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New Media We Recommend

March 16, 2012

Below is a list of new materials that we have read/watched in recent weeks. The comments are not a “review” of the material, instead sort of an endorsement of ideas and investigations that can provide solid analysis and even inspiration in the struggle for change. All these items are available at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

Hollywood 9/11: Superheroes, Supervillians, and Super Disasters, by Tom Pollard – If you wanted to read a solid analysis of how 9/11 has impacted film making in the US, then Tom Pollard’s Hollywood 9/11 is a great source. Part resource guide, part critique, Hollywood 9/11 takes a look at recent films through the lens of primal human emotions such as grief, horror, rage, vengeance, terror and paranoia. Analyzing blockbuster films since 9/11 provides us with an interesting take on films such as Cloverfield, Iron Man and Transformers. Pollard also uses an intersectional lens in his analysis, pointing out racial and gender representations in these films and how that plays into certain social norms, particularly social norms about “the other.” This book is not only interesting for those who love film, but for anyone who wants to critically assess how popular culture images and message impact society.

A People’s History of World War II: The World’s Most Destructive Conflict as Told by the People Who Lived Through It, edited by Marc Favreau – This new volume in the People’s History Series is a refreshing first hand account of WWII that is in sharp contrast to jingoistic books like The Greatest Generation. Editor Marc Favearu has put together an amazing collection of commentary and reflection by US soldiers who struggled to cope with some of the horrors they had committed in Europe and the Pacific, Nazi death camp survivors, Japanese Americans interned in the US during the war, Russian soldiers who fought on the eastern front and scientists who worked on the first nuclear weaponry. Each story provides us not only with the complexity of WWII, but the scope of human suffering committed by Axis and Allied nations alike. An excellent resource to counter the official version of WWII.

Not Written in Stone: Learning and Unlearning American History Through 200 Years of Textbooks, by Kyle Ward – A few years ago Kyle Ward wrote History Lessons, which was a fascinating look at how textbooks from around the world portrayed US history. Not Written in Stone is a fabulous sequel, with the focus on US history as seen through US history books over the past 200 years. Ward looks at major themes such as the European Conquest of Native people, the Revolutionary War, Slavery & the Civil War, Westward Expansion and Industrialism in the US. Each section includes excerpts from various US textbooks over two centuries that amazingly present a rather hegemonic perspective on US history. Ward demonstrates not only the necessity for historians like Howard Zinn, but the harsh reality of how US history has been presented by academics for most of this nation’s history.

Monsenor: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero (DVD) – It has been more than 30 years since the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. In this new documentary film, viewers get a much deeper understanding of the work and courage of the man Salvadorans affectionately referred to as Monsenor. The film includes new archival material that mixes film footage, audio recordings of Romero’s sermons, pictures and interviews with dozens of people who knew and worked with Romero. Monsenor is an amazing film that not only sheds light on the past, but speaks to the possibility of radical solidarity and love today. Highly recommended.

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