March 29, 2008

Degrees of separation between the revolution and me: three.

Bet you didn't know there even were degrees of separation between the revolution and me. Not because the revolution and I are inseparable, but because you can't have degrees of separation when things are simply utterly unconnected. Me, I am a child of the corporate 80s and complacent 90s and if I am a revolutionary, well, then my mom's a revolutionary, and she's not.


I just finished watching the excellent documentary The Weather Underground, about, yes, the Weather Underground. It was quite good. It blew my mind slightly: I grew up thinking of nearly everything that the 60s and 70s produced as out of touch, ineffectual, irrelevant, and ludicrous. Which is not to say that the Weathermen may not have been out of touch or ineffectual -- that's somewhat beyond me to say -- but I don't now have the impression they were irrelevant or ludicrous. [Edit: if it looks like I have rearranged my adjectives, that is because, on careful consideration, I have.] That they had clear and resolute ideas about what was going on around them, that they saw themselves not as an idealistic fluke but as simply the first to choose sides in an actual revolution that was actually supposed to happen, was to me a total shock. That surprise right there, that's the 80s talking. But this is not the point.

The point is that, in the credits of this excellent documentary, the film's creators thanked someone who just sent me a letter.


Weather Underground, organization
Weather Underground, documentary
Vanessa Renwick, filmmaker, Oregon Department of Kick Ass
My desk. Observe.


I periodically Google "wear your fucking helmet" to see if anyone has started talking about my stickers yet, and in six months the internet has given me exactly one mention. It popped up some time ago, and, with all the enthusiasm of a person who believes she's gotten her first mention of many instead of her first and only, I Googled the commenter, tracked her to her awesomely-named independent filmmaking enterprise, and mailed her a sticker. Between then and now she replied, sending me a nice thank-you note on awesome stationery with a sticker of her own (I'm still deciding what to do with it).


There you go: my credentials neatly arranged in a single frame. I'd say "let me show you my credentials" if I didn't think it sounded dirty. And now, if you'll excuse me, this nearly-being-connected-to-the-revolution is exhausting; I need to eat a bagel and go to bed.

Posted by dianna at March 29, 2008 11:10 PM

Hey, you know the protests at Columbia University they talk about in the movie? They totally made a boardgame about it! It's called Up Against the Wall, Motherfucker! It's apparently not very good.

I get the feeling you and I had very different impressions from watching The Weather Underground, but since I haven't seen it in 4 years now I can't precisely articulate what my impressions were.

Posted by: MoltenBoron at March 30, 2008 06:33 AM

The class I TA'd last quarter watched half of this documentary. I missed that day, but I spent the rest of the quarter hearing about the flaming row that ensued. Apparently our illustrious prof turned the documentary off halfway through, made fun of Bernadine Dohrn for being unattractive, and admitted that he was unable to answer any questions about the latter part of the movement's career because he hadn't watched the part of the documentary when they change their tactics and start directing and mitigating some of the violence. Because I'd like to be able to have a career in academia, I should probably stop talking shit right there.

In other news, I love your DIY networking. The Oregon Department of Kick Ass seems like a pretty solid connection to have. Maybe she can make a documentary about your one-woman efforts to save your city from bicycle-based head injuries. I promise I'd watch the entire thing, not just the first half.

Posted by: katie at March 30, 2008 12:22 PM

Gosh. Wow. I'm glad that someone felt compelled to put up a flaming row in response to that. I'm not sure that it matters whether you think the strategic and philosophical shift that they made actually redeems them at all; if you're going to talk about any part of what they were doing it just makes sense that you have to have the background of knowing where it started and where it went. And if you're going to show a documentary in class I can't imagine why you wouldn't a) watch the whole thing and b) show the whole thing. I will leave your academic career opportunities open by changing the subject.

I have to confess, I think, that I have a very particular weakness for arguments that the world is just about to end or radically change. I suppose this slightly contradicts my assertion of non-revolutionary-ness, although please note that I am not out making any revolutions happen myself. I just want someone else to make everything different for me. So when in the present-day interviews the Weather folks shake their heads about how they really believed that they were joining -- not starting -- an inevitable global revolution, I can kind of understand. There was one fascinating comment, I think from Bill Ayers, about a moment where he kind of saw through that assumption of big inevitability, saw how little and unsupported they were, and still couldn't really see anything to do but keep going. Gosh. So interesting. I highly recommend, including for non-revolutionaries.

Posted by: Dianna at March 30, 2008 12:53 PM