Mondays With Tas: History For Entertainment
The issue with mainstream entertainment retelling tragic historical events.
Historical events are often retold in books and films. Whether it is epic moments from the Tudor monarchy, tales of love and war during the Civil War, or survival stories of Word War II — it's probably been a movie.
The question is: Should tragic moments in history be dramatized and altered for entertainment?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, only opinion. Recently, watching The Man In The High Castle (2015–2019) we had an issue.
The Man In The High Castle is a science fiction drama series based on the book by Philip K. Dick published in 1962. It is an alternate history envisioning the world if Hitler won the war. While a creative license is warranted in any series or book — depicting an alternate history of this specific event doesn’t sit right.
The deaths and trauma from WWII are erased in this series. If anything, the series tends to paint a better picture of the Third Reich which is unsettling. Yes, everyone is human, but that does not mean humanizing crimes against humanity is valid. If anything, humanizing the members of the Third Reich invalidates the real impact of WWII.
Off limit events
Some events in history should be seen as they are and not revised. Personally, WWII is an event that should not be formed into a tale of fiction.
Humanity's darkest moments should be off-limits to filmmakers and authors.
When you take a tragic event and make it entertaining, the understanding of that event is lost in fiction. People don’t know what is real and what was conceived in a creative mind.
This particular series does not emphasize the fiction enough. The world is built to mimic the 1960s except the world is divided between Japan and Germany. It is an alternate history that is made too real.
If you are not used to science fiction films, you would not necessarily notice that this is labeled as science fiction. The element and devices used to show the science fiction aspect are insignificant in the overarching storyline.
History versus reality
Historical events need to be told, but not through the lens of fiction. Especially, when that lens seems to be distorting the reality of the tragedy. If you watch historical fiction, research the actual events. Don’t rely on the book or TV screen to tell you the truth — it's not the reality.
Since the film industry will never cease telling alternate history it falls on the watcher to learn the actual story.
In the case of The Man In The High Castle, we don’t recommend it. It is uncomfortable to watch and riddled with misinformation. Yes, it is fiction, but the story it tells leaps over the lines of morality.
Tas is an autistic, queer, nonbinary, person of color that a neurodivergent writer. They are advocates for social justice, and equality, and are scholars of life.