Archive for August, 2011

As I was reading through a number of posts and news items about the death of Jack Layton (which I cannot write about at present because it makes me too sad) I stumbled across this video of Pierre Trudeau from the CBC archives:

The first thing that strikes me about the video is the line “Just watch me” is so famous, yet it is completely buried in the interview. This line is probably the 1970s equivalent of a modern soundbite, but it is also completely opposite to the soundbite because it is buried within a 7:00 minute video at minute 6:07.

The second thing that strikes me is length of the interview. The length of the engagement between Mr. Trudeau and the reporter is also a change from modern reporting when we are more used to politicians running away from cameras rather than engaging with reporters. This is not a sit-down in-studio interview, it is an impromptu interview on the steps of parliament. Nevertheless, the reporter and the Prime Minister actually have time to have a conversation and a debate about the policies of the government. I can hardly imagine this happening today.

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One common reason given for the absence of female characters in video games that are set in the past is that the portrayal is supposed to be historically accurate (see for examples these discussions at the Border House). This great post by Juliet McKenna suggest that excuse is not legitimate.

McKenna notes that much of ‘history’ as it was studied did leave women out of the discussion, but as she puts it, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Instead of accurately representing the role of women in history, McKenna suggests that the absence of women reflected Victorian beliefs about the importance of great men. It was not the case that women played little role in history, instead it was the case that Victorian historians focused on what men did and neglected what women were doing. And since the rise of women’s studies in the 1960s, writers can no longer use the “historical accuracy” excuse.

Women’s influence and significance is now apparent, even when they were effectively denied financial and political power by the cultures of their day.

So a fantasy writer can no longer point to a few exceptional women in fantasy narratives, such as Galadriel, and hide behind a claim to reflect historical accuracy because the only significant women in history were exceptions such as Good Queen Bess. Not when I have books on my study shelves about the women who sailed with Nelson’s navy and built his ships in the royal dockyards, about the role of so many women in the scientific developments of the Enlightenment and a whole lot more besides. (From “The Representation of Women in Fantasy“)

So the alleged historical accuracy might not be so accurate. If only this were enough to convince people to stop using the excuse…

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Quick Blog Note

I have just moved and started a new job. I am not completely hooked to the internet and everything else, so I might be a little slower than usual in approving comments and posting replies. I hope to be back to posting in September. For now, I hope everyone is enjoying the summer.

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