Monday, July 30, 2007

Based on True Events

I was riding past a movie theater where the film Rescue Dawn was playing and the marquee read “based on true events,” which struck me as sort of interesting because when you get right down to it, every story ever written is based on true events, isn’t it?

It’s just a matter of how much embellishing goes on, at least that’s what I think.

So, for instance, if I write a story about how I’m winning the Nobel Prize for Literature (in the new category of blogging); I’m heading up to Stockholm to collect my award right after my come-from-behind victory in the Tour de France (in which I was never caught taking any performance-enhancing drugs), well that’s based on true events, right? After all, it’s true that someone wins those prizes and that race and it’s true that if I did win it I would certainly follow up my cycling victory with a trip to Sweden to pick up the prize, so who’s to complain that I’m pulling the facts out of thin air?

In general, I’m not that much of a fetishist about the truth, which is an unfortunate disposition for a philosopher to have. I usually prefer a good story to the facts; that’s why I like reading literature more than the news—not that what typically passes for news these days contains an overabundance of facts.

Of course, when people say “based on true events,” they mean that the connection between the story and what really transpired is pretty close, like how the movie “The Buddy Holly Story” stayed relatively true to how the famous musician lived and died, as opposed to something like Fox News, which doesn’t pretend to bear any sort of relationship between actual events in the world and the way those stories are told.

But I suppose that given my penchant for embellishment, all that I’m saying here should be considered suspect even if it is based on true events.


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