Course Blog for Danny Mayer's ENG 281 course. Post 500 word minimum responses for each film viewed in class. Choose an aspect, theme, cinematic wizardry, or scene, and analyze/celebrate it. Post by the Wednesday before class.
Chelsea's response This story tells a different story from Woodstock because Woodstock was all about peace and love and this film showed just the opposite. This film is similar to In the Year of the Pig because they both share the main focus on the Vietnam War. There was so much I never even knew about the Vietnam War until I saw In the Year of the Pig and The Weather Underground. The audience of this film to me is the goverment and other officials. I belive I have stated before that this war was started over nothing. A lot like the war in Iraq. I got the impression that maybe President Bush and his Vice President Chaney (sp?) were all in it for the oil. So thousands of Americans died for what? So Bush and Chaney could become multi billionaires from the oil industry? Osama was not in Iraq, he was in one of the "stans" and so like I said there was no reason to even have this war in Iraq just like there should have not been this war in Vietnam. I learned from this film who and what the Weather Underground were. Before seeing this film, I never knew this. This film for me was very graphic and truthfully it upset me deep down. It was just a shame how everyone was treating one another and how awful the events were that happened in the 1960s. "Bring the War Home" was the slogan of the Weather Underground. There were many graphic scenes that bothered me, but in particular is where it showed the dead body of Fred Hampton. He was a 21 year old African American spokesman and member of the Black Panther Party who was murdered in his sleep by cops who claimed they had a warrant for him, but it was evident that he was asleep when he was murdered. I noticed a little clip of similarity to woodstock. It was the West coast version of Woodstock and it was the exact opposite of what Woodstock was all about. Hell's Angels murdered a man right in front of people at this festival while the Rolling stones played. That same year charles Manson and his followers took the lives of innocent people. Towards the end of the filma it started showing the Women's Liberation Front and the Gay Rights movement. Also it was said that U.S. was in terrible shape during the 60s because of Watergate, Vietnam, and Recession.
Keri's ResponseThis film was very different from the previous films that we have watched in class. Out of all the films that we have seen so far, I would have to say that this one is the one that I found to be the most interesting. It really kept my attention. The previous films were about giving you an idea about the Vietnam War, why America got involved, and what actually happened over there, and some of the more popular and well know anti war protests groups and organizations. They were also about giving you an overall idea of the 1960s generation. This last documentary showed us another side of things and a group that wasn’t so well known at the time. I had never heard of The Weather Underground until watching this film. I found this film to be interesting because I had never seen or heard anything about this group. What caught my attention the most were the scenes where the members of weather underground were remembering when they actually went underground and what that meant for them. They talked about how hard it was for them to break all ties with their family and their closest friends and say goodbye without telling them anything, so that they could truly go underground. They could not let them know what they would be doing, where they would be going, and sometimes even why. They had to cease to exist. They had to make sure no trace of them could be found. They also had to make sure that no one from their past world would recognize them if they did ever go above ground. One man said that he didn’t really worry about running into anyone. If he ever happened to then those people knew he had gone underground and knew that it could not possibly be himWhen they went underground their meetings were kept a secret and in most of the time where held at different locations each time. They tried to stay on the move so that they couldn’t be found or traced. The members kept in touch by attending the meetings, if they did not attend then they couldn’t lean new information or sometimes even when and where the next meeting would be held. They asked and knew information on a need to know basis. The member then talked about coming above ground and how it was not as easy as you would think. Most of them had gotten rid of all evidence that they existed and anything that would prove that they had a past. Finding a job was difficult. They couldn’t prove who they were. If they had job experience in the past they couldn’t prove that either, and people would not hire them. I had never heard of this or anything like it before watching this film. It really helped show me that there weren’t just hippies and rich college kids protesting about everything they didn’t approve of. It showed a very different almost dark side. There are probably many more things and organizations that were out there that we didn’t hear about as much. Many of them said they would do it all over again. Others said they would do it again but do some things a little bit differently. This film gave me an idea of what people will go through and do for what they strongly believe in.
