I'm beginning this discussion to act as a hub for bringing to light discoveries anyone has made, or will make in the future, with regard to how Irish culture and Irish people are portrayed and represented in the media (including television and film).

Recent examples are Maureen Dowd's critique on 'Downton Abbey' and the way the Irish are portrayed therein, several Irish songs in the Coen Brothers film "Inside Llewyn Davis", and a PBS 3-part series titled"Chasing Shackleton," about six men who are tracing Kildare-born explorer Ernest Shackleton's bid to rescue his fellow crewmembers in the Antarctic.

So let's use this thread to call attention to these references when and where we come across them.

Tags: Media

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I enjoyed Dublin-born Bono's evocative and mellifluous love song "Ordinary Love," performed by U2, in the new film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." (IMDB). Wonderful film, and I kept thinking that I knew nothing of Mandela until I was in college in the early 1970s, and how the South African apartheid government, with U.S. and UK government connivance, worked to marginalize Mandela and his fellow defendants in the Rivonia Trial. Startling!

Had to roll my eyes at Dowd's article, as well as 1,000 others written about the show recently.  It's a soap opera, people!  Why are you analyzing it like it's a serious social commentary?

Agreed.

Kelly, I haven't read Maureen Dowd's commentary, so I can't comment on it. But I believe "Downton Abbey" helps formulate perceptions of history, of fact, if you will, and in so doing these representations are important and open to critique. I'm not troubled by the series' presentation of Irish themes, to date, and do find them quite fascinating. Wicklow-born Tom Branson's involvement in the Irish Civil War, along with his noble-born wife, for example, and his ascent into the family's bosom. The last episode's reference to Powerscourt Estate, in Wicklow I found compelling also, and to Lady Powerscourt. The place of the Irish ascendancy in everyday Irish life seems accurately portrayed in that particular discussion between Tom and the Duchess, and hopefully might spur a viewer to learn more.

I'm still gobsmacked by the English nanny two weeks ago in "Downton Abbey" who glared at Tom's motherless baby girl, dismissing her as a "crossbreed." I've heard of that kind of ethnic antagonism from my Dad and in the news media, but never experienced it. Directed at an infant no less! To Julian Fellowes, I say, well done!

Eww - yeah, she was evil.

Oh yes, of course it's open to critique.  I just think it's being taken too seriously.  If anyone is getting their sense of history from a soap opera about fictional characters, that's unfortunate.  I enjoy watching it on occasion, but I recognize it as a melodrama...much like Ms. Dowd's article.  Incidentally, I think they actually handle the Irish plot points pretty well.

Haha, yeah that's the one.  Here's 2 more:  Ms. Dowd is getting her knickers in a twist over a tempest in a teapot!

I feel she's missing the point.  In the first paragraph she is calling all who watch the show (Americans singled out in particular for some reason) snobs and elitists. Why?  Especially when, from what I understand, the most popular characters are the chambermaid and the chauffeur?  The struggles of the working people in the show are presented alongside those of the nobility, sometimes making the upper class look petty in comparison.  She claims the writers don't show how cruel the nobility could be to their servants, then immediately expresses horror that they DO.  You can't have it both ways.  If she doesn't like the show, that's fine.  I just think her analysis is flawed and overblown.  Is her next piece going to be on how we all want to be meth cooks because we watch Breaking Bad?

Thank you, Alan.  You've said it much better than I.

I have to disagree. As soon as they took the Irish rebel journalist into their family it lost all credibility. It is a distortion of history. Yes, there should be some artistic license, but I worry about the current trend to revise history, especially English and Irish.  Julian Fellowes has a political agenda.

That said everybody has a right to watch what they want. But, people also have the right to criticize. Maureen Dowd isn't the only one who has brought up the issues. Obviously, I am one of the thousands.

OK, you can start rolling your eyes. :)

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