Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This Annoys Me

In the History Channel documentary The Crusades - Crescent & The Cross, William, Archbishop of Tyre, author of one of the most highly-regarded contemporary chroniclesof the Crusades, is portrayed in dramatic re-enactments by an actor in a long black robe, with a very long and unkempt grey beard and hair, so long and untidy that the viewer wonders whether might be some bugs or rats crawling around in them, speaking passages from his chronicles to other monks in what appears to be a very dark and dank northern European castle or monastery.

Why does this annoy me? Well, we happen to know that William didn't look anything at all like that, for one thing. He looked like this:

-- tonsured, and wearing light-colored robes, as was usual for Crusaders living in the Holy Land, as William did for almost his entire life. We can even deduce, from the way William points his left eye toward his writing in this and other pictures of him, that the vision in his right eye may have been impaired. In the case of many leading figures of the Crusades, we have to guess how they looked. In William's case no guessing was necessary, and still the History Channel managed to get his appearance about as wrong as possible. That's what annoys me.

I'm also annoyed by the way that the actor portraying William shouts and hisses the passages from William's work in such a way as to make William seem quite an unpleasant and fanatical creep. But maybe this wasn't intentional, maybe the actor was doing the best he could and unaware of how creepy he was being.

By our 21st-century standards, William certainly said much which was fanatical and bigoted. Compared to his 12th-century Crusader contemporaries, however, William was very unusually broad-minded and mild-tempered. But if you only know him from this History channel program, you're going to think he was a snarling bigot who looked like a Druid. But of course, that's par for the course for the History Channel. The narrator of The Last Days of World War II pronounces "Volkstuerm" as if it were spelled "Wochsstromm," and "Braun" like the English "brawn" instead of its correct pronunciation, which is identical to that of its synonym "brown." The History channel is the only place I've ever heard the word "ArMIStice" spoken with the emPHASis on the the second SylLABle.

They churn out nothing but crap and I hate them.


  1. My husband, who is an historian, refuses to watch History Channel for this exact reason. It drives him absolutely crazy with rage. I can't watch Animal Planet for the same reason.

  2. Ha! Please tell your husband he made my day, Mary Ellen.