Truth has nothing to do with fiction

Just a short note today, but a short note is sometimes enough:

Have you also noticed how cultural consumers of the world — people reading books, going to plays, watching movies — have become obsessed with ”the truth”?

It doesn’t matter how sagaesque something is. There will still be someone who says: That’s not how it actually happened!

The problem is, of course, that truth is better than fiction: The events at Pearl Harbor make for a great movie script. And remember ”The Social Network”, the movie about Facebook? It was not a documentary. It just wasn’t. It never pretended to be. It just used the basics of an interesting historic event and made fiction out of it.

I don’t quite get why people are upset.

Scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin is not to be held responsible for what he did with ”the truth” on Mark Zuckerberg in that movie. Or anything else, for that matter. And why is that? Because he is a fiction writer. He is free to do whatever the heck he wants with history as long as he calls it fiction. Which he does. The obsession with ”true” and ”false” in a world of literature and movies, meant to be nothing but fiction, leads us to less of an understanding for what cultural expressions really are.

Again, it’s really that simple: Sorkin is a fiction writer, looking for a great story. He will use parts of reality to create fiction. That ”contract” with the viewer/reader/reciever/consumer is as old as telling stories.

Get it. And get on with it.


Andreas Ekström is a journalist, analyst, author and award winning keynote speaker — based in Sweden, but working all around the world. He writes on Medium most Tuesdays. (Well… some Tuesdays.) Read more here: or follow on Twitter:

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