Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why I didn't like "Lincoln"

This past weekend, my husband and I went to the movies with another couple, good friends of ours. The other couple wanted to see the movie "Lincoln," so we agreed. I wasn't excited about seeing Lincoln because he's constantly lauded as a hero, and I don't see it that way. Of course the movie, as expected, portrayed Lincoln as this great man who pushed against the grain, even buying votes, to get the 13th Amendment pushed through so that slavery would be abolished. Slavery is abhorrent in all forms and fashions and should have been abolished. The 13th Amendment should have passed. However, watching this movie reminded me of how the media successfully rewrites history time and time again. And because it's moving and entertaining, we eat it right up--never questioning the validity of the story.

After the movie, we had dinner at Chili's where we got into a heated discussion about Lincoln and the causes of The War Between The States. (No, we don't call it The Civil War because there was nothing "civil" about it.) When we told our friends, Taryn and Mark, that slavery was in reality a side issue of the war and not the main issue, they were surprised.

This morning, Taryn Taylor (my good friend that I went to the movies with) posted on her blog about how much she loved the movie "Lincoln" and why everyone should watch it. I couldn't sit quietly by and hear anymore drivel about the sanctimonious Lincoln, so I posted a response. Below, is her post--followed by my response.

In the words of one of my favorite movies, "Sweet Home Alabama," THE SOUTH HAS RISEN AGAIN!

Lincoln: How can you NOT love it? 
by Taryn Taylor

I am a huge, huge fan of inspirational stories--and, if you haven't seen the movie, Lincoln--you should! The story is super inspiring and just plain American!

(My southern friends, who I enjoyed the movie with, would probably disagree with me on both counts. I guess they'll just have to leave a comment below if they want to refute me!:)

The only thing I really knew about Abraham Lincoln...was that he freed the slaves. Really. Yes, it might be just plain sad or a reflection on the American educational system, you take your pick--but the movie actually made me want to learn more. Not just about Lincoln, either, but about that time period in U.S. history.

The movie stacked conflict and created an emotional tension that made you rally for Lincoln. It showed you the kind of familial pressure he was under. For example, one of his sons wanted to sign up to fight (and eventually did) but Lincoln's wife was vehemently against it. She begged Lincoln not to let him. And, the fact she was portrayed as being boderline crazy, made it all the more drammatic.

The movie also goes through the struggle it was to get enough votes to pass the 13th Amendment; the amendment that abolished slavery as a legal institution. They even had to go as far as to hire a Political Action Committe, at work. They basically bought votes with promises of jobs. It was interesting to see the darker side of it--ends justify the means type of thing.

My favorite thing, was the stories Lincoln told. They were long and winding and, at times, you couldn't see the point they would have, but they were so...insightful. One particular conversation revolved around asking the question, are we born to the time we live, or are we just born? I love that! I love that Lincoln took the time to wonder that...at least in the movie he did.

Along those lines, I do understand that Spielburg was putting out a movie. And, with that, he had to frame a good story. Soo, is all of it true. Probably not. I understand that he probably took some liberties with the facts.

But, two things are true: Lincoln did free the slaves and keep the Union together.

For those two things, alone, you should go see it!


Taryn, thanks for your post! Okay, I'll own up: My husband and I are the Southern Friends that Taryn was referring to. After our conversation about Lincoln the other night, she may consider dubbing us the Southern Fiends (LOL)! So I'm sitting in between Taryn and my husband Patrick. As the movie credits were flowing, Patrick looked at me and said, "Well, that was a waste of two hours and forty something minutes." I looked over at Taryn who had hands over her chest. "That was so powerful," she breathed. I had to laugh at the dichotomy of the two reactions. In a nutshell, the varying opinions can be explained in a few words: southern thought vs. non-southern thought. We spent the rest of the evening cussing and discussing our varying opinions. Yes, the 13th Amendment SHOULD HAVE BEEN PASSED! Slavery is abhorrent in any form or fashion, but contrary to what the history books teach, The War Between The States (We don't call it The Civil War because there was nothing civil about it) was not fought primarily over slavery, albeit that was one of the issues. I realize that's news to most folks, but a careful study of history shows that the war was fought over something we can all understand, STATES RIGHTS! Lincoln was elected with NO electoral support from the South! Consider the recent presidential election. Does that sound familiar? I found it interesting that Lincoln's wife (Sally Field) kept hammering in how popular Lincoln was amongst the people. Sorry, Spielberg. Nice try, but that just wasn't on the mark. Here's a quick synopsis from Wikipedia. There are other, more trusted sites for in-depth info., but this will suffice: "The United States presidential election of 1860 was the 19th quadrennial presidential election. The election was held on Tuesday, November 6, 1860 and served as the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War.
The United States had been divided during the 1850s on questions surrounding the expansion of slavery and the rights of slave owners. In 1860, these issues broke the Democratic Party into Northern and Southern factions, and a new Constitutional Union Party appeared. In the face of a divided opposition, the Republican Party, dominant in the North, secured enough electoral votes to put Abraham Lincoln in the White House without support from the South."