Keri's response:This film was very different from the previous films that we have watched in class. Out of all the films that we have seen so far, I would have to say that this one is the one that I found to be the most interesting. It really kept my attention. The previous films were about giving you an idea about the Vietnam War, why America got involved, and what actually happened over there, and some of the more popular and well know anti war protests groups and organizations. They were also about giving you an overall idea of the 1960s generation. This last documentary showed us another side of things and a group that wasn’t so well known at the time. I had never heard of The Weather Underground until watching this film. I found this film to be interesting because I had never seen or heard anything about this group. What caught my attention the most were the scenes where the members of weather underground were remembering when they actually went underground and what that meant for them. They talked about how hard it was for them to break all ties with their family and their closest friends and say goodbye without telling them anything, so that they could truly go underground. They could not let them know what they would be doing, where they would be going, and sometimes even why. They had to cease to exist. They had to make sure no trace of them could be found. They also had to make sure that no one from their past world would recognize them if they did ever go above ground. One man said that he didn’t really worry about running into anyone. If he ever happened to then those people knew he had gone underground and knew that it could not possibly be himWhen they went underground their meetings were kept a secret and in most of the time where held at different locations each time. They tried to stay on the move so that they couldn’t be found or traced. The members kept in touch by attending the meetings, if they did not attend then they couldn’t lean new information or sometimes even when and where the next meeting would be held. They asked and knew information on a need to know basis. The member then talked about coming above ground and how it was not as easy as you would think. Most of them had gotten rid of all evidence that they existed and anything that would prove that they had a past. Finding a job was difficult. They couldn’t prove who they were. If they had job experience in the past they couldn’t prove that either, and people would not hire them. I had never heard of this or anything like it before watching this film. It really helped show me that there weren’t just hippies and rich college kids protesting about everything they didn’t approve of. It showed a very different almost dark side. There are probably many more things and organizations that were out there that we didn’t hear about as much. Many of them said they would do it all over again. Others said they would do it again but do some things a little bit differently. This film gave me an idea of what people will go through and do for what they strongly believe in.
“The Weather Underground” (2002) Response By Liberty HartIn the 1960’s, the United States began a war with Vietnam, and there were a whole lot of people who were opposed to the Vietnam War. Martin Luther King Jr. called it an “evil war”; hippies and student protestors made speeches and demonstrated to end the war. Most of the better-known protests and anti-war expressions were done peacefully. But there were definitely exceptions. The film, “The Weather Underground” introduced me to the more violent side of the anti war movements. Before watching this documentary, I had never heard of Weathermen (at least not the ones who bombed buildings…), and I was immediately intrigued with their slogan “bring the war home”. The weathermen tried to overthrow the American government using violence. They wanted to make the horror of war visible to the American people, so they could not ignore what was happening in Vietnam anymore. I thought that concept was really interesting, and I wanted to know more as the film went on. As I learned more about Weathermen, I began to see the similarities between them and Black Panthers. Both groups were for a good cause (at least I think so. Equal rights and ending an unjust war seem pretty good to me). And both groups were trying to help their cause using violence. They both felt that the peaceful protests and marches and speeches weren’t doing enough, and weren’t getting enough attention. Recognizing these similarities, it wasn’t surprising to me that the Weathermen eventually connected with the Black Panthers. I also found it interesting how all the turmoil the country was experiencing throughout the 1960’s came to a head in just one month, December 1969. In just that month, the Hell’s Angels killed people at a Rolling Stones concert, Charles Manson was arrested, and life magazine showed pictures of American soldiers killing innocent Vietnamese people (including children, which really disturbed me). Another thing that happened that month was Fred Hampton, a leader of the Black Panthers, was killed (a lot of people speculate that he was murdered by the government). As far as I know, the Black Panthers had never killed officers or anybody in the Us Government before, so I found it shocking that they just decided to kill one of it’s members. When I learned more about the killing, it made me almost agree with what the Weathermen were about to do.I think the Weathermen were just in the ways that they protested the war. Although I don’t agree with using violence against violence, I liked it that they bombed police stations and buildings like that when there was nobody in them. I’m glad that if they felt they had to use violence, they didn’t hurt anybody, innocent or not. Sure they messed up a lot of public buildings, but they never intentionally hurt another human being. I felt that was a very important component of their protests. If you were going to protest somebody for killing people, why would you do the same thing? So although I would never do the same things they did, and I think they’re all kind of crazy for doing it, I don’t think what the Weathermen did was completely wrong for the times.
