Actual rain hardly ever looks like real rain on film. This is due to the fact that rain droplets tend to be too small and too fast for the 24fps frame rate of the camera to capture. As a result, film sets tend to use hose and sprinkler systems to create larger droplets when are then backlit to make them visible to the camera. For the famous scene of Singin' in the Rain, the water was mixed with milk to make it more visible. The smell on set afterwards can only be imagined.
"Most people think rats like cheese. Nah they're wrong. These little guys (feeds rat on his shoulder) actually go apeshit for peanut butter."
Many animals believed to be color blind are not. Dogs are dichromatic (meaning they see two prime colors; blue and yellow), whilst humans are trichromatic (meaning we can see three prime colors: red, blue and green). Bulls are also dichromatic. Cats are actually trichromatic like humans, but have a different third or red color from humans, giving them a different range of color vision.
Milk is not good for cats. They enjoy the taste, but like many humans, many cats become lactose intolerant as they grow into adults. Giving a cat milk in lieu of food or water can cause serious digestive problems.
Generally speaking, gunshots don't make thunderous sounds. Real gunshots are often mistaken for firecrackers. Guns will indeed give you a big bang. However, the bang will be a very sudden loud noise that ends almost as abruptly as it starts, not a "rolling thunder" with several seconds of reverb like in movies. Shooting in confined spaces, however, can really affect the sound and loudness of the firearm.
Suppressors are more effective in most movies or television than in real life. Suppressors also have no effect on related noises, such as the bullets impact their targets, the slide's action, and the casing ejecting. Also, a conventional suppressor fitted to a firearm's barrel will have no effect on a revolver, since the noise from the firing goes out the sides. However, some weapons really are quite quiet. A suppressed Hecker & Koch MP5 submachine gun is not much louder than an airsoft rifle.
Specific example for video games: Arbitrary Gun Power often leads to suppressors reducing the power of the weapon for balance reasons, leading to reduced damage and long-range accuracy. In reality, sound suppressors speed up the projectile (in comparison to the barrel length without the suppressor, it's slower in comparison to a rifled barrel the length of the barrel and suppressor combined), increasing the effective range of the weapon. They only reduce the sound of the gasses coming out of the muzzle, they do not reduce the speed of the projectile so that it does not create a sonic boom. Subsonic ammunition is required for that.
As a side effect of Dawson Casting, some people perceive actors that actually are as young as their characters as being too young for their roles.
The same thing goes double for voice acting just about anywhere. This is particularly evident with voice acting for prepubescent boys, where a vast majority of executive producers find the voices of 30 to 40 something year old women to sound closer to the mark. This is more for the purpose that there are advantages to working with an adult over a child. Producers don't have to deal with labor laws regarding children, voice changes as a boy begins puberty, and a child's immaturity.
Coconuts in fiction are depicted as fuzzy brown things hanging from trees, sometimes with apertures in the surface. Coconuts are actually green with smooth skin until one cuts them out of the pod, then dries the second layer, which then turns brown and fuzzy. That gives extra dimension to the trope name The Coconut Effect!
The same could be said about Pippi in the south seas where they have the realistic coconuts too. This did however work in reverse for some, i.e. teaching some kids that coconuts from palmtrees are green.
Kingdom Hearts features both on Destiny Island. The game doesn't let you pick up brown coconuts, because you're specifically looking for the green ones - the brown ones are apparently either unripe or rotten, while the green ones are going into the supplies for the raft.
Written (and often spoken) dialogue seems more and more fake and becomes less and less comprehensible as it gets closer to how people actually speak. A good explanation for this can be found here. Somewhere between the two is Mamet Speak, the diction used in David Mamet's plays. Unlike most fictional speech, people stumble over words, repeat themselves, talk over each other and so forth. This gives a greater impression of realistic diction, but it's really very stylised.
