Why Can’t Hollywood Get Computers Right?
I’m glad Her won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The story’s good, the acting’s good and, above all, the technology story makes sense.
You might think that’s a little odd, considering that Her is the story of a guy who falls in love with a Siri-like operating system on his phone.
This futuristic OS is so sophisticated that you can’t tell it’s not a real person. She sounds like Scarlett Johansson, in fact.
That’s a big technological leap. But given that this movie is set in the “slight future” (as director Spike Jonze says), it’s not an implausible, silly leap. Especially because all the other technologies in the movie are brilliantly plausible.
In Her, we’ve finally standardized on a wearable technology. Not glasses, not watches — it’s an earpiece. It’s always online, it understands speech, and it doesn’t require taking your eyes off the road.
People still have smartphones and computers in the Her world, but you don’t see keyboards anymore. They’ve evolved away as speech recognition has improved.
Anyway, it may be that I was so grateful to the future technology in Her because I’m so exasperated by the technology depicted in all othermovies.
Why does Hollywood seem to think that text on PCs in movies pours onto the screen, left to right, like a teletype machine? And that it chirps as it appears?
See Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Disclosure and Broken Arrow. Or see — or, rather, don’t see — The Net, where Sandra Bullock’s keyboard chirps as she types.
For heaven’s sake: We all use computers. We know how they work! And we know that text does not chirp and beep as it spills onto the screen. It never has, actually. And it never will.
In Bridget Jones’s Diary, an incoming email even appears onscreen letter by letter, as it’s being typed by the sender. Yeah? In what universe?
Furthermore: How is it that, in 2014, entering the wrong password in a movie makes a huge red error message blink across the screen that says “ACCESS DENIED”?
We’ve all mistyped our passwords. And we all know that “ACCESS DENIED” is not the result. Worst case, you see “There was an error with your email/password combination. Please try again,” or something.
And if you do type the right password, you don’t see a huge green “ACCESS GRANTED” message, either. You just get in and start working.
(A screenshot from the TV show Revolution, via the Fake UI Tumblr)
Then there’s Hollywood’s idea of hackers. In the real world, getting hacked usually means that a bot (automated software) is quietly deposited on your hard drive to do the bad guy’s bidding — usually sending out thousands of spam messages. It’s in the hacker’s interests to make the infection as subtle and invisible as possible.
But in Hollywoodland, your screen gets taken over by full-screen animations, like the evil laughing skull in The Net, or the blizzard of random dialog boxes in this episode of the TV show NCIS:
(That episode gets extra comedy points for having its two IT professionals attempt to thwart a real-time hacker attack by typing on the same keyboard simultaneously.)