Weather Underground proved to be the most compelling of any documentaries viewed thus far. I am sure I have made a similar statement in past responses… But even after a week of thought, my opinions of the Sixties could not be more swayed. We were given a comparison between the peaceful congregation of Woodstock (Woodstock) and the brutal politics of Vietnam (Year of the Pig) and were left with a “grey” area confused radicals, established in “Berkeley.” But this “grey” area was extended even further… thus tainting my view upon the generation of the Sixties.It is fact Weather Underground had actually been giving me nightmares recently, and I have more worries in my life than something of the past. The idea that stuck with me upon viewing the film was that, at one time, our civilized nation was at war with war. The vital organs to our body had turned against us and created a cancer that was destroying our very way of life. The film stressed use of archival footage of the Weathermen. Since the documentary was created in 2002, the film would obviously give the viewer a reverse perspective on things. Interviews with Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and other ex-Weathermen displayed a sense of “regret” to their terrorism. This made me wonder… Is the film trying to promote speaking out against the government, or is the film trying to scare the current generation from doing so? Apparently, it is both. Back to my nightmares, which consisted of a national rebellion against the war in Iraq, I was forced to believe that what the Weathermen did was integral to our very world history, and a sign of what not to do in such a case. My dreams were very graphic, as what Weather Underground portrayed, and it pushed the limits even more than that of what the Weathermen did. If the world had a current generation Weathermen, would we all survive? How did the world perceive the Weathermen at the time, were they even mentioned at all worldwide? I spoke to my father about the Weathermen, of which he briefly recalled as a “bunch of naïve kids” and “crazy radicals.” To the Weathermen, the idea of rebellion was almost a religion. Much like the Muslim culture in other areas of the world. I do not agree with this “war on war.” If there were ever revolution, I would most likely be too afraid to speak. But maybe this is what the Weathermen were trying to do… Trying to create an army of future outspoken leaders to resist this “change” and try a different approach. Is the idea of world peace really at an end, or are we just trying to survive in an already demolished world? My dreams mostly consisted of death and fire. But, all I really can remember is the strange feeling of bliss, of enjoying the devastation of the world. It was almost as if everyone was unified. But, again, these were just nightmares! Nothing too important to ponder. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Weathermen, and I hope to see this kind of documentary again in the future. I appreciated the displacement I felt when I was given a different type of violence… in our own country.
The Weather Underground was, by FAR, the most entertaining and informative documentary I’ve ever seen outside of This is Spinal Tap. The main strength of the film was, in my opinion, the candidness with which the interviews were conducted and the conflicting senses of regret and pride I got from the interviewees. One of the things that strikes me about the whole situation is the relative obscurity of the Weathermen in a historical context. Most history books I’ve been exposed to gloss over a lot of domestic occurrences during the 1960s in favor of the Vietnam War, which I find odd due to the fact that the Weathermen were a significant anti-war group and thus have at least a tangential connection to the events of the Vietnam War. It was nice to get a slightly less beaten-to-death perspective on Vietnam from an (admittedly niche) group of individuals. However, I wish the film spent more time elaborating on the actions each member of the Weathermen took after the dissolution of the group. I feel that although we see each member as they are as a result of their prior actions, their full stories aren’t really told (apart from some brief text, Animal House style, at the end of the film). Granted, this is a nigh insurmountable task, considering the amount of information the film had to cover in a two hour runtime, but I feel some DVD special features are in order for the eventual theatrical re-release of this film with new special effects. Also, the tenacity of the Weathermen in the face of FBI doggedness was impressive, to say the least. That, and the fact that the FBI used such extreme methods to capture the group. On the subject of the Weathermen themselves, I feel that their naiveté and idealism ultimately led to their downfall. I understand their goals, but their methods lacked tact and intelligent planning. All in all, I’d say that this was a hell of a film, and one I’d watch again, given the chance. You know, as long as they fix those special effects up.
