Don’t confuse entertainment with history.

In the 1999 movie Galaxy Quest aliens come to earth seeking the actors from a Sci Fi TV series to lead them to victory against their enemies.  They had watched the TV show and had mistaken make-believe for “historical documents”.

This came to mind when Oscar pointed out in the comments to The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare that medieval manuals taught all kinds of dirty fighting tricks, offering this image and this one as examples.  One of the problems with chivalry is it comes from literature.  It is make-believe presented as faux history.  But somewhere along the way we, like the clueless aliens in Galaxy Quest, have mistaken entertainment for history and began to take it seriously.

This entry was posted in Chivalry, Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Don’t confuse entertainment with history.

  1. Pingback: Don’t confuse entertainment with history. | @the_arv

  2. Paul says:

    Galaxy Quest was weird indeed!

  3. Chase says:

    Interesting observation. Similar to the metaphor Alasdair MacIntyre sets up in After Virtue. We’ve lost track of how certain words and concepts interact with each other in the real world.

  4. Red Pill Latecomer says:

    Galaxy Quest is practically a clone of The Three Amigos (1986):

    Three American actors star as The Three Amigos, a 1930s Western film serial in which they fight bandits. Some Mexican villagers don’t realize that it’s just a movie. They send for The Three Amigos, hoping they’ll rid their village of real bandits. The Three Amigos come, thinking that it’s an acting gig….

  5. earl says:

    One of the problems with chivalry is it comes from literature.

    Plus chivalry is not even a virtue. Virtues have their own names.

  6. drifter says:

    Ah yes, the trusty sack-twister. Most boys learn that one at an early age.

  7. hoang says:

    Dalrock, I think you are confused between combat action and rules of engagement. In combat one shall and must do whatever it takes to survive, and achieve mission objective. But there are rules of engagement that was based on practical considerations but then elevated to chivalrous virtue.

  8. johannqpeasant says:

    Those pictures are from fighting manuals that were written in the later medieval/early renaissance period- 15th and 16th centuries. You can tell from their clothes. This would be centuries after the advent of courtly love, though romantic literature was still popular. If I remember correctly, these manuals were popular with the growing middle class.

    “Chivalric war” did exist in a way- Heralds, heraldic jupons, the capture of (noble!) prisoners, and other medieval minutiae very much absent from a modern battlefield. Instances like the battle of the 30 would be considered chivalric. It helps that the majority of fighting was done at an extreme close range compared to today. The option of calling in an accurate trebuchet strike didnt exist.

  9. Spike says:

    In his treatise ”The Art of War” military philosopher Sun Tzu makes no mention of fighting with bravery, valour, courage, or fighting fair. He makes mention of using every unfair advantage you can (“Avoid what is strong. Attack what is weak”). He instructs his readers to seek out spies and turn them into double agents. He makes no mention of chivalry, and definitely no mention of women. He doesn’t want to nor is interested in, ”fighting fair”. He wants to win and does what it takes to win.
    Women’s only contribution to Sun Tzu is the two concubines of King Ha -Lu who disobeyed Sun Tzu’s orders, pretending his military drills were a frivolity.

    Both were immediately decapitated on the spot.

  10. Pingback: Don’t confuse entertainment with history. | Reaction Times

  11. Tim Pollard says:

    Medieval warriors would have seen “honour” as important, though of course our perception of how this actually worked is perverted by mostly coming from mid-to-late Medieval chick-lit.

    I’ve heard it argued that part of the reason why Americans have lost most of their recent wars is because of the lack of honour in your soldiers. (Australians are pretty much just as bad; though perhaps not quite)

    You can’t surrender to someone who is dishonourable, you can’t accept the surrender of someone who is dishonourable, you can’t obey the orders of an officer who is dishonourable, you can’t trust a dishonourable underling to obey your orders, etc, etc.