I agree with Taryn on several points, one of which is that the movie was powerful and moving. What concerns me is how history is often rewritten by the media. The films we see--the media we watch, shape our nation. I pointed out to Taryn that in not too many generations in the future, throngs will be rushing in to see a movie about Obama and how he transformed our nation, took us out of darkness, made us see the beauty of socialism and the equal distribution of wealth. Sound scary? It should! It should scare the heck out of you. Our history, present, and future are being rewritten by the media. We have to continually educate ourselves, so that we won't be deluded into handing over our rights and freedoms while thanking them in the process. 

Visit Taryn Taylor's blog at Taryntaylor.blogspot.com. 


  1. Jennifer. I think you and Taryn have made some excellent points, both have political undertones from the last election. Clearly Hollywood has a "blind" power over many. It disappoints me that we don't have the education system in place to effectively understand the difference between fact and fiction or even right and wrong. As most wars are, the Civil War was about wealth. Specifically, Southern wealth and the wishes for those "rich" states to succeed from the Union. While Hollywood can control current thinking among the ill educated, they can't rewrite history.

    1. Brian, you're right! The war was about wealth and power--the same things fought over today. It's scary how much control and influence the media has over all of us.

  2. Certain folks in state today, like Texas, are discussing cessation. Could we be headed for another internal war?

    I find Lincoln--the man--inspiring, not because he helped abolish slavery, but for the same reasons I find Paul Bryant inspiring. They thought differently and weren't afraid to lead.

    I grew up in the South, and this war is viewed differently there, but no war is civil. Changing what we call it doesn't affect the positive and very negative affects it had on our country as a whole. If anything, the movie did exactly what Jennifer hoped for ... Taryn now wants to become more educated about this history-shaping time in our country that allowed us to evolve into more critically thinging people.

    1. Hey, those are fighting words! LOL! Never use Lincoln and Paul "Bear" Bryant in the same sentence.

      Yes, I wondered the same thing when I started hearing about Texas and some of the other southern states talking about secession. State's Rights are critical in maintaining our freedom. The Federal Government is in the process (thanks to the current administration) of amassing more and more power. That's a scary thing! The states need to exercise their constitutional rights to protect the liberties and rights of their citizens.

      Had I not grown up in the South and been properly educated on The War of Northern Aggression, I would've probably reacted the same way Taryn did to the movie.

    2. Ahhh. I'll take that challenge to research and write a piece about the two, comparing them, that you'd be comfortable with. Wait! I am talking about the "Bear" with someone from Alabama. There is no comparison. I forgot.

    3. Seriously? Comparing Lincoln and Bear Bryant? One's a scoundrel and the other is a winning football coach...


    4. Yes. Seriously. They both had their issues, as any man. Bryant was not perfect, even he admitted that. Just because he won games didn't make him great. Bobby Knight won and he was horrible to his players. (Not saying Bryant was horrible to players. Don't beat me up yet.) Bryant won because he knew how to inspire and lead. Though many in the south don't like him, so did Lincoln.

      We can take the good points of any person to use for our own lives. I do not claim Lincoln was a good man. I don't know because I didn't know him.

      My point in comparing the two is like comparing an apple tree to an orange tree--they both produce fruit. There are traits of a leader that one can learn from both. I am not sure why you call him a scoundrel above, but that could be said of every president we've had.

  3. Not just any Alabamian either. My dad played for the "Bear" on the 1957 turn-around team. An interesting note: When my mom and I wrote STONEY CREEK, ALABAMA, we got my dad's input on the football sections. We put a quote from the "Bear" in the beginning and then quotes from the Bible in front of the chapters. We'd toyed with the idea of alternating quotes from the "Bear" and quotes from the Bible but were concerned that people might find that sacrilegious. The idea was to show that in the South, football is a religion, and the "Bear" was the pinnacle.

    Josh, you're a good writer, but I don't think even you could make a convincing argument about Lincoln and Paul "Bear" Bryant being on the same plane. :-)

    1. I know about your father's playing days. I'm an Alabama fan myself and would have enjoyed watching your father play. I was a sports writer for a while and would love to research that more. I don't think I could make a convincing argument for a Southerner. I agree.

    2. My dad thought highly of Paul "Bear" Bryant. His own father was not the greatest, so he looked to him as a father figure. You would've enjoyed seeing my dad play. He was an amazing athlete. Football was a huge part of my life growing up. I just took it for granted that it was that way for all households. It wasn't until I grew up that I realized that we might've been a little extreme. LOL! (Well, not extreme for Alabama but for the rest of the nation.) :-)

  4. I love this comment by Jacob Raymond Bower. He posted it on Facebook yesterday. Jacob gave a succinct explanation for the primary cause of the war. I had a history professor in college that taught this same concept, almost word-for-word.

    "The North raised taxes on the South, so the South decided to sell their goods to Europe. The North didnt believe in a free market, so the North then put a blockade on South Carolina, and that's what started the war. Lincoln freed the slaves because he was losing the war. slaves had nothing to do with why this war started."