It was a night at the Oscar’s with all the glitz and glamour that was expected. Millions of viewers were glued to their TV sets, keen to learn if their favorite celebrity or movie would be blessed with an a gold statue of Oscar.
Three main contender films had historical context; and, being so prominently recognized, the content would become popular history to the vast majority who have no other authoritative reference.
Lincoln –Here we have a movie portrayal of a President so far past that just about anyone can claim that he represents whatever merit they wish to associate with. Both Democrats and Republicans, for example, claim to be the bearers of his beliefs. Frankly, the glorification has, over the years, gone beyond the man.
- Everyone accepts that movie writers have some latitude, literary license, to spice up their interpretation of events. However, Argo is specifically portraying a relatively recent event which had and continues to have immense political impact. Therefore, it should be as accurate as possible. The movie portrays an elaborate CIA operation of which Americans could be proud, and many will leave the theatre with that sentiment. However, version of the story is Not true.
President Carter, the President at the time says that 90 percent of the action was Canadian, idea to implementation. The Canadian Ambassador involved, Ken Taylor says that the movie is almost all fiction and does not represent what truly happened.
Should the film industry not be morally obligated to be more truthful on matters that will affect the perception of the public and their subsequent political and, perhaps, militaristic motivations?
Zero Dark Thirty – Not as prominent as Argo and Lincoln, this production is also of a recent historical event with enormous current geopolitical and military implications. In the face of world condemnation of the use of torture, controversial American water boarding and other tough interrogation procedures, and denial that information obtained through torture was used to track down Bin Laden, the movie depiction is not only historically inaccurate; but, may contribute to unnecessary harm to America’s reputation and to American citizens around the world.
Popular history is filled with error and popular belief. Here are a few examples.
The Ride of Paul Revere - Of course, you know of his famous ride shouting “The British are
Coming”. The truth is that Revere only rode a few miles before being captured. Israel Bissell, then rode for four days and six hours, warning citizens, shouting “To arms, to arms. The war has begun.” He, not Revere was the hero.
“Wild Bill” Hickok, famous in movies for his gun slinging, shooting the bad guys, only shot two people while enforcing the law in Abilene; one of them was another policeman. Similarly, Bat Masterson, known in movies to be a notorious, gun slinging killer, in fact, only killed one person.
Betsy Ross (actually Elizabeth Griscom Ross) is known to be the woman who sewed the first American flag. She did sew colors for ships; but, there is no evidence that she sewed the first flag. This assertion was, apparently a fiction created by her grandson many years later. The real sewer of the first flag was probably Francis Hopkinson.
One could include stories about the defense of the Alamo, and more; but, let’s just acknowledge that much bravado is based on myth and promotion. Recognizing this is essential to having a realistic perception of events and one’s place in the world.
The falsification of history for drama or to fraudulently draw on viewers sense of patriotism is immoral and potentially dangerous.
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