BY JESI MUNGUIA
Cultural shows have always piqued people’s interest.
These days, you can find a wide variety of shows dealing with foreign cultures and customs.
Now, next month a new cultural show that will be sailing into your living rooms about.. Vikings.
The British culture is probably the one you tend to see depicted the most on television. Based on ratings, anything British usually guarantees a hit.
That’s Downton Abbey, the highest-rated Drama in PBS History.
The series depicts the lives of a family and their servants during the 1900s.
But not all cultural shows are so prim and proper
The 2007 film, “300” depicts the ancient era of Spartan cultures.
Now, a new cultural series is coming in March to the History Channel about Vikings.
I think a program like the Vikings can serve a really good educational purpose.
Dr. Monty Dobson is on the faculty at CMU. He’s a viking historian. He said cultural series have been a long time trend in media.
“I think in terms of Hollywood and the production of film and popular media. That historical eras are cyclical. Fifteen years ago we had the obsession with Queen Elizabeth and all things elizabethan and you had multiple movies, documentary series, and HBO television series about Henry the 8th. And I think with the vikings and early medieval period were kinda entering a period where that seems to be in fashion and that people are interested.” Dobson said.
Dobson said he first became interested in medieval Europe while working on his master’s thesis at CMU. He later went on to the University of York where the viking culture piqued his interest.
Dobson’s class is the first medieval viking class at CMU.
“My own class that I’m teaching this semester on the viking, is nearly full. Which is phenomenal for a place that’s never really had a medieval class scheduled. My students are interested because they see these things in film and they wanna know more so to me that’s exciting. And that’s where I think popular film and popular culture can really be used as a teaching tool, because it hooks peoples interest. Once they’re in the classroom, then we can talk about things that are reflective of the actual culture and how the popular media either get’s it right or get’s it wrong.” Dobson said.
When you hear these viking sounds you can’t help but think of vikings at battles.
Dobson said, depicting the Viking culture can be challenging. Because it’s removed enough from modern society to be remarkably different.
He said there are some good docudramas that depict vikings accurately while other popular viking shows don’t, like the movie Thor.
“You get really camped up sword and swashbuckling kind of films where the warriors are running and jumping and fighting for 30 minutes with armies of thousand. These guys would’ve had 70 to 80 pounds of tools and equipment. The reality of early medieval battle is not doing backflips with your sword it’s several short periods in the day of intense brutal fighting and then people going and laying down to rest because they’re exhausted.” Dobson said.
Dobson said the popularity of movies like The Avengers and Thor, created an interest in Vikings. However, these movies are meant solely for entertainment.
Docudramas like the upcoming Viking series coming out on the History Channel, he said, should be held at a higher standard in terms of accuracy.
“I think with the History Channel with what they did with the hatfields and the McCoys and what seems to be there programming direction. They’re trying to do historically accurate dramatizations and something like that I think we really should expect to adhere to a high level of historically accuracy.” Dobson said.
Next Summer Dobson said he’ll be working on a viking documentary of his own that focuses on their trade networks.
His goal is to visit archaeological sites to show how the vikings achieved their wide spread trade networks through Europe, Iceland, Greenland and modern-day Russia.