Every once in a while (okay, numerous times a day during Snark Week), someone pops up on our blog to complain that we are taking all of this too seriously. They’ll usually say “It’s just entertainment!” Or “It’s just a movie!” Or “It’s just Hollywood!” For example, Helena writes, “The rest of us … couldn’t care less … because BY GOD, Nancy, it’s effing entertainment.”
So to wit, my thoughts:
1. We are aware.
There’s a reason we use words like movies, cinema, television, media, and entertainment repeatedly. Because this whole shebang — blog, podcast, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — is about Historical. Costume. In. The. MOVIES. (and TV).
So, thanks for pointing out that what we are discussing here is JUST entertainment. And here we thought we were discussing the finer points of cricket. Damn. We totally screwed that one up.
2. Do you not like to talk about the entertainment you watch?
Have you had a conversation lately? Okay, how about in the last six months? What did you talk about? Let me guess — “What’s new with you?” “Oh, not much.” “Did you watch The Jinx? Do you think Robert Durst is guilty?” “Oh totally! It’s so obvious!”
I’d say most modern people, at least in the United States, tend to spend some time consuming entertainment and then talking about it. The finale of Lost. Whether Adnan did it on Serial. What’s going to happen next on Scandal. Whether Better Call Saul is as good as Breaking Bad. What J.J. Abrams is going to do with Star Wars.
Yeah. So, you watch sci-fi/police procedurals/reruns of Friends. We watch historical costume movies. And we, uh, like to talk about them.
3. Entertainment plays a HUGE role in our modern cultures.
Remember all those debates about whether video games cause real violence? How about concern about seeing thin models in advertising and whether that can cause eating disorders? That’s because actually, what you call “JUST entertainment” is actually a massive, pervasive influence on our culture and your life.
Well, but OUR movies are historical movies. Who cares? Those aren’t modern or relevant, right?
Well, the New York Times reminds us that there might just be reasons to care:
“Studies show that if you watch a film — even one concerning historical events about which you are informed — your beliefs may be reshaped by ‘facts’ that are not factual … Why do we have such a hard time sorting film ‘facts’ from real facts? One suggestion is that our minds are well equipped to remember things that we see or hear — but not to remember the source of those memories.”
So in other words, seeing history misrepresented on film leads to actual misinformation in modern humans’ understanding of history. Now, whether or not history has any real importance on our lives? That’s another debate, and I, for one, need a cocktail before we go there.