    This is more a strategic honour though, and less tactical honour. Wearing camouflage is a tactical decision, executing prisoners (or bombing an enemy who is no threat) is a strategic decision. Honour I don’t think was seen as that important on the tactical level.

    PS: Yes, the Americans LOST most of their recent wars, and that’s the generous assumption, because all the American military has accomplished in it’s last few wars was killing a bunch of foreigners. I respect Americans too much to believe that that was your actual goal.

    PPS: America’s continued insistence that they won those wars is another reason for their troubles actually winning wars, because it prevents you from learning any lessons, and it also it’s in effect declaring that killing a bunch of people really was the extent of your goals in those wars, and most people don’t want to make peace with self-proclaimed murderous thugs.

  12. They Call Me Tom says:

    America hasn’t had a lot of concrete wins in recent history for a few reasons:
    1) Making military decisions based on domestic politics instead of conditions in the field.
    2) Not making our military presence a miserable experience for opposing forces. Might may not make right, but it provides a disincentive for taking the field in the first place.
    3) Being the only nation to maintain a substantial military after the UK visited the Falklands in the 80s… and letting it take the field to serve foreign interests too often. It’s hard to win when the goal isn’t yours, but someone else’s.

    That said, the US Military is still the best available. The goal posts are often moved in defining victory. If the US ever finds itself in an existential battle, its military is still certain to succeed.

  13. 7817 says:

    The way you are describing this reminds me of the way the founding myth of a country shapes its people.

    Do you think that at this point chivalry is part of the mythology of western civilization to such an extent that it is impossible to get rid of it without western civilization fading away?

    Or is it just a problem now because our culture is so weak that it can no longer fight off the more cancerous parts of chivalry?

  14. Joe Ego says:

    Original chivalry was about the way nobles interacted in politics and war. Included things like lordship, fealty, surrender, and agreements between honorable parties. Loyalty and honor counted for a lot, and a lack of it could get the rug pulled out from under you real quick if others lost respect for you. For the grunts below it was a terrible, dirty, death-filled business.

    But it’s been a long time since “chivalry” transformed into worship of the feminine. So stuff chivalry and laugh it out of existence. Maybe it will make a comeback when the world goes to crap then sort of recovers and some tiny minority of noblewomen will get a chance to enjoy its benefits. Huzzah, m’lady!

    For now, men can go back to specific basic words that haven’t (yet) been corrupted. Honor, loyalty, etc.

  15. Joe Ego says:

    @7817 It may be a problem for Western Civ. It is a very short length of time, in the grand scheme, that women have had modern levels of independence and women (and men) are not fundamentally different from 500-1,000 years ago. So that argues for a possible return.

    OTOH, the genie’s out of the bottle. I don’t think society will fundamentally change or revert in this aspect without significant, society-wide issues with women’s security. Until the lack of a protective, providing father or husband is felt then the ride won’t stop. The easy way is for men to stop excusing and supporting bad behaviors but there are always white knights, vote seekers, and others who profit from the current system.

    The difficult way is the rise of a society where it takes hard men to protect what they have. In that situation the pols are dead and the white knights (and the rest of us) are too worried about survival.

  16. Nick Mgtow says:

    With the 30-year mark approaching, I’ve been going through a multitude of changes of heart and thought. In order to explain those changes, I need to reveal some context.

    From the ages of 16 to 24, I lived in New York City, where I was surrounded by adults and educators who force-fed a very “feminist” narrative, one I didn’t recognize as such at the time. It has only been recently that I’m beginning to see the impact of those surroundings and also to examine some of the choices I made along the way that have led me to my current predicament.

    I moved to New York from Florida originally to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. My number-one focus and desire was to become a recording artist and to have a successful career in the industry, and I was surrounded by young women who were on similar paths. We were all very focused on getting ahead and having high-profile careers.

    I never once considered marriage, family or what I would do if my chosen career path did not work out according to plan. I was raised in an environment where you were taught to “never depend on a man,” that marriages were likely to fail, and that having kids would destroy the prospect of a high-flying career.

