Exaggerations in the Media

To be honest, I’ve never really thought about just how much fantastical media about ancient Egypt is out there for us to consume. It wasn’t until I read the intro chapter to our class’s book that I realized just how easy it is to take the concept of ancient Egypt and make it into a best seller or a horror movie. Take mummies, for example; they have been portrayed as the monster in many scary stories and movies, some of which don’t even take place anywhere near Egypt. They rise from their coffin, blindly chasing after the heroes with their arms out, sometimes even letting out a ghostly moan. Where does this image come from? From what I know, it is quite an exaggeration from what a real mummy actually is. Is it perhaps even disrespectful that the image of a mummy has been so blown out of proportion from its original fascinating beauty? In addition, as Bard states, “Ancient Egypt at the movies includes several films about Cleopatra VII, usually as an exotic seductress.” I’m no expert on Cleopatra, but I’m sure that those films magnify traits about her that the audience members would enjoy seeing, rather than portray the woman who actually was. I understand this is all for entertainment and for the enjoyment of the masses. I myself have read the first three books in the series Bard talks about; the series written by Elizabeth Peters about the fictional Egyptologist Amelia Peabody. Human beings like their entertainment, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good book or movie. I just think that Ancient Egypt has so much beauty to it, so much to be learned from and to decipher and understand without having to exaggerate any of its existing features. I just hope that before people turn to media for an idea of how ancient Egypt lived, they would instead look at the real evidence that archaeologists have uncovered.

1 thought on “Exaggerations in the Media

  1. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about issues such as this. Egypt is not the only ancient culture that popular media has distorted and altered in order to please an audience (look no further than the latest and refrigerator-filled Indiana Jones movie for an example).

    Yet, I’ve come to the conclusion that, in reality, as long as these shows and movies portray what they are talking about as fiction, then I don’t have a problem with a little distortion of reality. The original Mummy movie may not be accurate to Egyptian culture, but it sure is entertaining, which is what the creators were going for. And TV shows such as Stargate SG-1, that present ancient Egypt as being ruled by evil space-aliens, really doesn’t bother me either so long as they present themselves as fictional and not a documentary.

    This leads me to my point that what really does make me angry are shows and books that distort historical and archaeological facts and presents them as the Truth. For anyone who’s ever watched Ancient Aliens on the History Channel and started yelling at the television set or laughing hysterically, you know what I’m talking about. These shows present what they are saying not as entertainment (and it sure is entertaining), but as the Truth! And that archaeologists are either completely wrong, or intentionally covering up the Truth for nefarious purposes.

    Shows and other media of this nature are what we need to be wary of. I think that the average person who watches a fictional show like Indiana Jones has the good sense to think that everything about the past that the show presents is probably not entirely accurate. I do not, however, think that the average person has the intelligence to tell when someone is outright lying to them and presenting their version of the past as the Truth.

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