Historical Inaccuracy in Modern Film and Television

There is something that I want to talk about that is more hot button than I normally would post here, but I really feel the need to express this.    It relates to my love of history, and so much of the content I post here is of a historical nature making this a post I felt the need to write.   

Lately historical films (and books) have been getting more and more politically correct.    While I support equality, and always believe in treating people as being of equal worth, I do not agree with portraying actual historical figures as races other than they were.    This is not an issue of wanting to prevent minorities from being cast in period pieces, but it is a case of having historical accuracy.    

If the historical figure was not white, then they should be cast with a person who is the same race as the figure.    If the historical figure was white, then a white actor should be cast.   It can easily turn offensive to miscast someone as these figures.   In the current world of absolute political correctness, there is more fear taking place in the casting process.    It is better to cast someone who is deemed a minority than someone who fits the part of this historical personage.

I have no objection to people of any and all races being cast in fictional period pieces.   Bridgerton, for instance does a great job of an alternate history of the Regency period, and it only changes race (from the books) with fictional characters!    My issue is only when the person being portrayed was a real person, who we know to have been white.    Now if the casting agents of a project feel uncomfortable casting white people in these roles (due to political correctness) then they do not need to use a story with real historical figures.   There are several period pieces that are not telling the story of actual historical figures that can be produced with a very diverse cast (without such glaring historical inaccuracy), such as Bridgerton, which I mentioned above.   

The most recent perpetrator of this particular issue is the most recent mini-series based on Anne Boleyn’s life.   This production cast a black woman as Anne Boleyn, additionally from what I have heard (as I have not been able to bring myself to watch it) they also chose to portray Anne Boleyn as a lesbian.    My issue is not one of race, it is one of historical accuracy, Anne Boleyn was a white woman with an olive complexion and dark hair (black or possibly dark auburn) and dark eyes.    I would have no problem with a lesbian story line in a production about a figure who had historically been accused of lesbian relations (Marie Antionette is a good example).    I also have no issue with Cleopatra being portrayed by a black woman, since although she was of Greek origin her family had ruled for three centuries when she was born.   Actual historians, in this case, believe she may have had African blood given how long her family ruled Egypt!      

When I heard of that casting choice for Anne Boleyn, I felt it was wrong, just as it was wrong that Chuck Connors (a white actor with blond hair and blue eyes) was cast to play Geronimo in the 1962 bio-pic.    Most everyone will agree that was a horrible choice, yet many people are scared to admit that the casting of a black actress as a historical figure that was white is wrong in the same way.   In both cases it is a person of a race that differs from the actual historical figure they portray, and it ruins any semblance of historical credibility the production could have had! 

My final point on this sort of casting is that it gives uniformed people and young children a huge misrepresentation of history.    Many people who watch these productions (without knowing the history beforehand) are shocked to learn the truth when they open a history book!   To be fair, I am glad they are reading history books, after being inspired by historical period pieces.    The issue is the confusion casting in this way leads to for those who are not historians or history lovers (or even those who are too young to know the real history, as with children)!    Why is it not better to portray history in a more real way?    I am not asking for historical accuracy, as I too enjoy the added drama often featured.   However, I do feel that figures should be portrayed as similar to how they were in the big picture details!

I know that this post will offend some people, and I am sorry that people will feel bad.   However, I am simply being truthful, and I hope that my readers can understand my sentiments (as I do value all of my readers).   I promise tomorrow’s post will not be a hot button issue post.    Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is a meme I found on imgflip.com.

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