My friend and colleague, professor Edward Blum, has written a great piece on the most recent movie: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Killer at his Teaching US History blog; I am copying his post here. You can also visit it here.
The Whitewashing of Civil War America
There are so many more reasons to feel sick about Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – both the film and the novel. The take home message to me (and again, I have yet to see the movie) is that it presents American history in such a way that whites have character and characters; whites are the movers and shakers for and against freedom; whites initiate historical change and blacks react to it. And, this overview view isn’t just in the novels and the movies. Take a closer look at Drew Faust’s This Republic of Suffering or George Rable’s God’s Almost Chosen People (two books and authors I admire significantly). But both of them build their analysis upon the sandy ground that 19th-century whites rule the roost and should dominate historical interpretations.
But back to Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Here are some more comments in the forms of questions.
- Why do we care about historical authenticity about what Jesus looks like (Mel Gibson had 300 images digitally changed in The Passion of the Christ to alter Jim Caviezel’s eyes), but not about Harriet Tubman? (and we know what she looked like!)
- Why do people care more about Rue’s race (in Hunger Games) than Tubman’s appearance?
- How can a novel use an image taken from Nat Turner’s rebellion (1831) and present it as happening AFTER the emancipation proclamation (claiming that African Americans rose up following Lincoln’s degree… rather than African American resistance making the Emancipation Proclamation necessary)?