My research is a methodology of accumulation. As part of this process, I watched Detroit 9000 the other day. A 1973 quasi-Blacksploitation film now reclaimed by Quentin Tarantino, the film lured me in via a brief encountered reference. Because of a reference, I had to see the film. Make no mistake, this is a bad film. Bad acting. Bad direction. Bad writing. When someone is shot, a big blob of ketchup pops up on his shirt. But I had to see the film. The encounter of the have to – that is a moment one strives for in research.
I have to see. I have to read. I have to know. Research as need. Often framed as the “archival” (the rhetoric of grant writing – I have to visit), the have to is the moment where need is not so much an objective (i.e. “I will use this to do something”)Â but often as association. I need to because there may be a “social” here I want to build.
And this film? I think I see the social building (but not built yet) for the fifth chapter on the Michigan Central Train Station. The final scenes of the film occur in what looks like a mix of a fictional station and the actual station. And the film is heavily occupied by Detroit’s racial politics. But maybe the key will be filmic space – the station’s only movement in the last however many years has been as filmic backdrop to a number of dystopian films.