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Week 1: Festivals, Hillbillies and WordPress

So here I begin my journey exploring general and local culture through festivals. I’ve checked out a few local events that seemed interesting to me: the San Francisco Tea Festival, the Fisherman’s Festival in Bodega Bay, California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, Chowder Day, and the multitude of wine, beer, film and music festivals. But one festival recently caught my attention while I was browsing the local digital newspaper: the Silver Scream Festival, which will take place March 4-6 at the Roxy Theatre in downtown Santa Rosa, CA.


I’ve always loved movies, especially cult movies, and it takes a certain kind of person to love horror and sci-fi flicks. So I thought it would be an interesting challenge to research the background of this festival and even be a part of it. I immediately applied for a volunteer position by emailing the info email address, and got back a quick response from their team stating their willingness to help out with research, interviews, and volunteer opportunities. Exciting! I’m looking forward to being a part of this gathering!

A little about the beginnings of the festival: (quoting from their mission statement): In 1958, editor Forrest J Ackerman and publisher James Warren set out to make a single magazine, called Famous Monsters of Filmland, that would celebrate the classic films of Universal’s golden horror age. The festival invites submissions in the form of feature films, short films, screenplays, animation, and graphic novel scripts and concept art.  It features screenings, awards, prizes, parties and … more, the website claims. I’ve never been to a festival like this, so it will be interesting to see what types of people attend and how they interact.

More on this later as my research develops …

I finished the first three chapters of Rodger Lyle Brown’s Ghost Dancing on the Cracker Circuit and felt it was an easy read. The author mixes personal account with academic insight, h51Mc6+JPUzL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_istorical facts and cultural mythology that makes for a thoroughly engrossing storytelling experience (except for the last part in Chapter Three, where he goes on for pages about the McCoy and Hatfield feud – something I felt he could easily leave out.) The one thing I noted is how he states many of the festivals he attended were in their dying throes, and often set up as a community’s reaction to a changing economic and political landscape, where technological “advances” act more to make their way of living obsolete rather than enhanced. Of the three chapters, I enjoyed the one on “Hillbilly Days”. where he explained how the hillbilly stereotype came into being. I found this interesting because I did not realize it was based on a mythical stereotype constructed mostly by mainstream media and misunderstanding — just like our Native Americans were contorted into heathenish “Indians” by the advent of the Hollywood Western. More on this later.

Still getting  used to the WordPress format. I feel I spent much more time trying to figure it out than I should have, instead of focusing on the reading and homework. But I think I’ve figured it out for the most part, and will continue to modify this site with time.

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