Remember the Titans is a good movie, but apparently it is fiction, not a documentary.
While it isn’t all that surprising to learn about a traditional uplifting story receiving a little bit of that infamous Hollywood sugarcoating, Hollywood’s spin on the 1971 T.C. Williams High School Football went a little too far.
As reported by Deadspin, the inspirational and heartwarming story of the T.C. Williams High School football team as depicted in the 2001 hit film “Remember the Titans” is, to say the least, a two-hour regurgitation of cliches and utter fabrications.
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As the article points out, Washington’s character is a handcrafted manifestation of what Hollywood views as the ideal protagonist in a film that deals with the issues of race. In reality, Herman Boone was an abusive misanthrope who utilized tactics of cruelty and oppression when handling his student athletes. Many players walked out on Boone during his tenure as T.C. Williams head coach as a result of his endless barrages of verbal and physical abuse. Conditions had even grown so dire at one point that T.C. Williams’ players held a mutiny which demanded Boone’s immediate firing, which he ultimately was.
The Herman Boone depicted in “Remember the Titans” is nothing more than the byproduct of Hollywood screenwriters. The most interesting aspect of the article explains how Boone, himself, embodied the fictional traits depicted by Washington’s character. Exploiting his newfangled celebrity status for economic gain, Boone has embarked on endless tours delivering motivational speeches to high schools and colleges around the country. The irony of these appearances, as those aware of Boones’ genuine nature point out, is that the former T.C. Williams coach now more closely replicates and channels the personality of the character created by Denzel Washington than his actual self.
Not long after the release of Remember the Titans, the uplifting 2000 blockbuster about the integration of the T.C. Williams High School football team, former coach Herman Boone ceased to be the Titan his players all remembered. Instead, in public appearances, he began to play the role of Herman Boone playing Denzel Washington playing Herman Boone.
From his home in Alexandria, Va., Greg Paspatis watched the transformation of the former coach with rising outrage. Paspatis went to T.C., as it’s known around the Beltway, and was a kicker on Boone’s 1977 team. That was a few years after the events depicted in Remember the Titans took place, and a season before Boone left his coaching job in disgrace following a player mutiny, the very public defection of several assistants, and accusations of verbal and physical abuse.
Apart from the name, little about the celluloid Boone rings true to Paspatis. The Boone of the movie is an inspiring leader whose righteous efforts unified a community that, until he showed up, had been divided along racial lines. But Paspatis has long argued that Boone was an egalitarian only in one sense. “Herman Boone treated everybody horribly, no matter what race,” says Paspatis.