Originally I wanted to review three graphic novels/TPB’s a week – but clearly that is not going to happen. So – how about one? And if we’re all lucky – then maybe two or three?
This week’s entry is:
It’s another Harvey Pekar deal – but instead of being biographical or autobiographical – this is a little of both – with a dallop of historical content to spice things up.
It includes interviews and stories of “Students for a Democratic Society” members – also an introduction into how the organization was founded, it’s ties to labor parties, communists, and all sorts of fun information.
What was most intriguing to me – on a basic level – was the whole new perspective it opened up on student protest in the 60’s, and how/why it sort of peetered out and died away. It also gave me a chance to examine war protesting, and explore my opinions about the subject.
This is something Dan and I have talked about before…but, in good faith – I don’t agree that protesting war does SHIT about war. Protests don’t end War, don’t start war, and sure as hell don’t alleviate the burdens it causes. Protests used to hold power because the media actually reported on them. Nowadays – you can find people on the streets, but their message isn’t making it into homes. Protesters have tough competition – better funded, more attractive, and more entertaining.
Alrighty – trying to segue back into the review.
I did find about the first 3/4’s of this book entertaining. And then, the more personal accounts I read, the more I found myself struggling hard just to get to the ending of the book. Mainly because so many of these people were white, middle class, rich kids – whose perspectives and experiences didn’t seem to differ much from one another. Also – because they used so many acronyms and slang phrases off-handedly, as if someone from my generation is supposed to know what they all mean – that I found myself checking out mentally.
In this case – I think I was OVER-INFORMED of every minor detail, to the point of tedium. I would have cut out half the references to long-defunct organizations that so many readers don’t know/don’t care about.
Towards the end of the book – when the conclusions were being drawn, and people were starting to look towards the future, I perked up a bit. Especially when there was mention of the Women’s Rights Movement (and how SDS helped spring-board other movements), and I was especially interested in the re-emergence of the Students for a Democratic Society in present times.
I think it’s important to note that most of those campuses in Oregon that do have SDS branches are private colleges, probably created by folks who can afford to support something like protesting – something us “9-5ers” don’t have the time or scratch for. Cause we have to work to put some bread on the table.
The Northeast has the largest number of SDS branches. Second only to the Mid-West.
BUT GETTING BACK TO IT: Overall – if a little despondent at times – the tone of the novel was hopeful. Hopeful that a difference had actually been made “back then” by the work people were doing – and that a difference can be made “right now” with the energy of the young people on college campuses across America.
I would say – as I stated before – the competition is tougher. Society has SO MANY toys for people to sink into – so many leisure time activities now – that getting someone politically motivated is a Herculean task. People don’t even want to TALK about politics. In work, in school, with friends, with family.
Everyone shies away from the subjects – and instead focuses on American Idol, Lost, etc. Anything to avoid talking about issues affecting people’s lives on a day to day basis.
But – for all intents and purposes, and for reasons similar (and maybe dis-similar to Vietnam) – SDS is back.
Personally – I think their methods are out-dated. But then, who am I to say? What would be great is to see a leader elected to the White House that cares more about the American people than his/her own pocketbook.
And for that, I have some hope.
Much Love, Mindy C