Bad Tropes is going to be a new recurring feature on here where I point out things in fiction that piss me off, and things you should avoid in your work if you're an aspiring (or working) creator.
I'm watching last week's Human Target, and perhaps my least favorite trope ever was just used. The Bad Guys are trying to see how the Hero was able to kidnap the Scientist, only the Hero knows where all the cameras are so they can't see his face on the security video. Except he goes to the window, so there's a hint of his reflection in it when they zoom in on the tape. And then the Big Bad says, "Clean up that image."
Okay, in theory there's nothing wrong with it. If you don't mind cliches and fake technology.
We've seen this particular bad trope some 1,200 times since 1990 (I've been counting). There's no reason to resort to this in 2010. And we still don't have the technology to take a shit image (especially now that we're talking pixels, not blowing up from a negative) and make it pristine and perfect. We can enhance images, sure, but in most cases they don't lead to much but a blurry, pixelated something that you infer meaning from.
This is bad writing. Why not just show the damn thing and not have technology save the day. Yes, people mess up, and we don't become less interested in our heroes because they have a flaw or a make a mistake.
If you ever find yourself needing to "enhance an image" either as a key plot point or something throwaway...
Edited 5:31 pm - Thanks to Matthew Waite, we also have this video, proving that despite warnings from others, people just love this damn trope.