Tag Archives: revisionism

NYTimes videos revisit recent past

By Christopher B. Daly 

Without much fanfare, the New York Times has been engaging in an interesting experiment that revisiting old news stories to address the ageless qusetion: “Oh, yeah . . . whatever happened to that?”

Rev. Al, back in the day.

Rev. Al, back in the day.

The service is a partnership between the Times video section and a private non-profit called “RetroReport.” (It’s not that easy to find on the Times site, but here is the link to the page that lists all seven such reports done to date.) According to the partner’s website, RetroReport’s mission is to produce video follow-ups to big stories from a decade or more ago that dropped off the radar of the news business. Recent examples include revisiting the Tawana Brawley case, the Biosphere 2 experiment, and the Y2K hubbub. The folks at RetroReport seem to be a mix of young documentarians and some heavy-hitting alumni of top-shelf operations like 60 Minutes, the Ken Burns films, and PBS.

This is a potentially great idea that brings the Times into the realm of creating the second draft of history as well as the first. In a sense, the Times has entered the field

Biosphere 2. Remember?

Biosphere 2. Remember?

of historical revisionism, giving its audience the chance to re-evaluate stories that once seemed to have one point or significance only to find that new evidence or new concerns have cast the recent past in a different light.

One theme that emerges from these early versions: a lot of stories are wrong the first time around.

Another theme: Despite the predictions, the sky rarely falls.

History keeps happening.

 

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The Oscars: revisionist history on film?

By Christopher B. Daly 

Hooray that more than half of the leading contenders for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards have historical themes.

A question that always hangs over such films is: how accurate are they? Accuracy, of course, is often in the eye of the beholder, but a more useful question might be: do any of these films revise history in a way that improves our historical understanding, warps our historical understanding, or makes no difference?

Keep that in mind tonight when watching the Oscars show a propos the following:

–Les Miz (just how often do the poor break into song?) imgres

 

 

 

 

imgres-1–Argo (does it matter that the character played by Ben Affleck was really Hispanic? If you don’t think so, then Ah, go fuck yourself!)

 

 

 

imgres-2–Zero Dark Thirty (who says that torture “worked”?)

 

 

 

 

imgres-3–Lincoln (did one weary, kindly man “free the slaves” all by himself?)

 

 

 

 

imgres-4–Django Unchained (was the past an orgy of stylized violence?)

 

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