Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Warriors and the Alligator

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It is a delicate process to take one specific group of people that has continued their way of living for many years, without very much alteration to their rituals and government form and show them to the world without having to take a bias of some sort when representing them on film. If one decides to take the route of of Chagnon, with a highly reputable name no one or rather almost no one except that of John Tierney will question your calling the tribe a vicious people for thirst of violence.

I thought it was interesting the outing of Chagnon's manipulation of the Yanomami. In a word, the journalistic review was his exposure of sensationalism, similar to yellow journalism. One creates controversy because they believed that no one will want to read it unless it has sex and blood it. After all isn't that what makes Hollywood. I doubt Chagnon was looking for a contract to make his film a blockbuster hit in the summer though.

When previewed in class the movie "The Ax Fight" directed by Napoleon Chagnon, was intersting that Chagnon decided to go back so many times to show how many times the situation can be altered.

Chagnon wrote this in "Yanomamo: The Fierce People" as his first encounter with the Yanomami:

I looked up and gasped when I saw a dozen burly, naked, sweaty, hideous men staring at us down the shafts of their drawn arrows! Immense wads of green tobacco were stuck between their lower teeth and lips making them look even more hideous, and strands of dark-green slime dripped or hung from their nostrils--strands so long that they clung to their pectoral muscles or drizzled down their chins"
(Chagnon 10).

After this Chagnon proceeds to describe a series of rather chaotic events that took place during his visit. The reader can only assume that they are vicious people from his account of their living style. I believe this is what Juan Downey was making a sarcastic response to.

Juan Downey's film "The Laughing Alligator" was borderline humorous and disturbing. As an attempt to lift the serious face of ethnographic film. The amusing thing about Downey's film is during the forest scene when he is walking with two other Yanomami men, both who are carrying gun. Setting the audience into this mood and making everything completely serious as he stands wondering whether or not the Yanomami man is going to shoot at him. The actions that the man takes by faking a shot, shows that they are perfectly capable of understanding the outside world and know what occurs in it.

They are not childish people that Chagnon may have them appear to be, who only crave violence among their people. There was a manipulation of events that occurred in "The Ax Fight" for some reason that fight was no different than some arguments I have seen occur in life time. The only difference was they weren't speaking a language similar to ours.

In light of the tomfoolery, the film "Warriors of the Amazon," shed some positive light on the Yanomami as people who merely exist from day to day. They are shown in an almost positive light, like that of Lizot, who's writing was almost trying to paint the most picture perfect account.

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