Is it fair to draw parallels between the Occupy movement and the
antiwar demonstrations in the 60s and 70s? True, both sprang up more or less
spontaneously and expanded from a left wing origin to include the whole
spectrum of society. Both spread from the US and sparked similar movements
overseas. The head breaking and violent repression, however, has yet to become
standard operating procedure in the government response to today's demonstrations, as it was for those protesting the War in Vietnam. And
maybe the biggest difference is the facilitating power of the internet, which
has allowed OWS to achieve as much in a month as it took the antiwar movement
to accomplish in years.
Then there's another similarity that just came up today.
Christopher Nolan's upcoming Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" will be
shooting in New York City for two weeks starting on October 29, and as the "Los Angeles Times" reports, "...according to a person briefed on actors' schedules who requested anonymity
because production details were being kept confidential, cast members have been
told the shoot could include scenes shot at the Occupy Wall Street protests."
To what purpose, one wonders? This brings to mind a somewhat different
movie, Haskell Wexler's "Medium Cool" (1968) .
The story of a TV journalist torn by the ethics of his trade,
not to mention
his sex life, it was shooting in Chicago in 1968, taking advantage of live scenes of the
ongoing Democratic National Convention and its contentious struggle between the
dove-ish Eugene McCarthy and the moderate Hubert Humphrey for the party's
Even more volatile was the action in the streets, where thousands
of demonstrators from various movements gathered. Wexler was on hand when an
army of police cleared the crowds with clubs and tear gas, all before network news cameras. And before Wexler's camera, too, as his crew got caught up
in the middle of the chaos. In one memorable scene, a cloud of tear gas rises
and a voice off screen shouts, "Look out, Haskell, it's real!"
The result was one of the iconic films of the 60s, a
head-scratching, brilliant, and moving look at the interplay of media, movies,
individual responsibility, and history. As for the latter, it all ended up with
the election of Richard Nixon.
Could today's version end up with the election
of Tricky Mitt?