America: The Story of Us (2010)
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Audience Reviews for America: The Story of Us
From an educational standpoint, it's pretty decent covering the landing of the pilgrims to the millennium and gives a great sense of patriotic pride, but the constant random celebrity insights from Diddy to Bruce Jenner to Sheryl Crow are annoying and really not warranted.
"We are pioneers. And, trailblazers. We fight for freedom. We transform our dreams into the truth. Our struggles will become a nation." That is the quote that narrator Liev Schreiber uses to open up each episode of this six-part 12-hour miniseries from the History (formerly known as The History Channel). I watched it on Netflix, so my miniseries was split up into 12 40-some minute episodes. I'm not too sure if I could bare watching it with about 15 minutes of added corporate advertising. I will admit that I was not one of those kids to pay close attention in my American History classes growing up. Sure, I did well with my grades, but that was only the result of general knowledge for the history of America. I can tell you right now that someone with a more sophisticated intelligence towards our country's history (i.e. a American History major) would most likely turn this off in a heartbeat. Or, perhaps they'd leave it on just to kill time or to play a drinking game with. So, with all that being said, I am no where near knowledgeable enough to critique the information in this documentary. Although intensely simplistic, I actually did learn a few things here and there (e.g. Hollywood use to be called Hollywoodland and the Statue of Liberty's construction). Having the knowledge of most of the facts already only strengthened my reasoning behind why certain things happened and almost gave me thought of gratefulness for those Americans that took risks. I do hope people take this documentary with a grain of salt. Regardless to the accuracy of the events and dates that took place (which I assume are completely accurate), this documentary seemed to have a social and political rhetoric towards the corporation. I'd hope that a complete history of America in a documentary would be nonpartisan. A documentary that tries too hard to entertain with low-budget CGI, like this one, doesn't work. A documentary that utilizes the input of celebrities, professional athletes, political pundits, and television personalities doesn't generate much credibility, but instead conjures it. Besides the duration of the series, if this was a true historical documentary on the complete history of America, then it would have the input of professional historians and not celebrity figures. It's the exact same phenomenon as celebrity endorsement in advertising. This documentary could also be called "The Rise of American Capitalism." It's truly a bittersweet economic system that has both fueled and hurt our American ways. The Story of Us seemingly concentrates on the entrepreneurial and private wealth. And, as the documentary concluded, we have only just begun. Besides the hippy Baby Boomers, not enough mention of the collective struggle for social justice as a whole is present. Although highly important, just the mention of the Civil War and the abolishment of slavery is all the social justice we get. The Story of Us suggests that the Revolutionary War was won because of great generals and clever military tactics alone. The idea of anti-taxation, along with the right to bear arms, are presented as at the heart of the revolution. Thomas Jefferson's role in writing the Declaration of Independence is skipped and Thomas Paine is barely mentioned. Not even the struggle to create American Constitution is completely talked about. Just a few historical points that even I can point out. I was also simply annoyed by the repetition of events mentioned after they had already been explained. Especially later on in the series did this occur. The documentary forcefully compared the innovation of the first settlers to those of today. After I found out that schools can obtain a copy for free, I still can't decide if I'd want this to be shown to school children. I do think they'll learn something and generate some opinion of their own though. It's a tough call. I'm going democratic on this by deeming it necessary that the school board decides. Or, perhaps, even the teacher him or herself could. Also, note that this documentary does include some graphic material that could be inappropriate for real young children. With all the criticism being said, I still do wish that EVERY American watches this series. That couldn't hurt. Some still think we have 48 states or other crazy ignorant statements like that. But, like with everything, please do keep an open-mind. I suppose I should stop complaining and just look up some books by historian authors to read. I will also be looking to PBS for some real American history documentaries real soon. "There's no way American History is this simple." ~The Nuz Journal 3/10 Stars.
Solid 12 part documentary from the History Channel detailing our nation's history is marred by celebrity commentary.
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