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Another important idea in this project is looking at how popular culture really played out from the point of view of ordinary people, rather than from those making mass media. I’ve come to believe that we need to start telling our own stories in our own ways about our own lives, rather than relying on the established media to rehash itself.
I’m thinking mostly of television programmes that purport to tell us what life was like in the Seventies by stringing together clips of television programmes made in the Seventies.
There are two problems with this approach:
1. That by condensing material made for a mass medium all you’re doing is reinforcing an already partial view of society and what we were like.
2. That it is subject to censorship for reasons of political sensitivity (no more TOTP if it contains footage of Jimmy Savile) or the complexity of gaining licensing rights.
3. We all, legitimately, have our own view of what happened in the past and none of us know the whole truth.
My belief is that television was no more representative of what was really happening then than it is now. Except now we can make and share our own media cheaply and easily and then it was hard and expensive.
I’m not just interested in collecting and sharing this material because of the nostalgic fuzz, as delightful as that can be.
This project is also about allowing us to say: “This is how we were, we had a life and a point of view that was influenced by dominant pop cultures and media but was also something we made ourselves.”
[This post is about the Bromsgrove Digital Shoebox project - bds]
I’m thinking about the scope of media/content/stuff. It’s a balancing act, working out where to draw the lines – what should be included, what should be outside the remit of the project.
It doesn’t actually matter that these lines are arbitrary and flexible, but at this stage, when the main focus is on explaining what I’m doing, in order to help people decide whether to fund more work, it helps if it’s clear enough for them to quickly understand the basics. On the other hand, I don’t want to dictate this too tightly, too early, I want your input.
So what’s in?
- I’ve talked about photos, film and audio; scans of documents might be interesting if they’re not available elsewhere.
- I’ve set the timeframe to be the 1970s and by that I suppose I meant 1970-1979 inclusive. I’m not deeply attached to this, and I wouldn’t want to exclude interesting material from say 1981. I think it’s something that can become firmer when we really know what is out there.
- The media should have been produced in Bromsgrove or include people who lived in Bromsgrove at the time (let’s not exclude those pics of school trips to France!). If it’s in Bromsgrove, then the media might not include people, it might just be places, buildings, roads, railways etc. I think using the boundary of Bromsgrove District Council is appropriate.
- I’m also most interested in media made by “ordinary people” rather than press or TV coverage (if only to avoid rights conversations with a bureaucracy) but I wouldn’t want to exclude them altogether.
Any thoughts on other dimensions to the scope?
You can contribute to keep this project moving. Every donation helps, thanks :)