Getting the best of you.
Getting the best of you.

I don’t like movies, miniseries, shows, novels, etc. that fictionalize real people and real events for many reasons. However, all these reasons have a common element: there will be inaccuracies. Those inaccuracies will cause problems. They need not be malicious. Often characters are composites of several real people to prevent their being too many characters for readers or viewers. The format often requires compressing dialogue to get all the important points that came out in many conversations totaling hours out in a few minutes. Procedures that take hours, days or weeks are resolved in minutes. Etc.

Others are less understandable: make the heroes more sympathetic than the were in real life. Make the villains worse than they were in real life.

Illustration for article titled When They See the Mistakes, They Will Change the Subject

You have probably heard or read about When They See Us. I did not watch it nor do I intend to ever watch it because it is not a documentary. The TL;DR of real life is that a jogger was savagely beaten and the police coerced 5 dark skinned teenage boys until some gave false confessions. Prosecutors prosecuted them for this crime they did not commit. In the meantime, the actual perpetrator beat other victims and killed one of them. There was no shortage of evidence at the time to cast doubt on the boys’ guilt and journalists at the time wrote about reasons to be skeptical. The boys were eventually proven innocent of the crime they were prosecuted for.

Linda Fairstein (don’t let the name fool you) was a prosecutor in the case and turned it into a lucrative career in publishing and punditry. Now When They See Us has her as one of the villains. Fairstein is harping on the inevitable inaccuracies to criticize the miniseries and occlude these two key points:

1. The boys did not commit the crimes she prosecuted. They spent a substantial amount of time in prison and were robbed of their young adult lives for a crime they didn’t commit. [Other crimes they may or may not have committed or intended to commit are irrelevant distractions]

2. The actual perpetrator had other victims while Fairstein was busy prosecuting those boys. One of the other victims died.

While it seems most people are not buying Fairstein’s bullshit, this monster has ammunition to fire back against blame forever because real events were fictionalized.


One more example of why I hate fictionalizing real people. /fin

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