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brush

(52,965 posts)
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 02:03 AM Jul 2021

Ken Burns was just on MSNBC with a short list of dinner guests he'd like...

to have. He's doing a documentary on Mohammed Ali and he mentioned he'd like to have Lincoln, Ali and Louis Armstrong as dinner guests.

I can't wait for the Ali documentary. I also decided to make a list of dinner guests I'd like to have. So here we go. Pls make you own lists in the comments.

Mohammed Ali
Lincoln
Nancy Pelosi
Stacy Abrams
US Grant
Paul Robison
MLK
Ann Richards
Fannie Lou Hamer
Nelson Mandela
Geronimo
LBJ
Malcolm X
Hilary Clinton
John Coltrane
McCoy Tyner

That's my list, I have to stop now. But I could go on.

26 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Ken Burns was just on MSNBC with a short list of dinner guests he'd like... (Original Post) brush Jul 2021 OP
I have heard Ken Burns at St. Louis Speaker Series years ago Sherman A1 Jul 2021 #1
Burns documentary style is old school Apollo Zeus Jul 2021 #7
New wave docs v old school ones like Burns' is all a revelation to me. brush Jul 2021 #13
Both of the docs I linked to are in the more modern style Apollo Zeus Jul 2021 #14
Thanks for laying this all out so well. I am now aware... brush Jul 2021 #16
I'm working on a documentary now so I have been obsessed with Apollo Zeus Jul 2021 #18
Hey, thanks for adding so much to this thread, and good luck... brush Jul 2021 #22
I'm not a part of the documentary film community so this... brush Jul 2021 #12
Same Here! ProfessorGAC Jul 2021 #15
I am not anti Ken Burns Sherman A1 Jul 2021 #26
Here Goes Norbert Jul 2021 #2
Good list. I'm a fan of everyone on your list, too. brush Jul 2021 #11
In such a fantasy scenario I am more inclined to promote agitation. alphafemale Jul 2021 #3
For the most scintillating conversation: nuxvomica Jul 2021 #4
Ok, Ok. I like, I like. And thanks for the guests from hell, too. brush Jul 2021 #10
My list of historical figures to dine with... Whiskeytide Jul 2021 #5
Hahahahahahaha! Good one. brush Jul 2021 #8
Oscar Wilde, Bobby Kennedy, Bill Hicks, and George Carlin on the dead side of the table. Efilroft Sul Jul 2021 #6
Good one. I have to learn more about some on your list. brush Jul 2021 #9
Mine DemocratSinceBirth Jul 2021 #17
Great list. I'm a fan of all of them. I did have to google... brush Jul 2021 #19
I got to shake hands with Ali at the '84 Olympics in LA. 11 Bravo Jul 2021 #20
So kool. He's at the top on my list. brush Jul 2021 #23
Trump's List Elwood P Dowd Jul 2021 #21
not forgetting Ted Bundy. speak easy Jul 2021 #24
I would add Mark Twain to the list. Kingofalldems Jul 2021 #25

Sherman A1

(38,958 posts)
1. I have heard Ken Burns at St. Louis Speaker Series years ago
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 04:45 AM
Jul 2021

One of the most boring presentations we had in our years attending. His documentaries tend to put me to sleep as well and I really am interested in history and many of the topics he does. Nevertheless if folks enjoy his work and learn something from them, that’s great.

My list would be a short one.

Harry Truman
Andrew Yang
US Grant
Some folks in my family tree.
Probably a few others but that’s what comes to mind right now.

Apollo Zeus

(251 posts)
7. Burns documentary style is old school
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 07:28 AM
Jul 2021

His best stuff is the use of primary sources, such as letters from Civil War soldiers reporting their experiences first-hand. His least best stuff is the avoidance of controversy and a focus on long settled issues.

Documentaries have never been more popular than they are right now but Burns' style is not part of this new wave. "Knock Down the House" sold for a record $10 million in a bidding war between streamers. Netflix used the doc as a loss leader to gain subscribers. Many in the documentary business complain that Burns gets every bit of the PBS budget for docs and no other voices have a chance there.

I was luke warm on Burns until I saw him interviewed. He took credit for inventing benching stills, aka "the Ken Burns effect" even though it has been around since at least the 1920s. A bit of humility would help him greatly.

