By Staff Writer Caleb T. Maupin
In Hollywood today, among the writers, it seems there are a lot guys who were lonely in college. Back in the 1960s, when students were revolting, protests were rocking the country, and dissent was “hip”, Activists were getting all the women, and the future screenwriters felt lonely.
In many movies now, like “Forrest Gump”, “Across the Universe”, and even the 1999 TV miniseries “The ‘60s”, we are given a portrait of the 1960s activist males. They are shown to consist of highly charismatic men with beards, who enchant dainty helpless young women. The women need to be rescued from these crazed activists by the “ordinary guy.”
The “ordinary guy”, usually ends up punching the charismatic leftist man, and drawing his blood. In this scene the charismatic leftist is usually portrayed as a “wimp” who is too afraid to fight back. The dainty young woman eventually sees the error of her ways for following a communist, and goes back to “ordinary guy.” Eventually bearded guy ends up making bombs and becoming a “terrorist”, who is supposedly “just as bad as the government.”
History Lesson: The U.S. killed 4 million people in Vietnam. The Weather Underground, the infamous communists known for bombing buildings, killed no one. The only people that died as a result of the Weather Underground’s actions were three people who accidently blew themselves up making a bomb.
Yet, the films seem to be saying that the Weather Underground were just as bad the government.
Most groups weren’t bombing things at all. Students for a Democratic Society was a huge organization of activists, the vast majority of which were not bombing anything. Youth Against War and Fascism was large as well. There were countless activist organizations that were non-violently demanding a fair and just society.
Notice how when the” dainty woman” becomes an activist, and starts talking revolution, she looks like an addict, she seems to be under a spell. I’ve seen people become activists. They usually look great and feel empowered, gaining confidence. Activism is not smack.
As far as the sexism, there were a lot of leaders of the Communist/Leftist movement in the 60s who were sexists, as there are a lot of sexist men in all walks of life. This empowered the feminist movement of the 1970s. Many organizations made big efforts to stop such sexism, and keep it out of the movement.
And why is it that the dainty female character never confronts the bearded leftist bomb thrower guy about his sexism? Why does she need some man to come and punch him in the nose, and whisk her away from a speaking out, something many sexists would want to keep a woman from doing.
Look at Kathleen Cleaver, Bernadine Dohrn, and Angela Davis. These were key figures in the protest movements of the 1960s. They were not dainty women under the spell of a charismatic bearded guy. They were women with strong convictions for another world.
Finally, I’ve been to many protests. They are not scary situations where crazy people are “out of control” like in these movies. Protests are where people, who are sick and tired of the world as it, raise their voices and demand an end to things like unjust wars, the oppression of gay people, sexism, and racism.
We have a great deal to thank the Students for a Democratic Society and other activists for. Without them many of the changes that have made the world a better place would not have occurred. Hollywood needs to do a better job portraying the people who brought us the many of the freedoms we have today, and ended a brutal unjust war in Vietnam.
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF MAELSTROM STAFF