1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Hollywood And History

Herman King - March 10, 2012

It's now official. We as a nation are a dumbed down populace. Recently more than 20 nations were listed on the average as more literate than the USA. We rated below all European and Scandinavian countries. For a long time the average IQ of Americans was 100. It's now 98. Two percentage points don't sound like much of a decline but remember 140 is considered at or near genius. Nearly half of Americans bother to (or can't) read books. Kindle is more of a toy than a measure of literacy. Many Americans get their "knowledge" of history from Hollywood films, despite the disclaimers. "Based on a real event" can mean "stretched as far as possible to make an entertaining story, lucrative at the box office."

Saving Private Ryan (starring the Obama groupie Tom Hanks) was really Sgt. Niland who was imprisoned by the Japanese, not the Germans. He was not saved by armed soldiers but a minister negotiated his release. Spartacus was a great "historical" movie. Never mind little is known about him. Spartacus was a slave who led a revolt against Rome. When he was finally defeated by Crassus, he disappeared from history. Crassus crucified 6000 slaves along the Appian way, but the body of Spartacus was never identified. Only that of Kirk Douglas). Another great movie, "The Sound of Music," misleads us. The Trapp Family was real and presumably great musicians, but they did not escape over the mountains with their instruments. They left by train, unmolested by the Germans. One of the Trapps punctured that myth herself, but her version didn't make it into the movie.

"Amadeus" was based on the life of Mozart, one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived. Tom Hulce played the role of Mozart as a mischievous, smutty minded 18th century hippy. When a critic complained, the producer reminded him the movie was a fantasy. As for Hulce I never saw him in anything else, nor did I especially look for him. Of course the movie unfairly smeared the character of Salieri (played by the admirable F. Murray Abraham). There never was any evidence that Salieri murdered Mozart, the main theme of the movie. I liked western movies but not those purporting to be actual historical events. Believe me, Billy the Kid did not look like Paul Newman. An extant photo of him resembles what used to be called a Mongolian idiot. And the real Calamity Jane did not look even remotely like Doris Day.

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