American Cinema of the 1970s: Themes and Variations

By Lester D. Friedman | Go to book overview

1970
Movies and the Movement

MIMI WHITE


Cultural Unrest

While some historians and chroniclers identify 1968 as the start of the decade of the 1970s, others characterize 1970 as the last year of the 1960s. The conflicted social, cultural, and political conditions of the 1960s were in wide evidence at the turn of the decade, exuding dissatisfaction with the mainstream, white, middle-class establishment, the political leadership, the military-industrial complex, and the ongoing war in Vietnam. Although some American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, antiwar protests escalated in late April when President Nixon announced that he had authorized the bombing of Vietcong forces in Cambodia. In May, four students were killed by National Guard troops during the course of one such demonstration at Kent State University, and two others were killed in protests at Jackson State University. In August, anti-war radicals bombed the Army Math Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, killing one researcher in the process. Street protests stretched across the nation, from Washington, D.C., to Berkeley.

For many, these events crystallized the nature of the conflict at home and abroad, as a large student population quickly rallied in response to the expansion of the war, while domestic tensions led to the use of armed force against anti-war protestors. It was a time when National Guard units were routinely mobilized in opposition to American college students and other anti-war protestors. The trial of the Chicago Seven came to a close, with the defendants acquitted of the charges of conspiracy to riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention, though five of the defendants were found guilty on lesser charges of inciting to riot, a judgment later overturned on appeal.

While the sexual revolution of the previous decade had been strongly associated with the hippie counterculture and the free love movement, it progressively made its way into the mainstream. Everything You Wanted to

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