where all are welcome but few will stay

11.11.2007

The Browning of History

I couldn't resist the link for this SF gate article this morning. Months ago when Ken Burns' The War was set to air the Chronicle's t.v. critic Tim Goodman put out a scathing column detailing his outrage toward Latino groups who pressured Burns to include a segment on Latino veterans in Burns' film. The column stuck in my mind because I've always admired Goodman's reviews, his sense of humor, and his taste in television. So when I read the article it pissed me off. It was like a friend had reached out from my monitor to slap me in the face. His argument was one I've had with friends for years. Where is the line between art and personal social responsibility drawn? Is it Ken Burns' responsibility to add every shape and color of veteran to his documentary? Do groups have the right to pressure artists to change their art?

Well, in the Burns case I would say, yes, yes they do. Documentaries are a form of chronicling history and given all of our "new media" platforms, I think more and more they are going to become history. Strict written narratives will be replaced by a more interactive way to view our history through film footage- of first person accounts, still and moving pictures, coupled with voice over criticism- that medium will be the history books of the future. And Burns, has the rating to prove he is our most popular teacher. So this morning when this link presented its self I thought, now what? What is this? Is this the Chronicle's way of making up for Goodman's hissy fit? I'm I suppose to feel appeased?

Whatever my feelings, once I read the comments section it became clear that the majority of Bay Area residents felt the article did nothing more than put a "liberal" slant on a day when we are suppose to be honoring all veterans. In their passing comments about "another liberal skewing propaganda laced Chronicle piece" they failed to recognize their own indifference to Latino veterans. Or they didn't, some made hostile comments pointing to the two movies made shortly after the war that did include Latino protagonists to prove that the subject had been addressed.

Disgusted, I returned to the Chronicle's homepage shaking my head and resolved to let it go. Further down this morning's home page is an article providing advice on buying property in Mexico.


Veterans Day is a time for forgotten Latinos to be recognized