Despite what many movies would have you believe, charging a door with your shoulder in an effort to break it down is more likely to damage your shoulder than the door. More effective is to kick it right next to the lock/handle. Got right in Spider-Man 2 when Peter Parker tries to shoulder-bash a door down and gets only a bruise for his efforts. He then kicks it open.
Due to different building standards, it's quite difficult to kick in doors in Europe. American building codes are more lax to make it easier for firefighters to rescue people in locked buildings.
Ninjas are already of dubious historicity. Even if they did exist, they certainly did not wear all black outfits and use exotic weapons to outfight samurai. The traditional ninja garb is taken from the dress of stagehands in kabuki theatre. They'd dress in all black and the audience would, by convention, pretend not to see them. A ninja character dressed as stagehand used this convention to emulate a character striking from the shadows, since the audience would be surprised to see a "stagehand" suddenly interact with the real actors.
Wearing solid black is actually terrible camouflage unless the environment you're in is also solid black, which is rare. This includes nighttime because night is rarely fully black due to ambient light from the stars, the moon, and artificial lighting. The best colors for night camo are actually darker shades of blue or violet.
This was the reason for some "UFO" sightings caused by certain stealth aircraft when they were still top secret: though the craft didn't show up on radar, the people who spotted them noted triangular shapes blacker than the surrounding night.
Speaking of camouflage, it's not designed to make you blend into your surroundings as some kind of low-tech optic stealth, it's designed to be disruptive and make it harder to determine what said object is, even if spotted. Even if it takes a few seconds to figure it out, that gives the opposition a few seconds more to do something.
Spies generally don't act like James Bond, going off to exotic locations and getting into gunfights with the villains. Most intelligence agents spend a lot of their time doing paperwork and laborious scut work.
On a related note, King Arthur, if he did exist, would be several centuries early for wearing the type of plate armor that he and and his knights are commonly depicted wearing.
Many people of Spanish, Latin American and Italian descent have light skin tone and hair, but you'll be hard-pressed to find them in American media.
A good example is Sofía Vergara. She's naturally blonde but dyes her hair to look more "Latin."
Another good example is Guillermo del Toro - he's Mexican, but some people don't actually believe it when they look at him.
Arguably, this comes into play the most when casting the role of Katherine of Aragon. The old Spanish royal families were distinguished by their very fair hair and skin, not just in contrast to the rest of the Spanish population but to Europeans as a whole. Katherine was a redhead with alabaster skin and blue eyes, yet most productions cast an actress with Mediterranean features.
Abi-Maria from a season of Survivor in fact shows this, being Brazilian but otherwise looking "white" with blonde hair.
Related, a lot of people assume that if you're South American (with the exception of Guyana, Surimane, and the French Guiana) then you're most likely descended from Spanish or Portuguese people and mestizos. Actually, Argentina is known as Crisol de Razas, which translates to "racial melting pot" - and most Argentinians recognize at least one Italian ancestor. Similarly, some people find it odd about about a Jewish person in South America, but Argentina is home to a rather large Jewish population.
Some people are surprised at the diverse appearance of the Romani people - most people assume them to be somewhat Indo-European looking, but a good number can pass for "White".
In the nonfiction book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (later made into the popular TV series Homicide) it's mentioned that fingerprint experts are routinely called to testify in trials where no fingerprints were found at a crime scene... in order to explain to jurors that, contrary to television, fingerprints aren't found at most crime scenes. Doorknobs are also particularly useless, since they will almost invariably reveal a mottled pattern of overlaid prints from which no useful information can be gathered.
Many people think that, as portrayed by virtually every Rome-related work of fiction ever, gladiatorial matches were nearly always to the death. While most gladiators did eventually die in the arena, most would fight many times before getting killed. Also, they were not no-holds-barred brawls — fights were regulated by a very strict set of rules defining what sorts of gladiators could fight each other and what weapons and tactics they could use. Also, the gladiators didn't have the chiseled physiques we think of. There is strong evidence to suggest that they ate carb-rich foods to cultivate a protective layer of fat that would protect them from the shallow, slashing blows that were typical for gladiator fights.
