It was this race and its historic nature that made me think we should produce Hair again (at that time, we had a black guy, a woman, and a Latino all running). And it has been genuinely amazing working on this show in the midst of this campaign season. It's been very cool knowing that we were part of the conversation. Early in the run, after curtain call, after the audience had come down to dance, one of the audience members yelled, "Vote Obama! Don't let this happen again!" And I thought, wow, this really IS as relevant as I think it is...!
Having just recently worked on Grease again, and now on Hair, it has crystallized for me a theory of American politics that I have picked up from various sources -- that for the last forty years, American politics has been about the battle between the 1950s and the 1960s. The Republicans, if they really had their druthers, would return America to the 1950s, although their vision is that of Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver, not the real 1950s of discrimination, racism, sexism, sexual oppression, enforced conformity, and prescription drug dependence. And the Democrats have been trying since 1968 to finish the work of the 1960s, to work toward equality and justice, and an end to poverty.
But it goes beyond just politics. The famous American "Culture War" is really just about 1950s morality versus 1960s morality, conformity versus individuality, oppression versus freedom. That's what Grease is about, with Sandy representing the 1950s and Danny representing the 1960s. The Rocky Horror Show is about this too, with Brad as the 1950s and the newly sexualized Janet as the 1960s.
Just look at the candidates this year. Every one of the Republican candidates looked like they stepped out of a 1950s sitcom. But Hillary and Obama sure didn't. They are the faces of the 60s, of independent women and proud black men.
When the 60s fell apart in 1968 and 1969, after the twin assassinations, Nixon manufactured a great cultural backlash and unleashed not only really dirty politics but also the false cultural divide that has poisoned American politics ever since. Nixon didn't just soil the office of the Presidency with Watergate; he also invented the politics of fear and personal destruction that Reagan employed and that Karl Rove perfected so many years later.
Perhaps, at long last, Obama is the candidate who is immune to the slime, the one who can finally finish the work of the 60s.
Think about it... What if the ideals of the 60s weren't silly and naive after all? What if the song "Walking in Space" in Hair is actually wiser and more knowing than we give it credit for? What if Hair is full of ideas that we're only slowly evolving enough as a culture to understand? What if mind-expanding drugs really are the road to finding The Truth? What if the answers were there all along and we just weren't open enough to see them? Can we see them now?
Walking in space,The last several performances of Hair were wonderful. We had the best fucking audiences! One New Line loyalist, Randy Ulrich, saw the show ten times! We have a winner! Thank you, Osage Tribe, for helping me to spread the word. Keep on keepin' on.
We find the purpose of peace,
The beauty of life
You can no longer hide.
Our eyes are open,
Our eyes are open,
Wide, wide, wide...
On with the Groovy Revolution!