The Lies of ‘The Crown’ and ‘The Post’

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By Peggy Noonan,

from The Wall Street Journal,

When people get history from entertainment, Hollywood’s obligation to the truth is heightened.

We often write of the urgent need for more truth in politics. A hope for 2018 is more truth in art and entertainment, too.

The past week I watched the Netflix series “The Crown” and Steven Spielberg’s movie “The Post.” Each is enjoyable, yet fails in the same significant way.

There’s dramatic license, which is necessary or nothing’s fun, and historical truth, which is necessary or nothing’s understood. Ideally in any work they more or less coexist, however imperfectly. But in “The Crown” and “The Post” the balance is far off. A cheap historical mindlessness marks much of the first, and there’s a lie at the heart of the second.

Why does all this matter? Because we are losing history. It is not the fault of Hollywood, as they used to call it, but Hollywood is a contributor to it.

When people care enough about history to study and read it, it’s a small sin to lie and mislead in dramas. But when people get their history through entertainment, when they absorb the story of their times only through screens, then the tendency to fabricate is more damaging.

Those who make movies and television dramas should start caring about this.

It is wrong in an age of lies to add to their sum total. It’s not right. It will do harm.

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