I understand that movies are movies, not books and not real life. Real bombs don’t have large, red digital readouts, and thirty seconds means thirty seconds, not two or three minutes for guy trying to disarm the thing to tell the woman standing next to him how hard his childhood was. But as Aristotle told us, drama is superior to history, by which he meant that plays — today he’d say movies — deal with universals, rather than the messy particulars, allowing writers of stories to focus on the implications of an idea. Or to make a few bucks on a summer blockbuster.
That being said, realism has its own value, especially in an era in which information is more readily available to more people than ever before. Chaucer could tell a tale about the Trojan War that used medieval knights as characters without his readers noticing the anachronism. Today, there would be a Twitter hashtag storm — and I’d be in the thick of it — to complain about all the inaccuracies.
In case anyone is wondering, Chaucer is one of the greatest writers humanity has produced, so I’ll forgive him a lot. Many of the people creating entertainment for our screens, big or small, however, are not Chaucer. And if you’re not operating on that level, you’d better get things right.
Having just done a binge watching of Lost, I’m going to single out J.J. Abrams. He’s not unique in being sloppy, but since he pissed on two great science fiction franchises, Star Trek and Star Wars, he has lost any chance for a pass from me.
So what has he done to irk me? Based on his show, I have to conclude that he’s never spent any time around actual firearms. Of course, I understand that Abrams wasn’t necessarily present at every moment during the manufacture of the program, but his name’s on it, and as I said, he urinated on my particular field, since three of my books are science fiction, I’ll pick on him.
What goes wrong in Lost regarding guns? For one thing, the Beretta 92 first went on sale in 1976, and the FS model arrived later. The Sig Sauer P226 didn’t arrive until 1984 in search of a contract with the U.S. military, based on the P220 that went to work for Swiss soldiers in 1975.
If your show is set in the early 70s or involves time travel to that period — and no, I’m not worrying about spoiler alerts here, since if you haven’t seen the show by now, you probably don’t want to — unless the travelers brought the guns with them, they don’t get to have guns that didn’t exist in the year in question.
But if John Wayne could carry a Colt Single Action Army and a Winchester ’92 in every western, regardless of the supposed date, I suppose that Abrams can be confused about what year it is. But there is one thing that he — and the rest of Hollywood with him — must learn: If guns rattle, squeak, pop, or whine when the person either draws them or waves them about, as opposed to firing them, there is something wrong with them.