Phone drama

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

“Some time ago, I was watch­ing an old Humphrey Bog­art de­tec­tive movie and it struck me that the fic­tional jobs of Sam Spade and Philip Mar­lowe would have been a lot eas­ier if they had cell phones. In fact, a lot of those great old plots don’t make any sense at all in the age when you can reach just about any­body at just about any time. It used to be that film­mak­ers could keep char­ac­ters in the dark and build dra­matic ten­sion just by tak­ing them away from tele­phones. An ac­tor could pick up a phone and say, ‘The line’s been cut,’ and you knew that omi­nous mu­sic would fol­low au­to­mat­i­cally.

“Cell phones, of course, have made that sta­ple scene a joke, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve all learned to use this new tech­nol­ogy to its best ad­van­tage. [. . .]

“The re­sponse by Vir­ginia Tech au­thor­i­ties to the shoot­ings [on April 16] makes the point even more clearly. The proof is that, min­utes af­ter the shoot­ings be­gan, blogs started post­ing in­for­ma­tion sent by eye­wit­nesses who used text mes­sag­ing cell phones and other mo­bile de­vices. Many stu­dents, how­ever, didn’t learn about what was hap­pen­ing un­til hours later, and then through a less mod­ern tech­nol­ogy — the bull­horn. This was, sadly, a cri­sis re­sponse from the era of black and white movies, not the age of the In­ter­net and IM.”

Fred Thompson, in an ABC Ra­dio com­men­tary April 24

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