经济学人|Uneasy lies the head of production

Yet a television series that fictionalises reality is more truthful than the story the royals sold


“I’m struggling to find any redeeming features in these people at all ,” says Margaret Thatcher to her husband Denis in the course of a visit to Balmoral Castle, where the Thatchers are snubbed, humiliated and forced to play an after-dinner game called Ibble Dibble in which players smear their faces with burnt cork while getting drunk. Oliver Dowden, Britain’s culture secretary, takes a similar view of the portrayal of the Royal Family in “The Crown”. He believes that the real royals have been traduced by Netflix, which makes the drama, and has demanded that the company issue a health warning before future episodes, pointing out that the programme is fiction.

Margaret Thatcher 在访问 Balmoral Castle 的过程中同向他的丈夫说,“我努力的从这些人中找到哪怕一点儿可取之处”。在那里,Thatchers 被怠慢、羞辱、以及被迫在一个餐后游戏 Ibble Dibble 中扮演角色,在游戏中扮演者在输酒的时候脸上会被涂上草木灰。英国的文化部长 Oliver Dowden 在 “The Crown ” 中对王室的描述持同样的观点。他相信,真正的王室已经被 制作这部电视剧的奈飞公司重伤,并且要求该公司在未来的剧集播放前发出健康警告,指出该节目是虚构的。

It seems odd that a government led by a man who is writing a book on Shakespeare should insist on historical accuracy in drama. Boris Johnson has not been heard complaining that “Richard III” libels a supposedly non-nepoticidal monarch. All drama that involves real people is, to some extent, fiction: when Charles and Diana stared into each other’s eyes and realised it was over, no one else was in the room where it happened. If those being portrayed are dead, decently behaved and unimportant, nobody cares what lines script writers make up for them. But if they are alive, adulterous and the heir to the throne, things are bound to get sticky.

这似乎很奇怪,一个由正在写一本关于莎士比亚的书的人领导的政府,竟然在电视剧中坚持历史的准确性。Boris Johnson 没有听取抱怨(在 “Richard III ”重伤了一个非裙带关系的君主)。在某种程度上,所有涉及到真实人物的电视剧都是虚构的:当 Charles 和 Diana 互相凝视并且意识到一切都结束时,现场房间里并没有其它人。如果被扮演的人已经死了、举止得体或者是个配角,那么没有人会在意编剧给他什么样的台词。但是如果这个人还活着,并且通奸,还是王位继承人,事情就会变得棘手起来。

It is not surprising, then, that the release of the latest episodes has been accompanied by the sound of remote controls ricocheting off Home County walls. Conservatives are furious because their pin-up, Margaret Thatcher, appears as a rasping termagant determined to spill the blood of Argentines and rub the noses of the poor in the dirt. The royals’ friends and flunkeys are outraged that the Windsors are portrayed as cold-hearted bullies who drive Diana to bulimia. The series, they claim, is untrue, unfair and will harm the monarchy.

因此,在新剧的发布的时候,伴随着遥控器摔墙的回声发出也不足为奇了。保守党非常愤怒,因为他们的偶像 Margaret Thatcher 看起来就像一个暴躁的泼妇,决心要血洗阿根廷,并且让穷人的鼻子沾上泥土。王室的朋友和谄媚者 对 Windsors 被描述成一个冷血的恶霸感到愤怒,Diana因此患上了暴食症。他们声称,这个系列电视剧不是真实的,也不公平,并且会损坏君主制。

If the monarchy is so vulnerable that a man pretending to be Prince Charles saying mean things to a woman pretending to be his wife damages it gravely, then the institution has probably outlived its usefulness. Famous people are often portrayed in ways they do not like, but that is one of the costs of free speech. If they feel strongly enough about it, they can sue; but Netflix’s lawyers are probably not sitting by the phone.

如果君主制如此脆弱,以至于一个假扮 Charles 王子的男子对一个假扮王子妻子的女人说一些刻薄的话,就能严重破坏它,那么这个制度或许就该废弃了。名人们经常会被扮演成他们不喜欢的方式,但这就是言论自由的代价之一。如果他们对此强烈反感,他们可以诉讼。但是,奈菲的律师也不会闲着。

The most interesting charge is of untruth. Certainly, “The Crown” distorts chronology and invents events. Prince Philip was not estranged from his mother. The queen did not visit Churchill on his deathbed. The row between Lord Mountbatten and Prince Charles before the prince’s mentor is blown up by the ira is, so far as anybody knows, made up. Yet the monarchy, too, is a purveyor of fiction. “Richard III” was propaganda written by a Tudor toady to justify the overthrow of the previous regime. The Windsors constructed their own happyfamily story, which turned out to be less true than the fictionalised tale of dysfunction and despair. And, all in all, they do not come badly out of “The Crown”. Its theme is the conflict between duty and personal fulfilment, which causes pain to cascade down from generation to generation. That is no fiction.

最有趣的指控理由是不真实。当然,这部剧修改了时间线,并且捏造了事件。Philip 王子并没有和母亲疏远。Churchill 弥留之际,女王并没有去看望他。众所周知,在 Charles 王子的老师被爱尔兰共和军炸死之前,他和 Lord Mountbatten之间的争吵是虚构的。然而,君主政体也是谎言的传播者。Richard III 是 今天 Tudor 王朝的马屁精为推翻前政权辩护的宣传片。王室家族构建了他们自己的幸福家庭故事,但事实证明,这个充满绝望的虚构家庭故事并不真实。而且,总而言之,这些负面消息从影视剧中出现并不是很糟糕。影视的主题是责任和个人现实的冲突,这种冲突造成的疼痛代代相传。这点并不是虚构的。

Since a government wedded to free speech is unlikely to haul Netflix’s chief executive to the Tower of London for ignoring Mr Dowden, the intervention should be read as mere virtue-signalling to conservative Britons. Still, the government’s concern for veracity is welcome.

既然一个坚持言论自由的政府不太可能因为无视 Dowden 先生就把奈飞公司的首席执行官拉到伦敦塔,那么这次干预应该被解读为对英国保守党的一种美德信号。不过,政府对真实性的关注还是值得表扬的。


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