From Tim to Marla – Home Media Invasions

26 01 2007

Homeschooled national champion quarterback Tim Tebow and his parents became media stars and the glow hasn’t turned to glare (yet). But the Olmsteads and their ethereal little home artist Marla are a cautionary media tale now making the jump to the big screen at the Sundance Film Festival. Talk about learning life lessons the hard way . . .

“The film makes us confront the realities of the media process, the predatory aspects of journalism, filmmaking and storytelling. There is a constant need to feed a 24-hour news cycle, but what about the people we write about? What happens to them?”

More often than not, the apparatus unpacks, gets what it needs and then leaves town, leaving the subjects to try and reassemble their lives. Speaking on the phone, Ms. Olmstead was friendly, but understandably reluctant to re-engage with the press. It was not the first time she had heard something along the lines of, “Hi, I’m from the media and I’m here to help you.”

. . .“When we met Amir Bar-Lev three years ago and he expressed interest in our daughter’s work, we welcomed him into our home and lives. But we are heartbroken by some of the choices he made in his portrayal of our family . . .”

The film raises questions about the custody of a given story. Very often regular people are enrolled in the effort, but in the end, the author, not the subject, is the owner of the narrative. The choices are his — in the editing, in the framing, in the end.

“Marla’s paintings are like a Rorschach,” he said. “Some people see a kind of divinity when they look into them and others see a hoax. I wanted to do a David and Goliath story, one that exonerated the family. That story didn’t turn out.”

Exonerated them of WHAT??

I distinctly remember seeing this shy but self-possessed little girl phenom older than four but not by much, with a fat blond braid and her huge colorful canvases, on a daytime tv feature, maybe with Katie Couric on TODAY? Does anyone else remember?

I remember wondering then what her parents were thinking,
Read the rest of this entry »