Time Travel Theory of History

I’m rushing to post this before I catch a plane to the Media in Transition conference, but I just learned about Mike Huckabee’s new “Learn Our History” animated series via TPM, and I can’t resist a quick post (hopefully I’ll be able to edit this later). The series features a group of plucky teenagers who travel through time to learn about history as it “really” happened. The website’s FAQs emphasize that our history books teach students to “blame America first” and that (as a result), history is no longer fun.

As you might imagine, Ronald Reagan plays a key role, and the kids travel to hear an animated Reagan repeat several of his most famous soundbites (“government is not the solution to our problem, it is the problem”), with the kids nodding in agreement. But the videos themselves seem so earnest and unambiguous that they almost seem like self-parodies, as if one of Stephen Colbert’s writers was moonlighting for Fox News. Take a look:

There are two other videos that TPM spotted, and all three are worth a quick look. One narrates the history of World War II in two minutes and celebrated America coming together to defeat the godless Nazis. Two odd notes here: one is that we hear Reagan invoking God at the beginning of one video and then hear Hitler doing the same thing in the very next video. Second is the “you go girl” girl-powerism cited by one of the female teenagers when she spots a Rosie the Riveter poster. The other is a more detailed version of the Reagan video, complete with rioting inner city criminals (mostly black, of course).

I get the impulse here, and there is a long history of complaints about history being “too liberal,” but I find the mode of communicating this history here incredibly odd. By being so transparently conservative, it’s reductive to the point of self-parody, and the attempt to make the teens hip (does anyone still say “you go girl” without some degree of irony?) is equally off-key. Now it’s time for someone with editing skills to make the remix.

2 Comments »

  1. Chuck Said,

    May 12, 2011 @ 11:07 am

    I just wanted to add that the videos create some odd juxtapositions, hence my comment about Hitler and Reagan. The use of race is also striking given that the female teen time traveler who comments on the Rosie poster is black and there is no reflaction on the fact that a black female would be perceivedjust a bit differently in 1941 than she would be today.

    The cartoons want to posit an America that is essentially blameless, but there is also a sense that many of the problems that existed in the past–racism and sexism–don’t actually seem to exist. IIRC there is also no mention of Democratic pres FDR IN THE WW 2 video. The US just magically got together to win the war.

  2. Chuck Said,

    May 12, 2011 @ 11:08 am

    Commenting from my phone so apologies for any typos

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