My List:

James Baldwin
JFK
Adiaen Van Der Donck (key to the way the USA formed)
James Loewen (author of "Lies My teacher Told Me&quot
Terrence Mallick

Two recent great docs not by Ken Burns:




brush

(52,965 posts)
13. New wave docs v old school ones like Burns' is all a revelation to me.
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 11:21 AM
Jul 2021

As well as how the bulk of available documentary funds goes to Burns.

What makes Burns old school? I enjoy his Baseball and Civil War docs

And what are some of the things that constitute new wave docs that are absent in Burns' work?

Apollo Zeus

(251 posts)
14. Both of the docs I linked to are in the more modern style
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 12:03 PM
Jul 2021

They use primary sources, the subjects in their own words, to tell the story. There is no narrator. They may present conflicting views and leave it to the viewer to sort out. The makers may not know the ending when they start. For example, a documentary was made recently which started out by following 4 women recently diagnosed with breast cancer -- 2 were insured and 2 were not insured. The filmmakers followed them not knowing what the outcomes would be.

The doc on James Baldwin although made in 2017, uses only the words of James Baldwin. It gains power and impact by being as intimate and personal as it can be. There is no comforting narrator to tell us that everything worked out -- no "splaining" only the raw experience and Baldwin's perspective.

There is nothing wrong with Ken Burns style and I like his docs but I don't find them as engaging as those that are confident enough to let the subjects tell the story in their own words.

Others have criticized his exclusion of non-white perspectives across his variety of worthy subjects:

the omission of Latin Jazz from nineteen hours of Jazz. There were serious questions raised by Native American and Latino advocacy groups that Ken had skipped over the role that their veterans played in seven episodes of The War. It got so bad that members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus brought up the omission with PBS, which backed Burns, causing Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) to remark that “the way PBS has handled this since the issue was raised has left a lot to be desired.”

Another historian, Martin Blatt, who worked at the National Service hosted a roundtable of colleagues to analyze problems with National Parks: American’s Best Idea and among many conclusions were observations that Native Americans might not have shared the sentiment in the title, given they were evicted from their tribal lands to make way for this bestest of ideas. Not much about this in twelve hours of running time.

https://observer.com/2016/08/chronically-overrated-the-ken-burns-effect/

That is a matter of subject rather than style but it fits with the idea that his documentaries play well with a certain audience and with corporate sponsors and that is style is tame and safe rather even when there is ample opportunity to tell more of the under-told stories in a more inclusive way.

brush

(52,965 posts)
16. Thanks for laying this all out so well. I am now aware...
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 12:19 PM
Jul 2021

of exclusion of whole ethnic groups, newer approaches to docs v the older style with a comforting narrator drawing viewers to a desired conclusion, and a certain style being more commercial and palatable to doc funders.

Apollo Zeus

(251 posts)
18. I'm working on a documentary now so I have been obsessed with
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 12:33 PM
Jul 2021

the question of how to present controversial and confrontational viewpoints in a way that is neither too tame nor too clickbait/trollish.

Documentaries are red hot right now and within the genre, Native American / Indigenous viewpoints are especially sought after, perhaps because so little has been done. Until recently most documentaries about Native American experiences have focused on their extermination, eg Trail of Tears, and not on their endurance or influence on American ideas about freedom, democracy, women's rights and environmentalism. Standing Rock was a turning point.

Someone said "More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than from any other source." And that is probably true. I don't see that as a bad thing -- quite the contrary. I see as Burns as History's "gateway drug", turning people on to History as a subject to be pursued with mysteries to be solved and points to be debated.

brush

(52,965 posts)
22. Hey, thanks for adding so much to this thread, and good luck...
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 12:42 PM
Jul 2021

with the film you're working on. Keep DU posted.

brush

(52,965 posts)
12. I'm not a part of the documentary film community so this...
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 11:16 AM
Jul 2021

anti-Burns commentary is a surprise to me. I had no idea there was such an issue. I did enjoy his films on Baseball and the Civil War. I didn't consider them boring.

Thanks for your list.

