When I first read Orwell’s 1984 the thing that frightened me most of all was the concept of rewriting history. When I re-read the book a few years back this aspect horrified me even more. Like so many of Orwell’s predictions this one has come true with a vengeance.
What really worries me is not just the blatant rewriting of history, it’s the more insidious and subtle attempts to reshape our view of the past. It particularly worries me when this is done in the world of fiction. It concerns me since most people simply don’t notice it.
I first noticed it some years back when I watched the British TV series Cadfael, based on the historical novels of Ellis Peters. Brother Cadfael (played by Sir Derek Jacobi) is supposed to be a 12th century English monk who solves crimes. Maybe a bit far-fetched but it’s a fun idea. As I watched though I became increasingly and uncomfortably aware that Brother Cadfael was not a medieval monk at all. He was a late 20th century Englishman dressed as a medieval monk. There was no indication that he had any religious beliefs at all, apart perhaps from the kind of fuzzy woolly feelgood vague pseudospirituality that passes for Christianity today. And I got the impression he only paid lip service even to that. There was certainly no indication that he believed in God. He did not view the world in anything remotely resembling a medieval way.
Brother Cadfael relies mostly on reason in order to detect criminals. That’s a pretty good way to solve crimes but it’s hardly realistic in the 12th century.
I’ve noticed this kind of thing more and more in movies and TV series, and historical novels, supposedly set in the past. The costumes look authentic enough but the characters for the most part are entirely modern in their outlook.
This might not seem too dangerous but actually it is. It’s all part of the program to convince us that decent right-thinking people have always held politically correct beliefs. You’ll find that the only characters holding politically incorrect views tend to be evil white patriarchal cisgendered heteronormative males. The right-thinking characters are just itching to embrace multiculturalism, atheism, LGBTQWERTY rights, environmentalism and radical feminism. The message is that only bad people have ever been guilty of badthink.
It’s a campaign to remould the past and thereby to destroy the very basis of our civilisation. It’s just as destructive as ISIS destroying ancient works of art and it’s done for the same reason, to enforce a single monolithic ideology. If we lose our past we lost everything.