Opinion: Despite minor inaccuracy, ‘Lincoln’ belongs in schools

Michael Bragg

Kevin Griffin

Michael BraggThe Oscars were divvied out Sunday night, and four films with historical context were up for Best Picture, including “Lincoln,” the recent Steven Spielberg motion picture that won Daniel Day-Lewis the Best Actor award for his portrayal as the 16th president.

While “Lincoln” lost to another historical drama, “Argo,” Americans, specifically grade school students, have not seen the last of this phenomenal narrative of Abraham Lincoln before his assassination.

Disney Educational Productions announced Feb. 12 that it plans to send every middle and high school in the U.S. a free copy of the acclaimed film after its release in a campaign called “Stand Tall: Live like Lincoln,” according to the Denver Post.  The cost to send the movie to the approximately 25,000 public and private school and how each copy will be paid for has not been revealed yet.

This announcement is wonderful news to every middle and high school student who will not only have the opportunity to view a film that captures the issues of the past, but a chance to reflect on how historical events of justice and equality have occurred over and over in this great nation.

But of course, with everything political – even movies – there is controversy. And this concern is actually valid.
Democratic Congressman from Connecticut Joe Courtney claimed that the dramatic vote to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment was misrepresented, referring to a government record of all congressional leaders in Connecticut at the time voting “yea” for the amendment to abolish slavery when two members in the film rejected it.

Courtney, along with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, have called on Academy-award winning director Spielberg to correct this part of the film before it is sent to the classrooms.

But I have an idea: instead of wasting Spielberg and the cast and crew’s time, why don’t you just make a note of the correction to be discussed in the classroom?

God forbid a teacher should have to teach their students.

Yes, the scene is inaccurate, but other films in the running for Best Picture, such as “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” had a few tweaks in their histories as well. But that’s Hollywood, and its more important to entertain than it is to inform.

Putting a copy of one of the best biographical films of this generation, with excellent acting that brings the historical icon to life, is a well-intended and genuine move by Disney.

Courtney and Dowd, thank you for pointing out the inaccuracy that really shook the foundations of our beings. Now, every student who watches the movie can be at peace knowing two members from Connecticut did not vote against the Thirteenth Amendment, and they can continue watching the incredible historical and now educational film that is “Lincoln.”

Bragg, a junior journalism and public relations major from Lillington, is the editor-in-chief.