    At the end of 2014, I moved back to Florida. I had become disenchanted with the music business and was burned out on the city, including the high cost of living. Around that same time, I became involved in a serious relationship and eventually moved in with my boyfriend. We started a music business together and have now been together 3.5 years. We’ve spent ample time with each other’s families and have completely intertwined our lives with a home and business.

    When I turned 29, I started to have the very normal feelings of wanting to get married and potentially have a family. Problem was, we never discussed our viewpoints on marriage or kids early on in our relationship. I just assumed that because I felt a certain way at 25 I would feel the same way at 30.

    Well, I am here to say that that is not at all true. My boyfriend and I are not on the same page—at all—when it comes to the future. ‘Playing house’ has been fun and much easier to maintain financially; but by doing so, my boyfriend is in no hurry to propose. By living together, I destroyed the incentive for him to make a commitment. Why would he want to marry me when I’m already a “wife”? He also isn’t sure he wants to have a family, which of course leaves me in limbo.

    The thought of going back into the dating scene makes me nauseous, especially as the dating pool dwindles and my friends are settling down with weddings and new homes. I feel totally stuck, unprepared and unsure of what to do.

    I know because of the narrative millennial women have been conditioned to believe via movies, television, and even by our own parents that I cannot be alone in this struggle. If I could go back in time, I would have pursued the same things; but I would have accepted the fact earlier on that I should also plan accordingly for the other things that make a well-rounded life—including marriage, family, career and a partner who’s on the same page.

  17. Oscar says:

    Like I said in “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”, chivalry is for tournaments, not for combat.

    It’s good to place a limit on the cruelty of war, and the best way to do that is to win as quickly and efficiently as possible (assuming that peace is not a viable option).

  18. Rudolph says:

    Galaxy Quest being a love letter to Star Trek puts me in mind of an episode of Deep Space Nine where some Klingons (who were all about honor) in were ambushing their enemies by pretending to be in distress or some such ambush style tactic.

    “[Ambush tactic] That doesn’t seem very honorable.”

    “There is nothing more honorable than victory.”

  19. Red Dragon says:

    That’s the problem, isn’t it? The reason we enjoy entertainment is that our emotional circuitry doesn’t know the difference. I never thought about it from this perspective, but the stories we tell ourselves are sabotaging us.

  20. Dave II says:

    That’s my problem with The Handmaid’s Tale. As Red Dragon says, our emotional circuitry doesn’t know a fictional story isn’t true, even though we consciously do. So it seems to me that a show like Handmaid’s Tale is just planting a horrifying false history in the hearts and minds of its viewers about how terrible patriarchy is. This will then make it easier to justify feminist encroachment into civil life, culture and legislature in future. We already see this effect with the articles comparing Handmaid’s Tale to Trump’s America, even though the writers are literally living through Trump’s America and know it isn’t so.

  21. BillyS says:

    It was pure propaganda Dave II. I can’t remember all the details I read (I have never seen the movie), but it has many logical flaws along with its preaching.

  22. feministhater says:

    Gosh Nick. For a moment I thought you were telling us your life story and you were a woman…

  23. eriksvane says:

    Those Ghastly Men! The Bloody Bastards Oppressed
    Our Sisters and Our Mothers and Our Mothers’ Mothers
    and Our… (with Apologies to Monty Python)

    • TEACHER: They bled us white, the bastards! They’ve taken everything we have! They did nothing but oppress us! And not just us! They oppressed our mothers! And our mothers’ mothers—
    • LITTLE GIRL CHIMES IN: And our mothers’ mothers’ mothers!
    • TEACHER: Yeah—
    • LITTLE GIRL KEEPS GOING: And our mothers’ mothers’ mothers’ mothers!
    • TEACHER: Alright, Fran. Don’t belabor the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!

  24. Pingback: Confusing history with literature. | Dalrock

Comments are closed.