I spent the past two days watching a documentary by Christopher Wiegand called American Blogger. I first came across the documentary when I was reading Cara Loren’s blog (seriously you should check her out!). I really enjoyed the film! Wiegand talked to 51 bloggers from across the U.S. Some had blogs based on fashion while others were mommy, cooking or basically just lifestyle blogs. Wiegand included footage of his own family and wife Casey whose blog led Wiegand to learn more about why people take up blogging. Wiegand has a beautiful family and the amount of kid cuteness throughout the documentary is enough to melt your heart. (My favorite is when his daughter Ainsleigh says, “Mommy, I love you,” to which Casey just smiles. Ainsleigh then goes on to say, “Say thanks. Say thanks.”) I know that has nothing to do with blogging, but it was a beautiful moment!
As I watched the documentary and numerous bloggers talking about their sites and why they love writing, nothing negative ever crossed my mind. However, the same can’t be said for others. I read a few reviews and almost every one felt Wiegand’s documentary was not representative of the American population. For example, Andy Hinds wrote on The Daily Beast that everyone in the film “appears to be young, slim, conventionally attractive, white, female and endowed with impeccable fashion sense, interior design skills, and the resources to deploy them.” While it is true that all Wiegand’s subjects were female and an overwhelming number of them were white, I don’t think his film deserves such harsh criticism. There was one African American blogger and a few who looked to have some Asian or Hispanic ancestry. Yes, there could have been more diversity, but why can’t we just accept the beauty of what he created? Why does everything have to be torn apart and criticized. Hinds continued his rant and quoted a Gawker writer who said the “American bloggers I know…look like row after row of pale, unattractive men in a dimly lit space.”
Let’s be honest. I know there are thousands of male bloggers who probably have sites about things like gaming, but Wiegand wanted to talk to the people whose blogs are successful. He wanted to talk to bloggers who have a following — those who have something truly unique to say. In a world where virtually everyone blogs, there was no way Wiegand could have talked to even 1% of the bloggers in America. It seems that the primary issue people are having with the documentary is its title. Blogger Heather Barmore said, “When I think of the American blogger, I see women of color, men, brunettes, redheads, who aren’t all about finding the pretty, Pinterest-worthy moments of life; and the latter is what this project seems to represent.” So, if Wiegand were to simply change the name of his film, would all of this criticism go to the wayside? Is the title really what it’s all about? I can appreciate what Barmore is saying. There are blogs that cover every topic you could possibly think of, but do a lot of people read those blogs? Would you want to read a blog about gardening, vegetarianism or basketball? For some, these topics would be interesting, but the majority of people seek out human-interest stories. Just look at the news today or check out CNN online. The top stories are lifestyle stories, celebrity stories and human-interest stories. I have a feeling that’s why Wiegand chose the bloggers he did.
Wiegand said, “I wasn’t sure if anybody would try to question my motives on picking people or something. I filmed the women who said yes. It’s not intentional if it’s heavy one way or another. I would hope that nobody would ever look at that and make some political argument out of it.” It’s clear that Wiegand didn’t set out to find the prettiest, richest and least diverse group of bloggers. He simply interviewed the bloggers who said yes. Some were bloggers his wife knew and were easier to get a hold of and contact. I don’t see anything wrong with the way Wiegand made his film or the people he chose to interview. He is, afterall, an artist. Wiegand said it himself that he didn’t want to appeal to anybody.
The documentary was very interesting and well-made in my opinion, but I do apologize for the above rant. I probably could have continued for another few paragraphs, but I just wanted to make the point that we need to stop arguing and criticizing and just appreciate the story that Wiegand has created. I don’t understand why we always have to look for the negatives. If people spent more time looking at the positives then they’d be so much happier. Life is so short. I know you hear that all the time, but it really is. If you don’t like Wiegand’s film, then don’t watch it. Focus on the things and the people you love. Focus on the things that bring you joy and inspire you! Smile and don’t be so critical. No one is in charge of your happiness except you. So just choose to be happy!
If you want to buy/watch the movie to see what all the fuss is about, go to the American Blogger website.