Were the Weathermen patriots or terrorists? Heroes or cowards? Difference-makers or delusional failures? I guess it all depends on your point of view and the context of the times.The Weather Underground is a sobering documentary that explores a piece of 60’s/70’s American history that I wasn’t aware of . The members of the Weather Underground decided to break away from SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in 1969 to “bring the war home” and “get it on in this country” by committing armed resistance against the U.S. government. In its struggle against “the establishment,” this renegade group, in many ways, had everything to lose. And they still took that chance! The documentary was released in 2002, a year after 9/11, which invites comparisons. This group’s motives were in some sense similar to those who attacked USA in 2001 — fighting the “imperialism” and the “supremacy” of the USA. “Not only did tarnish appear on our image of American virtue, not only did disillusion occur when the hypocrisy of American ideals was discovered, but we began to sense that what we had originally seen as the American Golden Age was actually the decline of an era. The worldwide outbreak of revolution against colonialism and imperialism, the entrenchment of totalitarian states, the menace of war, the over population, international disorder, super technology — these trends were testing the tenacity of our own commitment to democracy and freedom and our abilities to visualize their application to a world in upheaval.” (Port Huron Statement)
The group might be seen as terrorists because they set off bombs in protest against the events or actions the government was involved with. The bombs were not intended to kill or to injure people (although 3 people died) , but to get a point across that policies within the United States Government needed to change. We should understand the behavior of this group instead of simply condemning them. These “outcasts” were making moral choices and living a moral life at the cost of losing their freedom! The group also took responsibility for what they call “armed propaganda,” some of them still are in jail. It’s amazing how far one will go to stop injustices perpetuated by one’s government.But is it accurate to characterize them as terrorists? Ayers, one of the group members, tried to justify the group actions saying in one interview (not shown in the documentary): “We never killed anyone. We destroyed property. We destroyed B-52s that were going to take off and go to Vietnam and drop tons and tons of bombs on Vietnamese civilians. We disabled those B-52s. Am I ashamed of that? No. Do I think that we crossed some incredible moral line at that point? I don’t, I really don’t. If we had been killing people, then I think, absolutely. It would have been a moral line that would be very hard to justify”. In contrast, al-Qaida is a terrorist group due to their aim of violence against civilians. While the motives of both groups might be somehow similar, there is a huge difference between the two. One of them is an attack from outside, while the actions of the Weathermen occurred within the context of a succession of struggles during that period — the struggle for rights for blacks and other third world groups, anti-war mobilization, protests against the crises of unemployment and urban decay.
The people interviewed in this documentary have definitely had a lot of time in recent years to evaluate the strategies of their past. Dohrn acknowledges that she and the Underground "made a lot of mistakes," but neither she nor Ayers would admit regret about the violent actions the group committed. Dohrn said at some point "Of course, I wish we'd done things better, tidier, nicer. I wish we'd spoken more articulately. Our rhetoric was way off the charts. I mean, we thought revolution was imminent. We thought U.S. imperialism was doomed, and this was the turning point in the U.S."All thing considered, I can understand their views and motives, although it's a lot better to try and talk things out, rather than resort to violence. But both sides have got to be willing to talk, and this was not the case during the 60's. The government felt American citizens should not question what government did and should be proud to ship out to Vietnam. Something had to be done. Were the Weathermen and Bill Ayers right in what they did? I agree with his statement that, at the time. they did what they had to do. It’s too bad that the injustices that many people once stood up a against are still with us and overlooked.
