WOOF established a precedent a few months ago of reviewing movies that we haven’t actually seen. At the time, we wrote about Zero Dark Thirty. Truth be told, we don’t feel comfortable drifting too far from our WOOF cave these days–what with all the drones swooping about the coastline–so using a nearly infallible gauge based on the simple inversion of liberal sentiment as it may be expressed in reaction to a film’s release, we concluded that Zero Dark Thirty was probably pretty good because every liberal who reacted to it denounced it as odious based on its failure to fulfill its anticipated mission. The film was feared on the Right and ballyhooed by the Left because everybody knew it was going to lionize Barack Obama as the greatest military leader since at least Napoleon Bonaparte, and possibly of all time..and just in time for his re-election, too! But the film ran into a brick wall when the glitter set realized that the talented and attractive director, Kathryn Bigelow, had not delivered her film in time to help with the Bamster’s election (not that it turned out to matter) and had in any case effectively rabbit punched the establishment by delivering a product that showed heroic SEALs killing Osama Bin Laden after an equally heroic female CIA analyst located him, but which failed to accord Our Dear Leader a single scene, quite accurately implying by omission that he was barely in the loop as events unfolded. Yikes! The Oscar went, vengefully, to John Kerry’s longtime bff, Ben Affleck, for his film Argo, which depicts the State Department as heroic, and Michelle Obama did the presenting, just in case viewers didn’t get the picture, no pun intended. Obviously, Bigelow must have made a pretty good movie to generate that much spitefulness from the entertainment establishment, and we gave it a good review, sight unseen.
Flushed with success, we have assayed to review a second film we haven’t seen—and will not bother seeing. We speak now of The Company You Keep directed by and starring Robert Redford, the fabulously wealthy film star who, like several other outspoken Hollywood communists (including Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Jane Fonda, and others too numerous to mention), has not scrupled to acquire vast wealth consisting of well-invested millions (one-hundred and seventy of them, to be precise) none of which, so far as we can tell, has been redistributed in accordance with anyone’s authentic needs—although to be fair, Redford does style himself a philanthropist. So what does that mean in his case? Well, he gives money to wild horse preservation (which should stand him in well with the beautiful and talented Bo Derrick, so WOOF is willing to grant him a pass on the horses—besides, remember the beginning of Billy Jack? No? Not a problem; skip it). Anyway…we also approve of his donations to bone-marrow-and-transplant charities, for which he is to be commended—but most of his philanthropy amounts to the support of his own Sundance film festival, a celebration of liberal filmmakers who can’t make films interesting enough to command larger audiences, and environutty funds aimed at the destruction of free enterprise, military firing ranges, supersonic air travel, fossil fuel, and all possible means of powering anything that actually goes.
Predictably he supports Green Peace, and is a loyal member of the subversive Architects of Peace Foundation (afforded three and a half “Algers” by WOOF’s own Eastern Touchdowns archive, meaning they’re pretty bad). He is merrily ensconced at the Foundation with the likes of fellow peace devotees Al Gore, Bianca Jagger, Desmond Tutu, Bono and of course, Harry Belafonte. In 2007, TIME magazine named Redford a “Hero of the Environment.” (How very Soviet!) And who among us could have supposed him unworthy of the almost-oppressively effete Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for 2008, given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” Think about it—if you had been asked in 2008 who such a man might be, surely, after a moment’s thought, you would have exclaimed, “Why, Robert Redford!”
Now, the funny thing about Redford is that while Comrade Fonda and Comrade Redgrave and Comrade Boyle and Comrade Sutherland all made the biggest asses of themselves while they were young and sanctimoniously fatuous, Comrade Bob seems to have kept his sinistral enthusiasms curbed to a fair degree until his golden years, somewhat reminiscent of Comrade Ed Asner (who everyone in the ‘60s and ‘70s assumed was nice until he foamed over with red hot left-wing vitriol in his dotage.) But make no mistake, Robert Redford studied at the feet of Hanoi Jane Fonda, and he’s as red a Hollywood Red as ever climbed into a private jet to go make a speech about evil rich people at a global-warming protest.
And now, we have The Company You Keep, which the Left Wing Critical Establishment is politely calling “a political thriller,” as though it were somehow consanguine to “Fail Safe” or “Seven Days in May.” No, what Redford’s new crie de cour amounts to is a paean to homicidal mania—and if it were a sentimental, nostalgic piece about hanging out with Tim McVeigh or Charles Whitman (the Austin Texas shooter who killed 17 civilians and wounded 32 others in 1966, shooting from the University clock tower), and if McViegh and Whitman were called “activists,” as though they just wanted lower turnpike tolls or something, the critics would have exploded with indignation at Redford’s insane glamorization of such fiends.
