The Weather Underground
The film, Weather Underground, is a 2002 documentary based on the American radical organization, The Weathermen. The film, based on real life events characterizing the American political system narrated the ascent and descent of the organization employing the use of archived footage from 1969. Directed by Bill Siegel and Sam Green, the documentary explored the lives of a few young people waging war against the United States Government, who would eventually be inaugurated from college activists to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most wanted.
Reactions to the film
Centered on a political theme, the Weather Underground elicited various but profound reactions. At a time where the United States government was largely involved in the Vietnam War, most Americans were aware of the violence that escalated but could not do anything about the bloodshed. Negative rejoinders were centered on criticizing the group’s violent tactics oninnocent government officials asserting that the youth carried out politics that was misguided. Furthermore, negative reactions stemmed because of the revelries the youth engaged in at college such as sex and drugs asserting that the youth were idle and thus wanted action. However, some reactions praise the efforts of the Weathermen. Most of the reactions deem them as the pioneers of activism and American revolutionaries addressing the repressive tactics of the government to silence the discontentment of the American citizens.
The main theme of the film was on politics. The documentary, though portraying the lives of the Weathermen in 1969, addressed the polarization of the political situation in America between the 1960s and the 1970s. The schism was becoming more acute characterized by the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, which pressed the government. Such strong issues led to the creation of various youth political movements such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) who utilized peaceful protest methods to protest against the Vietnam War. The movements also protested against the role of the United States government in addressing racism because it was profound at that time, especially against the African American community. Furthermore, the movements criticizing the government eventually portrayed the dictatorial side of the government, which used law enforcement agencies such as the police to suppress the efforts of the activists.
The documentary focuses on the lives of a group of college activists bent on addressing the government’s involvement in the Vietnam War and the repression of the Civil Rights Movement. Such issues led to the rise of youth movements who employed peaceful protest techniques to address the political issues. However, some factions of the movements found it ineffective to express peaceful dissent against the government. This notion eventually led to the separation of a group of college activists from the youth political movement, SDS, who advocated for the use of extremist approaches, which the government could not risk ignoring. The group, which would later become known as the Weathermen, joined together with another extremist group, The Black Panthers, and begun participating in street riots and even proceeded to bombing buildings and further planning to bomb government representatives. Eventually, the group became most wanted according to the FBI, undergoing violent suppression tactics and eventually being forced to go underground.
The Weathermen will continue being emulated in America’s political history as the voice of a distressed nation. Presently, people are able to form movements that criticize the government without ear of suppression once they express dissent. Furthermore, the group indirectly raised awareness on the privileges and rights accorded by the United States Constitution such as the freedom of association, which at that time the government censored. Without such influential movements, activism and democracy would be devoid of the United States.