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Edited by Russell W. Belk
Chapter 28: Entering Entertainment: Creating Consumer Documentaries for Corporate Clients
Patricia L. Sunderland The good old days of ‘tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em, tell ’em, then tell ’em you told ’em’ are clearly over. A more apt dictum for the digital age is ‘Don’t just tell ’em. Show ’em!’ (Sanders, 2002, p. 153) Let’s go to the videotape. (Iconic refrain of Warner Wolf, NY TV Sportscaster) My concern in this chapter is to bring to light some of the conundrums that occur in the presentation of ethnographic research in moving visual forms or ‘movies’. These movies, as a rule now shot on video, then edited and often viewed in digital electronic forms, are frequently referred to with the shorthand of ‘video’ or ‘ﬁlm’, as in ‘ethnographic ﬁlm’. The appellation of movie is rare in the context of research (except that it crops up on our computers via the moniker ‘movie ﬁle’), yet I have chosen this word as an apt way to begin as I believe that ideas and ideals of entertainment implicit in our cultural notions of movies play a signiﬁcant role in the production of the conundrums discussed. I will make no pretense of having or providing complete answers to the issues raised here, but wish to discuss them as matters important to consider as we move ahead with more frequent presentation and thus representation of ethnographic analysis in forms beyond (the now increasingly outmoded) prose. I believe that we need to examine ways that cultural and epistemological assumptions reside amidst our (re)...
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