But the anti-heroes of Redford’s movie are good, idealistic, peace-loving Communist terrorists (oops, we mean “activists”) who blew innocent people up and shot people in cold blood to call attention to social injustice, right? So it’s all just hunky dory. This bizarre double standard ramifies from the peculiar psychosis of the late 1960s during which the leading denizens of today’s journalistic, political, and entertainment establishments cut their chops—a time in which the peace-and-love affectations of the flower-power drug-and-sex fest were decaying beyond rescue, and the truer, more elemental toxicity of the Yippee counter-culture was asserting itself, insisting that its numbed minions “Steal This Book!” (the title of Abbie Hoffman’s revolutionary best seller) “Kill your parents!” (Bill Ayers’s thought on how to manage the ‘generation gap’), and “Off the pigs!” (Jerry Rubin’s catchy mantra—translatable as “kill policemen!” for those whose epochal experiences do not include militant sixties speak).
For decades now, Hollywood has played the ‘60s off as a fun-filled era of Beatlemania, long-haired boys and dazzling hippy chicks in bell bottoms flashing naïve but heartfelt peace signs, softly overlaid with visions of flower power, psychedelic mini-busses, and laid-back, sun-drenched college kids—all glimpsed in kaleidoscopic Technicolor through a haze of marijuana smoke and flashing strobes. Even Woodstock, which rapidly degenerated into a muddy nightmare of rapes, fist fights and overdoses, is portrayed as a pastoral idyll, and when “activism” must be depicted, audiences are shown peace marches, placards and phalanxes of grim riot police, without any thought given the real violence of the era’s revolutionary movement. In a way, then, we suppose Redford may warrant one-and-a-half cheers for finally acknowledging on film that the Weather Underground even existed—even if he makes them seem more like the Children’s Crusade than the pack of rapid, butchering psychopaths they truly were.
The Robin Hood Delusion
Why does Redford find these spoiled college-brats-turned-urban-terrorists so appealing? For one thing, he was a moderately successful actor playing relatively straight-laced all-American boys by the time the hippies were metamorphosing into yippies around the bitter spring of 1968, which makes him too old for the part he plays in his film—which datum bespeaks an envy issue that swept over the “hootenanny” generation, or much of it, as it confronted the more glamorous, daring, stoned and sexually liberated radicals of the collegiate “New Left.” Just as moms and dads in suburbia strove to establish their “coolness” by learning to smoke pot with their offspring while running around in absurd Nehru jackets and Granny dresses and pretending to enjoy the Sgt. Pepper album, so the professional classes, just come into their own–the pushing-thirty crowd of the psychedelic era– backpedaled fiercely in a collective fear of being deemed “irrelevant” by the grooviest generation. Lawyers, advertising executives, TV stars and mainstream priests became radical, and pop singers became folk-rocky, (heck, Bobby Darin even took his toupee off for six or eight months and ran around in a blue-jean jacket with a studiedly casual tobacco-pouch fob hanging from its breast pocket—draw your own conclusions, kids, wink, wink)—and aging pop music composers yearning for acceptance began churning out “relevant” tunes that used words like “babe” and “freedom” a lot. Barry Mann, who co-wrote “Who Put the Bomp,” a clever parody of the doo-whop craze of the Kennedy era, actually apologized for it on Merve Griffin’s TV program and swore that he would write “meaningful” material from that point onward). Many of Hollywood’s players of that generation broke wildly left for the same reasons, and if they had previously entertained a predilection for liberalism, it augmented into febrile radicalism during that decade’s bloody final quarter.
So Jane Fonda and Marlon Brando and Paul Newman and Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda and Barbra Streisand and Warren Beatty and most of their entertainment-industry peer group sprang staunchly to the collectivist barricades, at least rhetorically and outwardly—though none, it must be noted, gave up their luxuries or defected to Cuba or Beijing. And with them came Robert Redford. And if you are part of that cattle call, whom do you idolize most? Why, the slightly younger crew that put its Marxist buns on the line while you were negotiating multi-million dollar motion picture contracts, of course! The Weather Underground began as the Weathermen, taking their name from Dylan’s song Subterranean Homesick Blues, but felt obliged to switch to the gender-neutral and more familiar form as feminism became increasingly trendy. This was the outfit “taking it to the man” and with such authentic, murderous brutality that the Hollwooders were in awe. Where serious thinkers would have seen inept, inarticulate butchers, Tinseltowners and ivy-league intellectuals saw Robin Hood. They always do.
