Monday, April 26, 2010

America: The Story of Us

So I watched the first episode last night, "Rebels", which discusses the Revolutionary War.

Now, I fully understand that covering the lead up to the war to its conclusion in 2 hours is impossible so the fact that the show was a CliffsNotes version of history was, by me at least, expected.

They have to jam Jamestown and the Pilgrims and the entire war into two hours. That's just asking for a pretty sterile documentary.

But what I didn't like was that it was also *bad* history. Almost revisionist history.

The Boston Massacre was portrayed in the show last night much like it was in Revere's newspaper account -- that British soldiers gunned down unarmed (maybe a LITTLE rowdy) Boston citizens in the streets -- like a death squad firing line. Forget the fact that none other than John Adams defended the soldiers (and won) and it's regarded today that Revere was a propaganda expert and his portrait was made to rile up the citizens and it was not the cold blooded murder originally thought. You get NONE of that in the show.

Or that the Boston Tea Party where the 'rebels' dressed up like Native Americans? Nah that wasn't mentioned Just that the rebels tossed the tea overboard. You miss out on a lot of important context when you don't mention how they did it.

So the final 1:15 minutes was about the war itself.

How you do ANY history of the war without mentioning -- not one time-- Benedict Arnold, General Gates, General Howe, General CORNWALLIS, the early strong loyalist movement, Washington falling out of favor after many, many losses.

This is all glossed over in a pretty little bow and poof we see Morgan and his sharpshooters, Valley Forge, von Steuben and -- Yorktown! I know this as not supposed to be a detailed look at the Revolutionary War. I really do get that.

But what are you supposed to get out of watching that show? That Brian Williams and Rudi Giuliani know basic American history?

I honestly have no idea.