Monday, September 24, 2012

The Weather Underground Documentary Mini Project


  1. Part 1:
    Overall, I think Morgan did an excellent job with this vlog. It’s clear that she put a lot of time and effort into it, and I certainly commend her for that. The introduction was very appealing (and although it was a bit long) really drew me in. After watching this vlog, I understand that the main premise of this documentary pertains to various radical groups’ violent forms of protest in recent history, with a special focus on “The Weathermen”, which was a group of leftist college students that sought to overthrow the American government because of our involvement in the Vietnam War. Although this was clearly expressed at the beginning of the documentary, she seemed to digress from this central theme a few times and discuss other dimensions of the documentary to a larger extent. I recognize that she did this in an effort to critique the documentary in its entirety; however I feel that vlog viewers would have understood the main gist of the film much better had she not digressed for as long as she did.
    With regard to sound quality, her general pacing was excellent. I was able to easily understand everything she was saying, but some minor sound “hiccups” could be heard (that may be a result of my loaner computer). Another aspect of vocal quality that I wanted to mention was her monotonous voice; in ways it added a dimension of bore, which almost undermined the interesting visuals. I say this not to personally attack Morgan, but because I’m in Extemporaneous speaking and always hear critiques on tone. Despite this, she seemed prepared to discuss this topic. Even though we could not see her face, it is clear that she was confident. She maintained fluency throughout the vlog i.e. there were no pauses/”likes”/”umms”. Further, she appeared to be very informed on the issue discussed in the documentary. As mentioned previously, she explored and mentioned various other forms of violent protest that took place within the United States and not exclusively “the weathermen”. I might have liked the vlog more if she would have divulged into a bit more detail about what was happening in Vietnam that sparked such controversy and desire for violent protest. She included an image of impoverished, naked, foreign children running and crying and included some commentary on horrendous governmental actions in Vietnam, but she did not go into it as much as I would have liked her to. She offered her own insight and opinion on the utilization of “violent protest against the people who are making the decisions for us” (7:37-7:41) in the United States, and although I certainly do not agree with her support of it, I recognize that she does mention it during her vlog. My personal bias against it has to do with our study of the legality of violent protest. Perhaps had she discussed court cases that pertained to free speech/protest, I would have been more receptive of her opinion. I would, however, really like to commend her for discussing the “conspiracy” aspect of the film. I really do think it is important that all members of the United States have the freedom and opportunity to voice their opinion (PEACEFULLY) especially with the presence of injustices such as the US involvement with Vietnam, or the civil rights of African Americans. I also want to commend her for bringing up to our current foreign policy (Afghanistan) because should public opinion turn against the war, violent protest may become an issue once again.

  2. Part 2:
    In spite of my critiques, I certainly think that Morgan effectively conveyed the purpose of the film and analyzed the main premise of the documentary. It appeared to be very interesting, and I will have to watch it myself if I have some spare time! Morgan mentioned that despite the minor weakness of the film’s inclusion of extraneous information, there were not many weaknesses. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t notice her mention any biases of the film when obviously the utilization of violent protest can be very controversial and typically many biases are present. Overall though, the images and facts that Morgan presented during her vlog really hit me, and again, in my VAST amounts of spare time (lol) I’ll have to rent it and see it for myself so I can pinpoint any biases present in the film for myself.

  3. Cam did a very thorough job in conveying the theme of the Weather Underground. From my understanding, it was the whole idea of when the government oversteps its bounds (in this case the Vietnam War), the people see it as their civic duty to protest and advocate for change, even if the said protest becomes violent. The Weathermen, a left-wing radical group of college students that wrecked havoc in the late 60s to mid 70s, declared war against the United States government in an attempt to overthrow it to protest the atrocities in Vietnam. Cam explained how these students “brought the war home” by bombing government buildings like the Pentagon and the Capitol building. She pointed out that although these things were radical, the members felt that the government would only pay attention to their message if they went to radical lengths.
    The pacing of the broadcast was consistent and relatively easy to follow. There was little inflection in Cam’s voice, and her tone remained relatively the same throughout, but this is minor. I very much enjoyed the radio broadcast snippet in the beginning from an actual Weather Underground broadcast—this intense introduction really served to grab my attention immediately. The volume was fine, and Cam seemed to know her points ahead of time and had a clear, planned out structure for her broadcast. Although I did enjoy the slideshow of images she used to drive home whatever she was talking about (if she mentioned a building being bombed, she showed a picture), not being able to see her face was slightly impersonal.
    One important connection Cam made was how the theme of civil liberties in Chapter 14 directly pertained to the movie. She argued that although the Weathermen in a sense took advantage of their civil liberties and harmed innocent people, they were trying to exercise their Constitution-given freedoms in order to expose the truth behind the war.
    A fact Cam also brought up was just how quickly these student-sponsored protests spread across the US. She mentioned how different cities like Seattle, Detroit, New York, and Chicago responded when they found out what “really” was going on in Vietnam.
    After watching the film, Cam also argued that our intervention in other countries is extremely unnecessary. Although I think this is a blanket statement, her argument made sense within the context of the film. In Vietnam, the army was mutilating corpses and committing other horrific crimes against humanity.
    I particularly found this film to sound interesting. From the moment I heard the radio broadcast, the idea of rebellion, especially youth rebellion, sounded like a downplayed yet fascinating part of our history. I personally have heard next to nothing about the extent of protest during that time period and never had heard of the Weathermen or their activities. People bombed the Pentagon in order to get the government to listen? I incorrectly thought this applied solely to foreign terrorists during 9/11.
    Cam identified two weaknesses in the film. The first was its lack of detail on specific bombings the Weathermen were responsible for. She specifically mentions them just giving the date and brief explanation of why they did it for the Pentagon and Capitol bombings. The second was indirectly related to the first. Instead of using film time to go in depth on Weathermen rebellion, they spent a lengthy amount of time on themes like monogamy. Cam correctly points out that although this gives insight into student life in the 1970s, the amount of time allotted for it could have been better used elsewhere.
    She highlighted some refreshing strengths as well: the film didn’t glorify the government or our nation. She also applauded the attention to detail with regard to the first bombing and the night raids.

  4. Other information gleaned included a Weathermen tactic I found particularly interesting. They showed their concern for life by carefully planning the time and location of their next target building in order to ensure the fewest number of causalities while in turn still maximizing the damage done to the government.
    One final bit of info I found surprising was the socioeconomic status of many of the groups members. Cam pointed out many of them were wealthy, which allowed them to stay underground for so long.