25 Misconceptions Hollywood Has Taught Us

Posted by , Updated on March 22, 2024

It would be fair to say that while cinema gets a lot right in its portrayal, there are also areas where it falters significantly. Virtually every movie incorporates a fair share of clichés, stereotypes, and misconceptions that facilitate plot progression. There are instances where these misrepresentations are glaring, and become irritating to those who have a bit more real-world experiences than the average person. These clichés and misconceptions can be overly conspicuous, demanding your exclusive attention. Considering this, what are the most glaring misconceptions propagated by Hollywood movies? What are the most ludicrous and inaccurate takeaways you’ve gained from viewing your favorite films? Is it really possible to blow up a car by targeting its fuel tank? Does sound exist in outer space? Are the characterizations of Russians in some historically popular films true? You’re on the brink of discovering the truth in our compilation of 25 Misconceptions Hollywood Has Instilled in Us.


The Bad Russian

Ivan DragoImage: youtube.com

We have seen again and again crooked Russian officials (A Good Day to Die Hard), merciless Russian gangsters (Eastern Promises), inhumane ex-KGB agents (The Avengers), and of course, cold-hearted robotic boxers (Ivan Drago in Rocky IV), but in reality all this nonsense was nothing more than the result of the blatant political propaganda of Hollywood during the Cold War.


Computer hackers are as smart or smarter than God

Computer hackers are smarter than God or as smart anywayImage: commons.wikimedia.org

The abilities of hackers are greatly exaggerated or just plain wrong in most films. Hackers, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie, is an odd relic from the ‘90s that imagines computer hackers as a cross between Zeus and Odin. Take it easy, guys; they are just geeks with some talent in programming and computers.


Organized criminals love to advertise their “profession”

Organized criminals love to advertise their “profession”Image: en.wikipedia.org

In real life, most people who are members of the Mafia and other organized crime organizations are reticent about what they actually do, while in films most of them show off to everybody, even in front of the cops without suffering any consequences.


The bad guy is usually bad at shooting (especially at the end of the film)

The bad guy is usually so bad at shootingImage: en.wikipedia.org

The crazy thing in most films is that the bad guy is as deadly as it gets at the beginning; even his mean look can kill you. However, at the end of the movie when he confronts the good guy, he can’t find the target even if he shoots from a short distance away. What happened to him? Only the filmmakers know!


You can beat someone for “hours,” and they won’t even get dizzy

You can beat someone for “hours” and they won’t even get dizzyImage: en.wikipedia.org

If you are into martial arts and action movies, it’s certain you’ve seen fight scenes that last for an eternity and both guys take more punishment than Jake LaMotta did during his whole career. The craziest part is that they won’t go down even once. Anyone who has been punched in the face clean knows that all it takes is one good shot to knock your lights out.


The protagonist never has any backup or help during the final confrontation

The protagonist never has any backup or help during the final confrontationImage: en.wikipedia.org

Even though in most real life cases the authorities prevent the victim from taking revenge on the perp, things are a little different in film. The victim, who also happens to be the protagonist, not only seeks revenge but also usually takes it since the police reach the crime scene ten minutes after everything happens just to collect the “bad” guy’s body.


Everybody thinks Frankenstein is the monster

Everybody thinks Frankenstein is the monsterImage: fi.wikipedia.org

For some reason the vast majority of people think that Frankenstein is the monster, when in reality the nameless monster is Dr. Frankenstein’s creature.


The protagonist gets away with any kind of crime because he’s defending himself

The protagonist gets away with any kind of crime because he’s in defenseImage: cinetom.fr

We have all seen tons of films where in order to protect himself or his family, the protagonist usually kills an army of men, destroys public and private property, and so on and doesn’t get arrested in the end as would happen in real life.


Sound and light occur simultaneously

Sound and light occur simultaneously in moviesImage: en.wikipedia.org

In film, sound and light always occur simultaneously, and there is no delay like in real life. However, sound travels slower than light, so you are more likely to see an explosion first before hearing it. The same goes for thunder and lightning, which is the most characteristic example of this principle.


Slow motion in zero gravity

Slow motion in zero gravityImage: commons.wikimedia.org

Movies always depict scenes in zero gravity as painfully slow, making us wrongly believe that that’s what it is normally like. However, things move faster in space because there is no gravity to slow down movement. Astronauts move slowly simply because they don’t want to get into accidents from pushing off too hard.


Jumping through glass is ridiculously easy

Jumping through glass is ridiculously easy in filmImage: tvtropes.org

Jumping through glass windows looks so easy and painless in the movies. Both good guys and bad usually make it through windows without physical harm, but we can assure you if you try this in real life you might end up dead or in the ER with multiple lacerations.


