Once and Future Radicals: Richard Aoki

May 11, 2008

Both of the first two films were fascinating but left me feeling irritated at the ludicrousness of it all - especially at the white privilege that protected many of these so-called revolutionaries, whereas members of the Black Panther Party faced a decidedly different fate. Calcutta My Love, which played at the San Francisco International Film Festival, was a tad over-dramatic but it also captured a radical movement that was waylaid by student revolutionaries who couldn't quite get their shit together. Then, this weekend I watched Alfonso Cuaron's brilliant Children of Men again, which features a radical group called The Fishes - and who are mostly the bad guys in the film, but maybe also the good guys.

Anyway, one of the things that I found most fascinating in both the Patty Hearst documentary and The Weather Underground was how - some 30 years later - the activists had either totally renounced (Patty Hearst) what they did or really questioned their methods. I believe this legacy of failed movements is really important when we wonder why the anti-war movement is led by mothers like Cindy Sheehan and veterans returning from Iraq instead of a new version of the Students for a Democratic Society.
But there are still a few radicals around who did not renounce what they did and will talk your ear off about why they did it. I got the chance to meet and interview Black Panther Field Marshall Richard Aoki back in 2001 and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. So, I highly recommend coming out on May 30th to Eastside Cultural Center in Oakland (2227 International Blvd at 23rd) at 7 p.m. for a free screening of rough cut of Richard Aoki -- a documentary by Ben Wang and Mike Cheng. Check out a preview:




Thanks so much for sharing this. Can't wait to see the full film!
G-D forbid you watch something positive and patriotic...
i happen to find this quite positive.
i look forward to seeing this film!
buffoon: dissent is patriotic.
Neela, thanks for the plug! - Mike Cheng
Interesting post. The movie American Revolution 2 is really interesting- part of what it does is follow a white organization while they do their thing, but a poor/working class white org that had a lot in common with the panthers. Makes me think, is it white privilege those SDS-types had, or Whiteness & Class privilege?
good blog