Hell yeah! Thanks to Dante Ross for the tip!
Tag Archives: documentary
I have thoroughly enjoyed a number of Michael Moore’s films. He has also played the Muhammad Ali role of public intellectual articulating resistance. As a result of his critiques of the government and corporations, he has been widely scorned and attacked. He has a new book coming out and the Guardian excerpt is pretty hardcore. Read it for the rundown of just how ugly harassment and threats can get. Of course Michael Moore continues to fight.
I chose not to give up. I wanted to give up, badly. Instead I got fit. If you take a punch at me now, I can assure you three things will happen: 1) You will break your hand. That’s the beauty of spending just a half hour a day on your muscular-skeletal structure – it turns into kryptonite; 2) I will fall on you. I’m still working on my core and balance issues, so after you slug me I will tip over and crush you; 3) My Seals will spray mace or their own homemade concoction of jalapeño spider spray directly into your eye sockets while you are on the ground. As a pacifist, please accept my apologies in advance – and never, ever use violence against me or anyone else again.
I bet if you enjoyed punk rock music in the nineties you have a scar from a Fishbone show. I’m pretty sure that the enthusiastic Fishbone audience of Burlington Vermont in 1992 (maybe 1993?) are responsible for the cracked rib floating around in my chest. Like any other Fishbone fan, I ain’t mad.
If you ever listened to Fishbone, saw them live, or encountered them in any way, you cheered them on. They were so good that any fan with a heart wished that every other rock/punk/funk/soul/energy fiend would see clear to loving Fishbone too.
I saw them again maybe three years ago at an outdoor festival in Northern California and I thought my heart was going to explode from the energy.
Now we have a new documentary on Fishbone. Screw the narrative structure, if this movie has ten minutes of live footage, I’m buying it.
Thanks to neo-griot for the link.
Folkstreams.net offer an intriguing collection of documentary films, mostly centering on rural knowledge, folk traditions, and music. Reflecting on the 1993 sixteen mm film “Dance for a chicken: Cajun Mardi Gras:”
–> Good articulation of Mardi Gras in rural communities. I enjoyed the lens on different towns and their radically distinct traditions.
—> Documentary filmmaking includes a certain voice, and it is interesting to observe the frame-makers who constitute the narrative structure of the documentary through the representations they choose. I think the of the narration and visibility of the film creators increases over time (this footage is at least eighteen years old). The discussions about blackface, cultural appropriation (the film includes a fragmented scene of rural white-identified Mardi Gras celebrants dressed up as indians driving through a Native American reservation), and gender provide valuable time-contextual artifacts vis-a-vis the film itself.
–> There is a dialogue about Mardi Gras, and this film is an attempt to broaden the image of drunken costumed revelry. It is quite good on the historic traditions, unpacking the coded imagery, and iconography.
–> I feel bad for the chickens.
–> At the end of the film they discuss the impact of rural Mardi Gras traditions evolving as fewer people engage in actual farming life. It’s a good place to start thinking about the impact of economic changes on ritual experience.
Thanks to the folks at Waxidermy and Gorgomancy, we have the surveillance camera film about the 2010 assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Worth a viewing.
Update April 2012. The Gorgomancy link is down, but the video is available from youtube in three chunks. Here they are.
Henry Louis Gates has produced a wonderful new documentary series Black in Latin America. It is a series that looks at the historical representations of the importation of African slaves in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, and Brazil. Each episode is pretty strong standing alone, but viewing them together really helps to synthesize some of the shared dynamics — the ideas cross over episodes.
Particularly interesting to me is the impact that cane sugar has on European tastes and the relationship sugar has to plantation economies. When Toussaint L’Ouverture and the Haitian rebellion denied Europe this now vital commodity, Cuba is flooded with slaves to gear up sugar cane production. This not only allows European flavor access, it also speaks to the compelling desire to never be without refined sugar. Not to mention enabling France and the United States to isolate and embargo the newly-emancipated Haiti, crushing the economy and facilitating US military take-over.
Also fascinating are the attempts to ‘whiten’ the populations by encouraging immigration from Europe and the impact this has on racial self-identification. As Gates notes when asked about the racial difference between the nations in the documentaries and the US he notes:
Whereas we have black and white or perhaps black, white, and mulatto as the three categories of race traditionally in America, Brazil has 136 kinds of blackness. Mexico, 16. Haiti, 98. Color categories are on steroids in Latin America. I find that fascinating. It’s very difficult for Americans, particularly African-Americans to understand or sympathize with. But these are very real categories. In America one drop of black ancestry makes you black. In Brazil, it’s almost as if one drop of white ancestry makes you white. Color and race are defined in strikingly different ways in each of these countries, more akin to each other than in the United States. We’re the only country to have the one-drop rule. The only one. And that’s because of the percentage of rape and sexual harassment of black women by white males during slavery and the white owners wanted to guarantee that the children of these liaisons were maintained as property.
Gates covers the history with a certain quickness. But he get’s at the cultural impact — in each nation we find some folks whitening, changing the features on statues and in history books, shifting the representation of black leaders to affirm non-blackness. He also maps the resistance of music, religion, language and the threads of political pan-African identity.
This is a massive topic and I would watch a 12 or 15 part series on the subjects. It is a shame that Gates only has five episodes to get at the story. He does an admirable job organizing the ideas and also exposing current themes in each nation that point back to their historical relationship to the slave economy.
The episodes are up for viewing on pbs. Highly recommended.