silencers” are actually called “suppressors,” are completely legal in about half of the United States with the proper federal paperwork (along with a variety of full-auto capable arms and short barrel rifles/shotguns), and in reality are not silent. You will still hear the report from some distance in most cases.
Truth be told, the way most firearm handling is portrayed would get the protagonist killed before he realized the gunfight had commenced. You don’t drop your gun to have a fist fight. You don’t deliver some cheesy line or monologue or explain your evil plan when you have the drop on somebody. You don’t engage in a showdown in the middle of the street. (However, I give the cemetery scene in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly a pass because it is just so darned excellent on many levels). And you sure as hell don’t give the other guy a fair fight.
Life truth #1: When possible, I want to be the only one getting shots off.
Life truth #2: I would rather be involved in a shooting as opposed to a shoot-out (If you understand the difference).
Life truth #3: Fair fights are for dead men. I am paid to win.
Life truth #4: My preference is always to skip the first three life truths whenever possible.
So does anyone know exactly when I became a grouchy old man? Because it really diminishes my ability to enjoy books, TV, and movies. The good news it that I have made contact with a couple of other writers who have been picking my brain on firearm related details. I’m thrilled to see others as interested in accuracy as I am and am always willing to help out.