It's unknown whether the "thumbs up" gesture indicated that a gladiator was to be spared. We only know that the signal was given with "pressed thumb." The exact nature of the gesture has been lost in time. It might have changed over the years as well.
According to QI, the "thumbs up" gesture meant a gladiator was to be 'killed' - the symbolism being in the thumbs-up resembling a drawn sword.
If years of Hollywood influence has taught us one thing, it's that cars explode after crashes, even fairly minor ones (or occasionally, explode in mid-air before touching the ground). Reality disagrees, and modern cars don't explode readily at all. Nonetheless, the public is largely convinced that cars present a serious danger of explosion after a crash, which has resulted in many, many cases of well-meaning members of the public pulling injured victims out of cars, causing further injury to them, to get them away from the car before it explodes. It's better to not move a victim unless there are clearly visible flames burning the car, or if there is some other form of explosive involved.
Inversion: While cars in a hard crush will usually just crumple up into hunks of metal, commercial jets frequently will explode dramatically on a direct impact, thanks to the sheer force of it guaranteeing that their heavy loads of volatile fuel won't stay safely contained - as seen in footage of the 9/11 plane crashes. This is demonstrated to be an inversion, not an aversion, by the number of conspiracy theorists who contend that the effect noted above proves the towers were rigged with pyrotechnics.
Another jet example: it's not possible to cause explosive decompression on a plane simply by shooting out the windows. On MythBusters, shooting the windows either failed to break the window, or if the window did crack, didn't lead to explosive decompression like in the movies. The effect was only replicated with plenty of explosives.
To "spice up" the field test on Ford Explorer rollovers, Dateline relied on this fact for cover as they rigged the trucks to explode. When they were found out, they issued an apology.
Dateline pulled this with GM too. In both cases it went beyond Reality Is Unrealistic and was downright lying and faking the tests.
There's also the widely-held belief that if a tire (especially a front tire) blows out the car will inevitably roll. Car and Driver, investigating the rolling Explorers, deliberately tried to roll one by rigging the tires to blow out on their test track. They couldn't get it to flip. It's the driver, stupid.
The actual Ford Pinto that formed the basis of Every Car Is a Pinto isn't nearly as ready to explode as the popular image of the car suggests, let alone cars in most visually-based fiction.
The volatility of gasoline has been overstated by Hollywood to the point that all gas stations have warning signs regarding cigarette smoking posted at the tanks. However, there has never been any recorded instance of a cigarette or other open flame igniting any gasoline (or petrol) tanks anywhere. The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms experts have thoroughly debunked this, yet the signs remain. Further, dropping a lit cigarette or match into gasoline does nothing more than extinguish it. In order to start a fire, an actual flame has to be held in the fumes rising above it; the ember of a smoldering cigarette will not trigger a blaze.
At a gas station, signs only remind the people working immediately with light fuels. When a spark just somewhere around can make a fireball, it'd be an emergency already. As to the ATF "experts", it's a bad consolation: they used to say ludicrous things.
Most of it is because a lit cigarette can catch something else on fire, not the gasoline itself, which can then ignite the fumes. It's also why gas stations are regularly swept for litter by the staff to remove combustable materials. The pumps are also designed with redundant failsafes, including several switches to completely shut down the pumps. So yes, a lit cigarette near a gas pump can start such a fire, just not the way Hollywood Science suggests.
The MythBusters took great care to bust the myth of cellphones making gas stations explode, repeatedly calling a dozen cellphones of various make over an hour in a sealed environment filled with the 'perfect' ratio of gas fumes to oxygen. Nothing happened. When they didn't optimize the fumes they couldn't set it off even on purpose.
Brainiac: Science Abuse not only demonstrated that a mobile phone causing a spark is virtually impossible, but also that the static electricity caused by the rubbing together of polystyrene or other similar fabrics is more likely to cause petrol explosions. You'll note that you don't see a ban on polystyrene clothing in petrol stations.
However, many gas stations have a warning to make sure you discharge on your car before putting the pump in and to not get back into the car while the pump is running.
This show is an example in and of itself. Almost everything (particularly any explosion) on the show will be accused of being faked. The microwave segment is the most common target of, "They used pyrotechnics!"
They get accused of this because they got caught doing it once, using pyrotechnics instead of Caesium.
One Darwin Awards article involved someone who tried to douse a road flare in gasoline, after seeing a demonstration of a cigar being extinguished in butane. Then there was the guy who held his lighter near the entrance of his gas tank so he could see inside.
It should be noted that gasoline is a toxic, corrosive, flammable substance that is potentially dangerous to the environment, and there are many, many good reasons why you don't want to be distracted by a cigarette or a cell phone while handling it. Not all those signs are to prevent explosions, and anyone who's had spill kit training at an actual gas station job knows the dangers of a lot of spilled gasoline.
Any media portrayal of any of the more shockingly extreme, sadistic, and/or brutal atrocities performed by an actual historical figure or group may get this reaction from who just can't believe that anyone would be that depraved. The portrayal of Amon Göth, the commandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Płaszów, in Schindler's List was attacked by one critic as being "too unrelentingly brutal" to be believable. In reality Amon Göth's depravity was downplayed for the movie.
A variant would be extreme ideological and bigoted behavior as well. Many portrayals in films of real life actions or even just statements by the more extreme racists, supremacists, or any other highly-charged hate groups often elicit eye-rolls from many in the audience and often accusations of being anvilicious. Even the extent of how deeply things like racism were once accepted in casual society falls into this. For example, the commercials in the Faux DocumentaryCSA: The Confederate States of America which featured products with over-the-top-sounding racist names (such as Darkie Toothpaste and Coon Chicken Inn). These often get the aforementioned disbelieving eye-rolling from viewers until the end credits of the film show that such products were, in fact, real products in the past. True, the Darkie toothpaste was Asian made, but it was introduced to some Western markets, where few whites batted an eye at its racist name at the time, decades before its Western acquisition and subsequent name change to Darlie in 1985.
Conversely, it's difficult to explain previous generational racism accurately without being accused of being "soft" on racism at times. For instance, anti-Semitism was pervasive in Europe and for over a millennium prior to World War II, but engaging in genocide would have been considered monstrous and unthinkable. This is, sadly, exactly why Nazi Germany came so close to succeeding — virtually nobody believed they would do it, dismissing the evidence and even survivors until the advancing lines uncovered the death camps.
Boom, Headshot isn't anything like true in real life; while people overwhelmingly believe that "shot in the head = death", people have survived multiple headshots, and in some cases even continued fighting with severe gunshot-related head injuries with little degradation in their abilities. There are also numerous accounts of people surviving head injuries from masonry nails, large tool blades and even scaffolding poles with little or no long-term effect on their mental performance.
For that matter, neither is Pretty Little Headshots. Although headshots are not as lethal as they're widely portrayed, most of them are very messy, since there's a comparatively large amount of fluid and soft tissue packed into a fairly small space — you'd be hard-pressed to actually pull off the "neat little hole" you see in fiction time and time again, and depending on the range and caliber, Pink Mist really does result from a headshot.
As world-renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. William R. Maples explains in his book Dead Men Do Tell Tales, it is also possible for a suicide victim to shoot themselves multiple times in the head (this is in response to many investigators assuming a particular case is a homicide because the victim has two or more bullet wounds in their head). In fact, the author tells of a case where a man had to shoot himself in the head five times before he would die.
The assumption that headshot + no gun = homicide can also lead police astray. It's not that unusual for a thief to liberate a gun from a suicide scene.
In Batman Forever Two-Face was able to head shot Bruce, and he was able to survive it.
Two-Face grazed Bruce's forehead, which is why he went in for the real kill shortly thereafter.
