One Strike And You’re Out

If you watch TV or movies at all, even just a little bit, you’ve almost certainly come across an acting cliché that has bothered me for almost as long as I myself have been watching those mediums of entertainment.  This is what I call the “one strike and you’re out” cliché.  This occurs when one person strikes a second person on the jaw and–bingo!–that second person is unconscious.  Out cold. Flat on the floor.  And out for several minutes, too.  Out for long enough for the first person to do whatever the script calls for him to do–ransack the house, carry the unconscious person to the car and drive out to the bridge and dump him over, make off with the jewels, etc., etc.  I’ve seen good guys do it (police, private detectives, etc.,) and bad guys (robbers, carjackers, bouncers at clubs, etc.)  It’s all so simple; just one strike to the jaw and someone is unconscious.  But the real trouble is, it isn’t medically possible.  It usually can’t happen.

One strike to the head by another person isn’t usually enough to render a person unconscious.  It takes a lot more to cause a person to lose consciousness.  One blow to the jaw is much more likely to break a person’s jaw than knock him out.  Even a severe blow to the head–and here I’m talking about the cranium itself–isn’t going to cause a person to lose consciousness.  In most cases it takes several severe blows to do that.  And that would result in massive brain trauma which would most likely cause a concussion if not permanent brain damage.  But characters in movies and TV shows do it all the time.  I assume the scriptwriters write it that way because it simplifies things and allows a character such as a security guard to be neutralized in one quick action.  But it is such a far stretch from reality, even in movies that are otherwise realistic.  Personally, I wish they do something else.

I’ve seen TV shows where the blow to the jaw is so weak as to be almost laughable, yet the recipient of the blow goes down for several minutes.  Really, folks, it’s not going to happen.  A blow to the jaw just isn’t that effective.  But it’s become probably the single most egregiously annoying cliché in movie and TV history because it’s repeated so often.  If you are writing a screenplay with any violence in it at all, do your research.  Find out how to take out a person in a much more realistic way.  A single blow to the jaw is almost science fiction in its distance from reality.  What reality are we living in where a person can be rendered unconscious with such a miniscule blow?

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