Sam Burnham, Curator
So I previously offered my review of the new Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary “Hemingway.” I think I was a little rough on them. I also think they deserved it.
So where do I go from that? It doesn’t seem to be fair to offer such a criticism without offering a way forward. Burns and Novick put a lot of effort into gathering a lot of contributors while maintaining a very narrow train of thought. It was a many voices, one thought” sort of experience.
So the idea is to broaden perspectives. This one documentary isn’t the problem. The problem is widespread. Media outlets in New York and Los Angeles have cornered the market on reviewing and recommending books, movies, music, etc. This works as a control of information. Only the right books, the right movies, the right music will get a nod. While we’ve seen publishing employees try to force their employers to refuse to publish opposing ideas, it matters less what get published and more what gets promoted.
The result is a predominantly northern, urban/suburban, liberal viewpoint on the arts and culture. This is compounded as the major right wing media outlets are so enthralled with the shooting phases of the culture wars that they are useless, particularly for these purposes. Cable news is particularly bad. It’s all sensationalized to maximize the viewing audience. It’s mostly just garbage.
The mass media controls the review and promotion of the building blocks of our culture. From that vantage point they can mold and shape American culture into what they want it to be.
So what are we to do?
You’ll often see reviews here. We publish reviews on the things that interest us. We’ve done books by James Calemine, Jordan M. Poss, and Wanda Suttle Duncan, just to mention a few. We’ve reviewed Ozark, Hemingway, First Man, Mudbound, Hell or High Water, and many others.
There is an admitted bias on our work. Our viewpoint is Southern, traditional, rural or small town. There seems to be a definition of “Southern” floating around out there that includes anyone who lives in Atlanta, says “y’all” a lot, and occasionally eats grits. That’s just pitiful. There is so much more to being a Southerner. And that depth of culture is what we draw on to offer our viewpoints.
Our reach is obviously smaller than The New Yorker. There’s no reason to think that comparison will ever change. But we’re also not the only outlet with a different viewpoint. There are many others. And they don’t necessarily sound just like ABG. But they do offer something different than the mainstream New York biases.
These are the outlets I’m asking you to look for.
Jordan M. Poss does some great reviews. His recent review of the 1958 film A Night to Remember is an excellent example of that. Yes, it’s an old movie. But sometimes old movies, old books, and old music are what we need to reach for.
Those Streak of Lean guys podcasting from dirt roads, black water rivers, and gopher tortoise burrows all over Southeast Georgia. They just celebrated the merits of burning the land. They know farming, food, they know life off the paved road.
Author Wanda Suttle Duncan runs a blog of her own. She’s got her glorious Green Cove Springs take on the world. Such a quirky and odd Floridian viewpoint is a testament to our assertion that the real Florida exists off the coasts and far from I-4.
These are just a few of the people we keep up with. There are others. There are even more that we haven’t found. Still more that we may never find. And while the number of locally-owned and operated small town newspapers and radio stations continues to plummet, there is still a remnant out there. Find them. Support them. All of these sources form a decentralized network that I love in politics, economics, everything. It’s the power of liberty. It’s individuality unleashed. It’s hundreds, even thousands of writers, podcasters, filmmakers, etc, covering food, media, culture, the works.
Now, who represents your interests and opinions? This multitude or The New Yorker?
All this to say it’s time to dig a little deeper. It’s time to stop clicking on the links Facebook’s algorithms put in your feed. It’s time to find the folks like you.
Maybe it’s even time for you to be one of those folks...
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire