What the movie The 60s really represents (to those of us who growled around in the belly of America in those times) is the turbulence and diversity of the decade. Despite the exaggerated, stereotyped characters, the genuineness of the issues remains clear.
Not only were those radical times of change, but also very confusing times. Two basic things changed our world then: the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the overwhelming influence of the media. Those two new freedoms began social changes that soon became institutionalized.
From chaos came sensitivity, from disorder came values. Bear in mind however, that the bulk of Americans were not involved in this... they worked, they played, they watched the news... and slowly they became effected by the efforts and struggles of the minorities... the Civil Rights workers, the Political Activists, the Anti-War efforts, the War on Poverty....
The representation of the power of the press and TV in particular, was well reflected, although the conflict between the general public's attitude and those seeking to change things was at best ignored... and at worst, misrepresented.. Middle class Americans weren't all standing around angrily holding baseball bats, or disowning their wayward daughters. They were confused too. Let us not forget how Folk Singers suddenly became Protest Singers, and how The Beatles began an onslaught that killed the Folk-Protest Movement. There are no Beatle songs in the movie, or even any mention of them.
I think if you didn't live the decade, you might not have a sense of what the movie is about, the overall picture is a bit dim. At one point I held down a steady job while my sister lived at the Hog Farm Commune and went to Woodstock. At another point I was in Haight Asbury and in the Detroit Riots while she worked and played the housewife in Maine and Connecticut. Roles were constantly changing.
The movie depicts three siblings of a middle class family. They represent the hippie child, the political activist, and the active military personnel. Dad represents the typical attitudes, and mom represents the voice of reason, tolerance, and sometimes compromise... for the sake of peace.
The Black family comprises a minister and his son... disproportionately, I think. I assume the producers knew all the variables and had to settle on limitations, or else the film would have become a long, boring, documentary. Dad's message was that anger produces bitterness, and bitterness produces chaos. It was clearly a message directed to today's youth.
We are looking at a unique solution to social problems, and also how issues divide us... The 60s were unusual in that way, and only the Roaring 20s compare. In other words, this movie has a moral after all. In the end, it is our Collective Individualism that survives. Put that in your oxymoron list.
Everyone was a God, a Guru, or a free-spirited genius in the 60s. It was a time of magic and madness. No one will ever nail the 60s down right... it was too diverse (this movie is close). At least we can say we are not ashamed of it, that we learned and grew from it, and that for once, a generation shaped and changed America... for the better.
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