Jon Breen's recent post over at Ed Gorman and Friends got me to thinking about bio-pics. I wondered the same thing that Jon did about Max Baer: was he as bad as he was made out to be in the movie? His son (yeah, the guy who played Jethro on Beverly Hillbillies) doesn't seem to think so. He was pretty upset about the movie. I did a little checking on the 'net, and Baer, while he was known as the "Clown Prince of Boxing" and certainly did his share of womanizing, doesn't seem to have been nearly as cruel and mean-spirited as he was depicted in the movie.
But my question is, why do we care? When I was growing up, nobody even thought twice about whether a movie based on historical characters was accurate. Most of the time, movies about heroic figures like Lincoln were pretty reverential. Movies about outlaws and gunslingers were the same. A historical figure might have a dark side, but it would never be more than hinted out. Or the villainous characters might have been exaggerated in the opposite way. Nobody minded, as far as I know.
And now it matters. Why? What changed? I'm sure there's an answer. I just don't know what it is.