The danger of a simple story

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

This presentation uses Chimamanda Adichie’s lecture The Danger of Single Story as a starting point to discuss how new media technologies can be used to counteract the simplistic narratives typically assigned to marginalized communities and allow for a more nuanced depiction. By examining two of the presenter’s multiformat, multi-year, transmedia documentary projects: Closer: A Journey with Charles and Punk Rock Mommy: Ephemeral the question of complexity versus economy will be addressed. The discussion will address: creative process, strategies for shared authorship that provide the subject with agency, justification for the technological variety, and respond to the challenges of this approach. With multiple channels containing varied information some viewers/readers/participants become disinterested where others find themselves immersed in the narrative. Mainstream audiences sometimes prefer the minimal investment required by a narrative where the text clearly states how one should feel about a subject. The abundance of simple stories that extol stereotypes or clichés for the sake of efficiency and expressing a convenient narrative (even if it is a “positive” depiction) is potentially damaging to our ability to empathize with human beings who encompass multiple layers along with fluctuating moods and attitudes. An open text that mirrors the complexity inherent in all human beings invites engagement on a deeper level. What we need are stories that embrace the variability that makes us human. The practice of engaging in challenging narratives requires a flexibility and patience that provides practice for empathetic and patient engagement with the non-mediated human beings we encounter in the flesh.

(source: author's abstract)

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Record posted by: 
Scott Rettberg