Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Here's something that fucking steams me.

I'm a writer by trade, so I can be hypercritical at times when reviewing the work of other professional writers, just as fellow writers likely cringe at the imperfections scattered about my meandering prose (intentionally, of course).

But one error I can forgive no longer is a faux pas in basic storytelling so prevalent it shakes me to reason's core. I'm talking about the omission of a technology that has so permanently penetrated our lives it simply cannot be ignored - and yet it IS ignored...over and over and over again.

I am talking about Caller ID.

When was the last time you actually took a call without knowing exactly who was calling? It's virtually impossible to purchase a telephone these days that doesn't come equipped with Caller ID. Business lines have them. Cell phones have them. Cordless phones have them. Most calling plans include them. Only the oldest of old people refuse to pay $3.95 for the monthly service. Caller ID has saturated the telephone service market.

So why the fuck do people on television and in movies answer the phone like they have no idea who is calling? This has always been a pet peeve of mine - a recurring oversight I figured would correct itself over time. But it hasn't. Watch television tonight and you'll know what I'm talking about. 90% of the time, when the phone rings, the caller remains unidentified until the receiver picks up. I have identified two possible reasons for this:

1.) The writer is presuming that such a level of detail is unnecessary in telling the story and leaves it out
2.) It is necessary for the story's sake that the caller remain anonymous because if the receiver knew who it was beforehand, they wouldn't pick up the phone!

To ignore the existence of Caller ID is to deny that it has changed the way people communicate in the 21st century. And it HAS changed how we communicate. We no longer blindly answer the phone with that curious up-ending "hell-O??" These days we know who it is before we say hello, and often acknowledge the caller in answering: "What's up, dickhead?" or "Did you call to apologize? Well, forget it!"

Watch how the characters in movies do it, though. The phone rings and they all look at each other as if to silently say: "Who could THAT be?" Look at the damn caller ID, moron! But either they A.) don't use their caller ID, or B.) don't have it - both of which are completely unreasonable assumptions in this day and age. Writers need to start writing caller ID into their storylines instead of pretending we're still living in the 80's - an illusion now bolstered by the ridiculous return of skinny black pants and clogs.

Further, while I'm bitching about oversights, why don't people have answering machines in the movies? Half the time the phone keeps on ringing and ringing and ringing. This is supposed to provide a bit of drama, I suppose - but in real life, good luck making it past 4 rings without an automated message intercepting your call and prompting you to leave a message. All I want is a little realism in my entertainment.

I'm onto you, Hollywood. You'd better quit being so sloppy. I hereby demand better quality!


Anonymous said...

Slow news day, huh.

AYNtK said...

News shmooze. Who wants to read about Terrell Owens pounding painkillers? More dead people in Iraq, and dumbass Americans will probably let war-mongering Republicans scare them into another 4 years of Totalitarian rule. Even global warming is turning out to be media hype. I'd like to post some GOOD news for a change, but as you know, NO news is good news.

Hence this post.

JessieE said...

for what it's worth (fwiw, to you), I DON'T have Caller ID at work, and there are days when I just HATE to have to answer. What's ironic is that I generally KNOW who it is by the ring of the phone...and yet, I am still forced to play the "Caller ID in YOUR MIND" game and answer. I agree with you about the movies and tv shows tho -- and I LOVVVVVVVE having Caller ID at home. I NEVER answer the phone at home anymore.