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There's a good article in The Smithsonian magazine (wow two mentions in under a minute! --one off-list)
on The Patriot. Talked about those same Re-enactors there too. I just saw U-571 this a weekend another case of deliberate misinformation in response to the readings of the expectations and capabilities of the audience. (the Enigma Machine encoder was originally snatched by the Brits and not Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi evidently American movie-goers wouldn't have gone to see a movie about British heros--no wonder the James Bond movies have all flopped! HA!)
It's such a shame but typical of the human mythologizing process I suppose. Makes you wonder how much of the stuff we "KNOW" is wrong simply because the teller of the (historical) tale found it important to swerve from the known facts for the sake of something other than boring history. Maybe one of the new wiz-kids will discover the "compulsive honesty gene" one of these days but I somehow doubt it.
As far as having an accurate picture of a thing this screwing around with the story is disasterous. On the other hand the "noise" inserted by errors deliberate or errors accidental sometimes pays off when the mistaken perspectives leads through other errors perhaps to greater insights that might never have happened. . . . like irrational numbers in mathematics. Or when the formula doesn't work unless you ADD "X" here only to SUBTRACT that same "X" three steps later.
"It's a mystery!"
----- Original Message -----
From: Michelle H. Harrell
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Sent: Monday, July 10, 2000 8:39 AM
Subject: Interesting lies- Was CBS Sunday Morning
Glenn mentioned the fact that we can't always believe what we see on TV. There is more of a danger of 'misinformation' now than ever before because of TV, movies, and of course the Net. A lot of web-sites I visit about famous artists don't include the information about the author or any of the references used to find the information. It could be an informed expert on art history or a fourth-grader who wants to write something on their favorite artist.
Last Tuesday (the 4th), I went to a re-enactment of the Revolutionary War at a nearby historic home. Several of the soldiers were extras in The Patriot. They were furious about how inaccurate the movie was and how the directors ignored all the information they gave them (Example: the Tories would have worn green coats but the directors were afraid the American audience wouldn't recognize the green coats as British soldiers). Now, I know the director's excuse is that the movie was more about the relationship of the people in the movie rather than a historic depiction of the war. But, I still think they owe a certain responsibility to tell the truth as much as possible because people believe what they see.
There's a lot of stretching the truth for the sake of the story in art history, too. Even the art textbooks are wrong at times. What is better: Misinformation or no information at all? Do you ever find yourself having to re-teach the truth?
Michelle H. Harrell
Southeast Raleigh High School
Center for Accelerated Studies
Raleigh, North Carolina
Glenn Sherwood wrote on
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 09:16:12 -0600
They don't always get it right on CBS Sunday Morning. On July 4, 1999 they ran a story titled "Face of Honor." It was about portraits of Abraham Lincoln. It included a segment on Vinnie Ream, the teenage girl who obtained a commission from Congress to make a statue of Lincoln
in 1866 when the artist was only 18 years old.
One guy they interviewed said it was a $20,000 commission. Wrong! It was a $10,000 commission that was increased by $5,000--which gave the sculptor a total of $15,000. They never contacted me about this, even though I had written a 440 page book on Vinnie Ream that had been published in 1997 and that was available in New York at the Frick Art Reference Library--and at other libraries. I even sent packets on my book to CBS Sunday Morning on at least two occasions and never received a reply. I wrote to them too pointing out the mistake but I don't know if they read my comments on the air. It may have been the first time, however, that Vinnie Ream has been featured on network TV. My book was not mention and the sales have not improved.
Yesterday, they ran a story on the "Harry Potter" craze, which is a case of a project not needing free coverage.... Glenn V. Sherwood
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