Like many of you, we at Media Burn have been reeling from the results of the election.
On the morning of November 9, after very little sleep and with a growing sense of anxiety, I boarded a plane to Pittsburgh for the annual Association of Moving Image Archivists conference.
My colleagues and I began as walking zombies, in utter disbelief that after this earth-shattering election we were about to spend four days discussing archival methodologies. Out of all our sudden new worries, videotape seemed pretty far down on the list.
Then the conference began, and I started watching the films and videos preserved by other archivists. I felt the impact of the decline in the steel industry in Pittsburgh in the films of Tony Buba, was astonished by a 1983 clip of David Bowie calling out MTV for not playing black artists, and was excited by the project to digitize all of the Eyes on the Prize camera originals. I heard from scholars and archivists who are working to insert the stories of people of color into the historical record, where they have long been omitted.
And then I realized: with every independent film or video we save, we are permanently introducing a new perspective into the official histories. And, on the flip side, if we don’t do it before the physical object deteriorates, all of these records of the experiences of the vast majority of us that are never portrayed by mass media will simply vanish.
The stories we tell about our country and our past matter—they matter quite a lot.
Media Burn is using video to topple dominant myths of American history as told by the rich and powerful. More than 15 million people from 200 countries have watched our videos.
By illuminating the experiences of ordinary people and revealing the mechanisms of mass media, we are creating a more just and inclusive society.
There has never been a more important time for the work we are doing.
But we need your help. Please, take three minutes to make a tax-deductible contribution now.
Sara Chapman, Executive Director