Distortions of the Daniel Boone Legend and Their Impact

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Distortions of the Daniel Boone Legend and Their Impact

[1] The silent film, With Daniel Boone Thru the Wilderness, was produced in 1926: a time of prosperity, an era without the skepticism of the modern American mind. People were not yet questioning the stories and histories they had been taught as children. The entertaining story told in this Robert North Bradbury film is loosely based on the life of an American hero. However, the presence of several insidiously inaccurate historical representations demonstrates how an entertaining film might not be as innocent as it initially seems. This film fails to question certain key issues concerning the Daniel Boone legend. In fact, it does quite the opposite. The creators of this film wholeheartedly bought into the many warped myths and distorted “facts” surrounding the story of Daniel Boone. Amazingly, the ethnocentric (read racist and colonial) ideals found in 19th century whites apparently still existed in 1926, and, to a certain extent, still do today. This essay will explore the factors that contributed to the twisted representations found in With Daniel Boone Thru the Wilderness. Hopefully, the work of this essay and many others like it will help the next generation of Americans (and filmmakers) to avoid the same injustices and societal pitfalls that have plagued mankind for ages.

[2] So, then, what exactly are the problems with this film? Notably, nearly every film or TV show based on Daniel Boone has similar twisted depictions and representations of Boone, the native Americans, the white settlers, and the interaction therein. This suggests something deeper, and subtler maybe, than a few misinformed filmmakers. Something hidden seems to be imbedded deep w...

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...s and attitudes. It means history classes that teach more than a few pre-selected facts and films that admit that there may be more than one side to every story.

[23] Diagnosis may be simple, but remedy is never easy. Awareness is the key. As more people become more aware of the half-truths, distortions, injustices, and outright oppressions occurring in the world today, the future will become less of a variable. Americans can gain conscious control of their future, making choices that will allow for freedom and equality, for spiritual growth and renewal. A nation cannot learn from its own mistakes unless and until those mistakes are admitted and reconciled. That process must start now.

[24] America is redefining itself once again as the new millennium rolls in. Hopefully, this time around everybody will be well-represented in that definition.

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