Thursday, May 20, 2010

An argument against disturbing culture

Several anthropologists and ethnographers have stated that once you begin recording an event or person, you are interrupting, disturbing, or altering everyday life and culture (Pink 2007, Ruby 2000, & Rouch 1973). They state that a filmmaker cannot film based on the premise that he or she is invisible. In other words, the belief that you are filming what would normally happen without the presence of the camera is an incorrect notion. I agree to a degree. Yes, there are scenarios in which recording may be a social taboo/inappropriate or it may attract self-indulgence and 'acting.' This is likely to experienced when filming indigenous people, filming an event where people use cameras instead of video cameras, filming a group of people that may feel insecure about their looks, filming someone who wants to impress the camera, etc. However, this is not always the case. Americans, especially those who live in a large metropolis, are increasingly accepting to the presence of media and hypermedia. Of course this depends on the amount of exposure one has to media forms and other electronic capabilities. My argument is not that the camera now has the effect of being invisible in certain, rather it does not provoke a drastic behavior change among people who are 'hip' to technology. Once again, yes, there will always be the 'attention whore' (for lack of a better word) that may change his or her behavior to impress others, but this does not categorize most individuals who end up in front of a camera. Additionally, filmmakers have experimented with direct observation and other methods that allow the subjects to become indifferent to the presence of cameras and film crews. Obviously, this is not a sound argument, but my main reason for bringing this up is to criticize those who believe that the camera always changes one's behavior.

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