The myth of the heroic American farmer in contemporary food documentaries
Kuxhausen, Brett Jacob.
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Documentary has been a key catalyst in the modern 21st century food movement as a driver for change and awareness towards a new gastronomy. These types of films employ a variety of approaches to purport that our current system is flawed; built around industrialization and commodification of sustenance and living things. One universal method these films use to elicit audience reaction is through the use of the heroic cultural memory of farmers. I explore three very different contemporary food documentaries; Food, Inc., King Corn, and The Real Dirt on Farmer John as well as my own film Pork.0, as case studies to reveal how current social activist/issue documentaries represent the farmer by using the agrarian myth as a base, then use novel storytelling devices to show the necessity of change in the food industry. This contributes to the success of these films as effective works in the social issue/activist documentary genre.