A film of retrospect from adults reminiscing of the time during the Vietnam War, their group of white middle class college students used explosives to plot the violent overthrow of the United States government. This film tracks the history of their political group and examines their psychology which led them to commit those terrorist acts. Clearly one of the least informative documentaries that could be called a documentary but filled with interviews and opinions that construct the kind of lifestyle they were living was honestly more like a reality TV show than a documentary.Leading off with information about the start of their group, they were all previous members of the Students for a Democratic Society. Also an explanation of their name of the group was presented as a slogan “You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows.” A blunt attempt saying essentially that our government is a weatherman who gives out information so that its people don’t have to look for themselves and in a since oppresses the society because the information could be censored and the people hearing it would not know. Other puns using meteorology terminology were used describing the different sections and levels of their newly founded group like “Weather Bureau,” as a group of leaders within the group, and also “New Morning, Changing Weather,” a document telling its members not to hurt people.The best part of the movie was the use of materials such as photographs, film footage FBI documents, and the group’s private contraband of their illegal activities. Even when they didn’t have film of certain scenarios of importance they actually recreated the events focusing on imagery and sound to portray the desired mood. The creation of the bombs for certain buildings was recreated using a fast technical view of the construction of the bomb showing a great deal of time passing as well as a tray of used cigarettes piling up eventually overflowing.It is also interesting to note that essentially all of the interviewed group members admitted to the fact that violence is an ineffective way to provoke change. A large chunk of the film was designated to when the group actually had to go underground metaphorically speaking when the FBI came after them and they still wanted to be free and blow up infrastructure. They showed the landscape of village they lived in and the type of living conditions, boarded up windows a village full of teens and college students who all were running from something or someone, kind of a “Never-never-land” in the literary comparison Peter Pan and all them kids with that fairy.So the rise of this group and its recruiting methods, the deaths and in depth coverage of the turbulence the group faced not only from an official view but from the members themselves. Then a transition into their life living off the grid, with each individual talking about the inevitable failure and slow demise of this terrorist group. With a wrap-up of where the members are now in their life and in the perspective of society.
With the current conflict that is happening with the United States and Iraq, The Weather Underground had by far been the most relatable and interesting documentary, I feel, that we have seen. Considering how many people in the United States feel that we have unjust reasons for being in Iraq is extremely parallel to how many people felt in the Sixties about Vietnam. In both modern and past American history it has been shown that people are willing to sometimes do almost anything to stand up for what they believe in and you see just that belief in The Weather Underground. The tone of the movie is set right at the beginning of the film when a news anchor begins speaking about how twelve people were charged with plotting to bomb several prominent areas in the United States. This sets a tone of how many of the young activists in the sixties stood up to their government and were willing to sacrifice their lives for their outlooks and beliefs. You see some of this in today’s society not necessarily people willing to die for what is going on in the Middle East but they are willing to be arrested and willing to demonstrate and protest to try and convey their message. The message that the weathermen were trying to convey was that of “bring the war home.” They were wanting to show Americans and the government the reality of what they were “dishing” out because they felt there was unnecessary violence towards the Vietnamese. The unnecessary violence was very much happening over there because Life Magazine had published the disturbing images in their magazine. The weatherman thought that the peaceful demonstration and protesting was just not getting through to the government and decided that they needed to make their presence known by using more violent actions than ever before. One of the members of the militant faction stated, “that by doing nothing during repressive violence, was violence itself.” I think that in some ways this is true because if you don’t speak up or ask for something that you want there is no possible way to get it. The weatherman did become more and more violent throughout the time by bombing several different government and state buildings. This really made them out as not heroes but terrorists in my eyes because they were hurting innocent people who may or may not have even stood for the conflict in Vietnam, but once three of their own were killed by a bomb (which they had made) they took a step back to mull over what they were doing and had done. Through the candid interviews of these former activists you see the regret that they began to feel once they realized that maybe what they were doing made them just as bad as the government they were trying to overthrow and many changed their ideals and plans about how they were going to continue in standing up without harming innocents. All of these things can be translated into what is going on in our present day conflict with Iraq. You have these people, terrorists, who believe that what our government is doing and what our government stands for is completely wrong and by trying to intimidate us they are willing to sacrifice themselves and the lives of completely innocent civilians for what they believe in.