Tony Kushner is a superb playwright (``Angels in America,'' ``Homebody/Kabul'', among many), but he's wrong in his argument with Connecticutt congressman Joe Courtney over the film ``Lincoln.''
Courtney, viewing the Steven Spielberg film, screenplay by Kushner, was thrown by a scene that indicates two Connecticutt representatives voted against the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. The historical fact is that all four of the state's representatives voted to pass the 13th. No nays coming from Connecticutt in that historic vote.
So, Courtney objects to the scene. Kushner's retort is that he was simply trying to show that the vote was a very close thing. And, he adds:
``I hope nobody is shocked to learn that I also made up dialogue and imagined encounters and invented characters.''
We all know writers invent dialogue and situations, but we assume that they stick to historic fact when they can, and in the case of the 13th Amendment it seems there must have been another way around the issue than tagging Connecticutt with a false and negative fact. What would New York or Vermont have thought?
But really, what it comes down to is kids. Any kid into the film is probably not going to be sophisticated enough to realize that a writer might have changed an historic fact. That kid would probably carry from the film the impression that Connecticutt nearly changed American history in a very profound way.
The kid would carry that impression because we can assume the scene is dramatic – this is Kushner and Spielberg, after all.
Courtney's been fairly amiable about the controversy. He thinks it would be a good idea if the scene could somehow be corrected to reflect the truth when the film is issued as a dvd. Seems like a fair proposal.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...