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zensky's avatar

What constitutes authenticism?

Asked by zensky (13418points) November 10th, 2011

Haleth said this: You know how in Dances With Wolves or Avatar they have the white guy who comes in and he’s a better native than the natives, so they make him their leader? That’s like Yo-Yo Ma and bluegrass…

Do you have any other examples?

Do you require something, or someone to be “authentic” – i.e., genuine, really of the place/culture?

For what purposes? When is it important or not to you?

This question is a work in progress, not very well thought out but has good intentions.

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12 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

A lot of recent immigrants to the United States seem to be better Americans than (many of) the ones I’ve grown up with. That’s the best example I can come up with right now.

Haleth's avatar

@zensky Well, what I said wasn’t very well-thought-out either…

For the record, I think stories like Avatar and Dances with Wolves are silly and misguided. Maybe we want to tell stories from an ‘other’ perspective, but typical American audiences still need to identify with a white male protagonist. Or maybe it’s an attempt to apologize for past misdeeds by showing how well a protagonist from the dominant (white, American) culture identifies with and understands the oppressed, minority culture. Or in other words, Hollywood is pandering to white, middle-class guilt by telling stories like this again and again.

I mean, why would we even need a Kevin Costner or a Jake Sully? We could just tell a story from the perspective of Native Americans or the natives of Pandora. Why are characters like that so appealing?

These pages have shitloads of examples:

Going Native on Tvtropes- pictured example is Lawrence of Arabia, ha!
Mighty Whitey: on Tvtropes


fizzbanger's avatar

The Wire… one of the things that makes it such a riveting show is that it portrays Baltimore so accurately and realistically – it was filmed there, written by a Baltimore cop, even had minor roles played by drug dealers, former cops and city officials. The actors are natural, the language raw… they did not fuck up anything.

gailcalled's avatar

Here I am again, raining on your parade.

I believe, dear Zen, that you mean “authenticity.”

gailcalled's avatar

(It’s not yet a mainstream word.)

zensky's avatar

Make it so.

Haleth's avatar

Great article.

smilingheart1's avatar

Zensky constitutes authenticism.

lillycoyote's avatar

It seems wrong, but perhaps it is still something of a necessary evil, in Hollywood films. There are three that come to mind.

Cry Freedom

The Killing Fields

Shindler’s List

Three very powerful films. Three that managed to get their point across but Cry Freedom was about Apartheid, about Steven Biko, and Denzel Washington and Biko’s story would or should have been enough to carry the film, should have been the focus yet it had Kevin Kline as the protagonist, journalist Donald Woods and we seemed to see more of his angst than the suffering of black South Africans.

And again, in The Killing Fields, a story of the genocide perpetrated by the Kmer Rouge in Cambodia, seen through the eyes of a white, male protagonist, and again, it seems to be his angst we see more of.

Even Steven Spielberg chose to tell his story of the Holocaust through the eyes of a white, male, gentile protagonist.

All powerful films. But, told not through the eyes of the victims themselves but someone trying to save the victims.

Perhaps that’s the only way Hollywood can tell these stories. Maybe the only way they can get people in the majority culture to come to see them, the only way they can tell the story and make sure it will be heard. Kind of unfortunate, but that may be the way is has to be for right now. And certainly, some stories are better told and more worth telling and better honor the truth and the people the stories really should be about.

Though I wouldn’t put Dances With Wolves in the same class as the above mentioned three.

And @zensky, you didn’t have to bring Yo Yo Ma into this discussion, that was unfair and a low blow. He is not a poser.

ucme's avatar

Not sure how to respond here, guess i’ll revert to type & just wing it then.
In the case of war movies, it doesn’t have to be a true story to grip/entertain me.
I mean sure, any movie of this genre based on actual events, holds more gravitas/poignancy, but it’s not an essential requirement for me.
Saving Private Ryan being a perfect example to illustrate my point…....if indeed I have one.

zensky's avatar

@smilingheart1 Thank you. @lillycoyote Wait, what? Poser? Low blow? What?

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