Genealogy - the next step

The small 2005 film, "Strike the Tent," has been issued on DVD as "The Last Confederate," and as of this moment is ranked by Amazon an impressive 3,590th in DVD sales. (Note that Amazon sales rank is based on velocity of sales - sales per unit of time - times the number of sold units.)

Concurrent with the DVD release, there were some screenings of the title in movie form.

The interesting thing about this film for me is that it represents the next step in genealogical research, or rather one troubling answer to the question, "So what do you do with that family research you collected?" I don't want to say that it's cheap or easy to make movies, but it's been getting cheaper and easier.

Are most genealogists romanticists? Are they narrative-driven?

It bothers me that discrete historical artifacts (like letters, family stories) which can transport one vicariously into specific and authentic historical moments are strung together with invented transitional material to produce an inauthentic experience. In other words, a novelization of family history would trade the rich and the real for fakery (sprinkled with an occasional truthful nugget). To then film this debased, novelized material adds an additional layer of falsehood. We have actors pretending to be ancestors, we have all those "authenticity" issues (dialog, clothes, furnishings), and we have the reorganization of human experience around literary conventions, in this case, Romantic narrative formulas.

Never trust a genealogist with history. Is that the right lesson to draw here?

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