We Seem To Have A Rather Warped View Of History
I blame Disney for our crap perception of history. Hah!
Well, truth be told I don't actually, because Walt Disney took ideas from the old and masterfully transformed them into the new world for people to consume in small bitesized chunks. He had an audience to win over, and after two world wars I doubt the world was grabbing for some more violence on the TV screens -- because that's what history was. Violent and oppressive.
Did you know that Peter Pan was actually the villain in the original book? Yeah, the Peter Pan that we have come to know and love in our childhood as a happy-to-be-young hero with his friendly cohorts "The lost boys" was actually far from the truth of the original book by James Matthew Barrie who had him pegged as a spiteful and evil little brat that refused to grow up.
This is the case for a lot of Disney adaptations and I feel it has shaped somewhat some of our perceptions of older history. For example I was brought up to believe that faeries were lovely little creatures that would come and grant you a wish if you were a good person. There was a garden not far from where I lived as a child that was foretold to have many faeries living in it. We would routinely go there in hope of good fortune and luck. But, if you read a little about them you will find that historically faeries were evil creatures that had a pact with the devil. Mostly, people were scared of them.
And this churns us neatly along to the meat of what I'm getting at, is that most films apply modern day morals to historical dramas -- and whilst there's nothing wrong with that per se, I feel we are somewhat getting mixed up between fact and fiction when we think of an era long gone.
For instance, let's take any historical drama out of a million and we can always see them with relatively clean clothes, clean hair, and doesn't look bad for a 12th century scrub -- when in reality fresh clean water was scarce, there was no such thing as deoderant or shampoo, and people (especially the poor) stank to high heaven. It has been said that wealthy people would walk around with cloves of garlic in their noses to stop them from smelling the horrible smells.
In the dark ages when the black death was rife it was commonly believed that disease was spread through smells. At least they weren't far off!
Nevertheless because of this conditions weren't like modern day. We only need look back thirty years to remember the litter that plagued our streets and the winds that would sweep up our rubbish and blow them in twisters into a corner which the kids would play with -- and this was only thirty years ago.
A hundred and something years ago there was an actual viable job as someone that picks up the shit from the roads. Yes, back then the roads were absolutely caked in shit with all the horse drawn carriages that would trundle through the villiage/town/city. I think if movies were to show the true scale of this then we would be horrified, and perhaps that's the same reason why they don't do this.
Another thing that movies and drama's get wrong is the value placed on life. Thanks to modern medicine and actual care programs people live way longer than they ever used to. It was horrifically normal for a couple to have ten children and five of them to die of childhood diseases. People died all the time and from ailments that are now easily curable. The value of life has gone through the roof in the modern age where people freak out if others die young that were close to them. Whereas a hundred years ago it was normal and part of life.
Children were sent to hang for thieving bread. Children. Starving children that had no other option but to take bread because they were hungry were sent to hang from the neck until dead -- but they can't actually demonstrate this in modern film because the censors and the public would go mad with rage.
But, just know that life is more valued now than it has ever been at any given point in human history. Death a hundred years ago was normal, even for children, whereas now it is not. We protect our families as much as we can.
And yet I feel this must be said because some people do take the fictional elements and take them as real. Why do I know this? Because I was one that took more away from these films than I should have. Of course until I picked up a book that is, and realised that history is not portrayed like in the movies. Same with life in all honestly. Life isn't like the movies, neither is love nor relationships -- in fact if your relationship was like in the movies i'd say run!
Braveheart for example. Whilst an absolutely brilliant piece of historical fiction-romance, it was so far removed from the truth that it would have been best to call it something else rather than Braveheart, because Braveheart was real, and some people (like me), would walk around thinking this film was closer to the truth than it was.
But hey, it was still a good film, nothing competes with David O'Hara's role of Stephen the Irishman.
And yes, you could dismiss what I write as hyperbole but I know first hand how media can shape thought. I remember because of all the dejected fatherless son movies that eventually became hero's, I thought that this would happen to me some day, but sadly I had to wake up from this reality. A story for another day.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that what you think you know about history, you probably don't, unless you take an active interest in learning and unlearning the oddities that were our medieval life. That's not many people I'll have you know -- many feminists still cling to the belief that women were subjigated and oppressed all throughout history and the man would have it easy whilst living it up royally. But the truth is actually far more nuanced than this.
Women had a terrible life. From child bearing age to death she was pretty much pregnant constantly -- one would be considered lucky to live to an old age. She was lucky if more than half of her kids survived, and none of them were educated because they were needed to work the lands -- whatever that looked like. She was cast to a life of working the house.
But men didn't have it any easier -- if he wasn't off at war fending off attackers from his land and kingdom, then he was usually tending to his work which was brutal, hard fucking labour.
It was no easy life for men nor women -- and to think one had it better than the other I feel does a disservice to all the men and women that paired up together to survive. I saw this when I saw my granddad collapse in a heap beside my grandmothers dead body as I watched the once joyful vibrant man become in an instant an empty shell of himself. Half of him literally ripped away from him.
So with all that being said, you probably really think you have a good handle on history -- but in reality you don't. And we'll probably find in ten years that I still don't either. That's the beauty of history, it's always changing, what we know, and what we don't know!
Anyway. Random thoughts for today -- peace out :)