In Max Payne 2 Mona Sax shows up alive after having been shot in the head in the first game, and Max later survives being shot in the head and then falling several stories into a pit on a construction site.
There is a police report of a man being brought in for questioning after a large blood splatter, as well as an embedded bullet, was found on the wall of a hotel room he had rented the night before. Upon further inspection they discovered it was a failed suicide attempt; the bullet (which was quite low-calibre) had gone straight through his brain yet missed any important parts. He had reportedly walked off with no memory of the suicide attempt.
Look no further than Gabrielle Giffords. She was shot through the head, but she is expected to eventually make a full recovery.
Far from a miracle, the mortality rate of gunshot wounds in general is only 20%, and only 50% for the head. Headshots only become Hollywood-Fatal if the brainstem is hit. Furthermore, if you've made it to the ER, you've more than doubled your chance of surviving.
Also, death by lead poisoning (as a result of being shot, anyways) is exceedingly rare. The reason gunshots kill is not lead poisoning, or even necessarily internal damage caused by them; it's blood loss.
Jo Walton refers to this as "The Tiffany Problem". Tiffany is a perfectly plausible medieval name (as a diminutive for Theophania), but no fiction writer can ever spell it that way because it sounds too modern.
Several names fall into this. In The Canterbury Tales, several of the female characters are given modern-sounding names (albeit spelled differently.) Allison and Emily come to mind.
Anatomically, the human heart is located in the bottom center of the chest cavity, yet everything from vampire flicks to firing-range targets depict it as being in the upper left quadrant, merely because the heartbeat is louder in that location. (The heart's left side is stronger than the right, and projects its sound upward with the aortic blood flow.) Even doctors get looked at funny if they try to center their hands over their actual hearts during the US national anthem, as opposed to centering the hand over the left lung as most people do and letting the heel of the hand end up closer to the actual position.
The remake of Fright Night seems to get this one right, as Jerry makes a big deal throughout of everyone "missing" his heart.
Sonic booms are rarely ever a 'boom' sound, unless it is something absolutely huge that is travelling at the speed of sound (the bigger the object, the lower the pitch), making Concorde just about the only thing that made a sonic boom; other objects making more of a bang, crash, crack or snap sound.
Silver plated jewellery looks brighter and, well, silvery-er than the real thing. The reason is that solid silver jewellery is an alloy (for strength as well as economy), whereas plated jewellery can be pure silver where it shows.
Nature is a particularly rough subject for this trope. Scenes of nature portrayed in film are usually pretty much backwards. Scenes showing wonder or scenery will show the characters interacting with surprisingly tame prey animals (deer, rabbits, etc.) and having lovely interactions with brightly colored plants and their fruit. Scenes showing danger will show the hero being chased by predators. Cue long lines at the first aid lodge for people who have been poisoned by brightly colored plants and attacked by prey animals and many kids wondering why bears and coyotes tend to just ignore them (predators are pretty lazy unless they're really hungry and tend to go after lone, injured animals for easy kills).
For that matter, scenes where the heroes are chased by noisy predators are also unrealistic. First, a healthy predator wouldn't NEED to chase you down. And most rely on a short dash rather than long chase to begin with. Second, people may have confused hunting with territorial or parentaldisplays—most hunts involve quiet and somewhat boring stalk/ambush techniques, while stumbling across an adult with babies is what would realistically trigger the angry, intimidating chase scene.
And in the case of stumbling across an adultwith young, the realistic triggering of an intimidating chase scene applies with not only predatory animals, but with nearly any animal for that matter, including prey animals. Same goes with territorial displays.
The most dangerous animal in Africa is generally considered not the lion, not the leopard, or even the Nile Crocodile (though all three can be downright scary in their own right) but the hippo, which is an herbivore.
To put it in perspective, African park rangers and even Steve Irwin refer to the hippo as the most terrifying beast in Africa. Those things can snap a full-grown male Nile Crocodile in half.
