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Heroes and Villains
Letter by J S Gillett, March 2002
Mike Gonzalez implies that the recent production of Channel 4's Shackleton gives the eponymous hero too much of a positive makeover when he should have been reviled for being just another ghastly member of the ruling class (February SR).
He also points out that the portrayal of the 'stroppy Scot' McNish who flirted with insubordination on numerous occasions was the voice of the working class raging against the ruling class, namely Shackleton.
As a socialist I found both the film and recent documentary very reliable, giving Shackleton the altruistic, passionate character that proved to be at odds with the class of which he was part. I also found McNish not a brave, honourable motivator of men, but a self centred fool who'd have returned to South Georgia not with a full boat and everyone intact (Shackleton's triumph) but a raft of ideas and 23 subsequent funerals to attend.
If I'd found myself in Antartica in 1914 I'd have listened to the guy who was interested in the cooperative instead of the individual, and that, I'm afraid, was Ernest Shackleton.
J S Gillett
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