Monday, February 2, 2009

Secrets and lies

Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad, Berlin and The Battle for Spain, is worried about the historical inaccuracy of so many recent films:
Over the past dozen or so years, television and movie-makers have managed to blur the border between fact and fiction to an unprecedented degree. They pretend increasingly that their film is based on a true story. Every device possible, from computer-generated imagery to place names and dates thrown onto the screen seek to suspend the disbelief of historically illiterate audiences. Alarmingly, the new technology has coincided with a dramatic growth in conspiracy theories. . .

The home-produced movie Loose Change takes the ultimate conspiracy-theory approach to 9/11. It is now said to have been seen by more than 100m people on the internet. A few weeks ago, a leading Russian TV channel broadcast Loose Change to mark the anniversary of 9/11. The film was accepted as completely true by the presenters and the studio audience, who debated it in a three-hour prime-time programme.

Studies of internet sites reveal an unholy alliance between left-wing 9/11 conspiracy theorists, right-wing Holocaust deniers and Islamic fundamentalists. Many Muslims throughout the world now believe that no Arabs were involved in 9/11. Significantly, Islamic websites have also been learning from American creationists and have eagerly embraced their theory of intelligent design, which attributes the origin of life to a higher power and opposes theories of natural selection.

In a post-literate society where the image is king, the scope for mischief is almost without limit. I suspect that it will not be long before we see a Holocaust-denial movie. It could take the form of a Da Vinci Code-style thriller, and be packaged as straightforward entertainment. . .

It should be the duty of not just every scientist and historian, but also of every writer, publisher, movie-maker, TV producer and ordinary citizen to fight all attempts to exploit the ignorance and gullibility of audiences.
Guess he’s not a big Oliver Stone fan.

No comments: