Genealogy As Storytelling Device

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to unfold the story of women in punk. Things like who to focus on, how to best present events and discuss meaningful milestones and contributions. Ideas continue to unfold through my research (and soon, through interviews). I know I want to investigate 1965 to 1980 because it stands as the nexus for what informs punk as a sonic experience (also, as a movement, style and audio/visual output). But from there, things stand as a thick fog.

Historical documentaries, whether they be about a person/people or a particular event, tend to take a sequential approach – beginning, middle, end. In recent years, non-fiction cinematographic language has grown to include more play on the timeline. Like opening with a particularly poignant situation or moment, and then diving into the marked “start” (this has become a staple of made-for-(US)TV docs broadcast on channels like Biography or Lifetime).

One of the more interesting examples of using untraditional devices, is found in the Arthur “Killer” Kane biopic, New York Doll. The filmmakers employ Reebee Garofolo’s ‘Geneology Of Pop/Rock‘ to showcase the timeline. The original was edited to include the Dolls early years (1971) through the present day (at the time of filming – 2004). Brought to life as an animated transition between interviews, the filmmakers weave their story through this map of history. You can see his archetypal here and contrast with the update he contributed to the film which includes garage and glamrock in the timeline.

I find this example one of the most attractive and engaging. The use of Garofolo’s visualization gives the story an organic flow gracefully transporting the viewer without loosing a step. It serves as an inspiration toward my own search for a strong, fluid anchor to guide the telling of my story.

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