Ham radio in popular movies, always inaccurate, always illogical

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by 9A5O, Nov 13, 2020.

ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: Left-2
ad: Left-3
ad: L-MFJ
ad: Subscribe
ad: abrind-2
  1. 9A5O

    9A5O Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just watched a recently made popular post-apocalyptic movie featuring deus ex machina, an old (behold!) Kenwood TS-130, operated SSB, the dial showing 20.480 frequency! Not to mention no-electricity, cave-dwelling survivors with this brightly lit- Kenwood dial, no apparent antenna of any kind, getting a reply from another short-wave radio ... it really pisses me off that the scriptwriters and their fact-checkers can accurately depict anything BUT radio communication, ham radio in particular.

    The plot is banal- the movie I just saw is LOVE AND MONSTERS (2020), the mankind and the civilization destroyed in an apocalypse, mutated (obviously, hugely enlarged) insects on the loose, devouring the survivors... a few remote patches of survivors using short-wave to communicate..... no big acting names, though, but I remember even the movie blockbusters, like CONTACT with Jodie Foster and a few other movies never quite getting the basics of ham radio or equipment use.

    What do you think? Any examples of the opposite? What was YOUR movie with ham radio elements that pissed you off (thrilled you) ?
    K8PG, W7EDC, K4AGO and 2 others like this.
  2. W7UUU

    W7UUU Principal Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Ham radio is NEVER depicted accurately in movies!!! EVER.

    It would be so simple for them to ask around the studio "Hey - do we have any ham radio guys here?" to ask questions...

    Yet time after time, year after year, they just make stuff up that makes us "real hams" cringe!!


    [Sounds like a fun campy movie though - I'll see if I can find it to stream :) ]
    9A5O likes this.
  3. PY2RAF

    PY2RAF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hey- if that helps or brings some solace; it happens pretty much the same in IT - and especially InfoSec operations.

    Last time I worked a green phosphor terminal was in a IBM 3270 (the "elephant shaver") in late 90s; the funny beeps when a ~2400 bps text stream shows up in screen, and that doped nerd listening to trance music is... Well, laughable. <grins>

    It hurt my eyes (and my soul) when I see some IP address outside the 0-255 range, and so forth.

    So you're not alone ;- )

    - RF.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
    AD8BU and 9A5O like this.
  4. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I seem to recall in the movie "On the Beach" that a window shade attached to a Coke bottle was blowing around and opening and closing a telegraph key sending out a signal. When this was discovered by one of the actors he transmitted words to the effect "key on window shade Coke bottle" or a similar phrase. I remember the CW as being accurate.

    I notice some movie directors seem to really strive for authenticity when making a period movie. I think Steven Spielberg and Marty Scorsese are two who do an excellent job in that regard.
    Think of the total number of people who view a film and what percentage of those would have any idea of the accuracy of displaying anything ham radio related. The number, I would guess, would be less than .001 percent.
    KC1NY, WE4B and 9A5O like this.
  5. 9A5O

    9A5O Ham Member QRZ Page

    don't get me started on straight key CW sending, depicted in movies!!!
    it's usually 3 strokes of a hand and the message sent is at least 3 sentences long!!
    K8PG, N4NYK, NL7W and 3 others like this.
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I like ham radio in movies.

    Yeah, it's usually ridiculous but if the words "ham radio" appear anywhere, it just might get somebody interested, and that's a good thing.

    There have been films showing receivers working like transmitters, with microphones plugged into headphone jacks. And films depicting full-duplex operation on a single frequency on HF. And one of my favorites is Die Hard, where Bruce Willis's character is chatting with the evil Hans Gruber using Kenwood 2m hand-helds that somehow magically could also be heard by police and they could interrupt each other mid-word. That was cool.

    Hollywood employs a lot of hams, including in sets, direction, production and post-production...and it seems they can add "stuff" to films that may not make any sense, but looks official.

    The old TV show "Alf" (geesh, must be 40 years ago) showed the puppet "Alf" using ham radio pretty often. I guess he was licensed in another solar system.:)
    WF0M and 9A5O like this.
  7. N0NB

    N0NB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Anything you know well is unrecognizable in popular media. I've yet to see any accurate depiction of a farmer or rancher, for example. Then again, if I had to make my day to day life interesting I'd have to rewrite it too!
    N2EY, 9A5O, PY2RAF and 1 other person like this.
  8. KU4X

    KU4X Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Just goes to show that remote testing has been around much longer that we've be led to believe. ;)

    9A5O, N5WTF and N0NB like this.
  9. WA2CWA

    WA2CWA Ham Member QRZ Page

    If I wanted movie accuracy, I'd go and watch a documentary.
    Movies are for entertainment. Why would I care if the radio prop was not used correctly and, even worse, it actually bothered me. That would be a total waste of my time.

    Here's Alf with the Icom IC-71 in the background. Licensed on Melmac but operating as port 6.


    If you want to see more ham radio equipment and test equipment (lots of vintage stuff) used in the Alf show:
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
    K8PG and WF0M like this.
  10. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    It looks like he's licensed in the 726th call area. It's interesting that someone knew to have the suffix start with an X, so as not to be identical to a real call.
    K8PG and 9A5O like this.

Share This Page

ad: vanity