Please Lower the Authorial Voice


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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16 Responses

  1. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Where do docu-dramas like The Jungle, and especially, Uncle Tom’s Cabin fit in? Polemical, not very sophicated, but arguably two of the most influential works of their type in American history (even if Sinclair was actually trying to achieve socialism instead of an FDA)Report

  2. I am reminded here of something a professor friend often says about the academic books she reads: “If you can tell from the title what argument it’s going to make, it’s probably not a very sophisticated book.

    I knew she was going to say that.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The documentary that first came to my mind was March of the Penguins.

    And how brilliantly we were manipulated by it.Report

  4. Avatar aarondavid says:

    Oddly enough, I was reading a little on the New Journalism just last night and that strikes me as what has happened here. The need to put oneself into the picture, even through a narrator, is just too strong at this point. And until something breaks through, fundamentally changes the art form, this is what we will get.

    Those films you mention at the top, they aren’t documentaries, they are opinion pieces. They aren’t someones attempt to get to the heart of the matter, they are modern day yellow journalism. Compare Fahrenheit 911 with Shoah. If for no other reason, the former becomes agitprop just because of its timing. There is no way to get the actual facts needed to make something like that. So, it needs to be something that gets heads nodding. That shows just how Right On it is. It won’t change any ones mind, the people watching it already agree with it. The people not watching it, they look at the film makers name and move on.Report

  5. Avatar dhex says:

    the book is excellent journalism and highly recommended.

    the documentary was not so much and i kinda gave up.Report

  6. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    @rufus-f , I simply must tease you about the diaeresis. If you can provide us with an army of fact-checkers and proofreaders the like of which are found in the New Yorker, then I’ll “reëxamine” my opinion and look favorably upon that publication’s editorial model. Until then, I’ll maintain that the proper verb is “to re-examine”.

    Well-taken, though, is the reminder that storytelling in a visual medium is driven by visuals as much, if not more, than narratives. This is one reason that I’m not at all confident that whatever skill I’ve amassed at the use of prose would translate into a format like a screenplay.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      I do it as a nod to the New Yorker, which amuses me for some reason. I like to think that they see it and consider Ordinary Times to be part of a sort of gang.

      It’s interesting to me how many of the films that have stuck with me- La Strada, Blue Velvet, even E.T.- would work equally well as dreams or silent movies.Report

  7. Avatar Kim says:

    The last documentary I watched had no real agenda, and was deathly boring. Plus, the filmography was hideous. A Spell To Ward off the Darkness, if you really, really want to spend 15 minutes of your life watching a sunrise on water.Report