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1st Reply From: Westermeyer GS11 Paul W <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RE: COMMENT: War movies are right, too Date: March 9, 2010 9:17:53 AM EST To: H-NET Military History Discussion List <H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU> Roger Horky wrote: > Most of us on H-War are professional historians, and as such > we know better than to rely on one source for our knowledge. > We collect our information from a host of material. We also > know how to interrogate a source, to analyze its strengths > and weaknesses. A commercial motion picture can be a source > of knowledge, if one respects its boundaries and limitations, > which are many. The knowledge may not be historic or > accurate, but it is knowledge, and thus should not be dismissed. > > Roger Horky > PhD Student and Teaching Assistant > History Department > Texas A&M University > College Station TX I think Mr Horky makes a very valid point, but the very intensity of historical films makes their dangers that much greater. They rarely provide any context for events, and especially recently are biased in favor of those with the least amount of knowledge concenring what was happening. And, frankly, the bias of filmmakers & the 'war movie canon' permeates these films. The result is propaganda as heavily biased as anything produced by Hollywood or Goebels during World War II, propaganda that is much more effective at shaping viewers' beliefs precisely because so few recognize it as propaganda. Of course, when historians try to correct the misinformation shown in such movies they can be easily dismissed as cranks focused on uniform details. I do not think there is any conspiracy here, it occurs with films from widely differing political views, it is just one of our more difficult issues as historians, and the one we are perhaps least trained to deal with. Paul Westermeyer Historian, History Division Marine Corps University Paul.Westermeyer@usmc.mil http://www.history.usmc.mil "The first law for the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice." Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Oratore, II.XV,62 2nd Reply From: Joerg Muth, M.A. <J.Muth@utah.edu> Subject: REPLY: War movies are right, too Date: March 9, 2010 3:12:24 PM EST To: H-NET Military History Discussion List <H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU> Roger wrote: "One thing that war movies can do better than fiction and nonfiction books, better than photographs, better than paintings, is to present what an event was like visually and audibly." I have to disagree with that statement. We see how Hollywood portrays the event visually and audibly. People think they have seen D-Day but they have not. I tell my students that when they have seen a 'historical' Hollywood movie they know only one thing - how it was not. The use of movies in classes makes for lazy teaching and the students tend to keep the images more in mind than any historical facts that were brought up during class. 'Historical' Hollywood movies are just plain entertainment on a very low fact level. Best regards Joerg Muth ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----