Monday, April 24, 2017

Irritating Things that Movie Doctors Do

Give miracle shots. Whenever a movie character is crazy or really upset, a doctor delivers a shot that calms him. I wish I knew what it contained… Movie doctors are always putting characters to sleep, but no shot does that. An anesthetic delivered intravenously makes you unconscious, but that’s dangerous outside an operating room as Michael Jackson’s doctor learned.

Livesaving pills. I see this less often today, but in older movies a character would suddenly be dying. He wouldn’t have “his pills.” Everyone would look frantically for “his pills.” Someone would find them. He would take one and recover. I can’t think what disease does that.

Movie doctors are always saying “You have six months to live.”  We can predict average life expectancy for a fatal disease by tracking a few hundred victims, but that’s meaningless for an individual who could live a week or years.

“Tests show that you have incurable cancer.” Movie doctors who say this are never portrayed as incompetent, although they are. Delivering bad news is a skill no different from diagnosing a heart murmur. A movie buff will explain that the screenwriter can’t spend the time required for a realistic interchange, and I agree on the problem. But here’s the solution: a better writer. A bad writer uses these dumb shortcuts.

“You need plenty of rest and absolute calm.” This is so Victorian…. Bed rest is wildly unhealthy. Bones dissolve. Blood clots. The bowel falls silent. Today patients are dragged out of bed a day or two after major surgery. Doctors once believed that excitement damaged the heart. Intense emotion might cause a heart attack, so people with heart disease should stay calm. We don’t believe that anymore.

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