Assume the Position with Mr. Wuhl (2006 TV Short)
Robert Wuhl: 1775: Boston, Massachusetts. A British postal worker, twenty-three years old, a postal rider hears that the British are invading. He gets on a horse and rides 350 miles to warn the colonists, and his name is?
Audience: Paul Revere.
Robert Wuhl: His name is Israel Bissell. Israel Bissell! Now, did Paul Revere ride? Absolutely! He went a good nineteen miles. He went from Boston to Cambridge. The only person he could have warned was the Dean of Harvard. Israel Bissell on the other hand goes from Boston across Massachusetts, down through Rhode Island, across Connecticut, down into New York, across New Jersey to Philadelphia. Guys, how chafed are Bissell's balls at this point, on a horse? He's on a horse! This is a long ride on Amtrak.
Robert Wuhl: Tolstoy said, "History is a wonderful. If only it were true." And that's what the course is. It's the stories that made up America and the stories that America made up.
Robert Wuhl: There are very few universal truths in the world. One is food always tastes better when somebody else is paying for it. Universal truth. The other is that everybody in this room was taught the story of how Columbus when before Queen Isabella of Spain and he was gonna prove to her that the world was...
Robert Wuhl: Do you know that Queen Isabella of Spain, pretty smart woman I gotta believe, would have said to Christopher Columbus if he laid this line of her? She would have looked at him and go, "Christopher, Aristotle figured out the world was round 2000 years ago! This is 1492, the year they invented the globe!" So this "world in round" story is 100% bullshit. It's total fiction. Yet how did our grandparents learn this? We learned this? Our grandchildren are probably gonna learn this. How come? Because history is pop culture. In the early 1800s, the biggest pop culture figure in America decided he was going to tell the story. His name: Washington Irving.
Robert Wuhl: What is media in the 1800s? Well, you've got a town crier and his circulation is what, fifty yards?
Robert Wuhl: [about "Rip van Winkle"] Story about a man who has a nagging wife. He gets drunk, goes to sleep for twenty years, wakes up, his wife is dead and he lives happily ever after.
Robert Wuhl: Napoleon once said that "History is a myth men agree to believe."
Robert Wuhl: Assume the position that pop culture is history. A hundred years from now when the Longfellow or the Irving of 2105 decides he wants to tell history his way, history may very well show that Al Gore *did* invent the internet, that George W. Bush was the most articulate statesman the world has ever known and that Michael Jackson was really the only normal one among us all.
Robert Wuhl: Everybody loves their country in a little bit different way. Some people, it's a "love-it-or-leave-it" type of thing and for those of us who have been married twenty-plus years it's more of a "Sure, she pisses me off at times. What the fuck am I gonna do, you know?"