"Of all the men who were said to be my contemporaries, it seemed to me that John Brown was the only one who had not died. . . . I meet him at every turn. He is more alive than ever he was. He has earned immortality. He is not confined to North Elba nor to Kansas. He is no longer working in secret. He works in public, and in the clearest light that shines on this land." Henry David Thoreau<>"It would be difficult to find a parallel in all history for John Brown and his career."J. M. Buckley<>"His conversation was of the most pleasant and instructive character. One thing I observed that he never said a word that did not mean something. He always talked directly to the point and every word was big with meaning." C. G. Allen<>"It would have been as easy to drive a shadow into the centre of a block of granite as to force a pro-slavery falsehood into his brain or heart." James Redpath<>“People don’t realize, I believe, how thoughtfully Mr. Brown went into that expedition with the idea of sacrificing himself. All his preparations were made calmly and he went away as though going on a mere business trip. . . . he had weighed it all." Lyman Eppes<>"All that the courts could take cognizance of was a watch and a Bible and a few old guns. But to humanity he had left a firmer faith in virtue and in liberty." Clarence Macartney<>"He did much in his life and more in his death; he embodied the inspiration of the men of his generation." Theodore Roosevelt<>"Posterity will owe everlasting thanks to John Brown for lifting up once more to the gaze of a nation grown fat and flabby on the garbage of lust and oppression, a true standard of heroic philanthropy, and each coming generation will pay its installment of the debt. . . . John Brown saw slavery through no mist or cloud, but in a light of infinite brightness, which left no one of its ten thousand horrors concealed." Frederick Douglass<>

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

John Brown and "The Story of Us": More Docu-Crap

My brother-in-law called me at 10:45 P.M. to tell me that there was something about John Brown on the History Channel, so I quickly switched the channel just in time to see the first few minutes of the segment on the Old Man.  I was appalled.  In those few minutes, "The Story of Us" not only visually misrepresented John Brown by using an actor that didn't resemble him in the least (not even have his famous but cropped beard), but misrepresented the facts and extended conventional errors that have plagued the story of Brown and the Harper's Ferry raid for many years.  It was almost as if the script was written by a careless college sophomore and one of those National Park Service "authorities" at Harper's Ferry.  Honestly, it was so bad, so poorly framed and presented that I didn't wait until after the station break before I switched back to the movie I was watching before.   In plain words, it stunk.  It sucked.  It was docu-crap, the kind pseudo-educational material that will get bought up by public schools and shown to countless school kids over the next decade, further misleading and undermining everything that serious scholars are trying to accomplish.

If I haven't been clear enough, let me reiterate that the official rating by this blogger of "The Story of Us" as far as its John Brown segment is concerned is zero, nada, nothing--less than nothing.  Don't watch it.  Don't record it and save it for later.  And my goodness, don't buy it to show to your students.  It offers nothing worth watching regarding John Brown.  Indeed, whoever wrote the script should be driven out of town at the sharp end of a pike.

5 comments:

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Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. said...

Thank you!

JamesHofsiss said...

Lou,

If you didn't watch past the commercial then you don't know the half of it.

First, the setting looked nothing like what I know of the arsenal and the engine house. The defense of the arsenal looks inaccurate to me. The way he was overrun, through the treacherous misuse of a white flag of truce was not shown.

The two most egregious and flagrant errors are:
1) Lt Greene's assault on Brown - Brown is stabbed in the left shoulder with a dagger. Greene's beating of Brown's head with his sword hilt is not shown.
2) Brown goes from clean-shaven to a FULL beard in his one-month imprisonment.

Finally, the narrator says, "His sons are dead," as if they all fell at Harpers Ferry.

I had such hopes for this miniseries and this one segment shows why it is such a disappointment.

Take care my friend,
James

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