The Magazine

Lessons in Celluloid

Hollywood, history, and the War Between the Takes.

Jun 30, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 40 • By MICHAEL TAUBE
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Why is there a preference for Confederate art? Gallagher acknowledges that hard data do not exist. But his unscientific study of more than 2,750 advertisements for prints and artwork during 1962-2006 in three magazines (Civil War Times Illustrated, Blue & Gray Magazine, and North & South) suggests that the art-buying public "overwhelmingly prefer Confederate leaders and themes." Reasons for this could range from a broader appeal and admiration for Confederate figures, or even possibly "the romantic underdog aura of the Confederate war that transcends geography."

Causes Won, Lost & Forgotten gives credence to the cruel reality that Hollywood and popular art are not portraying the Civil War from a valid historical perspective. True, the goal of film studios and artists is to create subject matter that will appeal to their specific audiences and reap massive profits. They are not historians, and a history lesson is likely the furthest thing from their minds. But if we want history to "come alive," and if we want to learn about the past, the only way to properly do it is to accurately depict individuals as they were and events as they happened.

If the current trend in popular culture continues, fewer and fewer people will understand what the Union and Confederate causes were about, and why the Civil War was fought in the first place.

Michael Taube is a public affairs analyst and commentator, and former speechwriter for Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.