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February 1993


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 25 Feb 1993 11:36:37 EST
text/plain (41 lines)
I originally sent this as a private message to Jim, but Henry's comments
may make these observations pertinent to the overall discussion of
1) the political effect of documentary and 2) the status of migrant
labor thirty years after HARVEST OF SHAME.
CBS may have hyped the story (so, what else is new?).  All of the follow-ups
may have hyped their story.  Yet migrant labor are still being exploited.
The exploitation by documentarians and tv journalists is just one more
indignity.  Higher status people have always made films about lower status
people.  It is rarely the other way 'round.
Cal Pryluck, Radio-Television-Film, Temple University, Philadelphia
<[log in to unmask]>  <PRYLUCK@TEMPLEVM>
----------------------------Original message----------------------------
The work of the Farmworkers Union and the effect of Vietnam coverage (and
associated political organizing) are precisely to the point of the value
of documentary as political instrument.  Becoming "aware" can go in
several directions; one is what was called "narcotizing dysfunction" in
the early effects literature.  Numerous news junkies get their daily fix
and think they've done something.
I'm no expert in migrant labor, but with regularity I see news reports of
what's happening in Belle Glade (not good) and in neighboring Delaware
and New Jersey whose farmers use migrant labor in tomato and mushroom
cultivation.  Again not real good.
The political problem is that migrants have no constituency; they are
situated at the bottom most rung of our society.  It is far from
accidental that most of the people in HARVEST OF SHAME were African-American
and that the current migrant pool includes large numbers of immigrants,
workers imported for the task (Mexicans in California; West Indians on
the East Coast) and undocumented workers.
On the streets of North Philadelphia (where Temple University is located)
there are parked rickety buses marked "farm labor" that appear to be
left over from HARVEST OF SHAME.
Cal Pryluck, Radio-Television-Film, Temple University, Philadelphia
<[log in to unmask]>  <PRYLUCK@TEMPLEVM>