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The 1960s: The Counterculture Strikes Back

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1 The 1960s: The Counterculture Strikes Back
Article By: John Belton Presentation by: Anne Potteiger

2 Aims of Discussion To be familiar with the social and political events of the 1960s and how they influenced film To identify how film portrayed women, youth, and race in the 1960s To explain how the morality of film changed in the mid-1960s To distinguish between the “two 1960s” and identify the products of them

3 Outline of Discussion Discussion of Aims/Introduction (1 minute)
The Kennedy Era (3 minutes) Portrayal of Women, Youth, Race (5 minutes) Film Clip: The Graduate (2 minutes) Changing Morality (5 minutes) “Blaxploitation” (5 minutes) The Two 1960s (2 minutes) Wrap-Up/Review (2 minutes)

4 Introduction: Youth and Challenge
During the 1960s, there was an ideological battle between “youth” (those under 30) and “age” (the older generation). They differed with each other over the Vietnam War, sexual issues, race relations, and lifestyle. The two generations formed two different cultures.

5 The Kennedy Era As the youngest President in U.S. history, JFK created a “New Frontier” in American political life. He stated in his inaugural speech that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” An emphasis on sophistication and style entered national politics; with Kennedy, the style of government changed.

6 Events During the Kennedy Era
The Civil Rights Movement Focus of Kennedy’s domestic policy Became the cornerstone of 1960s activism Student Protests The Women’s Movement The Feminine Mystique, NOW, more women in college/workplace

7 Projections: Women on Screen
1960s films turned the women’s movement into a sexual revolution. Class Activity: Barbarella Also in many films the female characters were stereotyped. “madonnas” vs. “whores” governesses vs. prostitutes For the most part, white- and blue-collar working women didn’t make it back to the screen until the late 70s/early 80s.

8 Youth Films: Activism as Lifestyle
Many films portrayed the youth’s war resistance as angst. The student movement was often reduced to just “confused college kids” who are only attracted to the idea of political activism and protests for “sex and cheap thrills.” Serious independent films such as Black Panther (1968) and Medium Cool (1969) attempted to show the perspectives of minority groups and student radicals. Youth cult films: The Graduate and Easy Rider (towards the end of the decade).

9 “The Graduate” As a Youth Cult Film
Became an influential film for the “under-30 market” because they felt they could relate to Dustin Hoffman’s character (“Benjamin”) and his situation. Benjamin feels confused and alienated, which the adults in the film cannot understand or identify with. The adults try to manipulate him and shape his future. Video Clip

10 “Solving” the Race Problem
1960s films exposed racism, but did so without exposing the sources of it; ignored the “politics” of racism. They viewed racism as a human problem, so it could be solved through dramatic means. Problem-solvers: Mere acknowledgement of the problem (example: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) White paternalism Both blacks and whites working together onscreen against a common enemy

11 Changing Morality In the 1960s, the film industry was still making films for a general audience and was reluctant to tackle politically controversial subject matter; they were economically driven to play it safe. Big money-makers of the ‘60s: War films (The Longest Day-1962) Widescreen historical epics (Lawrence of Arabia-1962) Disney family films (One Hundred and One Dalmatians-1961) Musicals (The Sound of Music-1965)

12 Changing Morality continued
For the most part, films containing sex did very well. Cleopatra (1963) James Bond movies (especially Goldfinger, Thunderball, and You Only Live Twice) However, they were the exceptions; other forms of social controversy (i.e., violence, drugs, the rebellion of the youth against the older generation) maintained the status of “exploitation films” and rarely made it to major theaters. No showings meant no profit (which as we already know was the main concern of the film industry!).

13 Changing Morality: A New Vocabulary
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Featured language never before heard on screen Grossed over $14.5 million and won five Academy Awards The Graduate (1967) The “hero” engages in an adulterous relationship with the wife of his father’s business partner Grossed over $44 million

14 Changing Morality: The Rating System
In April 1968, the Supreme Court ruled that local communities could establish their own censorship guidelines concerning movies. The Motion Picture Producers Association (MPPA) created a ratings system in order to prevent any attempts from local governments to make their own forms of censorship. The new ratings system took effect on November 1, 1968. G, M (PG), R, X (PG-13 was not introduced until the s) It paved the way for more films dealing with mature subject matter.

15 “Blaxploitation” Films such as In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and To Sir, With Love indicated to Hollywood that “black was not only beautiful but box office as well.” One-quarter of all moviegoers in the late 1960s and 1970s were black; this statistic plus the success of films starring black actors led to a period of “blaxploitation films.” Between 1970 and 1972, over 50 feature films were specifically made for a black audience. Examples: Cotton Comes to Harlem, Shaft, Black Caesar

16 “Blaxploitation” continued…
Blaxploitation films were “inexpensively made exploitation films” that were made primarily with middle- and lower-class blacks in mind. However, white audiences were drawn to them as well because of the films’ large doses of sex, violence, and “gritty” realism. Critics complained that the heros of blaxploitation films were not represented in a positive manner (the majority of them were criminals). Most revolutionaries of the black power movement enjoyed the “outlaw status” because it allowed them to strike back against the conservative mainstream.

17 The Two 1960s For moviegoers, there were two 1960s: One for the conservative, middle-aged, middle-class mainstream Historical epics, musicals, Disney family movies One for the younger, more liberal, middle- and lower-class audience The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider Eventually, the film style preferred by the youth became more popular. By the late 1960s, movies aimed toward the older generation became failures, and films for the college crowd were very successful.

18 Rejuvenation: Products of the 1960s
The majority of those who produced, wrote, and directed movies in the 1960s were products of much earlier eras. During the early 1970s, a new generation of filmmakers emerged who belonged to the generation of 1960s filmgoers. Examples: George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, Martin Scorsese Cinema became “stylistically youthful and inventive but politically conservative.” They were more conservative because exploitation films cost much more to make in the 70s, so their potential for revolutionary statements was limited.

19 Review Questions During the 1960s, there was an ideological battle between the ______ and the ______. 2. How were women portrayed in 1960s film? Give an example of a blaxploitation film. T/F: By the late 1960s, movies preferred by the older generation were more successful than those preferred by the younger generation.

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