Five Reasons Romanticizing Reality is a Bad Thing

Historical dramas and action movies and TV shows are often more than a little interesting since they tend to take a lot of great elements from the era they’re taken from, not to mention they tend to ramp up the excitement in one way or another. But there are plenty of shows and movies that end up glamorizing the information they use to tell the story, and it’s rather common to use various props and parts of a culture that aren’t historically accurate simply because they look cool and get the attention of the audience. Glamorizing such material isn’t necessarily a bad thing since creating romantic stories does make one take a look at history from a different perspective. But doing this without paying attention to the whole culture tends to be kind of irresponsible since the truth about history is that it’s not all romantic and pleasant, and trying to pretend that it sends the wrong message. Granted, it’s for entertainment value primarily, but the fact is that glamorizing history can also seek to retcon history in a way that makes it clear that people don’t want to remember how things really were back in the day. Here are five reasons why glamorizing reality in TV and movies can be a problem. 

5. It can make people and cultures appear grander than they actually were. 

Historical figures and cultures were great and terrible in their own ways, and building them up to a degree that makes them far better than what they were is a bit irresponsible, not to mention that it takes something away from the actual history. It’s true that people can read the actual history of certain cultures and learn for themselves what really happened back in the day, but in an era when many people don’t want to believe half of what they’re presented with in their own daily lives, it’s a bit dangerous to make anyone think that history was any different than it actually was. 

4. The more horrible aspects of life are often glossed over. 

Many movies and TV shows have been getting better about this, since like it or not, history was not all sunshine and rainbows. The cultures that helped to form one society or another managed to do so through amazing feats that were beneficial to those that came after. But building a society takes time and a lot of mistakes that are made either intentionally or accidentally, and the fact is that history is bloody, dirty, and filled with controversies as every culture (yes, EVERY culture) has its positives and negatives. Seeking to omit the negatives to make one’s culture look better is highly suspect. 

3. Saying something is based on a true story is often misunderstood. 

This can easily register in a lot of minds that it did happen just the way the movie goes, and if anyone has ever read a history book before watching the corresponding movie, they’ll know that this is ridiculous. Some movies get many elements of the history they’re covering right, and the accuracy is fun to watch. But with most historical movies, a person needs to take the story with a huge grain of salt since even if the movie does follow history in a much closer and more responsible manner, there are still bound to be a few differences here and there that are bound to be noted.

2. History is interesting enough without falsifying what happened.

When looking at the history books, and hoping that they’re accurate, one should be able to note that they don’t need any help when it comes to being exciting enough. There are plenty of stories that can tell themselves without having to be given additions that would look absolutely ridiculous. Many points in history are great enough without needing to be built up with special effects and plot points that didn’t happen back in the day and are little more than a bit of flash and pomp to get people a little more excited. 300 is a good example of this since the Battle of Thermopylae was real enough, but imagining the Spartans with minimal armor is kind of ridiculous.  

1. People will believe the fantasy if it’s convincing enough. 

This might sound ridiculous, but it’s the unfortunate truth since people often want to believe in the fantasy more than the reality. It might not sound like a problem, and it might not even be one, but the fact is that reality is important to remember since some instances don’t need to be repeated. Glamorizing history is all well and good if it’s being done as pure entertainment, but if it causes people to believe that the fantasy is unvarnished reality, then it needs to be dialed back just a bit, or the movies and shows need to remind people that these are based on history, but aren’t actual history.  As entertainment goes, history offers up a great deal of material to work with. 

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