What American Movies Make America Look Like

“Your average mildly rebellious teenager will have mastered the 3-second car hot-wire.”

As a Brit, I know films rarely paint a full picture of what life is really like.

@RobertEBlackmon / Via giphy.com

Hence why we’re eternally questioned about our tea consumption.

But there are surely some exaggerations and inaccurate depictions that Hollywood implants on its own country.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

While I’m fairly certain there are fewer aliens and/or superheroes in the states, there are certain tropes that defo skew my perceptions of life around the US.


Can you really dive into a taxi’s and shout “drive” with no questions asked?

20th Century Fox

Particularly in New York, it seems that if you jump into the back of a cab and shout “Go go go, drive!” they will immediately do your bidding with no follow-ups. Maybe cabbies are just keen to get a good tip? 


Likewise, could you simply ask a cab to follow/stalk someone without any explanation, and they’ll comply?

Warner Bros.

I get it when one group is split into two taxis. But simply saying “just follow that person, but be discrete” to a random vehicle or pedestrian cannot be okay.


I’m convinced that it’s commonplace to have a giant breakfast spread ready before work or school.

The CW

Everyone loves a big proper breakfast, but you’re telling me every day before school/work someone (usually the mum) will have prepared a giant breakfast spread, complete with jugs of orange juice, racks of toast, the works. 

Even more farcical is the *grabs a slice of toast and walks out the door* move that so often follows, making the whole preparation of the food utterly futile. 


Summer camp is some sort of right of passage.


First of all, it seems like going to some sort of summer camp is just the norm? Second of all, there appears to be a ‘camp’ for almost any conceivable thing – math camp, band camp, chess camp, karate camp, football camp, science camp, camping camp, acrobat camp. 


Throwing a rock at a window is totally fine and won’t crack/break it.


Either there is some mega reinforced glass in suburban US windows, or teenagers have developed the perfect pace and timing to throw pebbles at windows for them not to crack or shatter. 


Also, climbing through a window up a drainpipe is totally normal.

Dimension Films

Again, more of a suburban thing – climbing through a high-rise window doesn’t seem too common on-screen. I understand the whole sneaking in/out of the house thing, but is this the most common method? And are all windows perfectly placed over a porch/tree/surprisingly sturdy drainpipes?


Are blackboards still the main tool of teaching?

Warner Bros. Pictures

Have whiteboard pens come in? Is there a giant surplus of chalk that necessitates the continued use of blackboards? Or is it just more of an iconic look to have these in movies? 


Apparently, no one says ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ when answering or hanging up the phone.


Either this is a minor time-saving tactic for movies, a minor time-saving tactic for Americans in real life, or maybe I’ve just never realised the unessential nature of saying “bye”. 


Does everyone have what looks like a blender in their plughole?


These things would absolutely terrify me, partially due to the role they play in some horror films. I’m sure they’re actually safe, but are they really commonplace in US kitchens? 


I won’t believe that military school is the go-to punishment for a misbehaving kid.


I get taking someone’s console away, maybe even putting them in another school, but after this is it just a common thing to send your child to military school? Also, why is there seemingly always room for mid-semester transfers, and does that sergeant always come round to the house and look the kid up and down?


I’m almost certain that it’s practically illegal to finish a drink at a bar.

USA Network

This is one of the classic movie pet peeves, but it still always gets me. I understand it would take up too much time to see them sip a whole drink, but it never fails to drag me outta the narrative and think, ‘who does this?!’ 


Also, bartenders have impeccable memories and are all super keen to get a bribe from the police.


If I was behind the bar and some random person had come in last week and ordered a vodka martini, maybe spoke to some other person, then left, there is absolutely no chance I would remember them. BUT I know that if I did remember them, I probably wouldn’t be like “it’s gonna cost ya” to the law if they came in asking about it. 


Drivers tend to leave their keys in some incredibly accessible places.

Icon Film Distribution

*Opens the door of a random car* – okay, fair enough, maybe they left it unlocked? But then the keys are always left in the glove box or somewhere super accessible! I am not buying that. 


Oh and naturally, your average mildly rebellious teenager will have mastered the three-second hot-wire.

The CW

If you ever need a quick getaway, or you’re in the mood to hijack a car, just find a fairly rural American adolescent who is entering that ‘rebellious’ stage and there you have it! Maybe it really is just as easy as they make it look? 


Everyone at school seems to sit at single desks.

New Line Cinema

This one I’m genuinely just curious about because, bar science class, I’ve found in the UK it’s usually shared tables or ones that line the room – is this actually how most US pupils are made to sit? 


And apparently, there’s no such thing as an even-numbered science class.

Paramount Pictures

Literally any time one must find a lab partner, there is always someone who’s left without a partner – they should look at making some of those classes even numbered. 


Are there clearly defined high school cliques, or am I being sold a lie?

Disney Channel

I thought this was probably just an overdramatised stereotype – but then with the huge importance of college sports, maybe it actually is more like this? 


Is pledging allegiance part of the daily routine?


Is this a thing from nursery/kindergarten? Does it continue through high school, college, or work? What happens if you don’t do it?  


Do people actually learn to drive at school?

20th Century Fox

I know that you guys start driving earlier, but do you learn to drive at school? This is something I’m jealous of because lessons are £££ and learning at school sounds far more chilled out than being dropped straight on motorways and roundabouts.


Is drinking milk with dinner a thing?


Milk alongside dinner should only be acceptable if you’re under five or you’ve accepted a ghost chilli challenge as your evening meal. In the morning it’s just about acceptable, at night is fine too, but alongside a nice home-cooked meal? No thanks!


Kegs seem to be readily available at any standard liquor store.


It’s definitely not just common practice to go grab a full-size keg from the shop for parties, I feel like you could only get them in breweries here. Is this a normal thing that happens at parties? And does your average ‘liquor store’ stock full-size kegs? 

Which of these are Hollywood hyperbole and which are actually not far off the truth? Let us know in the comments below!

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