Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rebuilding Indian Country 1933 (movie review)

This preWWII depression era newsreel is designed to reassure viewers that (a) Native Americans are being properly looked after, their living standards improved and (b) the navams are also working hard at their jobs, just as we the viewers are, the majority Europeans.

We earn (6:49-7:00) our place in the sun, and our government is looking after us too.

The film reasonably acknowledges that navams, also originally from around Baghdad (1:00-:18), might also have been called Americans, just as "we" are, had Columbus's reasonable hypothesis (that this was India) been falsified earlier (3:06-:37).

Be that as it may, now that they're Indians, they still deserve the respect and dignity owed every American (including in leadership roles), and their destiny will emerge gradually, through mastery of the civilian white man's tools.

Given the red man already has instinctive appreciation for color (27:34-:41), plus instinctive reckless ability (32:04-:14), learning new skills isn't hard for him.

A key tension in the film revolves around why Indians would necessarily want to change certain aspects about their [dirty hippie] pre-Euro lifestyles (25:08-:25).

Although the erosion going on in Monument Valley (Najavo Nation) is considered weird and ominious (22:41-:49), it's still not clear that the white man's control freaky response to everything is going to fly with these slackers.

However, given their need for revenue, the need for more control over the means of production is simply obvious. American industriousness and increasing mastery over the land is proceeding full speed ahead (Depression? What depression? We're happy to be this driven all the time).

Anyway, the answer is they don't have to change everything (like, we keep with the instinctual storytelling abilities).

Note the "radio voice" of the narrator. As Bucky talks about in Critical Path, the white man was standardizing his tones around then, as an aspect of nation-building. The invention of broadcasting accelerated the adoption of an overviewer's "metropolitan voice" which the narrator here expertly uses.

This film is from a time when many Americans wanted a big brother, and found one in the person of FDR. The upbeat tone and serene synthesis of man and machine, against natural challenges such a trackless waste (21:35-:47) and disease, contains no hint of a darker side subplot: WMDs (aka BLTs) and the AngloEuro's proclivity to use them, against the red man, against himself.

I found the emphasis on conserving civilians (with a whole corps devoted to that purpose) heartening. Governments seem so otherwise preoccupied these days. I can understand why sometimes the white man feels nostalgic for those happier days.