Outdated Movie Clichés That Just Won't Die

The answering machine, the broken cell phone, the lack of GPS...
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2010 11:43 AM CST

(Newser) – Ever notice that movie trailers are constantly employing the record scratch sound effect—even though today’s youth have no clue what that sound actually is? "Pop culture has shown no inclination to discard obsolete tropes simply because they are obsolete," writes Adam Sternbergh, who points out five other cinematic offenders in New York:

  • Answering machines: Hey, if the protagonist were to use voicemail, how ever would the audience hear the serial killer’s scary message?
  • X-rays: Nowadays, X-rays are displayed digitally, on a screen. But hanging a big, floppy piece of film on a light board is so much more dramatic!

story continues below

  • Car windows: Characters are forced to expend extra energy making the window-crank motion when they need it rolled down, “assumably because mime-pressing an imaginary automatic-window button is just way too hard to decipher.”
  • Cell phones: If only a person could get out of a dangerous situation by simply phoning for help…but then, no horror movies would ever get made, which is why the signal inevitably fails just when a phone is needed most. (Check out famous offending incidents in the video at left.)
  • GPS: We have to pretend this handy technology doesn't exist: How else will future movie characters ever get lost, shipwrecked, or stranded in the middle of nowhere?
(Read more movies stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.