Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dear History Channel

"Those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat history class"

Dear History Channel,

For a very long time, you have been detrimental to the historical literacy of the United States. At a time when many of my fellow citizens are shockingly ignorant of geography (link), religion (link), and our constitution and government (link), you use your network and the clout that comes with its name to show pawn shops and conspiracy theories.

With the exception of holocaust denial, I have seen you air programs on virtually every kind of pseudo-history. This includes everything from claims about aliens building the pyramids to shows that seemingly treat the Bible in a literal manner. While it may be good for your ratings, this drivel has contributed to a deep confusion about the methods of historians and archaeologists. If this wasn't bad enough, the shows that you put on your networks which are supposed to be "historically accurate" sometimes contain egregious errors of their own.

An unfortunate example of this is The World Wars. This program, which contains some very cool reenactments, an awesome motion score, and many good historical explanations, contained a very historically inaccurate segment about Lenin's takeover of Russia. Rather than taking the 10 minutes needed to explain the actual history of these events, this program totally omitted the February Revolution and stated that Stalin and Lenin directly overthrew the Tsarist government of Nicholas II. This is a mistake that an A student in a World History class in high school would have caught.

As a citizen of the USA, I believe that you owe the American public an apology. Rather than focusing on swamp people and Bigfoot, you could focus on many other topics that are both interesting and historically accurate. In just about 2 minutes, I came up with the following list:

  1. A history of aviation from the Wright Brothers to the Apollo missions
  2. the role languages have played in the development of man
  3. the dropping and making of the atomic bomb
  4. Galileo's role in the Scientific Revolution
  5. the philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution
  6. a comparison and explanation of the major world religions
  7. a legitimate explanation of how the pyramids were actually built 
  8. an examination of the controversial Frontier Thesis
  9. a deep, long look at natural history 
  10. an explanation of the roots and interconnections of american music forms like Jazz and Rock and Roll.
While I understand that drivel may be a slightly easier sell, there are many historical topics like these that inform and entertain. Cosmos and Ken Burns' documentaries show that this can be done. If you were to focus instead on endeavors like these, you would be worthy of your name and would be providing a great service.

Thanks for your time,

a concerned historian


  1. I went from loving the History Channel to never watching it because of all the non-history (never mind the absolute BS). They should change their name if they're going to continue in the vein of their current programming.

  2. Wonderfully stated. THIS is the reason that I cancelled my cable subscription. So while the lowest denominator is making the "History" Channel money, just know those with decent educations are spending their money elsewhere.

  3. I got rid of cable because most of the channels I used to love, Like History Television and Discovery Channel started showing crap.

  4. I miss the history from The History Channel.

    The problem is, quality programming is not as easy or cheap to produce. And its appeal is drastically limited in this grossly undereducated country of ours.

    I haven't watched THC in years.

    Except Drunk History. Funny shit.

  5. It's people like you that were brought up being allowed to do whatever you wanted as a child. Your parents have raised a monster and I'm certain you'd argue that black was white for the sake of winning.

    While I agree with you on some points, ie drivel. Some of the things being aired are actually entertaining. I happen to quite like the ancient astronaut theory programmes and I even have a degree of skepticism on the matter.

    On the other hand. Fuck you. If you want to bring jazz and religion to the TV then I suggest you invest some money and become a shareholder.