I like to think that archivists, despite our focus on the past, are typically a step ahead of the general culture because we always have to have the future in mind at the same time. That being the case, I feel we should already be thinking ahead of where initiatives like data.gov are and be considering how we can be more open in ways beyond content and access.
What I gleaned as one of the core argument from each piece is that the greatness of cinema is in the beauty of the image, the beauty of storytelling, and the creation of a dreamworld of sorts that we access through viewing and are able to keep segmented into its proper place as fantasy and not real life. The other half of this argument is that there isn’t really much evidence that people are compelled to imitate the acts they see on screen, which is one of the big arguments for ratings and censorship. There’s some nice paradoxical reasoning here: You can’t say that moving images dig into the mind and inspire people to do ill, but moving images dig into the mind and inspire people.
We chose to tell success stories because there seems to be plenty of focus on the opposite as people get caught up in the list of problems laid out ahead, almost inversing the old quote about success having a thousand fathers. Making people aware of the challenges faced in media archiving has its place in garnering support, but maintaining that backing and further encouraging its growth means showing the positive results of support.
One person can be an inspiration and symbolize much that is beyond his or her original reach, but history is built by the millions. Hopefully that singular inspiration will also create a desire to dig deeper and discover more that history has to offer. Happy researching, and Happy MLK Day!
Reading this reminded me of one of my pet peeves, one which I have been trying to avoid encountering the past year and a half: The taken as gospel historical interpretation that film attendance rose and movies solaced us during the Depression. This hoary, supposed truism is marched out whenever financially rough times arise or are spoken about, the current recession included.
History and memory, however, take a slower, more constant rate that looks at the bigger picture. History may or may not be concerned with the trends in communication and information sharing in the early 21st century, but it certainly will not care about who was the fastest to Tweet the news about Michael Jackson’s death.
This is one of those unending circular arguments that will likely never achieve resolution — there are too many emotional and monetary issues wrapped up in it for anybody to concede anything. That’s all fine and good for scholarly debates, but as archivists well know, trying to muck through these issues in real world scenarios is not all that pleasant.