Tobold's Blog
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Alternative facts about Hollywood

When I was still in high school, I did a major in history. I believe that history is important, because we can learn from it. However, that also opens up some more sinister concepts, like George Orwells idea from the book "1984": "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." If you control the present enough to be able to lie about the past, you can manipulate the lessons learned from history. Because of this, I am not a huge fan of alternative history for entertainment purposes, at least not if it isn't labeled as such. Someone can get away with lying about the past by making changes that people don't immediately recognize as not being true, and try to manipulate people's opinions that way.

So, I watched the mini-series "Hollywood" on Netflix, and immediately felt manipulated. While otherwise entertaining enough, the series clearly has a very "woke" message about equal rights for gays, women, and minorities, and pushes that message by telling lies about the past of Hollywood. So we see the first Oscar going to an African American lead actress in 1948 instead of 2001. We see Rock Hudson coming out as gay in 1948. And none of that happened. Not only did it not happen, but I am pretty certain that it couldn't possibly have happened in 1948. Because the world, and the USA, in 1948 were not that "woke". And much of the history of the next half century, including the history of the civil rights movement, would be hard to explain if you believe in the fairy 1948 that the series shows. You can't understand cultural changes if you pretend that culture already was in the evolved state 50 years earlier.

Most of the reviews seem to agree with you, regardless of whether they come from left or right on the political spectrum. Maybe it's just a not-very-good tv show. No shortage of those.
Mmm, is it really "alternative facts" and "telling lies" when the show was never claimed to be a documentary, or anything other than a drama?

Was "The Plot Against America" telling lies when it had Charles Lindbergh win the 1940 election and become President of the United States? Was "Inglorious Basterds" presenting alternative facts when it had Hitler killed in a French cinema?
I hadn't heard of it, but it seems like it is not really trying to push fake history as fact, or it would be more subtle about it. Though there are indeed 'documentaries' that do try to make the viewer believe in a past that was not quite as they describe, in the service of their makers' ideologies.

On the other hand, maybe they think that subtlety is unnecessary. However subtle they are, some will spot the untruths; however unsubtle they are, some will believe them - and they may believe this is worth it.
I watched the show, and found it fun, heartwarming in fairytale'ish, but initially I thought its just slightly sugar-coated telling of original story. When I saw in later episodes to what extent it falsified history, I found it tad disturbing. Say what you want, but in the rise of information bubbles and cancel culture, it's better to say things in large, bright letters. This one slightly pushed envelope.
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