There a moment in The Free State of Jones when a ruggedly-dressed, boot-wearing Matthew McConaughey is walking through a woodsy area, and he approaches a few mid-sized puddles. Instead of stepping around them, as any sane person would, he splashes right through, soaking his boots and almost certainly his socks and feet. “What did you do that for?” I muttered from my sixth-row seat. “Are you indifferent to your feet and socks getting soaked inside your boots? If you say yes you’re a liar.”
Nobody likes wearing soaked or soggy socks inside lace-up boots. I’ve been there. It’s really uncomfortable. If you’ve slipped into a puddle or a stream the only thing to do is to put fresh ones on and air your boots out in the sun for a couple of hours.
In real life nobody walks right into puddles or splashes through shallow streams with their boots on — nobody — unless they have no choice. Guys in wartime combat situations, etc. But guys in movies do this regardless of circumstances. Because, I’m guessing, (a) it makes them look rugged and manly to slosh through but (b) stepping around puddles or crossing streams by stepping on rocks makes them look like sissies.
The instant that Free State of Jones director Gary Ross yelled cut, you can bet that McConaughey took his boots off, dried his feet with a battery-powered hair dryer, changed his socks and put a fresh pair of identical boots, which he almost certainly had five or six pairs of.
The only real-life guys who splash through puddles or streams without concern are those wearing rubber waterproof boots or thigh-high waders. I’ve done that also a few times so don’t tell me. I used to go fly fishing with my dad in waders, and every so often I’d slip on the moss-covered rocks on the stream bed and I’d topple over and the water would pour into my waders and suddenly I’d be 50 pounds heavier and barely able to move.