Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Documentaries on Whiteness

So, I'm at a conference where most people are not "white."  One guy made a joke about needing a "white liaison" for his Tribe (because of all the federal agencies that have a Native American Liaison to help them communicate with Tribes).  Funny.

It made me think.  There are all sorts of resources for me, a white person (no one is shocked right?), to understand people of other identities.  But what are the resources for learning about white people?  Specifically, white Americans?

I thought about the great writers like Hemingway.  But really, he presents what he THINKS we want to hear.  That would be like trying to understand most Chinese people by reading Mao.  You'd understand something of a general mindset that some Chinese may have, but as for relating to the Chinese man or woman on the street, not very helpful.

Then I remembered how much I like movies.

Here are some movies that I think would help people understand the basics of white Americans:

Grey Gardens (the original documentary not that bit of fluff with Drew Barrymore)
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia
Harlan County USA
Herb and Dorothy
Anything by Errol Morris (in fact, just watch the whole oeuvre)
The Interview Project (http://interviewproject.davidlynch.com/www/#/all-episodes/121-spira)
A Class Divided  (also available online: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/etc/view.html)
Jesus Camp

Narrative Films (dramas, comedies, ungenre-able)
The Straight Story
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Spinal Tap (OK, bit of a red herring but the movie itself is a cultural phenomenon important to my people)
The Lost People of Mountain Village (actually, this whole flick is free online: Part 1 http://youtu.be/hzoN2MFkCXI  , Part 2 http://youtu.be/-1TIeJSUr6I)
Tiny Furniture
Wendy and Lucy
Annie Hall
To Kill a Mockingbird (also the book, obviously)
A Mighty Wind
A Christmas Story
Harold and Maude

The Simpsons
(I'm sure there's more here but I haven't watched enough TV in recent years to know what's out there and what's real and instructive about my people).

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