Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SJP in America

So, "Who Do You Think You Are?" is a recent program that showcases the ancestry of various celebrities.  Obviously you can't get something like this off the ground unless famous persons are featured.  With the use of historians, librarians and genealogists, the show traces through various family trees until something remarkable turns up.

I like Sarah Jessica Parker.  Contrary to whatever people think of her due to her roles, it's immediately evident upon hearing her speak that she's an intelligent woman with a reader's vocabulary, oh, and a child named after eminent Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins.  She's not what you think. 

Anyway, she knew almost nothing about her pre-20th century ancestors and assumed her family to be fairly recent emigrants from Europe.  Throughout the program, she finds out that half of her family has been in America since the early 17th century.  One of her female ancestors lived in Salem, MA and was actually accused of witchcraft during the final months of the Salem witchcraft craze.  The only reason this woman was not executed was because the witch-finding court had literally just been disbanded.  Unbelievable to have an ancestor who survived this situation, as the court had executed all of the accused up until its end.  Draw your own conclusions about what would have happened with Sex & the City had this happened...I know it's what you're thinking.  Also, this lends extra gravitas to Sarah's role in the excellent movie "Hocus Pocus".

eh, I can't resist.

Wouldn't it be nice if the people who survived ignorance against all odds developed a resistance to it in future generations, the way survivors of the Bubonic Plague passed to their descendants new immunities to use against similar diseases? 

Anyway, I love this show.  It showcases the unique discoveries you begin making the second you start to scratch the surface of history, whether it's about your own family or not.  And it's extra interesting and special to know that one of your ancestors may have witnessed some significant moment in time, such as when my great-grandmother was on the set of Far and Away, eh, I mean when she participated in a land race in South Dakota in 1904 or so.  Tom Cruise wasn't there.

More people should care about these things, and not just because they want to locate a famous ancestor, although I'm sure that's the motivation for many.  People don't care about history until it's made interestingly or alarmingly relevant to them.  I am sure the recent encroachments on women's health care, contraception and abortion are causing plenty of previously wide-eyed 19 year old girls to realize that the control they have over their own lives is something women have possessed for approximately one half nanosecond, historically-speaking, which may lead them to give a shit about what's been going down with women activists for the last 100 years.  JUST SAYING.  HISTORY IS SERIOUS BUSINESS, DO NOT FORGET IT.

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