Ethics and Representation in “Based on a Real Story.”

We’ve all seen movies circling around the Hollywood-sphere that are based on true stories, and or historical events, these range from The Theory of Everything, to Schindler’s List. In a previous blog from last term, my ASTU class talked about representation and what is chosen to be represented and why, so now I would like to bring light to the ethics and representation of the content of these films that find themselves up on the big screen. I want to talk about a quick article titled, “Hollywood Ethics: Should Movies Be Changed Based on Current Events?” This article exclaims the omission of facts or events in movies based off of a true story due to sensitivity of said event. I find that within this there can be much debate. For example, the forfeiting of a historical scene in order to pay respect to the mourning of it is seen as an ethical decision, however considering that it in place then makes for an unjust representation of the actual events?

To get a more specific scope on the alteration of films I found this report: “Honest Truths: Documentary Filmmakers on Ethical Challenges in Their Work.” In this text, many Filmmakers come forth on ways that they manipulated their shots in order to get the content that they wanted. They break it up into two categories, of the subjects and the viewers. Finally, it appears that it comes down to what the viewers want and people are willing to create false scenarios for the entertainment factor over the truth. This specifically coming from documentary filmmakers, I think that it can link to those films that are covering historical events or true stories, as we see many discrepancies between the truth and these films. There is a line that filmmakers are willing to cross in the portrayal of events because they want a better reaction from the viewer. At what point does this take away from important issues and become focused in on the emotional and material aspect of film content? I also think that people are starting to ask these questions and that film may be inching towards accurate depiction as these morals and ethics are coming to light. For a popular example, Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest film, “The Revenant,” is bringing about a lot of discussion of the portrayal of indigenous peoples, and the actor himself is making sure that they are acknowledged and clearly represented. There is much more to be discussed on this matter, and many more questions that arise, and I just wanted to put it out there for now. What do you think?

Thanks for the read,

Tima J


Archives and the Importance of Preserving Identity

This past Tuesday, my ASTU 100 class participated in a showcase for archival research. One of the biggest takeaways from this research that my classmates and I have done in the past couple of weeks, is how much information one can find within the archives(and I believe that this is a much shared opinion among all of us). The histories and narratives are immense, detailed, and very well preserved, and I have been blown away by the ability of those who work and have worked in the Rare Books and Special Collection archives here at UBC.

An idea of archives that is striking a big chord in my head recently is an archival collection’s ability to really portray the identity of individuals. For an example, two groups in my class presented their findings on Jack Shadbolt,  a well renowned artist who made a huge contribution to art in all the places that he resided in and visited over his lifetime (between England, British Columbia, France, and New York, to name a few). His fond contains, as I understand, a collection of various journals, sketchbooks, and other keepsakes that he accumulated over his lifetime. I find that these items, although they may not be his best, most popular, or proudest of creations, are of utmost importance as they give us a view into the fundamentals of his artistry – that being his inspirations, thought processes, and characteristics. I believe that these documents shape his identity more than any of his vastly distributed masterpieces could. It is in Shadbolt’s collection that I value archives as a facet into the real lives,(apposed to their more material fame) of any renowned personages that would otherwise be discarded or forgotten if their was no organized collection made.

Elizabeth Kaplan’s, “We Are What We Collect, We Collect What We Are,” is a very thorough source with many in depth observations to the role of Archives in this idea representing identity, and even further explores the debates around identity, down to the politics of identity. I recommend that you take a look!