Exploding cars everywhere

Exploding cars everywhereImage: en.wikipedia.org

Have you noticed how cars explode way too easily in films? It doesn’t matter if they crash into bicycles, humans, animals, walls, or other cars, they will explode no matter what. Think about it; if cars exploded so easily, most car companies would get lawsuits from all over and would go broke from all the settlements they’d have to pay.


Silencers are unrealistically silent

The silenced guns are unrealistically silentsource: todayifoundout Image: en.wikipedia.org

In movies, silencers make guns sound like whispers, but in reality when gunpowder explodes things get loud. Silencers basically only suppress the noise due to the pressure wave from the rapidly expanding propellant gases, but this is still only a portion of what makes a gunshot loud. To get a better idea, think of a gun that produces about 115 decibels when firing; now add a commercially available silencer to this gun, and the noise will be reduced by about 30 decibels. Well, I know what you are probably thinking right now; 85 is way better than 115, but the point is that 85 decibels of noise is nowhere near as silent as it “sounds” in the movies.


Free Fall Chitchat

Free Fall ChitchatImage: commons.wikimedia.org

If you’ve ever seen Point Break with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, then you probably know what we’re talking about. In this film, as well as a few others, we see people who are skydiving talking to each other like they usually do when they’re standing on the ground. Sorry to disappoint all of you adventurous people, but this isn’t as easy as it appears in these films. In reality, the pressure on your mouth during a free fall will prevent you from speaking normally.


All ancient cultures and nations speak with a perfect English accent

All ancient cultures and nations speak with perfect English accentImage: commons.wikimedia.org

It doesn’t matter if they are Spartans, Romans, Mayans, Egyptians, Visigoths, or Byzantines, they all speak with a perfect British accent because you see, people used to learn English even before the language existed.


Lovers always simultaneously orgasm

loversImage: en.wikipedia.org

This is another case where filmmakers present quite a different reality from the one most of us know from experience. Anyone who’s sexually active knows that things are not so harmonious in bed most of the time.


You get to make a phone call when you’re arrested

You get a phone call when you're arrestedImage: en.wikipedia.org

In films, many people who get arrested have an attitude and demand “their one f***ing call,” but in real life that’s not a clear right. So in case you ever get arrested for something, don’t make the mistake of demanding a phone call if you’re not 100% sure that the state or country offers this right to you. And make sure you don’t say “f***ing” when requesting the call.


You can hold your breath underwater for a really long time

You can hold your breath for really long timeImage: en.wikipedia.org

If you’re a fan of the Bond movie franchise and other action films, you probably think a human can hold his breath under water for several minutes, but that’s not the case in the real world. After holding your breath for thirty to sixty seconds, especially under stress or pressure, you will most likely pass out.


All you have ever seen about amnesia

All you have ever seen about amnesiaImage: en.wikipedia.org

The way amnesia is presented in most movies is completely false according to medical claims. To begin with, in most films, the patient usually forgets things that happened before the injury, whereas in real life, that person would also probably have trouble learning new information as well. Also, in the movies, all it takes for someone to suffer amnesia is a bump on the head and then another bump for their memory to magically return.


Kissing in the morning right after you wake up

Kissing in the morning right after you wake upImage: pixabay.com

Every time I see this one, I literally want to scream, and the worst part is that you will see it in pretty much every romantic film out there. Sorry guys, but how many couples do you know that kiss first thing when they wake up before they brush their teeth?


Tracing a call takes sixty seconds

Tracing a call takes 60 secondsImage: en.wikipedia.org

Maybe that was the case back in the ’70’s and ’80’s, but nowadays tracing a call happens pretty much immediately. Heck, even if you call from a cell phone a trace is almost instant. The FBI has advanced technology, fellas, so be alert because Big Brother is watching you.


Cigarette plus gasoline equals major explosion

Cigarette plus gasoline equals major explosionsImage: en.wikipedia.org

In 2007, a team of researchers at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms tested this idea. They dropped a lit cigarette into a tray of gas many times and the gas never once caught on fire. The official results of this test: Never believe what you see in Hollywood films.


And shooting the gas tank will make a car explode

Shooting the gas tank will make a car explodeImage: commons.wikimedia.org

You have seen this in countless action films; a bullet hits a car’s gas tank, and there’s a massive explosion. In reality, the bullet will just travel straight through the gas tank and out the other side of the car without any fireworks whatsoever.


A car door will protect you from a bullet

A car door will protect you from a bulletImage: en.wikipedia.org

How many times have we seen the hero being saved by a car door when the bad guys shoot at him? In reality, car doors are far from bulletproof; bullets will easily go through car doors and most likely injure or kill you.


There’s sound in space

There's sound in spaceImage: en.wikipedia.org

In films such as Star Wars and Armageddon, we have seen explosions make lots of noise, but in reality that’s simply impossible. Space is a near vacuum, so we wouldn’t hear any sounds when things explode.