PhD candidate in visual anthropology, cultural studies, and critical theory. For creative writing teacher. Writes, films, edits, programs, practices kung fu, rides motorcycle.
Not sure it used to matter as much as we imagine. Jean Rouch, the "founding figure" in cinema vérité, considered what reality he documented as "ciné-truth," and that his role as filmmaker was to elicit possession and trance. He said that he viewed what he did as an "intolerable disorder" put upon the perfect order of his subjects' lives. He considered his work ethnofiction, and did many of the same things Alexander did: put cameras into his subjects' hands, teach them how to make movies, coached them extensively, etc. And that was in the 1950s and 60s.
So in a way, Alexander is harkening to some older ideas about the genre of documentary cinema, ones lost by a yearning to access unmediated realities (which is, of course, the big paradox). I can't imagine any documentary that has so much reality in the final project anyway, when the shooting ratio of docs is so high and the process of building the story through careful editing. Instead of rejecting ethical conventions, I find this invocation (and dismissal) of the fly trope to be an ethical stand: one that both involves subjects in the filmmaking project and is upfront about the artificiality of the production.
Personally, I'm much more interested in this approach than in the idealism of the invisible, panoptic observer.
Most people "hanging on so much to film" know that most people don't care about it. That's because most people aren't making movies. They also don't care if the filmmaker used tungsten or fluorescent or led, or a Sony, Panasonic, Canon, or a Nikon for their low-budget short. These are debates for specialists in a discipline. Of course people outside don't care.
You know why doing a short film in Super 8 would appeal to someone today when digital is clearly a better, cheaper, and more flexible medium? Because it is a creative challenge and filmmakers are artists and some of us have always had the benefit of digital and didn't have to "suffer" through low-fi, sync sound filmmaking that forced you to change storage every two minutes and cost a bunch of money. Maybe trying something like that is enough? Like, while some of us work in production companies, we still like the joy that comes with creating something new with a new, limited tool?
If we got rid of everything that didn't matter to "regular" people, we wouldn't have anything left.