Fifty years ago, almost to the day, a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley, demanded that school administrators recognize their right to freedom of speech and allow political activity on campus. Students swarmed a police car holding a comrade, Joan Baez sang “We Shall Overcome,” and hundreds of protesters were thrown in jail. The Free Speech Movement of 1964 won, of course, inspiring a wave of student activism throughout the decade and the world.
What does a poor or lower-middle-class white person, especially one from the South or Southwest, have to do to get a break from fancy high-end TV producers? It is a remarkable fact about this new Golden Age of television, which began with The Sopranos in 1999, that its primary focus of attention is the population cohort known (with the exquisite cultural sensitivity we have all learned in the era of political correctness) as “white trash.”
Herblock: The Black & the White, a documentary about the editorial cartoonist Herbert Block, had its cable premiere on HBO last week, and we can expect repeated showings for many weeks to come, creating a low-buzz Herblockfest interspersed dizzily among re-airings of Girls.
HBO’s much-discussed new series Girls is just concluding its first season, and it’s extraordinary. Girls offers the most interesting and original televised portrait of upper-middle-class American angst since thirty- something went off the air in 1991.
Nearly a year ago, the final seconds of Neda Agha Soltan’s life flashed across computer screens worldwide. Peacefully protesting the controversial Iranian presidential elections of last year, 26-year old Neda was shot in the heart by a member of the para-governmental Basij militia. Her dying moments were captured on video by cell phones, and then circulated worldwide via YouTube and other websites.