Frock Flicks POV: “It’s Just Entertainment”


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 moviescinematelevisionmedia, 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.

2001 Lagaan- Once Upon a Time in India

I’m thinking it went something like this: Cricket > Lagaan (Indian film, set in the 19th century, in which cricket plays a huge part) > confusion > historical costume movies.


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.

It's a Mad House!


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.


The Help 2011

Hey guys! Did you know that without sensitive white people in shitty wigs, the Civil Rights Movement never would have happened??!!



About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

12 Responses

  1. Michael L. McQuown

    I, for one, am NOT entertained by bad costuming when it can just as well be done correctly. For me, it adds extra enjoyment to see something portrayed the way it should look. These day, there is such a wealth of information available that there is simply no reason not to do it right. Especially with the development of the Internet, there are more reenactor groups around for any period or any war you care to name.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Given the number times ppl have stuck up for A Knight’s Tale, The Tudors, & Borgias: Faith & Fear on this site, it’s nice to hear that sometimes, bad costuming DOESN’T add to the enjoyment. As we’ve also said, deviating from history with a purpose can be great, & we do understand that some productions have low budgets, but just being schlocky & wrong & even misleading, well, I agree, there’s no excuse.

  2. bauhausfrau

    I always like to know if the costumes on a show suck or not, not just for the reasons you site above, but also because some really cruddy, disappointing movies (cough – The Duchess – cough) have excellent costumes. So even though calling it “entertainment” might be a stretch I like to know if it’s worth watching for the eye-candy.

  3. Trish

    I love you! I wish my family could understand me the way you guys do.
    Please continue your wonderful job, there are those of us out there who really appreciate it.
    My husband will argue the tactical elements of Star wars and the fact that the fall out from the death star actually killed the race of Ewoks, but he just doesn’t get it when I complain when a woman isn’t wearing a chemise!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      HAH, now there’s a comparison! If historically accurate costumes don’t rank up next to the Ewoks, there’s something messed up in this world ;-)

  4. Narukami

    “No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul.” – Ingmar Bergman

  5. Adam Lid

    To me, the problem is when people either base their historical knowledge on movie portrayals (it happens more than anyone will admit) or they simply can’t distinguish between the historical record and what’s portrayed on screen (yeah, one can argue about interpretations of history…) for a variety of reasons. Nothing new, I realize.

    But does irritate me is when a film actively represents itself as historically accurate when it’s clearly not or the claim is questionable (don’t get me started on the series “Deadwood).

    • mmcquown

      I second that. Would you please repeat your comments on “Braveheart” regarding perception vs history and the other about choices that are made in producing a film. I think this group would appreciate them especially.