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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