Yesterday, I mentioned that one of the problems with fantasy is that it does not take into account the reality of what life was really like in the times the author is writing about. Unrealistic solutions to the problems of pre-modern-medicine are woven into the story so as to make the story less jarring and more appealing.
Movie making has taken this to a whole new level. The problem with moviemaking is that what touches you through several senses is more likely to be believed as true than what is experienced through only one sense. Thus, reading will not have as strong an influence as movies because movies touch you in more than one sense. Thus, when the movies twist history around in order to have a dramatic, but fictional, account, you are more likely to begin believing the movie version over the researched version.
Producers of historical pieces are often questioned about their lack of historicity. Their answer often is that this is merely a piece of fiction, and certainly the discerning moviegoer will understand that this is not a fully accurate piece. The reality is that discerning moviegoers are hard to find. This gives moviemakers the freedom to “mislead” the public. This is borne out by the anecdotal evidence that when moviemakers are asked about posting a clear statement that the movie is not historical, they resist. That resistance would not be present if they were merely filming a purely entertainment piece. I surmise that the resistance is there because moviemakers are actually trying to spread a particular philosophy by using a rewritten historical event to communicate the philosophy.
Sometimes, however, the movie line is changed simply to please modern moviegoers. Thus, a more “sexy” presentation of the Spartans is needed in the movie 300. A more American presentation of the Spartans is needed, and so on. Thus, the movie 300 presents Spartans as fighting in sexy Speedos®. In fact, Spartans had greaves and chest armor, not simply shields, helmets (sometimes), swimsuits, and swords/spears. Also, Spartans did not fight individual heroic battles. Like the Romans, they used the phalanx system of battle for their regular battles. They won based on community discipline not on individual heroics. But, that does not feed into the American line of the heroic individual, thus history is changed.
Normally, I would have no objection to creative filmmaking fantasy. However, when such fantasy is represented as a somewhat historical presentation, then I insist on a certain degree of accuracy. Why? Because all too many people will begin to believe things that are not true. With straight fantasy, this is not a problem. Straight fantasy is acknowledged to be pure imagination. People do not expect it to reflect reality. But, historical fiction is not considered to be truly fiction. The expectation is that it reflects, in a somewhat realistic way, the reality which it portrays. Thus, historical fiction should have a reasonable representation of reality or it risks being merely a propagandistic reflection of a particular cause or of our current culture.
Thus, for me, cosplay need not be realistic. Unsuitable armor, impossible weapons, and apparently impossible science do not bother me. I recommend the book “Red Shirts: A Novel with Three Codas,” for those who wish to read a rather hilarious book about impossible science in fantasy writing. It is purely fiction, but takes a satirical look at the type of writing found in series such as Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica.
p align=”justify”>But, historical fiction should be realistic. Otherwise, you risk playing inappropriate political or cultural games.