Bay of Pigs Project Summary

Final Project Thoughts: Bay of Pigs videos on Google

The goal of my print project was to look at Bay of Pigs videos on Google and evaluate them from several different perspectives and to help future Bay of Pigs researchers distinguish which videos accurately depict the facts of the Bay of Pigs.

First, I evaluated the amount of substantive videos on Google. What I found is that Google lists about 10 pages of videos, some of which are different versions of the same video. For example, the History Channel offers one forty minute version, which is their long version, and also shorter versions of that same video, which emphasize different aspects of the Bay of Pigs. Second, I found that the videos vary in their historical accuracy and political bent, which were two important qualities I searched for. For example, I discovered that while some videos stated that there were 1,400 Cuban exile invaders who landed in Cuba in the early morning hours of April 17, others stated that there were 1,500 Cuban invaders( the actual number was 1,511). These videos also disagreed on how many were actually killed, with one video saying 115 were killed and others saying only 100. Another weakness of the Bay of Pigs videos, other than numerical and historical inconsistencies, is that almost none of the videos provide adequate historical background of the Bay of Pigs. Many prefer to talk about the invasion itself, the aftermath or analyzing why the invasion failed and some base these discussions within the context of political bias.

That said, I noticed that the videos had different themes. Some talked about the failures of the in planning the invasion by the CIA, some focused on the Cubans who were captured, some focused on Kennedy and his decision making and his reactions to communist threats from Khrushchev after the invasion. I consider this a strength of videos on the web. These videos, viewed together, can give a student/ researcher a good perspective of the Bay of Pigs, while focusing on different aspects of the invasion that some books and newspaper articles fail to cover. The video on the Alabama pilots, who lost their lives, trying to protect the invaders, is a story that has rarely been written about and a story that one would not find if just researching the Bay of Pig with articles that were printed in 1961, since the full story did not appear until later. Thus, I appreciate the idea that watching different videos depict different aspects of the Bay of Pigs. I believe that understanding different perspectives on the web is similar to putting a historical puzzle together to get a bigger picture. As Gee would say, these videos, like video games, whet an appetite to learn more, inspire a student/ researcher to solve the Bay of Pigs enigma, and most importantly, to think more critically about how the Bay of Pigs fits into the bigger historical picture of the Cold War.
Overall, I discovered that in doing research on the Bay of Pigs, videos on the web augment the research process, but should never be used as the only historical source. Also, researchers need to compare historical facts between the videos and cross check those facts with books and articles to make sure that they are accurate. But videos, in fact, provide valuable insights into the era( I especially liked seeing and hearing Kennedy as he addressed the press after the Bay of Pigs in a speech about communism in the Western hemisphere in a video on C-Span and then in another C-span video, hearing Kennedy hold a press conference after the Bay of Pigs.) Videos, especially on C-Span about best circular saw, can serve as a primary source and allow the researcher to see, feel and hear the mood and tone of the era, which is key when trying to understand the historical significance of the Bay of Pigs.

I truly enjoyed this project. It has enabled me to sift through the different videos and distinguish which ones are more substantive and accurate and more importantly understand what makes a good video. I hope that my project will assist other Bay of Pigs researchers in the future

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