Friday, May 20, 2016

What's in a Name?

Several months ago, I heard a Civil War movie was going to be coming to theaters this year. And I thought, “Cool!” I love historical movies, and the Civil War-era is a favorite of mine. It is filled with complex stories of loyalty and prejudice, of honor and brutality, and of tragedy and triumph. With more American casualties than all other American wars combined, the Civil War is a watershed event in American history and deserving of periodic treatment on film.

American dead at Antietam, Maryland. After the battle, Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which paved the way for the abolition of slavery.

By 1861, Ulysses S. Grant had failed as a soldier, farmer, and shopkeeper, but the Civil War would be the making of him. Seven years later, he was elected the 18th president of the United States.

So, imagine my disappointment when I learned it was a Captain America Civil War flick. Um, okay. I’m not really much for superheroes, but I did once humor my husband and watch the first Captain America movie with him (and thus, proved to him that I really do love him), so I supposed that could work. I mean, the last few years have seen the Big Screen invaded by this.

And this.

Why not a time traveling Captain America who journeys back to the 1860’s?

But no. Turns out the movie isn't historical at all. It's just Superhero vs. Superhero. (And my husband said that while it was darker than the previous ones, he liked it more than he thought he would.)

Color me disappointed. Surely there's some kind of truth-in-advertising claim I can make?

And then it got me to thinking how many times a word or phrase misleads. Worse, oftentimes, it's not an innocent mistake but a deliberate act. People with an agenda redefine words because there is power in redefining a word, the power to shape a response.

Indeed, the ethos of our post-modern era is that all things are relative and there is no absolute truth. Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass seems almost prescient.

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

God has a lot to say about truth. Indeed, Jesus tells us he is the Truth, and he expects truth from us.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)


  1. LOL. But to be fair, Captain America is about *a* civil war. Just not the US one--it's one Marvel fans know as the one that divided the Avengers. Yes, I am a Marvel geek.

    I would have gone to see a Civil War movie with you, though!

  2. So, did you see the movie, Susie? Did you like it? In Virginia, "Civil War" has a very specific meaning.

    Dh and oldest son went to see the movie. I stayed home and watched a chick-flick kind of thing -- probably Criminal Minds. (My husband will go see Superheroes fight each other, but he gets all creeped out by serial killers. Go figure.)

  3. OMIGOSH! I did the same thing. What a disappointment! 'color this Yankee hoo'

    Speaking of disappointment, I really didn't love MERCY STREET like I wanted to. But I'll watch it again. What did you think, C.J.?

    1. Have to agree with you on Mercy Street. There were a lot of characters to keep straight, and so many of them weren't that likable.

      One thing I found very interesting was how small the set was for Mercy Street. I lived in Alexandria years ago, so I was curious to see if they included any shots of the town. But almost all the scenes were set indoors. There were a couple scenes in a courtyard and a few outside of town (that could have been filmed anywhere), but nothing that made me say, "Oh, I know that place."

  4. What? It's not a Civil War movie? Well, I'm glad I'm in such lovely company. I would have been so terribly disappointed as well.

    I liked Mercy Street - except for the final episode. They built up so much hype about the bomb and then ***SPOILER ALERT*** pfzzt nothing. However, I am looking forward to the next season, if there is one.

    1. Even though I didn't love Mercy Street as much as I'd hoped I would, I'm still looking forward to more, and I'll at least give it another season. I hope the producers can crank it up a notch and get it that...something extra.


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