Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Beth Pardoe Pulls No Punches in Her Review of The History Channel's "Mankind" Series

If you want to read a thorough take-down of the most recent History Channel offering, read my friend Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe's review of the "Mankind" series. Ouch! 

I might also add that Beth is a former History Channel employee.

Here is a taste:

My son’s teacher let the kids forgo their nightly reading if they watched the History Channel’s Mankind series’ treatment of the “Age of Empire.”  He warned it might be gory and asked that a parent watch with each child.  Thus I found myself forced to suffer through some of the worst history and worst television I have ever endured. 

Thanks to clunky editing, I learned that the Pilgrims fled the Tulip bubble in the Netherlands.  Salem drew the “era of fear and superstition” to a welcome close so the “wilderness” could be “tamed” from Siberia to North America by rugged, male, entrepreneurial pioneers desirous of fur.  As “superstition is giving way to science,” Captain James Cook, “mankind’s greatest explorer . . . opened up a new continent,” inhabited by “animals and plants unknown to science.”  Benjamin Franklin, “innovator and entrepreneur,” brought the scientific revolution to “America.” And the march of progress goes on.

 Half-hearted attempts at politically correctness made the Euro-centric, Whiggish—if not Panglossian—perspective all the more evident.  Token treatment of a central African “princess” who escaped the Portuguese cannot compensate for the failure to mention Spanish slaves suffering in silver mines.  Momentary mention of the Australian Aborigines’ cultural sophistication fails to forgive the depiction of Mughal India in the tried and true stereotypes of the materialist and merciless “Orient.”

Read more at the blog of the Historical Society.  Nice work, Beth.