Understanding cities… and ourselves

Venkatesh and Andersen both offer up lengthy critiques of myths that Hollywood filmmakers and sociologists build around cities that they seek to portray or understand. However, in many ways I feel like our roles as documentarians can lead us to the same traps that the critiqued subjects of the film and paper left behind for others to sort through.

Even though our goal is much less comprehensive than the 1920s professors at the University of Chicago, we are essentially doing the same thing. We seek to gather snapshots and document parts of a whole and with those parts, we will represent a larger whole. Our biases for what those parts should look like might inevitably shift the truth that we find because we might lend less importance to one subject or another. Also, in our quest to build narrative and make our documentaries captivating and recognizable, we might find ourselves falling into Brooklyn-based cliches that we saw throughout all the LA-based movies. We’ll probably rely too much of shots of the Williamsburg bridge and the Empire State Building shot across the river to add context and place.

I interpret this week’s media as a cautionary tale. We can be aware of our inclinations to construct realities and thus lessen their presence in our documentaries. I say ‘lessen’ because some of it is inevitable. Both authors set up lengthy critiques without giving us much insight in to what they might do differently. This is because what their subjects do – and what we are doing – is an impossible task and the bias and cliches they point out are at times unavoidable. We can’t accurately portray anything without bias. What we can do, is unpack and understand our role in the final product. online Pills ?buy tadapox how much benadryl should you give a dog Buy Purchase Cheap

One thought on “Understanding cities… and ourselves

  1. Gringovideo

    Andersen recently finished Get Out Of The Car (34 minutes, 16mm) which does “give us insight in to what they might do differently.” It screens at Anthology Film Archive Nov. 6 at 4 pm and Nov. 12 at 9:30 pm as part of the Pedro Costa Selects series.

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