Comments on: Great art and great ideas, rediscovered http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 27 Sep 2014 05:28:47 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Mary http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-449675 Thu, 01 Oct 2009 01:31:57 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-449675 Dance and Bardiac,

I also think that one of the commentators is Native American. I also forget his name but I think that he is a Park Superintendent somewhere.

And I thought last night’s episode did an OK job of discussing the commodification of Indian culture. It also mentioned how some parks made it illegal for Indians to hunt and fish on their Native Lands.

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By: Bardiac http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-449484 Wed, 30 Sep 2009 21:40:02 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-449484 Interesting discussion; I think one of the commentators is Native American, but I’m not sure.

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By: dance http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-449379 Wed, 30 Sep 2009 19:08:16 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-449379 Thanks, Mary. I’ve only had it on in the background (and last night was switching between it and So You Think You Can Dance), but I’m feeling like there is also a conscious effort to interject the historical voices of Native Americans as voiced quotations, but I’ve not yet seen a present-day Native American talking head (unless it’s one of the writers/historians and I’m not knowledgeable enough to recognize a name, which is entirely likely, not my field).

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By: Mary http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-448684 Tue, 29 Sep 2009 20:55:20 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-448684 Dance,

I’ve been thinking about that too. Ultimately, I think Burns makes a conscious effort to include non-white individuals (and women) as commentators so that he can create a documentary about mostly white men without being critiqued for having made a documentary about mostly white men.

In the case of the black ranger, I think it is one way in which Burns can buttress his argument (Democratic Parks!) without addressing how certain parks have represented of white, middle class values.

However, I also feel like the black park ranger is getting a raw deal. I mean, we don’t get to see his whole interview. So we don’t know how his views might have changed while working for the NPS or if he believes NPS policies were once racist. We also don’t know what questions that were asked, but it seems unlikely that Burns asked him how his identity as a black male has impacted his job.

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By: dance http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-448603 Tue, 29 Sep 2009 19:09:45 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-448603 Mary, what’s your opinion on the use of the black park ranger to voice many of these “democratic parks!” sentiments? I am pondering that.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-448437 Tue, 29 Sep 2009 12:18:09 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-448437 Mary–well, that’s disappointing, but predictable. (In fact, we predicted it!)

You can’t think that Burns would let McClurg look heroic for getting in the way of “America’s Best Idea!” She and her old biddies should just have handed the park and all their work over without a struggle, like good girls, and kept her mouth shut. That’s the American way!

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By: Mary http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-448272 Tue, 29 Sep 2009 04:43:38 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-448272 Well, let’s see. Episode two continued to ignore class struggle in the parks. Instead, it maintained that parks were established to reflect American egalitarianism.

The episode once addressed the difficulty rangers faced in telling longtime residents of Yosemite Valley they could no longer subsist off the park’s lands. However, any mention of class was overshadowed by a quick reference to race—the park ranger mentioned that black rangers faced especial difficulty in getting poor white men and women to follow the park’s new rules.

Gender was absolutely ignored in the discussion about Mesa Verde. Instead, Virginia McClurg was portrayed as greedy for wanting to keep Mesa Verde under the control of clubwomen. One of the commenter’s stated that McClurg had come to see Mesa Verde as her park instead of America’s park. God forbid that a woman who spent 20 years of her life preserving a site might actually want (or deserve) to have some say in how the federal government would run it. All patriotic American women are self-sacrificing you know.

As predicted, most of the time was spent discussing conservation’s geniuses—Muir, Roosevelt and Pinchot. So all and all, I would say this episode was more disappointing than the first but this may because I’ve spent the last year and a half critiquing some of the arguments it made. I may or may not tune in tomorrow.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-447925 Mon, 28 Sep 2009 19:56:20 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-447925 Thanks, Mary! Happy viewing.

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By: Mary http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-447825 Mon, 28 Sep 2009 16:02:55 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-447825 Historiann,

Yes, there’s another ten hours. Five more episodes which play all week. I hope to catch at least the next two. The preview for tonight’s episode really highlighted Roosevelt’s role, so like you, I’m not super optimistic that Burns includes a lot of information on women, but he certainly can’t ignore them at some parks. I guess I’m more interested to see how he portrays them women he does include. I have a feeling that he’ll revert back to the whole genius theme, but we’ll see.

I’ll keep you updated.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/09/27/great-art-and-great-ideas-rediscovered/comment-page-1/#comment-447795 Mon, 28 Sep 2009 15:11:21 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=7604#comment-447795 Mary–there are 10 more hours to go of Burns’s series, right? But I tend to agree with the thrust of your post, which is that if the racist assumptions and policies that shaped the founding of that national parks are totally absent in the first 2 hours, I wouldn’t hold my breath that they’re going to take center stage at any point in the next 10. But, I hope you can watch more and report back for us on this.

Interestingly, Burns has of course made documentaries in which race was central (the baseball and jazz documentaries, for example), and he even did one brief film about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and the women’s suffrage movement. But these movies too suffer from the same Burns treatment: as with his other biographical movies, he posited Anthony and Stanton as “geniuses” without whom American feminism never would have happened, and in the Baseball movie, he makes the integration of major leagues a kind of transformative moment that solves all problems and erases all injustice. So, once again history happens only because of the occasional “genius” who shows up to change everything totally and completely and without whom this change never would have happened, and massive, complex histories of injustice and exploitation are atoned for in one great moment of heroic vision (integration of MLB) or sacrifice (the Civil War.)

Awesome!

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