One thing that I’ve noticed and quite honestly it’s bothered me for some time, is the lack of medical consultants for television. I think they say they have them, and probably do for terminology or for accuracy of a diagnosis, but that’s all information that can be obtained via email. I’m talking about an on-set consultant (ahem, calling all Hollywood producers, I could be available as a consultant, let’s talk). Some of the things that I see that leave me feeling very frustrated include blood that looks like someone poured ketchup on the actor, scars that are supposed to be years old and yet are made to look as pink as fresh ones, and oxygen tubing that’s never placed correctly.
It’s all about artistic license and what looks good on camera, right? Details, details, let’s not concern ourselves with educating the public on what’s right or real. So here’s the deal, and producers, it’s your one “get-out-of-jail-free” card. After this you have to pay my consultant’s fee, and to paraphrase hubby I’ll be cheaper than some, more expensive than others.
Blood – unless you hit an artery, blood isn’t bright red, it’s more like dark maroon. I get it, it shows up better on camera as bright red. It’s still wrong, wrong, wrong. When it dries, it’s even darker. But it’s never the color of ketchup.
Scars are only reddish pink when they first heal. After a few months, the color fades, and by about a year they are faded to white/barely pink, which is more of the permanent color. 6 years after the knife fight, they aren’t still red. I get it, you want your viewers to always be reminded every single time he’s on screen, of the fact that your hero was knifed in the face. Find some other way. Give him a knickname. Better yet, work it like Days of Our Lives did back in the day, when the character of Steve Johnson got in a fight. He lost an eye, and wore an eye patch. Now THERE’S a scar.
Scene: The lovely, young ingenue has been suddenly and tragically been given a diagnosis of heart failure. She must now lay in a hospital bed for the next six weeks during sweeps, with oxygen tubing under her nose and over her head, full make up, hair perfect, nails done, face slender as ever. Which of these is wrong and/or completely unrealistic? Answer: All of them. It’s a trick question. The oxygen tubing is always positioned wrong, and it’s bugged me ever since I learned how to place it as a student nurse. Gah! It’s so easy. (I’m not going to tell you, that’s part of my fee. ) And I’ve been in the the hospital as a patient, and after a couple of days there, trust me, you don’t care so much about make up. You’re sick, you feel like crap and can’t breathe. Producers, you need try this: Stick a straw in your mouth and breathe through it, and only through that. How long did you last before you felt like you couldn’t get enough air? 2 minutes? 4? Keep going, wait…..come on, maybe another 15 minutes. Now, do you give two hoots about makeup, hair or nails? Yeah, didn’t think so. That’s kind of what it feels like to breathe with heart failure. The medication needed to treat it makes you blow up like a balloon. How about writing that reality into the story for once, what real people struggle with.
See, if I were there with you, I’d make sure you got these details right. Instead, medical professionals all over the world are laughing at you.You’ve never gotten it right, but at least in the days of Marcus Welby, MD, the broadcast quality was so poor we missed a lot of the details. Now with everything in HD broadcast, and everyone having 70-inch screens in their living rooms, you can count George Clooney’s nose hairs, so details count.
Oh, and by the way, if you have someone hooked up to a respirator, you probably should have the machine actually on, and the bellows moving. Younker’s corollary, is that if the bellows are moving and the machine is on, the patient better be hooked up and not speaking. Did you all hear that? It was the sound of the stampede of 272 producers all rushing to their archives, as they all said “oh shit”. Busted.
You know how to find me.