ProfessorGAC

(63,877 posts)
15. Same Here!
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 12:07 PM
Jul 2021

I liked his work on prohibition, too.
Those first 2 "innings" of his baseball doc are sensational.

Norbert

(6,013 posts)
2. Here Goes
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 05:20 AM
Jul 2021

Jackie Robinson
Roberto Clemente
Dwight Eisenhower
John F Kennedy
Linda Ronstadt
MLK
Nat King Cole
Abe Lincoln
Orville Wright
Mom and Dad

brush

(52,965 posts)
11. Good list. I'm a fan of everyone on your list, too.
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 11:09 AM
Jul 2021

Of course I don't know your parents but they'd be welcome.

 

alphafemale

(18,497 posts)
3. In such a fantasy scenario I am more inclined to promote agitation.
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 05:44 AM
Jul 2021

Not just assemble my personal heroes from past and present.

And seeing agitation as a good thing like a washing machine does.

For example any mother from a past era who had to bury most of her children because of something that now can be prevented -
And an anti-vax mom.

Frederick Douglas and Matt Gaetz

MLK and those vapid women from OAN who claimed he would be a right winger now.

Anyone who as jailed or beaten or murdered fighting for the right to vote against any republican fighting to limit voting rights.

Only round tip plastic knives and sporks allowed at this dinner....obviously.

nuxvomica

(12,294 posts)
4. For the most scintillating conversation:
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 06:23 AM
Jul 2021

Groucho Marx
Humphrey Bogart
Hedy Lamarr
Oscar Wilde
Abba Eban
Rev. Al Sharpton
Greta Thunberg
Alan Turing
Joseph Campbell

And the dinner party from hell:

Marjorie Taylor Greene
Lauren Boebert
Adolph Eichmann
Elise Stefanik
Matt Gaetz
Mike Lindell
Joe McCarthy

"Elise! Adolph! Stop playing footsie under the table!"


Whiskeytide

(4,453 posts)
5. My list of historical figures to dine with...
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 06:35 AM
Jul 2021

Тяцмр
A hungry velociraptor

Figuring I could outrun Тяцмр.

Efilroft Sul

(3,566 posts)
6. Oscar Wilde, Bobby Kennedy, Bill Hicks, and George Carlin on the dead side of the table.
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 06:59 AM
Jul 2021

AOC, Dave Grohl, Jon Stewart, and Shirley Manson on the lively side of the table.

brush

(52,965 posts)
9. Good one. I have to learn more about some on your list.
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 11:00 AM
Jul 2021

That's a great thing about these lists. I get to learn new things about people who fascinate fellow DUers.

DemocratSinceBirth

(99,680 posts)
17. Mine
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 12:29 PM
Jul 2021

Muhammad Ali *
Malcolm X
Abraham Lincoln
Barack Obama
John Kennedy
Robert Kennedy
William Seward
Joe Louis
Hillary Clinton
Jay Z
Paul McCartney
Beyonce
Dr Dre


*Is getting a Burns documentary. One of the seminal figures of the twentieth century. An amazing feat for a prizefighter, albeit the greatest prizefighter of all time.

brush

(52,965 posts)
19. Great list. I'm a fan of all of them. I did have to google...
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 12:38 PM
Jul 2021

William Seward though to see why you included him, as the only thing I new about him was his purchase of Alaska when he was part of Lincoln's cabinet.

It was good to find out that he was a prominent anti-slavery advocate before the Civil War.

11 Bravo

(23,921 posts)
20. I got to shake hands with Ali at the '84 Olympics in LA.
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 12:38 PM
Jul 2021

I had tickets to the boxing finals, and by pure chance encountered him on the concourse between bouts. He was surrounded by an entourage as well as a mob of photographers. I called out, "You're still pretty, Champ!" He did a quick Ali shuffle, ducked through the crowd around him, came over to give me a soul shake, and said, "You've got a fine eye, young man", as only he could.
I will never forget it.

He had a presence that could not be explained, only experienced.

Elwood P Dowd

(11,443 posts)
21. Trump's List
Sat Jul 17, 2021, 12:38 PM
Jul 2021

Adolph Hitler
John Gotti
Jefferson Davis
Heinrich Himmler
Al Capone
Benito Mussolini
Reinhard Heydrich

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