Suspension of disbelief is a crucial part of reading fiction and watching movies. You can refuse to believe everything that is portrayed in any work of fiction because it is all, literally, made up. But we suspend disbelief. We get into the story and read on, as if it really happened, or could have happened. We see a bunch of cartoon cats singing “Everybody wants to be a cat” and none of us says, “Well, that’s never going to happen. Cats? Playing piano, and singing? Never going to happen”.
The original “Terminator” movie was the kind of thing I watched in the early days of having a VCR, along with “Trancers”, a similarly-themed (and lower-budget) movie about time travel. I didn’t see “Terminator 2” until ten years or more after its original release (and saw it on DVD rather than VHS), and was reminded of my brother’s experience of watching it with his wife at the cinema. All sorts of factually incorrect stuff happens, inevitably. There is no such thing as time travel. There was no possibility of a Terminator returning from the 21st century to 1990s California. There is no such thing as a Terminator. But most of us who have seen these movies accept all that and enjoy them anyway.
Towards the end of that second movie, when the Terminator is just a metal skeleton, our hero goes to blast the time-travelling baddie with a heavy-duty firearm. But there’s no ammunition. The Terminator skeleton wags an index finger left and right, shakes its head and makes a “tch-tch-tch” tutting noise. At this point, after sitting through all of the scarcely believable (and completely fictional) stuff that had preceded it my brother’s wife tutted too, turned to my brother and said, “A real Terminator wouldn’t do that”. It’s become one of our favourite catchphrases when watching movies and shows just how far we can go when suspending our disbelief.
Something similar happened when we were watching the Disney cartoon of “Robin Hood” many years ago. One of the characters is wearing a watch, and a member of my family commented, “That’s not right, is it? They didn’t have watches in those days, did they?” As if it mattered. This was a film in which Robin Hood is portrayed as a fox, Sir Hiss (not a real historical figure) is a snake and Little John appears as a bear. If they’re taking those kind of liberties we needn’t worry too much about whether wrist-watches were available in Robin Hood’s time.