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February 03, 2004


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I spent two years in jail, but I have to admit that the long monikered Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. may have misfired on what is actually a really good idea that could inspire young people.

Very few heros in jail my friend. So much for the rise of the black intellectual. I'm surprised he didn't interview Melle Mel.

Michael R Hicks

Yeah, but didn't John Langston Gwaltney do the same thing Gates did (talk directly to the people)...but yet that's the exemplar of Afr-Am sociology?

I thought his segment about the "self-segregation" of affluent Afr-Am communities in suburban Atlanta was problematic, but that may be my nationalist spirits raising their head...


Weird. I just finished watching the first hour, and I'm just perplexed. Does America not know about Atlanta being the black mecca? I mean, I literally did that slow drive by of the black mcmansions 8 years ago with the Sony handicam. Even then it only took me about 6 months to deflate the mecca myth and I'm hardly a scholar.

This isn't the first time Skip has done the dumbing down walking tour for PBS. I was a lot more outraged with his Africa trip, expecting a hell of a lot more. This time I was prepared for him to do the vapid questions and slow walking thing.


OK I've had all I can stand. Skip Gates talking to 'Poo Poo'?


Hicks have you actually READ Gwaltney's DRYLONGSO? I think you know how I roll...I am a trained quantoid. Michigan born and University of Michigan bred. But DRYLONGSO is heads and shoulders above the pablum that Gates passed off last night (and presumably tonight). I thought I was ready after his Africa series and his PREVIOUS attempt to deal with black america. Nope.

John, you want to check out the work of solid black intellectuals? Gerald Early's edited series SPEECH AND POWER would be an excellent place to start. Stick around if you can.

Michael R Hicks

LKS, considered.

I've gotten through much of Gwaltney, but my point is this: how much can you squeeze in two hours for mass (even if it's for those seeking to be more well-informed) consumption? He's working with four regions in four hours, he's not doing a 13-part, 26-hour miniseries. Limited resources, you know...

Gwaltney obviously had weeks, months, years, to talk to the peoples.

Part of the challenge is the limits of the medium. The nature of television is the same as getting your nourishment from a fast food hamburger...even with C-SPAN and PBS, you get a fast food hamburger with some wheat germ sprinkled on it.


What's a "quantoid?"


Mike you're absolutely right. But by way of comparison check out Henry Hampton's (Eyes on the Prize) piece on Malcolm. I choose Malcolm not for ideological reasons, but because his documentary on Malcolm was about the same size (maybe shorther) as Gates' doc. Very rich...though we're probably comparing apples to oranges.

A "quantoid" is someone formally trained in quantitative methods, whether we're talking about multivariate regression analysis (how does income impact voting controlled for race, gender, and region?) or something else. Usually juxtaposed against someone trained in qualitative methods (content analysis, focus groups, elite interviews, etc.).


I caught the last 20 mintues of the Hollywood segment. This is something I could roll with. Very light and topical. I don't think I've ever seen a show with that many black Hollywood movers ever. Hudlin is a trip. Could anyone but Gates put this together?

He's the black Barbara Walters.

Michael R Hicks

There's a place in the "hierarchy of ethnic advancement" for everybody.

The "peoples," the activists, the academic intellectuals, and yes...even the public intellectuals.

When you put yourself out there in the media eye, something's going to give.

Creative content for mass consumption (even PBS) is not academic rigor. It can be useful, nevertheless.

Michael R Hicks

LKS, Hampton's work on a X documentary (you've piqued my interest, I will have to check that out is a thorough work on a complex man...but that's it, it's a biography on one man.

Gates is tackling a complex subject, talking to a number of different black folk in different regions of the country...and it's compressed into a four-hour piece.


that's the thing. i don't get the sense that this is compressed AT ALL.

we've GOT hampton's raw tape here at wash. u. for every hour of eyes on the prize footage that made it to the screen, we've got more than a dozen that did NOT make it. and viewing eyes on the prize, you can tell.

whatever got left on gates cutting floor...was not important. there's no hidden gold in them there hills.

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