The Kennedys – why all the fuss?

Last night The History Channel screened the first episode of the apparently controversial four-part drama The Kennedys (with Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear playing the presedential couple). I don’t have The History Channel so will have to wait until it comes to BBC2 later this spring, but I am definitely interested in watching it. This is partly because I’m not a big fan of Katie Holmes and was admittedly surprised she was cast in such an iconic role as Jackie Kennedy, but now am curious to see if she pulls it off. But mostly my curiosity lies in the controversy it has caused Stateside – and the fact that it almost didn’t air.

Having such an idolised president depicted (so I hear) as an aphetamine-popping womaniser, well, it’s bound to kick up a few comments from hard-core patriots… but surely that picture isn’t news to us. And as for the real issue of ‘historical innacuracy’ (with particular contention revolving around the series featuring conversations with JFK in the Oval office that apparently never happened), surely we have come to accept that dramas must allow for creative licence. Films and dramas are not documentaries. Admittedly, one can argue that screening the mini-series on The History Channel does grant the drama a certain historical stamp of approval (and the reason why The History Channel in the US felt compelled to drop the series following such controversy), but no other big American TV network picked it up either. It has ended up being broadcast on the obscure ReelzChannel (?!).

By now we are used to seeing US politicians and politics in a less than favourable light, and we are used to controversial pictures that may or may not be blurring the line between fiction, biased opinion and fact. We’ve even learned to take many newspaper headlines with a pinch of salt. So really, why all the fuss? Was there this much objection to Oliver Stone’s W.? Do the Kennedy’s still retain this much of an aura about them that it’s inconceivable to bring them down from their pedestal? For a country that stands for Freedom of Speech, it seems it’s more a question of Freedom of Speech (But Only If We Really Like What You’re Saying…)

If anyone caught the first episode I’d love to hear your comments.

Chiara Priorelli, Publicity & Online Marketing Manager

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