Something from the DM archives on the occasion of Abbie Hoffman’s birthday:
In Growing Up In America, Morley Markson revisits his 1969 documentary on Sixties’ political activists Breathing Together:Revolution Of The Electric Family with the original subjects of that film to get the perspective of age and hindsight.
Reflecting the past through the present, forming a kind of Möbius strip of history, we watch as they watch themselves: Jerry Rubin’s transformation from firebrand radical to Capitalist cliche, the evolution and assassination of Fred Hampton (through the eyes of his mother) and the self-actualization, occasional self-doubt and battered integrity of Abbie Hoffman, William Kunstler, Timothy Leary, former Black Panther Field Marshall and expatriate Don Cox, Allen Ginsberg, and MC5 manager and White Panther founder John Sinclair. This is a fascinating glimpse at lives that mattered and still do.
It’s hard to believe that with the exception of John Sinclair and director Markson all of these men are dead. Are these the last of a dying breed?
While Growing Up In America is a vital and significant document, its failure to include some women activists in the mix is a glaring oversight. Bernardine Dohrn, Angela Davis, Shulamith Firestone and Diane di Prima are just a few of the women who were formidable forces in the cultural and political upheaval during the Sixties and any one of them would have provided a much needed woman’s point of view to the film. Once again, we’re confronted with the sad fact that the Sixties counter-culture was mostly a boy’s club.