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"Does humor ruin the civil war?" Topic

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The H Man05 Aug 2021 1:06 a.m. PST

To be precise Ken Burn's the civil war.

I love the anecdotes and humerus jokes/stories, but does it lighten the film too much?

I know these things were said, but I get the feeling they were put in to tone it down for a mass audience, as there is some pretty graphic stuff (photos and stories) also.

Thoughts? Does the humor distract or muddy the topic/theme?

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Aug 2021 2:07 a.m. PST

I think there are several reasons.

Ken Burns is a real expert at what he does and he judged it appropriate.

He probably wanted to engage his audience.

Humour is often present in the most arduous situations. Be that a black humour or a lighter vein. To not include it is akin to showing a narrow perspective such as "don't consider the whole war just the uniforms".

I am loathe to criticise such a distinguished film maker, as I have no awards for film making. Ken even has a computer graphics action named after him.

I would include myself as "mass audience" many wargamers would put themselves far above ordinary folk I fear.


PS. If folk try hard enough they can find something to be offended by. I am sure Ken's work is no exception.

Fitzovich Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2021 2:10 a.m. PST

I have found Ken Burns work to be boring. Never known one that didn't put me to sleep 😴. That said humor in gaming or media doesn't bother me too much.

The H Man05 Aug 2021 3:41 a.m. PST

"Ken even has a computer graphics action named after him" Royalty free I assume. So not to confuse folk, the effect well predates his work, and any use in computers for that matter.

That said, he uses the effect very well. As does Law and Order for that matter.

Choctaw05 Aug 2021 6:34 a.m. PST

I think it humanized the soldiers so the modern viewer could relate. Our ancestors weren't the stiff caricatures we see in period photographs. They were living, breathing people who laughed, cried and thought much like we do today.

Lascaris05 Aug 2021 7:25 a.m. PST

+1 Choctaw

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2021 9:47 a.m. PST

I agree. I think it was done to help humanize the participants.

doc mcb05 Aug 2021 1:55 p.m. PST

My roommate wrote a musical comedy about WWI trech warfare: "The Bells of Hell"

Glengarry505 Aug 2021 2:49 p.m. PST

"Oh what a lovely war" anyone? link

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2021 3:09 p.m. PST

While some thing in Burns presentation vexed me the humor did not. Choctaw put it very beautifully above.

Lazyworker05 Aug 2021 4:29 p.m. PST

Answer, no.

Any of us who do any 1st hand account research quickly find gallows, dark humor written down. The human brain has been around a long, long time.

To paraphrase Choctaw, it helps the viewer humanize the soldiers.

The H Man06 Aug 2021 4:08 p.m. PST

"Any of us who do any 1st hand account research quickly find gallows, dark humor written down. The human brain has been around a long, long time.

To paraphrase Choctaw, it helps the viewer humanize the soldiers."

That's a bit contradictory though.

To say it's what the reality was, then to say it was only put in to help viewers. At least, it suggests a lot of other things were left out, thus again creating more humor than there may have been.

raylev307 Aug 2021 2:03 p.m. PST

No, because anyone who's been to war knows that there's humor…sometimes dark humor, but it's there. As long as it suits the film, in this case, and supports the point being made, it's fine.

DJCoaltrain10 Aug 2021 7:59 p.m. PST

The purpose of humor in theater (The Rustic Bucolic) is to drain off tension and bring the audience back from the precipice of complete despair. It's derived from traditional Aristotelian theater. Shakespeare used it.

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