In my short 35 year life I have had the great fortune to travel a good portion of the world and experience a great many things. Most of these travels occurred during my twenties but it was not the travels alone that contributed to these fantastic experiences. It was the study of language that gave me very deep insights into the various cultures and changed me forever.
Find here the music which sets the tone for this post:
Once you have enjoyed the music you can find the historical reference here
These languages which changed my life were Spanish, French and Japanese. Spanish and French gave me unique insight into the history of Europe and gave me confidence. That is to say, I thought I actually knew something after becoming proficient in these languages. Yet, it was the study of Japanese that really humbled me and taught me that the more I learn, the less I realize I actually know. With Spanish and French I had only learned about the European part of the world. With Japanese I made a small splash into a completely different and wonderful world known as Asia. I was amazed by the insights learning Japanese gave me. It was then I realized that language can really open up a different way of thinking and change how one views the world. I now knew four languages but out of the 6800 or so languages in the world I could only comprehend the mindset of very few.
Furthermore, I never felt as though I mastered any language other than my native English (and that is debatable as well!) No matter how good you think you are at a language, the natives are better.
This post however is not a biography on my experiences and discoveries. Rather, it is something that carries a bit of the same magic that one can experience in their own home without setting foot in another culture.
There is nothing that will take the place of travel and learning other languages. One gains so much insight that it is near impossible to explain to others who have not had the same experience.
But, one can come close.
This post is about Netflix and the historical entertainment it offers us. Never in the history of mankind have we had such access to history portrayed as entertainment. Yes, yes, the plays and theatre of old are spectacular yet, those performances were never on demand, starting at the push of a button. Never have the masses as a whole had the access that they do now to rather accurate historical entertainment.
Unfortunately, even though such entertainment is now available, I wonder how many of the “unwashed masses” actually pay attention. There are so many other shows (of rather stupid subject) that history and historical fact now have to vie with the vulgar prancing around hoping to draw even more attention.
Forgive me, I continue to be extremely upset that even though we have more access to knowledge than ever before in the history of mankind, my brethren choose to entertain themselves with the equivalent of a Cockney lass with huge boobs who just happens to dance or sing surprisingly well. This cockney lass comes not from East London but from Jersey, the new one.
That was cruel. Some are actually very talented. My anger, nay, my disappointment stems from the seemingly endless support for current wars when most of the population do not understand history and choose not to educate themselves, preferring to watch henceforth mentioned Cockney Lass equivalent from Jersey, the new one.
Makes me upset. People are getting killed and the only people that could stop it choose to watch dancing and singing.
I digress. As you know I rarely stay on point and enjoy the frequent side-tangents. 🙂
Regarding Netflix, it has given me access to a lot of history that I can use to supplement my previous travels. In fact, it brings it alive!!
Yes, I know it is entertainment, but being a big fan of history, I use my Iphone to check the accuracy on Wikipedia.
*Sidebar – I wrote an argument Wikipedia Inaccurate? when many were calling it inaccurate back in 2006. Just wanted to give props to myself in that my judgement seems to stand the test of time in this case. 🙂
So I check Wikipedia and see that the historical truths match up pretty well with what I am seeing on Netflix.
So what am I watching on Netflix? Enough of my rambling already, lets get to the good stuff!!
The shows I’ve recently watched are the following. I thought a YouTube trailer might be able to give you a better impression than my simple explanations.
1. The Tudors
2. The Borgia
4. The Virgin Queen
I think four examples are enough to show how efficiently this new service called Netflix can really bring the past alive!!!
I would imagine there are two schools of thought on this. The first being those that prefer not to study at all and simply watch a show and believe they know something. A show is just a show and does not really confer any knowledge. Well, maybe a little knowledge but it really helps to read a quick biography and historical account about the show to really know what is going on
The second school would be the detractors. Those that believe they understand too much and will not give any standing to some theatrical performance infringing on their focus of study.
Not being an expert myself, I would imagine that the screen writers and movie studios employ enough financial firepower to employ those that do have expert knowledge in these historical matters and thus keep the story pretty accurate n’est pas?
