The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood has proudly welcomed the Broadway revival of “Hair,” a tale about the flower children of the late ‘60s. While sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll were obvious aspects of the characters’ lives, the message of peace and love that was preached in the Vietnam era was as strong in today’s production as it was when the play debuted in 1967.
Because it is set in wartime, today’s young adults can relate to the anger, confusion and longing for peace the characters on stage undergo. So will this set off protests and lifestyles similar to those of our parents and grandparents’ generations?
Honestly, the chance of protests igniting across the country against the War on Terror is slim to none. Sure, there are a few groups like United for Peace & Justice who have planned and engaged in multiple protests this year alone. But who has heard about these protests?
The young people who are protesting now are not being heard, and media outlets seem to find the presence of war less newsworthy than the latest awards show for our overpaid actors.
Yes, protests against the government’s actions are happening, just as they did during Vietnam. No. People are not as aware of the anti-war movement that dots the nation. This war is costing us financially and emotionally. To end this war will take more than government officials offering new estimates for the end date or making excuses to add more troops to the front.
It is often said that when Walter Cronkite, news reporter and “the most trusted man in America,” stated his lack of belief in the U.S.’s ability to win in Vietnam, President Johnson knew he had lost the support of the remaining few who had any hope of winning the war.
Our generation needs to force today’s newscasters into making such bold statements. If we can protest and offer proof against this “second Vietnam” our nation has been engaged in for the last nine years (with no end in sight), we can change the minds of newsmakers. In the era “Hair” portrays, protests were widespread not only for the message but because media focused on what those young people were doing and had to say.
The ideas “Hair” put forth in the ’60s remain relevant today because we are re-living history in a slightly different setting. It is this generation’s turn to change history. We need to take the knowledge of the past and apply it to the present and future. Protests of any sort, be it marches, sit-ins or the written word, can change the minds of those in power. It’s time we bring the ’60s back to life outside of the theater and onto the streets of this nation to end the longest war in our history.