I recently attended a watch party for the Flint Lifetime movie with some of my friends that I work with, and it got me thinking. I am going abstain from giving my opinions about the movie itself, but it brought me to think about the larger idea of how Hollywood and other media outlets typically base their productions ‘on a true story’.
What does that even mean? Based on a true story?
I think originally it was supposed to mean that the movie or show, or novel was rooted in the factual account of a particular happening. Today, I think most people just ignore it, or laugh it off, and it almost implies a level of make believe.
I admit, some movies are actually based on true accounts, and do their diligence to (as accurately as possible) portray the story as truthfully as possible, but at what point does the finished product no longer deserve to bear the title? I feel that there should be a level of accuracy that must be met to be based on a true story, as it should imply a level of authenticity. However, I find the liberties that producers typical take blurs the line between fact and fiction and makes it difficult to know what is true and what isn’t.
I do not think the blame fully lies on the producer, as distinguishing between fact, fiction, and hyperbole is likely extremely difficult, especially with firsthand accounts. Take for instance a subjective story where two major characters have conflicting views about what happened, who did what, and the impacts they created. How do you incorporate their conflicting views into a show? How do you know what account is the ‘accurate’ account? I am not sure it is easy (or even possible) to do.
For me, this world is scary. The gray areas allow misinformation to disguise itself as fact. I enjoyed math as a kid because there was always a ‘right answer’ and at the most a couple ways to get there. When things become subjective they get messy, and I think there are few things messier than ethics.