People that love history and are involved in it on some level, are factual people. Whether it is the Renaissance Festival, where they are dressing up in authentic costumes or movie directors/costume designers/set artists, that are paying attention to detail or writers who write either historical non-fiction or fiction. The most important part is to get it right.
The first thing a person who loves history will do, is look for the mistakes. Not intentionally but unintentionally. When I watch a movie, if I see something that is glaring – such as a minority who is a foreigner to that country and would not have been there in that time period – it throws me off. I can’t watch it anymore because if this is wrong, so is everything else. It would be like putting a dinosaur on Downton Abbey. Why would you? It would look ridiculous.
The most important thing about historical writing, movies, etc… is to allow the viewer to feel as if they are in another time period. Escapism, naturally, because the viewer is so passionate about this time period, they want to feel they are there. You can’t do that with a dinosaur on Downton Abbey. Not unless you are selling your craft as a fantasy/sci-fi period piece. Then of course you have a whole different genre of people watching it and it, most likely, won’t be history lovers.
The same thing goes for people who are writing about someone’s life and then project their politically correct opinions into the story line. Taking us out of the story for a moment so the author can bash the person for wearing fur, for example. Recently, when I read a book on Florence Harding, the author had to point out the fact that Florence was really big on animal right philanthropy and yet she wore fur stoles and coats. In my opinion, the book should have something on the cover that states “this is a politically driven book by the author.” I wouldn’t have cared to purchase it if I had known this because she took me out of the story for a moment to hear her opinion. Animal rights in Florence’s time period meant domestic animals. She was concerned about the rights of pets because she had a love for these furry creatures. In that time period, it was very normal for middle to upper class women to wear fur. This showed other people that you had achieved a certain financial status. We have been concerned about fashion and the way we look since time began. It wasn’t until PETA formed in 1980 that people began to turn their noses up at fur. Anything prior to 1980, should not be discussing politically correct opinions because it is not a fact during that time period, it is just an opinion. No one cares about peoples modern opinions about a time period, they only care about the time period.
This sounds terribly mean but if you want to talk or write or show history, than do that. If you want to do politically correct than write a book that bashes women in history or their fashions. Two different audience mindsets and genres. You could also write a thesis or dissertation for a class – or blog it.
There is nothing to be ashamed of when you are portraying history or researching it. It has happened, you can’t go back. You can learn from it though and gain knowledge, this is why history lovers enjoy this. It is also because there are certain aspects of history that we adore and wish were still present now.
When you hear someone say “I miss the old days” many people will say “Oh yeah, when it was racist, they smoke cigarettes and drank, etc…” It really has nothing to do with that. We miss the old days because at that time people had more respect for the way they dressed. They had work ethics and overall, were decent people. You knew where you stood in life. We didn’t have the word “terrorist” in our repertoire or “arsenal of weapons.” We sat on our porches and drank lemonade. We didn’t worry about going to a spiritual building or a shopping mall or a restaurant or a tall building. Missing the old days doesn’t mean we are gullible and we are unaware of the context of that time period. We are amateur historians, after all, and this is the most important thing to us is understanding the whole picture. Sometimes people are just into the fashion, or the cars, or the homes or the mannerisms. No one who loves a time period is saying “I loved the 40’s because it would have been fun to be in a German occupied village.”
History is rich and so exciting to be a viewer of when it is done accurately and with characters who look like the originals. Unfortunately, this accuracy is falling by the wayside with plays like “Hamilton” and books that insert their 21st Century mindset. It is depressing because children are being misinformed and given an image of a time period that never existed. It also means that I have to review information I am hoping to look at by watching trailers or checking the authors background to make sure they are focused on authenticity rather than comedy or political beliefs. It is faux history, I think, not the right history.