The Getaway–keep the blood, hold the Peckinpah
So now we have this sentimental remembrance of a film, based loosely on the Brinks robbery that resulted in the shooting death of a guard and two cops and featured Kathy Boudin, a longtime member of the Weather Underground, in a lead performance. In the actual event, Boudin dropped her baby daughter off at a sitter’s and took the wheel of a U-Haul truck intended as the operation’s getaway vehicle. Her accomplices walked up to a Brinks armored car at a mall in Nanuet, New York, shot the guard and grabbed 1.6 million in cash.
The U-Haul came immediately under police suspicion and the cops pulled Boudin over—but she seemed so innocent and so sincere in her entreaties to lower their weapons that the police relaxed their guard and were promptly gunned down by Kathy’s six pals who leapt from the back of the van, M-16s blazing. This meant their getaway scheme was blown, so the outfit scattered and was picked up piecemeal. Boudin’s wealthy daddy got her a top-dollar attorney with whose help she was able to trade a plea of guilty to one count of felony murder and robbery for a comparatively mild 20 year sentence. Her daughter was adopted by fellow Weather Undergrounders Bill Ayers (promoter of and political adviser to the young Barack Obama) and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn. Dohrn helped found the movement and told early Weathermen that she approved of the Charlie Manson murders, saying, “Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into the pig Tate’s stomach! Wild! The weathermen dig Charles Manson!” (Sharon Tate, of course, died nine months pregnant. WOOF will spare you further details.) But we digress.
Redford’s movie, no matter what its objective cinematic foibles or strengths may be, is a profound cultural marker. In his hyper-empathetic treatment of the Boudin episode we find Redford playing Nick Sloan, former Weather Underground “activist,” who has lived the peaceful life of a small town lawyer since abandoning his–shall we politely say–rather picaresque past as a militant radical. But darn it, trouble finds Bob/Nick when Susan Sarandon’s character is arrested for the robbery (her character being an homage to Boudin). This event enables investigative journalist Shia LaBeouf (whoever that is) to uncover Nick’s history, obliging Nick to take it on the lam in a cross country attempt to evade the FBI meanies—you know, kind of like “The Fugitive,” only guilty. He eludes the feds with help from a glamorized chain of aging radical Leftists and seeks his true love, also a hunted radical played by Julie Christie, who is suddenly important to the plot for reasons we consider irrelevant to this report. We won’t spoil the ending for you. For one thing, like we said, we haven’t actually seen the film. And besides, we hear the ending is so implausibly treacly that it spoils itself unassisted—but anyhow…
Why do we say the film represents a cultural marker? Because this is where we are, fellow Woofians—we are arrived at an American era of learned confabulation in which our past is reinterpreted for us by the academic and entertainment establishments (both being constituents of the worldwide totalitarian socialist conspiracy that governs us) in such a fashion that these abhorrent, murderous vermin are recast as idealistic romantics—as Robin Hoods—because their aging comrades in the liberal establishment have decreed that this is how they must be remembered. Look at how Candidate Obama got away with describing Bill Ayers as “just a guy who lived down the street.” And why would we here at WOOF claim that the academic establishment would join with Hollywood in so deceptive a portrayal? Well—where do you think the Weather Underground went to fester and metastasize? Hmmm?
Where are they today?
Where is Kathy Boudin these days? She is an adjunct professor at Columbia University.
Where is Ayers’s beloved comrade in arms, Bernardine Dohrn? You know, the lady who waxed ecstatic over Sharon Tate getting a fork rammed into her pregnant tummy? Why, she is Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law, and just for a laugh, did you know she is also the former Director of Northwestern’s Children and Family Justice Center? “Wild,” as she might remark. Ayers himself, Haymarket bomber and Pentagon bomber, is happily retired from his professorship at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education. And as WOOF made manifest in a previous article, he is currently instrumental in spreading the CSCOPE program of communist indoctrination throughout the nation’s secondary schools.
Former Weather Underground member Eleanor Raskin, who fled justice after being indicted for bomb making in the 1970s, is an associate professor at Albany Law School.
