In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

1969 Movies and the Counterculture CHRISTIE MILLIKEN On 20 July, Neil Armstrong was the first man to step onto the Moon’s surface, an event captured live on television and broadcast to a worldwide audience. It represented both a high point for American technological innovation and a victory over the Soviets in the space race. Despite this achievement, the year was marked by continuing social and political unrest that had characterized much of the preceding decade. The counterculture, best symbolized by protests against the Vietnam War, was in full gear, and a mood of cynicism following several political assassinations filtered into many aspects of American life. Emerging from the disintegration of the Students for a Democratic Society, the Weathermen organized as a militant group to foment violent revolution, staging “Days of Rage” in Chicago in early October and then violently disrupting the national moratorium in Washington, D.C., in November when some 250,000 nonviolent antiwar protesters marched against the Vietnam War. The National Guard was brought in to control protesters (including the Weathermen) at the trial of the Chicago 7, who were indicted on charges of conspiracy to incite the infamous riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in that city. Fallout from the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy in the previous year continued when James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan, their respective murderers, had their days in court. Kennedy’s brother, Ted, a young senator from Massachusetts, became embroiled in a murky legal case in which he was the driver in a car accident that killed his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne (a campaign aide to his brother), near Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, an unresolved event that forever cast a pall over his career. Conspiracy theories and profound pessimism ran amok. Richard Nixon entered the first year of his presidency, succeeding the embattled Lyndon Johnson. Hoping to avoid his predecessor’s turmoil via a policy of “Vietnamization,” Nixon began to implement a plan to gradually remove American troops from combat and turn the burden of war over to 217 the South Vietnamese army. Some 65,000 American soldiers were brought home during Nixon’s first year in office at the same time that he began a vigorous bombing campaign of Vietnamese communist strongholds in Cambodia , a tactic initially kept secret from the American public but which was designed to impress Hanoi with the possibility that the new president would stop at nothing to win the war. In this year alone, some 10,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam. As well, the My Lai massacre, which took place in March 1968 under the leadership of Lt. William Calley, was finally revealed to the American public twenty months later by freelance journalist Seymour Hersh, though Calley and other soldiers had already been formally charged with various counts of premeditated murder. Graphic images documenting atrocities from My Lai were shown in Life magazine and elsewhere, and details of reported torture, rape, and a series of subsequent cover-ups filled the media with incontrovertible evidence of heinous American war crimes and the compromised ethics of those assigned to investigate them. As more and more Americans began to pay closer attention to events taking place overseas, antiwar sentiment and a broader cynicism about American foreign policy and deception continued to rise. The violence of the images from Vietnam shown on the nightly news was certainly regarded as one cause of the increasing violence depicted on motion picture screens at this time. Another was the media coverage of Charles Manson and his “family” of apocalyptic followers (branded as hippies of a sort) who brutally murdered director Roman Polanski’s wife, actress Sharon Tate, their unborn child, and four others in Los Angeles in August. Culturally, this was also a year of hugely influential and symbolic music events. The Beatles gave their last public performance in January on the rooftop of Apple Records in London. Later in the year, John Lennon and Yoko Ono conducted their famous “Bed-In” at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal and recorded their antiwar anthem, “Give Peace a Chance.” In August, the Woodstock Festival treated a gathering of between 300,000 and 500,000 music fans to many of the biggest names in sixties rock music, including Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, and the Who, while the Rolling Stones’ tour of the United States culminated in their infamous Altamont concert in December. These two events have taken on mythic status as...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.