Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cinematic Word Abuse

Hollywood, we've talked about this. Stop it. Just make up your own words when you need some hocus-pocus to happen. Don't steal our real words and abuse them.

It's bad enough in police mystery shows. "Encrypted pixels" and stuff. Don't use or combine words that you don't understand. It's bad writing, and the resulting scenes are bad. But now, there's a film whose very title is wrong.

"The Source Code", the generic deep voice says, after the entire plot is shown in a 30-second TV spot.

I've glimpsed plenty of ads for this movie, which only means it could be anywhere from six months before the theatrical release to sitting in the DVD bargain bin at the grocery store. But "The Source Code", which is English for human-readable instructions for a computer, written in C or Python or Java or whatnot, here means "some magical means of time travel". Do me a favor, while you're in your web browser. Hit "View"->"Page Source" to open the source code for this page; there's some JavaScript near the bottom. See if you go hurtling back in time. Did it work? No? Hm.

See, instead of "modern day vampires = $$$", the lesson that should have been learned from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is this: Set the show up on a hellmouth, or some other place where magic and demons and impossible-but-fun nonsense is real. Don't say the computer is magic. It's not. While we're at it, no more loser-in-a-tree vampires either, 'kay?

But back to my point, don't hijack real words and phrases! Source code is very important and useful for many reasons, but time travel is not among them! I'll even go one step further and try to be constructive. Call it the Ghost Minutes Spell, or the Past Injection Curse. If you really want to have computers involved, stick it in a Matrix-like setting and call it the Crisis Backtrace or the ... actually, I can't come up with any computer words other than "backtrace" that even vaguely could have something to do with time travel.

But who am I to tell Hollywood producers anything, huh? I've only been writing source code since I was six. ...And, come to think of it, I also wrote two terrible movies, complete with crappy (though not outright lying) titles. At least I had the decency to not be able to finish shooting the second one. ;^)

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