The "Show" 


A mind shattering experience for colleges, universities, high schools, organizations and conventions 


Shown in 311 American colleges for packed audiences. 

Student activities often spend thousands of dollars to bring famous speakers to campus - only to find 50-100 students show up.... 
......American Pictures is known for standing room only crowds. Even at the tenth show at Harvard 700 were present. At the third show in U.C. Davis 2000 came. Students who miss it often drive hundreds of miles to see it on other campuses. 


No program today depicts so visually and "with so lasting impact" the worsening minority crisis of America. 

Ida in her shack in Alabama

An experiment in oppression 

The show reveals the psychological costs of racism on both the black and the white mind. Yet it is not only a "show" about the victims of racism, but also an experiment in oppression. 

The technique of the show is to incessantly bombard the audience with a one-sided view from the position of the black underclass, a view in sharp contrast to the Horato Alger myth. 


There is no opportunity for rationalization or justification. A form of oppression ensues which gradually breaks down the defenses of the audience. It effectively creates a momentary role reversal letting the astonished students actually experience the emotions black people often suffer in everyday white society. This opens the way for whites to begin to identify with and understand black reactions. 

Poor white couple in Florida bar

The welfare state.....or the lack of it 

An important thrust both in the show and discussion groups concerns institutionalized poverty, fear and insecurity. As an outsider having grown up in a European welfare state Jacob Holdt challenges established American thought patterns by demonstrating the enormous financial and human costs of life without cradle-to-grave security. 

Despite the fact that the countries with the greatest economic equality - such as Denmark, Sweden and Japan - have achieved the highest growth rates during this entire century, American thinking is permeated with notions of the capitalist welfare state "destroying people's incentive," giving "hand outs from above" or even leading to suicide. 

In the search for solutions it is vital that students at least are informed about alternatives. Also business, medical and law schools have consequently found it important to challenge their students with the show.

the show

Other pages under this menu
Colleges shown in  
Excepts from the show   
Handout to students before show
Follow-up workshop to the show   
Recommendation of workshop   
Workshop by my assistant Tony Harris   
Ideal for freshman orientation   
Income of American Pictures     
Total travel of Jacob Holdt in US = 1 million miles




This page in Danish

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