So, for a plebeian such as myself, albeit a rather well traveled pleb and one who knows how to use his Iphone, I am inclined to believe these historical shows so long as they match up with what I read in Wikipedia.
What this does for me is absolutely brings the past alive!!!!!! The past was never brought alive for me in school as it entailed simple words on a page, ideas, places, people that meant nothing to me and were simply things that I must memorize to pass a test.
This changed of course when I actually visited such places. However it was never brought alive as much as it has with Netflix!
It is now time for picture sharing.
Welcome to the Tower of London. I did visit, I took the tour and I payed attention to everything my “Beefeater” guide said. I also read my “Let’s Go” book to inform myself about the history. Yet, the history of the place never came as alive as it did with the Tudors series and Elizabeth the Virgin Queen. I could read a thousand historical books and I believe nothing would leave as deep an impression on me as these various TV (Netflix) series.
I think it was Ben Franklin, although I could be completely wrong, but one of the founders predicted that with the invention of the moving pictures books would no longer be necessary. I have it in my head that it was Franklin but of course I could be completely stupid on this one.
My point is, I visited the tower of London, I tried to feel the ghosts there, I tried to feel the history. I understood what happened and I tried to let it in. I didn’t feel anything. It really didn’t come alive for me.
The only time I ever felt “ghosts” and the sense of history completely washing over me was in Toledo, Spain and I described the ghost part rather clearly in my post Ghosts.
So where else could I find “ghosts” and a real sense of history?
No, I didn’t feel anything in Rome. I experienced neither Cesar nor the Borgias in Rome. I just experiences ruins and various vagrants trying to seal my wallet. The glory of Rome has indeed vanished.
Actually, I did enjoy meeting a lot of young Italians at Piazza di Spagna but that was a rarity. There were more opportunities for bad people to take my wallet than for me to meet the young vibrant youth of Rome at that time. 🙁
Well, as you know my posts are never long and I grow tired after a few short paragraphs. I guess the lesson for this post is that after watching so many shows about medieval Europe I can now more clearly understand the roots of Catholic vs Protestant, English vs France vs Spain and so on. By understanding the origins, I am able to much better understand the present.
***Quick mind dump ***
I grew up Catholic, a descendant of the Irish who were long oppressed by the English. Why did I grow up this way? Well my ancestors escaped the potato famine and came to the USA. The English on the other hand used to be Catholic but Henry VIII decided to not be Catholic anymore because he wanted to marry another. Throw in a bunch of politics and England didn’t want to be under the Pope anymore. The Pope had gained his authority from an ancient “Cult of Christ” from long ago Rome that never really went away. It was the religion that like the Duracell battery refused to die. Since it was the only one that stood the test of time people took it as the truth. And oh yea, it was the one that had the most military force behind it, so if you didn’t convert, bad things happened. But even before bad things happened most were convinced bad things would happen after they die if they didn’t believe.
So anyway, our friend King Henry the VIII didn’t like the pope telling him what to do. Some people agreed (Protestants)and over time these people eventually came to America. These are the same folks that become our Presidents. Well, except for JFK but he got shot. After that we had more Protestants. Now we have Barack Obama who many believe is Muslim (lol). The Republicans are still crazy incensed that he got elected and have now gone off the rails. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann? For God’s sakes, all you supporters of them should never be allowed in a gentleman’s club again. Wait, the GOP is no longer a Gentleman’s club you say? It is full of idiotic hillbilly Jesus freaks you say? Boy, I really miss the old GOP. The heathens and unwashed are not only at the gate but have been invited in to sit down to dinner! >:(
I’m sorry, I’ve gone off the rails again. I’m terrible.
I’m also tired and become tired of this post. I really should write a book but am absolutely sure it would offend so many that it would stand no chance of being published.
No matter, I live in my own world and prefer to keep it that way.
I guess I’ll end this post with the truth that there is so much to learn. The trick is to keep it interesting which is something these shows and Netflix is very good at! They bring the past alive and make learning about history much more entertaining!