well...then I guess we might as well get it right

Back in 1994 the Republicans swept into power largely based (it seemed to me) on their rather dynamic Contract With America, a promise to put legislation to a vote on several key issues in a set amount of time.

After they swept into office, one disgruntled Democrat analyst was being interviewed by a major radio host who called it the "Contract FOR America" at which point the Democrat interjected rather snidely, "Well, we might as well get it right now. It is the Contract WITH America, not For."

Since I am going off a 15 year old memory, the exact quote may not be correct...but it is close enough for my purposes.

See, I agree with part of his objection. If you are going to do an interview, write a book/column/opinion piece on a major event, it really matters not what the purpose is, you had best be sure you have the details correct (are you listening, Mr. Giuliani? I know 9-11 is easy to forget...but try to remember, eh?)

Case in point; I do not claim to know much about David Brooks, nor am I overly interested in learning more. I hear more than enough political conversations to the point where I have even asked at least one family member to hold off on discussing politics in the short time we have together.

Nevertheless, Mr. Brooks does, however, have a large platform, and in it he elected to discuss the movie Avatar as a continuation of "the Messiah Complex". Feel free to read his piece here.

So how did we get from Contract With America to here? In the following sentence portion:

"Avid moviegoers will remember “A Man Called Horse,” which began to establish the pattern,..."

Now, I try to keep my criticisms within reason. If someone is writing an article on why the Blazers will win a title within the next three years and inadvertently quotes Will Rogers and attributes it to Alexander de Toqueville...no big deal. The focus and area of expertise is not on Will Rogers quotes. It is on an NBA franchise.

Conversely, if a person is a religious leader and mis-quotes or mis-applies a passage of Scripture, I will be much more harsh in my response. That is supposed to be his area of expertise. (see my various writings on Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart, Billy Graham, etc. for numerous, numerous examples)

And if you are writing a high-profile piece on The Messiah Complex, it might behoove you to know a little bit about it first.

For example, saying it started with A Man Called Horse (1970) misses a much more commonly accepted date for starting it by...oh, about 177 years. Some of you may have heard of The Leatherstocking tales, of which the most famous might be The Last of the Mohicans (1826).

But let us give Mr. Brooks the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he means cinematically it started about that point.

By the way, the earliest recorded movie to show The Last of the Mohicans was in 1911.

Many people have credited James Fenimore Cooper and his Natty Bumppoe character with creating the "Indian who becomes a better Indian than the Indians and saves them from destruction"* narrative.

Even here, the idea is flawed as Roman literature has several examples of Romans "becoming barbarian", co-opting their ways and becoming more adept at it than the Romans themselves. However, you have to me far more versed in literature history to be aware of those.

The Leatherstocking Tales, however, are hardly unheard of. The Last of the Mohicans is an oft-filmed story, having been broadcast on tv or in film at least 14 separate times alone...to say nothing of the countless readings and allusions to it.

It might be a minor point, because over all he actually has a pretty good article. But for whatever reason...that egregious error really caught my attention...and irritated me.

If you are going to have a centerpiece opinion...make sure you know what you are talking about first.

* With apologies to Riot Kitty who rightfully prefers the more accepted modern terminology of Native American; I use the word "Indian" because I am almost exactly quoting several different authors I have found in my research. Otherwise, I too would use Native American.


Riot Kitty said...

No one else could go from 1994 politics to movies to Native Americans! :)

Fullur said...

David Brooks is not all that bright in general (at least from the few comments of his I have heard). Of course, my knowledge of his intended subject would have me ignoring the origination date entirely. :P