Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Book Trailers

You know those video clips of books? Sybil has a link to Milady Insanity who's interviewing Sheila Clover, who produces quote a lot of them.

I've not seen too many, but I'm a little gunshy of the whole experience. (Hitting myself over the head now with a spatula, saying, "Luddite! Luddite!" Ow.)

I think this is because I was unexpectedly treated to a wonderful video montage created by my prep school a few years ago. The pictures are amazing--the school is gorgeous, no doubt--but the accompanying track sets up that Law of Unintended Consequences thing. Here, go watch it. It's very nice.

Please click on Sights & Sounds of Andover just under the Paul Manship Armillary sphere. (After the song loads, you still have to click the "Click here" thing to get it to play.)

Oh. My. God. Teh Horror.

Sammy Davis, Jr.?? Singing about Andover being HIS Kind of School? Emmmmmm. Let's review here. Sammy was born in 1925. Add 14 years to that, and he'd be at Andover in 1939.

Oldest prep school in America in the late thirties--welcoming Sammy? Listen, boys and girls, I lurrrve Andover, but it's been the whitest, most elite institution on the East Coast for well over a century, maybe two. Feeder school for Yale, has a football rivalry with Exeter that pre-dates that Harvard/Yale rivalry. It has its own Archaeology Museum, its own internationally recognized Art Museum. George Washington sent his nephews there. Paul Revere designed the seal. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

It only went co-ed in 1973, and many alums were still grumbling about that in 1985 when I was touring them around campus. Yes, Sammy Davis, Jr. SHOULD have been allowed to attend in the 1930s, but if he had made a single "Abbot girl drool" at that time he would have been at least kicked out, if not lynched.

Andover was really important to me. It was the best educational experience of my life, and, to its credit, it was thoroughly multi-cultural when I when there. But not in Sammy's day. Probably not even in 1965, when the head of NBC convinced him to sing this. At least I'm honest enough to know that the school's rich history did NOT include welcoming kids from Harlem in the 1930s. And Andover's not Vegas-cat, brat-pack cool EITHER. Winton Marsalis may run a master class, or Alan Ginsburg may perfom Howl (as he did my senior year), but the reputation of the school is NOT a hip, groovy, cool kind of place. So Freaking Weird.

And that's kind of my problem with trailers for books. Do we want to put an image into someone's head defining what the experience of the book will be like? Isn't it better to experience the experience of falling into the book without setting up a mood first?

One bad experience can really prejudice one against such marketing ideas.

Footnote: At the end of the song, Sammy lists "Bogart, the drop-out, Andover is." My great-great-uncle was a Dean at Andover. Apparently he's the one who signed the letter to the Bogart family explaining that their son, Humphrey, would not be returning to school, although I haven't seen the letter myself. My own itty-bitty brush with fame.

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