When I’m asked, “if you weren’t a designer, what would you do?” I answer, “I would work on the Disneyland Railroad, or I’d study American history.” The Disneyland Railroad obsession is another post, this one is about the title sequence for the WGBH program, American Experience. For me, American history is a remarkable subject. Don’t worry; I won’t turn this into a “Salute to America” blog, yet. Perhaps because so many members of my family were involved in this history since Jamestown and Plymouth, it is alive to me.
The title sequence for American Experience, designed by Alison Kennedy and Chris Pullman, tells a rich history with success, failure, justice, and injustice. It does this poignantly and smoothly. There is a clear subtext that this is all of our history, whether you come from a family that arrived on the Mayflower or arrived at LAX yesterday. So much could have gone wrong with this title sequence. It could have been a sequence of images cataloguing each racial and socio-economic group. It could have fallen into the sappy and nostalgic. However, it doesn’t. The montage shows us a rich and diverse nation made stronger by our differences, and our shared idea and vision. It does this beautifully, and is about our feelings, not just events.