PIFF: Chicago 10

I arrived at the theater late because on my way I was swept up in a downtown protest against Scientology. There were people everywhere (and by people I mean mostly college kids and slightly older but qualifying them with a term like “young” would just make me seem crotechety and old, but they were my age) wearing Guy Fawkes masks and banderas and holding signs and chanting slogans all against Tom Cruise’s religion.

Now it turns out that this was supposedly a worldwide protest and not something limited to Portland, but the more time you spend in the city, the more you get used to the vibrant protest nature of its citizens and how they relish the chance to make their voices heard. In other words, Sunday afternoon’s protest was just another day.

I had two thoughts while making my way. The first was that the protest seemed kinda lame and pointless. I mean, if protesting Scientology is the worst thing our generation has to get uppity about I’d say that things are looking pretty good.

Secondly, well, it seemed rather tame for a protest. I want my protesters to get riled up, you know so it forces the police to break out the tear gas. Especially given the absurdity of the Seattle protest. You’ve got to love anyone who would rickroll the Church of Scientology in real life.

If you’ve ever been rickrolled you know just how absurd and stupid and funny it is. I should probably back up a bit, because you might be asking what the hell is getting rickrolled? If you’ve ever been rickrolled or know what it is, skip on down to the review, but if not allow me this aside.

Let’s say you’re surfing the internet and someone throws up a link in an article that seems so inticing you just have to click on it. You know it’s a link for like a Feist sex tape or something absurd. So you click the link and instead of getting a treat, you are instead tricked into watching Rick Ashley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

At first your like man that sucks, but after the first few opening lines of the song you’re like hot damn I’ve just been rickrolled and I don’t even mind. So it’s an absurd internet prank.

Well, like I said, in Seattle Anonymous took the time to rickroll in real life, which as Rex says “I can’t even explain how complex and brilliant and stupid and wonderful and retarded that doing an IRL Rickroll on Scientology is.” Um, yeah, it’s sort of all of that. Even when I attempt to explain it. But mostly it’s just really really funny.

Imagine if you were inside the church what would you be thinking? Holy shit are they serenading us with Rick Ashley? Stop it, stop it, I can’t take it … oh this is actually kind of pleasant. Damn you Rick Ashley!!!!!

Chicago 10


Following the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, eight people were put on trial including Abbie Hoffman, Bobby Seale, Jerry Rubin and William Kunstler. That moment in Chicago was pretty much the end of the hippie dream, the violence that erupted and the dawn of the Nixon administration.

So this was what was going through my mind walking into the new quasi-documentary, part-animated spectacular Chicago 10 from director Brett Morgan (The Kid Stays in the Pictures). And to be honest the movie is okay, certainly captures the feeling of being there if not recreating the events historically. Highly entertaining, with a great protest soundtrack (Rage, Eminem, The Beasties, etc. not your typical sixties protest music), but it was still lacking something.

The film itself uses archival footage to recreat the chaos of Chicago and then switches to crude animation for the courtroom scenes, which actually used the court transcripts. All I can say is what a circus that courtroom must have felt like, the absurd reaction to the swirling violence and chaos that took place in Chicago. It’s clear that Morgan is out to make Hoffman and his cohorts look like clown prince heroes of the revolution and to demonize the police officers, City of Chicago, etc. I’ve got nothing against that because he wears his bias on his sleeve.

The movie is entertaining enough, and the voice work of actors Mark Ruffalo, Hank Azaria, Roy Scheider, Liev Schrieber, Nick Nolte, Jeffrey Wright and Dylan Baker are all top notch. Though it’s not exactly the first movie I’d recommend for people to learn about this seminal event in American history. Furthermore, it strikes me that our parents have failed us. For a generation of people intent on changing the world they sure have positively made it worse. They probably look at us and our comical rickrolled protests of the Church of Scientology, but what else is there for us to do? We live in a world with the inescapable feeling that regardless of our actions there isn’t much we can do to change the world. It’s a Kafka-esque feeling, but one entirely derived from our parent’s failures.

Though, I’m not exactly one to talk. Being the editor of a snarky publication isn’t doing much to help affect change. As for the movie, if you’re into animation, or offbeat documenaries, or American history, or just protesting then certainly check this one out when it hits DVD.

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