Normally I wouldn’t watch a Melissa McCarthy movie. I just don’t care for her because of some of the things and positions she had taken in her personal life. However, I was curious about her film, Can You Ever Forgive Me? This is the story of a one-time bestselling writer, Lee Israel, who fell on hard times and her attempts to pull herself up financially.
So, you’re asking yourself, “What in the hell does this have to do with UFOs?”
But it was what Lee Israel (McCarthy) did to earn money… She began to forge documents. And, when it seemed that these forgeries were questioned, she began to sell the real thing. She would go to libraries, archives, and museums that held, in their collections, the real documents, make notes about them including the fonts on the typewriters, the spacing, and other details. She would then recreate the document, go to the holder of the document, and switch them.
|The National Archives - Hundreds of Thousands of Documents but Some Are Fake. |
Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
The flaw in the security system was that they didn’t really examine the material being brought in but did check the material, the briefcases, purses or backpacks as the person left. She was quite successful, if you can call it success, in her attempts to acquire the documents and then to sell them. Of course, it all, eventually, fell apart.
Here’s the rub. It is estimated that over 400 fake documents, either copies or completely faked, are still held in various collections long after she was caught. Hundreds of fake documents that could be used in historical research, in writing biographies, in reconstructing real events based on alleged eyewitness testimony.
You might remember that I did review the movie Truth, about the documents that suggested President Bush had been less than candid about his Air Guard service. This episode ended up with the firing of a senior producer and eventually Dan Rather. You can read me take on that here:
In that movie, Truth, Mary Mapes, the senior producer fired because of the badly flawed story that CBS reported, said that someone would have had to understand the chain of command, the style of the documents being forged, and have inside information on how those things played out forty years earlier. Apparently, it never occurred to her, or Rather for that matter, that if someone had copies of the originals, they could easily create authentic sounding documents. By altering a line or two, now have a document that had an authentic feel to it and that would cast doubt (throw shade?) on President Bush. And someone who had served in the Texas Air Guard would probably have those sorts of documents in his personal file. (I have dozens of documents from my time in the military including flight and training records that are over 50 years old.)
The point here, reinforced by Can You Ever Forgive Me and Truth, is that you need a proper foundation for the acceptance of historical documents. It isn’t enough for them to appear in plain envelopes or given to you mysteriously without any provenance. Unless you can establish the history of the document, you are going to end up with fakes in your collection that are either created out of whole cloth or duplicated by someone with access to the original. Someone who might have slipped a line or two in, or for that matter, taken a line or two out, and you then have a flawed perception of reality.
And the point?
Can anyone say, “MJ-12.”