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While many times technology is depicted as needed to embellish the story or further the plot, there are certain occasions that what is shown on screen is just fake, with no real reason. One example is the user interfaces in all police software, which are like video games. On the other hand, real police software look like what you expect them to look like

police software

This, and other examples happen in otherwise well thought productions. Conversely, there is no such inaccuracy in other objects, i.e. chairs look like regular chairs. Is there a specific reason that user interfaces are so misrepresented?

Disclaimer: The question was heavily edited to make it on topic.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Paulie_D, Bill the Lizard, CGCampbell, BCdotWEB, Rand al'Thor Mar 25 '17 at 23:46

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    The Law has been around much longer than computers, and yet police procedurals are still 80% garbled nonsense that would never hold up in real life. The bottom line is that TV & Movies aim to tell an entertaining story - everything else is only going to be as accurate as needed to achieve that goal. – Steve-O Mar 25 '17 at 20:14
  • @Paulie_D hope now it's better. I made the question more clear. – qwazix Mar 25 '17 at 21:10
  • Ok I'll try again, later today. What I'm asking though is why is tech needlessly inaccurate. I understand the artistic need for inaccuracies and I state so in the question. – qwazix Mar 25 '17 at 21:49
  • Just about everything is unrealistically depicted. People eating, people having intercourse, people on the phone,... What doctors say, what scientists say, what lawyers say, etc. – BCdotWEB Mar 25 '17 at 22:29
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    This question reminds me of moviecode.tumblr.com – Roy Mar 25 '17 at 23:03
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Well, with the changes to your question it is simply that what you expect things to look like and what the filmmakers are constructing for what their audience will accept that things look like just aren't the same standard.

Am on my mobile right now... I'll leave the original answer until I can re-evaluate it when I'm at a proper keyboard.


Heh - I chuckled at that "they used SQL to corrupt the database" line too. But hey, the movie still managed to make almost half a billion dollars.

In short, movie makers are not trying to document the world. They are constructing a narrative. The conditions for satisfying a "plausible" fiction are much less stringent than, for example, satisfying a plausible account of the world before a judge and jury. What matters is not so much "is this how it actually happens" as what they think will be intelligible enough to be entertaining to the average ticket buying audience member.

Think of the movies as an "enhanced" experience that doesn't require critical analysis - they are just entertainment. The "suspension of disbelief" is a core requirement for simply believing that intermittent images which are in sync with audio are representing something real:

“The phrase ‘suspension of disbelief,’ ” noted the columnist Alan Nathan in The Washington Times, “is a literary term of art referring to one of Aristotle’s principles of theater in which the audience accepts fiction as reality so as to experience a catharsis, or a releasing of tensions to purify the soul.”

...in Aristotle's conception, this "suspension" required a willing participation on the part of the audience.

Sure, it can be intellectually rewarding to watch a movie that intelligently constructs a believable world filled with all the details you know to be accurate. Will this extra attention to detail "enhance" the profits made from the film? Maybe not so much. Also, it is not always so easy to portray what goes on with computation and technology, so filling up the screen with windows to indicate lots of stuff being done is just an economy of visual storytelling. You could think of it like how car dash lights magically light up the actors faces while they are driving at night... We know it's not really like that, but not everyone understands the limitations of exposing an image with film or digital cameras. It doesn't look like a normal car environment, but it does the job of showing the actors faces.

At their foundation, most film makers are only striving to construct a compelling lead character, a believable world and interesting side-characters. It might break the "fourth wall" momentarily to rely upon cliche, but that bump in the train track usually won't throw the engine off the rails. Also, consider that a real room has six "walls" if you include the ceiling and foundation, and yet four walls are adequate to construct a "room". Even with a good "foundation" a comfortable room without a "ceiling" won't stop a technologically sophisticated skeptic from "raining" on the movies parade. Even then, some people don't mind the rain... ;)

Consider also that a technologically sophisticated documentary like "Zero Days" has to rely on visual metaphors to make their narrative compelling. For example, 1's and 0's are the most common metaphor for digital signals, yet nowhere in digital signal processing is there an actual stream of ones and zeros, just electrical impulses. Short answer, electrical engineering just isn't as sexy as waving your hands over a keyboard, hearing some clicking sounds and seeing the character you are sympathetic towards say, "enhance..." The magic factor granted technology in movies also plays into a desire on the part of movie going audiences to live in a world where technology is indeed magical.

As the saying goes, "there are 10 kinds of people in this world: those who sweat the details to understand binary, and those who don't."

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    Sorry, I butchered the question to make it fit. However I understand the artistic need to embellish the story. What I am wondering is why the needless fakery, e.g. why "encrypted sim" which doesn't make sense, and not "encrypted sd" which does. – qwazix Mar 26 '17 at 9:59
  • Because the people who write screenplays are professional screenplay writers who know how to write screenplays, not professional IT security specialists who know about IT security. – Jörg W Mittag Mar 27 '17 at 12:24
  • @qwazix yikes - first too broad, now opinion based... I thought there was a good question in there ... Maybe if you ask for some suggestions in movies.meta? – Mr. Kennedy Mar 27 '17 at 19:59

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