The Beginning

Welcome to The American Show, a new multimedia blog about life in the USA, the greatest reality show on earth. Ours is a mediated society where nothing seems real until it’s in the media. Watch is what we do. We like “to watch” as Chance the gardener said in Being There. But we’re also being watched as we are more and more under surveillance, whether through webcams, at traffic intersections, by ubiquitous security cameras, or just the ones on our phones. Watch and be watched.

This is a place where we will watch who is watching whom and why. We will report on who’s doing what and where in every area of American life from politics to culture to music to education–wherever our interest takes us. We also want to mirror the real America, the one that already lives and thrives everyday in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. It’s a mix, a gorgeous hybrid of bloodroots, color, race, sexuality, energy, ideas, and personal visions. That America, the New America, is something we want to present here on The American Show.

At launch our initial collaborators already include some of the most gifted people in the blogosphere: William Nericcio, author of Tex[t|-Mex and the blog of the same name that he curates with his “band of semiotic pirates”; Audrey Dolar Tejada, the journalist and gifted artist who blogs at Strange Tango: Life As Art; Wendy Carrillo, radio personality and online editor for Voto Latino; Mo’ Kelly of the sometimes outrageous The Mo’ Kelly Report; occasional posts from the folks at Racialicious; and, eclectic DJ José Galván, who will curate our music (click on Music on the Menu bar and you can hear his inaugural playlist). We’ll also be presenting interviews with some of our favorite people and adding contributors as we grow and move out of the beta phase.

Above all, The American Show is a place for stories. We’ll be showing videos and photos that tell stories about people who live in this state of mind called America. We’ll also have podcasts that you can download. More than anything, we’ll want to hear from you. Join our conversation. Register.

The American Show is the blog as collage, montage, and pastiche. As an online collage, we will bring together variant elements into one place and see how the resulting image, text, or sound becomes something new.

See the image above that accompanies this first post for our blog: Marianne Brandt’s “Our Unnerving City.” It’s a photomontage that comes from a frenetic time and place (1926, Germany) like ours where political dangers lurk in unforeseen places and nothing is as it seems. As Ben Davis wrote about Brandt’s piece, “the collection of fragmented images is anchored by a large face or dominant figure…Rather than producing easy points of identification, however, Brandt’s figures clipped from popular magazines are tangibly fake-seeming and stereotyped, again evincing a certain uneasiness about identifications. This sense is furthered by Brandt’s choices: She seizes on images of dancers, circus performers and movie stars of all kinds — all people putting on a show, on stage, acting, not themselves.”

This is “showtime” and sometimes it’s real, sometimes it’s not but the real and the unreal blend together into something different, something new and hyperreal. That’s our society in the 21st century.

Like montage—what Walter Benjamin called the “major constitutive principle of the imagination in the age of technology” —The American Show is looking for the “infinite, sudden, or subterranean connections of dissimilars.”

We live in extreme times. Our politics are a polarized bloodsport. Economically and educationally, we are fast becoming two Americas. We seem to always be at war. It makes sense that extreme sports are an obsession for many and people crave extreme makeovers. In this spirit we take Base Jumping as a metaphor. This is a blog where freedom of thought and expression can take flight. We will strive to jump from the edge and comment from there about what we see in the world. We want to put on a “show,” something you’ll want to watch. We won’t ask for permission, we’ll just do it and and hope we land in one piece after the thrill. There is so much to say and do. Let’s go!

Max Benavidez
Producer/Director, The American Show

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