In fiction, the trope of “Technical Difficulties screen” is often used to indicate something out of the ordinary, whether it be funny or disturbing, rather than a mundane malfunction. This trope is often seen in news broadcasts or newsrooms, where the message displayed on the screen, such as “We are having technical difficulties” or “Please Stand By”, is accompanied by stock music. The trope can also be used for comedic effect, where the contrast between the message and the horror of the scene is sharp. A darker version of the trope is when the message is displayed, but the horrible noise in the background suggests something more sinister is happening. This can also occur when a news reporter is trying to get an exclusive interview with an Eldritch Abomination.
In addition to technical difficulties, this trope can also be used to depict other disruptions, such as a fight breaking out on live TV or a performer or news anchor having an emotional breakdown. It can also be used to indicate something controversial that will cause backlash from network censors or the FCC. Actual technical difficulties are rare in fiction and in reality, with many stations now being run by corporate owners from one hub. The trope can also be used as a result of Camera Abuse.
When the “Technical Difficulties screen” happens simultaneously on every station, it can be used to suggest something is seriously wrong, similar to a News Monopoly. This trope can be compared to Relax-o-Vision, where an innocent image is substituted for a disturbing one, Do Not Adjust Your Set, where an outside intrusion overrides the signal and Snowy Screen of Death, where damage to the camera causes the signal to flicker out and die.
In terms of background music, “Spanish Flea” from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass or an instrumental recording of “The Girl From Ipanema” are often used. The Intermission song from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is also used, particularly among video game streamers or in Web Original works where copyright isn’t as much of an issue.
Jim is a digital marketing consultant, author, and instructor. He has more than 4 years of practical experience with SEO and digital marketing. Jim holds an MSc Degree in eCommerce and has consulted with Fortune 50 companies in different industries. He blogs regularly about SEO and Digital marketing, and his work has been referenced by leading marketing websites.