And those that don't agree it's the hippo tend to plump for another herbivore- the Cape Buffalo is pretty fast, has wicked horns, and is aggressively territorial. Worst thing about it? It looks almost identical to the (mostly harmless) water buffalo...
Pigs. A wild boar is a small barn with sharp tusks and flinchy, irritable temper. Maybe he will run off after the first charge, whether it was miss or the victim can limp away after binding the superficial wound. Or maybe he will not stop no matter what - boar spears were made with crossbars, because when a boar wants to get you, he will go on even if this means impaling himself.
Wild animals in fiction will virtually never appear as dirty, scarred, scruffy and/or laden with ticks and fleas as the vast majority of real-world wildlife.
Gerald Durrell described in one of his books how, when he was catching animals for the zoo, a girl complained that he's taking the poor beast away from their heavenly life in nature. Instead of arguing, Gerald merely asked that she help him with ridding a freshly caught monkey of its parasites. By the time he was half way done with the job, the girl remembered an urgent dinner date
Because of the prevalence of the Good Guns, Bad Guns trope, accurate media depictions (or even news footage) of Philippine criminals and terrorists wielding M16 variants are often declared as "inaccurate." However, in reality Philippine criminals and terrorists do favor M16 variants over the more internationally-ubiquitous Kalashnikovs since the Philippines has multiple gun manufacturers (licensed and unlicensed) creating variants and copies of the M16 and its ammunition that said rifles and ammo are actually much easier to procurenote Which also include stealing them from Philippine soldiers and police officers. in-country than Kalashnikovs or other such weapons from gun runners. Although the latter does happen from time to time.
Vikings never actually wore horned helmets. Protrusions on helmets would catch an opponent's weapon, allowing it to convey a considerable impact. Real helmets became more and more rounded to let weapons slide away and minimize the impact.
You know how in all the movies, spiders shriek and hiss? They don't do that in real life, although some DO make a rumbling, growling noise not unlike a revving motorboat engine.
Contrary to the popular image of the Pilgrim Fathers, the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts did not dress in black, wear buckles, or wear black steeple hats. This image was formed in the 19th century when buckles were a kind of emblem of quaintness. It's been argued, however, that they might have worn clothes similar to what is depicted, but only for special or very formal occasions. So the paintings are the equivalent of people going hunting in tuxedos and preparing food while wearing evening gowns.
People do not explode in space as the human body is tough enough to withstand the pressure, but the myth is so prevalent people complain when it doesn't happen.
The "ashes" from someone who has been cremated (which are really called "cremains") are depicted as being lighter than air. Cremains are in fact bits of bone too large to simply blow away in the wind or dissolve almost instantly in water.
Abraham Lincoln impressions all generally use the same voice, which is deep and avuncular. In reality, Lincoln was described as having a high-pitched and nasal voice by those who actually heard him.
Teddy Roosevelt gets the same. He was famous for being tough and a rugged outdoorsman, but the one extant recording of his voice (a commencement speech) shows that he really sounded like a high-pitched upper-crust New Yorker, befitting his background.
Because of the common wisdom that people "of the past" had bad teeth, there are sometimes complaints about the well-kept teeth of actors playing medieval, etc., characters. In fact, spectacularly bad dental hygiene was mainly an issue of early modern Europeans and European-descended Americans. The teeth of hunter-gatherer peoples generally were in a very good condition (early European explorers often commented on this), and early agricultural peoples' teeth could have wear from unclean grain, but the incidence of caries was rather moderate. The big problems arose when sugar became widely available in Europe but toothbrushes didn't; most other technologically advanced societies had already developed ways to take care of their teeth at that point.
Stephen Colbert coined the word "truthiness", which means that one doesn't have to say the facts because people might not believe them; you just have to say something that sounds like it would be a fact.
Likewise to the above airplane examples, you don't get "sucked out" of an airplane even if you somehow stood by the door when it suddenly opened in mid-flight.
