I wonder if we can think about this idea of story-as-king in the age of Trump, at least in the context of US industrial production and distribution. Perhaps the pressure put on makers to find a linear, protagonist driven narrative within their findings in the field is a response to urgent political issues, especially when the documentary content tends to be explicitly political. Structurally speaking, producers and funders might presume a film or episode will resonate with more viewers if the “story” is legible and has clear heroes and villains. Conversely, a non-linear form may require thought, education, and time on the part of the viewer, and funders might find the stakes to be too high for such reflection and even needed dialogue.

(BUT to play my own devil’s advocate, HALE COUNTY–non-narrative and very much about black experience in the US and obliquely related to BLM movements–was nominated for the Oscar this past year. Is its recognition not a sign that perhaps narrative is no more ubiquitous or rewarding than it has been in the past?)


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