Criticisms of Sambo’s happiness and the problematic ramifications of such descriptions unfortunately bring me back to my childhood. As a child, my relative showed me “Song of the South,” a film depicting happy slaves. Watching this documentary has made me wonder about the biases I have adopted self-consciously, beyond the more explicit ones from this documentary. While it clearly presents the extremes, this documentary’s theses can become symptomatic of some subtle ways in which these themes have infiltrated our contemporary beings and ways of living.
The line from the documentary, “successful minstrels play to the tastes of their audiences,” indicates that the performances that this documentary analyzes say as much about their audiences as they do their creators. In looking towards the future and the archive’s role there in, how can a more holistic and just depiction come into existence? What would this even look like? Does society need to change before the archive can, or will a change in the archive change the way society views itself in the present?