It is not much fun watching a movie with me. I tend to point out that in John Wayne’s version of “The Alamo”, the final assault by the Mexicans took place at night. And I might freeze-frame “Glory” to point out that the attack by Shaw’s Massachusetts regiment was from south to north along the beach.
So not a lot of fun for my family to sit down and watch a two hour movie, when it is possible for me to turn it into three hours, by pointing out some errors.
Let me be clear. This is NOT “nitpicking”. It is only “nitpicking” when other people do it.
Now I fully understand that movies are actually drama, not history…and for dramatic purposes it is necessary to make a few alterations to History. It does not affect the overall “historic drama” as in “Michael Collins” and “Braveheart”.
But last night, I was watching a mini-series called “Sons of Liberty”, set in Boston, in the years ahead of the American Revolution. It was obviously low-budget but a surprisingly unpatriotic version of (for example) John Hancock. The extent to which Hancock was a “smuggler” rather than a legitimate businessman who sympathised with American rebels is a surprising “warts and all” narrative. The popular version of “no taxation without representation” is principled but a version that suggests corruption between Boston merchants (who would turn patriots) and the British colonial administration is not so principled.
Despite the obvious low budget, the first episode was highly watchable until…the colonists decided to organise a “boycott”…did I hear that right? Yes twice they mention the word “boycott”.
Now this fictional use of the word is more than a century BEFORE the word was historically first used.
For the record, “boycott” was actually Captain Charles Boycott, land agent to “Lord” Erne. The proposed eviction of eleven tenants near Lough Mask in County Mayo during the Land League hositilities led to an organised withdrawal of labour, services, social contact …the word was “coined”.
Is there a point where watching a movie thru the eyes of a history nerd (too anxious to press the “pause” button to show an inaccuracy) stops being irritating and is actually important.
As in “Sons of Liberty”?
For me, the “boycott” thing was so obvious that it should have been noticed during the pre-production. It was sloppy. I really dont know much about the American Revolution. I just about know about Hancock, Sam Adams, John Adams, “the British are Coming”, Paul Revere’s Ride, Valley Forge, Ben Franklin….the basics. So when such an obvious mistake is made (about something that I DO know) then I am entitled to wonder about what I am being told about stuff I dont know.
The mini-series “Sons of Liberty” is being shown on (ironically) The History Channel.
I will …boycott it.