26
Jun
18

Never let the truth get in the way

The cover of TIME is an obvious fabrication.

The picture of the little girl crying next to President Trump is not a single shot. The two are edited into one – to make it appear as though the POTUS is looking down at the girl who is upset because she is being separated from her parents.

It is a misleading photo, and TIME magazine’s editor-in-chief has been defending its use in the wake of critics. But right or wrong, true or not, it sends a message, grips the reader, get a reaction. That’s most likely what TIME wanted.

That’s entertainment.

Same goes for movies. The truth usually takes a back seat to whatever makes a better story.

I watched “The Sound of Music” with my daughter this weekend. (Weather was horrible; needed to kill 3 hours). I enjoyed the movie; the songs continue to resonate from when I used to watch it as a kid. But I hardly recalled the plot.

After Georg and Maria marry, I thought it would be “happily ever after” and that’s it. Then came the Swastika and talk about Hitler and The Third Reich.

The family eventually heads for the hills (which were alive with the sound …) and into neutral Switzerland. Movie over.

My daughter then Googled what really happened to the von Trapp family. They actually traveled to Italy, she discovered.

I told her that movies typically will switch out fact for fiction in order to improve the story line.

Sometimes it works, as in the case of Roy Hobbs in “The Natural.” Or rather it’s believable. But read the book, and you’ll find no feel-good ending with lights exploding. Who wanted to pay good money and spend two hours of their precious time to see Roy Hobbs strike out?

I remember watching Frank DeFord’s “Four Minutes” about Roger Bannister’s quest to run the first four-minute mile. The TV movie was compelling in that few thought at the time that such a feat was possible. But what ruined it for me was that Bannister had a girlfriend (sorry, love interest) in the film, which wasn’t true. That storyline didn’t make the film any better; made it worse, actually.

But DeFord must have thought “Four Minutes” required such treatment in order to attract a larger audience. That’s probably why you don’t see the film aired on ESPN. It wasn’t very good.

These examples remind me of what former NFL coach Jerry Glanville told me when I interviewed him about 12 years ago when he was coaching at Portland State.

Many a time while watching his teams play (he coached the Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons) on Sunday afternoons, the announcers would say Glanville routinely left tickets for Elvis Presley at the box office, even though “The King” was dead.

I asked him about it, and he said he left tickets for Elvis only once. It wasn’t every week.

But he never tried to debunk the notion. The reason?

“Why ruin a good story,” he reasoned, “with the truth.”

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