Manipulating The Audience

Sandy Boyer gives his view of a broadcast he recently viewed. Sandy Boyer is a co-host with Radio Free Eireann.

I watched "The Bloody Irish - Songs of the 1916 Rising" on PBS Channel 21 last night.

The music - great. The singers - fabulous.

The "history", especially the scenes in the GPO - the less said the better.

But it's the politics that really matter.

This show was made in Ireland for broadcast on PBS. It's going to Broadway next year. It still hasn't been broadcast in Ireland.

So this is what the Irish entertainment establishment thinks the Yanks need to know about 1916.

It is narrated by "Sir" John Grenfell Maxwell, who was brought in especially to crush the rebellion.

At the end of the play, he sums it all up by saying, in effect, "They did what they had to do and I did what I had to to."

Or to speak plainly, there was no difference between fighting for freedom and fighting for the British Empire.

Surely then, Bobby Sands did what he had to do and Maggie Thatcher did what she had to do.

This might not matter except that it is going to shape what Americans think abut 1916 and the fight for Irish freedom. After all, more Americans are likely to see it on PBS or on Broadway than will ever read any book on 1916.

But that, of course, is exactly as it's supposed to be.

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