29 April 2009


on this day in 1968, the "american tribal love-rock musical hair" opened on broadway in NYC. beneath the nudity, drugs, and counterculture satire, the story of one man's struggle to choose between serving his country or joining the antiwar movement is iconic for an entire generation (mine). this was in the days of the military draft, under which every young man age 18 or over was subject to national service, unless he could justify an exemption based on being a student, having a physical impairment, sexual preference (yes, gays were often kept out), or working in a critical defense industry. many were able to work the system, especially the sons of the rich. others had to face the moral dilemma of participating in war, going to jail for their beliefs, or fleeing to canada.

these grim issues were only abstractly present in the rousing musical until the last act, when the war became all too tragically real. i still can't watch the movie without crying at the end, for the same reason i cry at the end of "platoon" -- the violent, savage and utterly useless loss of human life. i can't help wishing that the public today was as engaged and active in discussing/protesting our wars, as it was forty years ago. somehow we've become complacent, or numb, or too narrowly focused on our own little part of the world. where is the dialogue?

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