Thursday, December 06, 2012

Abe Lincoln Cussing Up a Storm? Only in the Movies.

It didn't really happen.

And Steven Spielberg knows it.

Nevertheless, the Abraham Lincoln in his new film curses like a sailor.

It's just another example of how modern filmmakers (as well as critics and perhaps even audiences) insist on mangling history in order to remake the past in their own force the shadows of history to speak the morals, politics, and fashions of the filmmaker's own day.

And often of his own mind.

It should make you wonder just what other hobby horses Steven Spielberg has galloping through "Lincoln."

Here, from The Hollywood Reporter, are some of the details about this matter.

...Still, while Lincoln was known to relate off-color anecdotes, it’s unlikely he cussed as much as in Lincoln, says James McPherson, a Lincoln biographer and consultant on the film, who adds that the portrayal of profanity used around Lincoln -- such as when lobbyist W.N. Bilbo (James Spader) says “f---” when meeting him -- also is unrealistic.

“The profanity actually bothered me, especially Lincoln’s use of it,” he says. “It struck me as completely unlikely -- a modern injection into Lincoln’s rhetoric.”

McPherson says he e-mailed his objections to Kushner after reading an early draft. “But I see that that language made it in the movie anyhow.”

...Meanwhile, the debate rages beyond Kearns Goodwin and McPherson as to the realism of Lincoln-era profanity. David Barton, who has appeared as a history expert on Fox News, CNN and other outlets, points out that soldiers during the Civil War were court-martialed for using profanity.

“The historical record is clear that Lincoln definitely did not tolerate profanity around him,” Barton says. “There are records of him confronting military generals if he heard about them cursing. Furthermore, the F-word used by Bilbo was virtually nonexistent in that day and it definitely would not have been used around Lincoln. If Lincoln had heard it, it is certain that he would instantly have delivered a severe rebuke.”