In real life, Grievous Bottley Harm is well-named. If you bash someone in the head with a bottle, you will not get a neatly shattered bottle and harmlessly knocked-out person. You are far more likely to have an intact bottle, a non-intact skull, and homicide charges filed against you. Most glass bottles are tougher than a human skull, and tragically few people are aware of this thanks to TV and movies.
This isn't as prevalent as it once was in the 1950's, but it once was that if you were a female minor you weren't supposed to have breasts - if you were an adult female they had to be big. Nowadays teens are only strapped down if they are in a Long Runner. Reality, however, has proven that some girl's breasts grow slowly and never really get "large" while some grow large quickly and at a very young age. The fact is you can't guess a teen's age simply by looking at her breast size, but TV wishes you could.
Remember those "Ask Dr. Z" commercials for what was then Daimler-Chrysler, with the actor with an odd-looking fake mustache and goofy German accent purporting to be the company's CEO and taking customers' questions? That was the actual CEO of Daimler, and the accent and mustache are both real.
You know how beer commercials always have a "beauty shot" with a glass of beer with a thick, frothy head? Beer doesn't really froth that much, but the average viewer thinks it should, so the advertisers add detergent to the beer to achieve the effect. (It's more accurate that some beers do this more readily, but even then they usually need to be pulled from a barrel draught, not poured from a bottle.)
Similarly, beer commercials are also fond of showing the head overflowing and spilling over the glass. Bartenders are told by their bar managers not to do that, as it wastes beer, and needlessly messes up the bar and the napkins. When the head overflows, you've poured too much.
Sometimes, those mugs of beer actually areFrothy Mugs of Water. When filming, they often do this because there are issues with drinking real beer on the set. (Especially if it involves minors.)
In cereal commercials, the "milk" they use is actually white paint with a little bit of turpentine mixed in. Apparently, it looks thicker and more real than actual milk. Real milk under studio lighting looks transparent and bluish, and less attractive than the PVA glue or white paint that usually stands in for it.
The milk-swirling-into-coffee images were similarly mocked up, usually with white paint and treacle (or Marmite in the UK). There was at least one photographers' studio in the UK in the 1980s dedicated to this kind of phototrickery.
Also common with most food that can melt (ice cream, cheeses etc.); they don't do well under high-temperature lighting.
It's also unlikely you'll get a lot of steam off freshly served food, unless it's very hot, moist food in a quite cold room. The steam you see on TV? Probably a soggy microwaved tampon.
Besides, to get that beautiful head that consumers have come to expect, many a brewer has resorted to additives (for example E405, propylene glycol alginate).
Africa has a surprising amount of towns and cities, where only 28% of it is truly uninhabited, compared to the US, which has around 58% forest area. And no, most people there don't live in straw huts.
A common justification for a lack of people of colour in any story set in Medieval Europe (or somewhere that resembles it) is that only white people lived there. However, plenty of art and historical accounts suggests that while by no means a majority, they were certainly there.
Although most countries in the Caribbean are majority black, there exist Chinese, East Indian, Amerindian and white minorities in most of these countries, with two of them (Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana) being majority Indian. However when depicted on TV and in media the Caribbean will always be portrayed as 100% black, or full of gorgeous mixed race women. In fact, for example, several YouTube videos have been made featuring white and Chinese Jamaicans, which are frequently decried as "fake".
Similarly, if you hear someone speaking with a caribbean accent, most people assume that they're black - and are surprised if they're not. This actually happens with a lot of accents in general - for example, some people find it odd whenever they see someone speaking with a Brazilian accent and they are otherwise "white" looking and have blonde hair.
The whole myth about electronic devices being capable of stalling a plane during take-off has been debunked many times over. If you leave your cellphone on when the plane takes off, the odds of your phone being the direct cause of the plane's engines and electronics malfunctioning is extremely improbable. Still, it has become almost a tradition to enforce this rule. Better to be safe than sorry.
Nowadays, more people want cell phones to be banned on planes because they're annoying rather than because they might interfere with the plane's systems!