This is a strange topic but I think it needs discussing. The most common criticisms of art today use realism, in my opinion, and despite this our fiction is utterly unrealistic in almost every aspect. I’m rather tired of this hypocrisy, seeing people disregard certain artworks because they judge them unrealistic whilst accepting other artworks which are as bad or worse. I think it’s a good idea to outline some of the most common problems I notice.
Violence is the worst culprit. Everyone probably knows that something like John Wick is unrealistic, but do they know how unrealistic most fights in films and stories are in general. Humans are not as robust as most people imagine and a clean punch from a reasonably strong man will be enough to seriously concuss most people and knock a decent number out. Hitting the back of someone’s head against a hard object once will knock out just about anybody and when we see these fights in films, where for a good few minutes two men take turns throwing heavy hooks at each other and hitting their chins, anyone who has seen fights or fought should now how ridiculous such a spectacle is. The ‘realistic’ and ‘gritty’ fight between Brienne and the Hound in GOT is a bad offender here, with Brienne hitting the Hound in the face with a rock to virtually no effect, such a fight is actually ridiculous and comical. Fights usually last seconds, with one side gaining a small advantage and using it to devastating effect.
My personal hatred is the speed of recovery from violence. I’ve have been beaten unconscious at one time during my life and had a few concussions whilst playing rugby, and to see the behaviour of those in films after such injuries is ridiculous. I can recall watching an episode of Supernatural where Dean is knocked out for a few minutes and returns to the action, fully functional, to help win the fight. I understand that many people will have no experience of such an event and I suppose I should relate how bad such a representation is.
If you have been knocked out for minutes and wake, there are a few things that are likely. You won’t remember being knocked out, probably, and you won’t remember a period of time before being knocked out, ranging from minutes to days. You probably won’t know where you are or how you got there and you will be extremely confused. You will not be able to balance, and your whole body will feel disconnected from your mind, it will take you a good number of minutes to understand what happened and you will need to have this explained to you by someone else. If someone is still attacking you during this time period, you will be as defenceless as someone who is extremely drunk, with sluggish reactions. You may, as MMA fighter Michael Bisping once explained, spend the next day experiencing short term memory loss, getting into a shower and forgetting the time between the knockout and showering, and have to have everything explained to you again.
What you are unlikely to do, is to get up and keep fighting. It may happen but you will be terrible at it and probably get knocked out again, to worse consequences, but there is another side to this, and that’s people who seem to be unconscious for half an hour, people who are beaten and then stored in a cupboard or some such.
I’m not some street thug, constantly fighting, but due to the sports I’ve been involved in and watch I’ve seen a large number of unconscious people. To be frank, I’ve never seen anyone go unconscious for more than five minutes and if I did see that, I would assume the person was dead or in a coma. By and large unconsciousness lasts for minutes and usually less, this unrealistic time period of seemingly hours in much fiction is as bad as the misunderstanding of unconsciousness in general. Much of this stuff needs to be removed from fiction and I’m happy to point it out where I can. I’ll probably talk about this more, in other areas where I’ve some knowledge.