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How Hollywood miscasts cars in the movies

February 13, 2013
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Modern cars are very difficult to steal. In the movies, thieves simply reach under the dash and jerk out a handful of wires, and spark two of them together and take off with the car. I'm here to tell you that that's baloney.

In the first place, the wires aren't exposed under the dash; there are panels that have to be removed. Secondly, it would take the strength of Sampson to rip out a handful of wires. Even if the engine could be started this way, (and it's unlikely that it could in most cars), the steering wheel is still mechanically locked by the ignition switch, which can't be turned, and the transmission is locked in park until the ignition is on and the brake pedal depressed, and sparking wires together won't get that done.

There is an urban myth circulating about thieves being able to unlock your car doors with a remote transmitter , which acts like your key fob. This is highly unlikely, because these things are coded better than the Japanese and German secrets during WWII. Yes, I know we broke those codes, but it took the entire government to do it. Well that may not reassure you much, but they are randomly coded making it nearly impossible to un-scramble.

I guess we should be thankful Hollywood doesn't show us how car stealing can actually be done. They must believe that masses of people would try it out and start new careers as car thieves. They always show phone numbers as beginning with 555, because they suspect that audience members will try to call the number, so they believe we are hopelessly susceptible to suggestion. So then I wonder why they show so much detail about how to shoot people, or how disputes can be settled by a swift smack in the nose. All the heroes do it, and nobody gets sued or arrested for assault and battery, and the fights don't end on the floor with wrestling holds, like real fights do. So I wonder why they think their portrayal of violence will not be acted out. Strange.

Speaking of strange and of Hollywood's depiction of cars, did you ever notice that when a car is supposed to have a problem in the movies, it would backfire and pump smoke out the rear? Doesn't happen. Catalytic converters burn up the smoke, and when is the last time you heard a backfire?

Then there's the scene when a car drives up and stops, usually with a little squeal, so you know the brakes are being used, and the bumper bounces up and down to let you know the car has stopped. Please. It's like watching a comedy with a laugh track, so that you know when it's time to laugh.

I doubt if I'm alone in my boredom with Hollywood. Think about how your own profession has been portrayed. I know Special Forces laugh at Rambo movies; nobody is a one-man army. Real cops moan at CSI-type movies, nobody has that much time and equipment at their disposal. Lawyers ridicule legal themes, and doctors won't even watch medical dramas. Spies, like our own Porter Goss, say the spy shows are misleading. He once said that the show called 24 was the closest to the actual pace of action in Washington, but otherwise was not close to reality. And these people are the people Hollywood makes movies about.

Oh well, I guess we should just relax and enjoy the entertainment. Let the suspension of disbelief begin. But cars don't act that way.



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