The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0529 Friday, 22 February 2002
Date: Thursday, 21 Feb 2002 18:29:04 -0000
Subject: Medium & Message, Fact and "History"
Brandon Toporov is astonished that "A fair number of people under 30
appear to consider Oliver Stone's 'JFK' to be a relatively sober,
responsible retelling of the events surrounding President Kennedy's
death". As a youngster myself, I reply, "Not fair! Which age-group
should under-30s go to for their history lessons? Oliver Stone will be
56 this year!" (I think JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, just for the
record...) Brandon continues, "What 'really' happened at Pearl Harbor
may matter less now than what the younger country thinks happened there,
thanks to the recent blockbuster", and finally, "I wouldn't be surprised
if a large number of people today half-believe that R&J was in fact
composed as the result of a love affair with a noblewoman who joined
Shakespeare's troupe! These days, the medium isn't just the message --
it's what passes for history". Twas ever thus, surely? Generations of
English-speakers have grown up knowing nothing about the Wars of the
Roses except what they read or saw in Shakespeare's plays. The only
people who complain about this are historians of the Wars of the Roses
and biographers of Richard III.
"History is not what you thought. It is what you can remember. All other
history defeats itself".
Sound like Foucault...?
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