I am a professional blogger and I, for one, would never want a movie made of my career for a couple of reasons. First, my work day is totally boring. I sit at my desk, usually in sweats, and type on a laptop all day. This is not compelling in any way, shape, or form. Secondly, I’m so busy with my day job of writing, writing, and more writing that I don’t have time to perfectly accessorize and clean my home and make it ready for the cameras. And forget about lounging in a hammock with a cute hat and waxing poetic about life as a blogger — that will never happen. That said, a documentary about bloggers is not the first thing I would rush out to see. But perhaps others would feel more inclined? The filmmakers behind American Blogger certainly hope so.
The upcoming documentary American Blogger examines this profession, my profession, and attempts to take what is normally a low-key landscape and a world that is usually only examined in its own blog posts and conferences and turn it into a slick feature film with what the filmmakers call “beautiful cinematography.”
Here is a little back story for you: Christopher Wiegand’s wife, Casey Wiegand, has a blog called The Wiegands. He decided to do a documentary about the mom blogging movement by jumping into an Airstream, driving across the country, and visiting 51 of his wife’s closest blogger friends over the course of two months. “I want to validate these bloggers,” he says. “It’s really cool and can have a huge impact on society.”
Many would argue that these bloggers are already totally validated and don’t need a film to confirm that. And the idea that they “can have a huge impact”? I think that happened years ago when parenting bloggers came onto the scene and proved themselves to be a strong, profitable, influential, diverse bunch. While the word “diverse,” was used in my last sentence, there isn’t much that is diverse in the subjects who appear in the trailer, with the majority of them being white, blonde. and seemingly affluent. This is one of the biggest criticisms that people (and when I say “people,” I mean “my people” — my fellow bloggers on Facebook) have with the trailer.
The amazing and talented Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress wrote:
“Our community isn’t perfect. By any means. But it is much more diverse. We write about all sorts of things, and lifestyle/fashion is just one among a multitude of topics. We’re young and old. Married and unmarried. Different races, different genders, different sexual preferences, different socio-economics. Some of us care what our houses look like and some of us don’t. Some of us wear scarves and some don’t. And while we sometimes blow it and are still learning from each other how to better embrace and respect one another, at least we’re having the conversations. We’re trying. This (film) does nothing to honor that.”
When watching the trailer, it looks like a specifically curated subset of the blogging community and not a reflection of the “American blogger” as mentioned in the title of the film. It seems that this is the biggest issue. It does not deliver what it advertises.
The one-and-only Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan wrote of the issue of diversity in the film stating that it “is getting some (deserved) pushback because it appears that 98% of the subjects are young, attractive, hipster white women. Thankfully, the blogging landscape I’ve been a part of for the past 7 years is much more diverse in every way.”
The filmmaker defended the lack of diversity in the film saying, “I’m not the kind of person who’s going to slot someone in there just because I don’t want to be accused of something. I’m not going to throw in a random person just to be able to check it off my list.” But it seems a bit odd that the blogging world he chooses to depict is lacking a diversity of skin tones and lifestyle.
Wiegand apparently anticipated this reaction and wrote on his website:
“The name ‘American Blogger’ came not because I am representing all of America but because I am traveling America (40 states) in my Airstream and telling the story of the Blogger. This film is not supposed to be, nor is it, representing bloggers or America as a whole by any means. These are the women that said yes to my request, they knew my wife and trusted that I would tell this story in a positive way. “
And it’s not just the issues of race and lifestyle that are being talked about; it’s more than just that.
“To be clear, it’s not so much the people IN the trailer but the maker OF the trailer that people are talking about. The person who created the thing who doesn’t realize what a ridiculously narrow view of the world has just been created as a representation of a much larger whole…Who has, perhaps unwittingly, made my beloved community the source of ridicule. It’s the clueless creator of the creation who thinks I needed him to tell me that I could change the world. Guess what, dude? I’ve been changing it just fine for 10 years without your help.”
Maybe we are all jumping to conclusions? Maybe the short trailer with its self congratulatory “voice-of-god” narration doesn’t tell the whole story? Let’s hope more diversity is represented and that these bloggers, many of whom are very well respected, don’t fall victim to ridicule as Katherine predicted. But with all the comments made about the film, one thing still doesn’t sell me on it. It’s a documentary about blogging. Shouldn’t we all just go out and READ the blogs instead?
Photo Source: American Blogger/Facebook