Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Richard Nixon, Musical Censor

John Adams (William Daniels) is displeased with the words of Dickinson (Donald Madden) of Pennsylvania in 1776.

Hello, my darlings! I've been preparing material to share with my current crop of students in Religion and Race in Revolutionary America. It's a course dreamt up by a historian who teaches at the same community college I do; he is off gallivanting out of state the final two sessions, so I get to do those.

One of my favorite tricks to avoid having to actually learn things so I can teach is to have guest speakers. It's a little tough when the course is set in Revolutionary times. I'm going to skype in some re-enactors from the east coast for some of the time, which should be very fun. And I'm going to play some film clips and some music that addresses the theme. I'll share my playlist with you over at Holly Forrest Teaches, my other blog. If you have any ideas, comment here.

But I digress. When I was researching the films, I thought of 1776, a great musical we'd seen years ago in Cedar City, Utah. I just previewed the film version and was delighted with it. Then I started looking into fact vs. fiction. Lots of the plot points were added for dramatic tension, some of the noble intent and conflict was fictionalized, but the most surprising thing was that an entire musical number was cut out of the film release, only restored after it was put on DVD.

Apparently, back in 1972, President Nixon asked his friend Jack Warner, studio head, to pull one of the numbers because he felt it was critical of the Republicans. Take a look. I think it's a pretty accurate portrayal of the right. The line that Dickinson from Pennsylvania says before they break into song rings true today. It's something that bothers me a great deal about those who criticize President Obama and his work to help the poor and middle class by taxing the wealthy; the critics are those who would be helped! He says "Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor."

7 comments:

Lemmy Caution said...

I JUST heard about this whole story last week....about Nixon having that number cut from the movie. Nice that Dick had enough free time (what with Vietnam and all) to take such an interest in the arts. Ugh.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Lemmy! That is some weird coincidence. It's hardly like this story is the hot topic these days. Where'd you learn about it?

lisleman said...

Do you think Nixon was the most paranoid president we ever had?

I like that explanation but I and my friends have wonder the same thing. I hope this union busting the Republican governors are trying will open some eyes.

yogurt said...

Did you see the recent PBS special, something about The History of Religion in America? I can't remember the title, exactly. It was a three night special. Amazing. Took us back to earliest colony days.

Lemmy Caution said...

It is a weird coincidence....I heard it on a progressive podcast hosted by Bob Cesca.

faithandstagefright said...

Wow! Really insightful and a good find. Music censorship for political reasons? That's (unfortunately) nothing new. But I'd never heard of this particular incident. Thanks!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I never knew that . . . but not surprised!