The two things that people enjoy either alone or with friends is eating and watching visual media. If you’re a “foodie,” then you might call yourself an expert on different types of food. If you cook, your appreciation for food can be even higher. With all this appreciation and knowledge about food, how important would the representation of food in TV and film be to you?
This seems like quite an odd and inconsequential question, but the thought occurred to me a few days ago when I was watching the pilot of a sitcom. In one scene, a fight and chase broke out in a deli. One of the characters was shoved into the ice cream display behind the counter and was absolutely covered in the stuff. When he went back to the office (presumably several minutes later–maybe even an hour later) there were still chunks of ice cream on his suit. This was obviously implausible, because, well, the ice cream should have melted completely by then.
Again, this may seem like an extremely small issue to be concerned with, but this goes back to a question of how important truth is in visual media. If food is an important part of your life (if you’re a chef, perhaps), maybe these small details stand out more than others. Countless errors are pointed out by doctors and lawyers in medical and legal procedurals; so errors in food can be pointed out by those passionate about it. I have to say, it distracted me quite a bit.
Ice cream is often substituted with mashed potatoes because mashed potatoes don’t melt. It’s a nice feeling to get lost in a TV show, but when I can recognize something small about the food props, it is distracting. Maybe I don’t want to remember the stage tricks in TV and film; it loosens the tight grasp the show has on my attention. I was distracted by the dyed mashed potatoes on the guy’s suit and missed some dialogue. The more careful attention to detail and truth there is, the easier it is to become immersed into the story. People notice a lot of unlikely scenarios in TV shows. Just read the comments section on Hulu, you’ll see what I mean.
I’ll say it again: this is something really, really small, but it was distracting nevertheless. The truer and less obvious any tricks and props of visual media are, the more engaged viewers will be. We are easily distracted, especially when we see something we know to be false.