Kathy Boudin’s comrade in arms, Susan Rosenberg, indicted for her roll in the Brinks robbery was caught in 1985 with 740 pounds of dynamite and weapons—
But luckily for our nation’s young scholars, President Bill Clinton commuted her sentence since as he left office. She subsequently graced John Jay College and Hamilton College with her professorial acumen. Even more wonderfully, John Jay College of Criminal Justice Interdisciplinary Studies Program was pleased to invite students to a “Celebration of Susan Rosenberg” upon the release of her memoirs in 2011.
Weatherman founder “Howie” (Howard) Machtinger ducked prosecution for a his role in the attempted bombing of the Detroit Police Officers Association Building and, although now comfortably retired, went on to educate young Americans as a professor at North Carolina Central University and served as Teaching Fellows Director at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s School of Education.
Legendary founder and leading Weather Underground exponent Mark Rudd was taking a stroll when his bomb factory in Greenwich Village exploded, killing a number of his comrades. Rudd went on to write such bittersweet autobiographical gems as “Underground: My Life with the SDS and the Weathermen.” He is also the author of the comment, “Don’t be timid about telling people we’re Communists. Don’t deny it, be proud of it.” We are fortunate that between writing and lecturing he could find time to teach at Central New Mexico Community College.
Cathy Platt Wilkerson joined the Chicago Weatherman Collective during the summer of 1969 and was busy building a nail bomb in her Daddy’s townhouse (intended for a non-commissioned officer’s dance at Fort Dix) when it blew up, destroying the home. She survived to carry on the struggle, visiting Cuba several times for further training (which was obviously needed), but surrendered in 1980 and pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of dynamite. She served only 11 months. She spent the next 20 years teaching in high schools and adult education programs.
And say, what happened to Tom Hayden, you know—the member of the “Chicago Seven” indicted for incitement to riot and conspiracy along with the late Abbie Hoffman and the late Jerry Rubin? Yes, he’s the revolutionary activist who wrote the SDS manifesto and put so much creative energy into helping the North Vietnamese communists during the Vietnam War that Jane Fonda married him—although she eventually got bored and moved on. Well, besides being an elected (Democrat) politician, he has taught countless courses on social activism including a course called “From the ’60s to the Obama Generation” at good old Pitzer College in Claremont, California, two courses at Scripps College, and not a few at Occidental College as well as Harvard University—but he’s at UCLA currently, if you want to catch up with him.
Confabulation? It’s sweeping the nation!
And this, we assure you, Wooferians, is but a smattering of the available data supporting the obvious fact that the surest way to secure a University Professorship—even without any graduate studies on your curricula vita, is to blow a few people up in the name of Communism, shoot a few police officers for social justice, and devote any remaining stamina to denouncing, or at least perverting, every value held sacred by the Founders—because now this is normative, because now we have apologists like Bob Redford selling us romanticized manure as “taught political drama” while critics like Rex Reed marvel at the wonderfulness of it all, and the President of the United States (whose first “autobiography” was in fact written for him by Bill Ayers) can tell the bobble-head media that he thought Bill Ayers was just “just a guy around the neighborhood,” and nobody blinks. Yes, just a guy who wrote his first book for him, organized Our Beloved Leader’s political “launching” by staging a fundraiser in his home, whose wife worked with Michelle Obama at the same law firm, and who invited the Obamas to barbecues in his backyard and helped Obama organize the subversive group ACORN—that’s all. And if there were anything so bad about any of that, why would Robert Redford be making movies about these cool people? Aren’t they just a modernized version of Pirates of the Carribean? Isn’t the ‘70’s era wanted poster of “Nick” in The Company You Keep actually a still of Redford from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? (And those guys were lovable–hint, hint!) Perhaps it’s time we all just cashed in America’s historical mnemonics, which are in any case only vestigially retained, and joyfully embraced this proffered confabulation. Perhaps resistance is futile. Perhaps we are fated to re-establish the Republic as a people’s collective populated by desensitized zombies. Perhaps it’s time we all got used to thinking of these oafish slaughterers from our past the way Studs Terkel did. Studs undoubtedly spoke for the vast majority of the arts-and-letters crowd when he extolled Bill Ayers’s memoirs as “a deeply moving elegy to all those young dreamers who tried to live decently in an indecent world.” Studs, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves—if we were on acid, anyway–and it wouldn’t be evenhanded of us here at WOOF to end this screed without pausing to contemplate the good that the Weather Underground unarguably achieved during its organizational lifespan. So in fairness, let it be noted: a lot of them blew themselves up.