Monday, July 9, 2018
Fresh from seeing the restored 50th anniversary Yellow Submarine, I thank the Beatles for their prescience. As we struggle to remain optimistic in an era of separating children from parents, environmental deregulation and disregard of all respect for humans and their habitat, viewing Yellow Submarine was reaffirming in incongruent ways.
As one plot summary notes, the peaceful harmony of Pepperland is shattered when the Blue Meanies invade with their army of storm bloopers and others, including the menacing flying glove, in an attempt to stop the music and drain all color and hope from Pepperland.
The film was released in 1969 at a time of domestic and international turmoil. The Viet Nam war was escalating causing political and intergenerational divisiveness. Democracy was compromised. Withholding truth about the causes of the war and the effectiveness of US intervention resulted in the death of thousands of our citizen soldiers. Efforts to silence civil rights activists contributed to ongoing repression of people of color while young African Americans were the fuel to feed the war beast. The nation was struggling to recover from assassinations that deprived the country of essential leadership.
The Beatles recognized the “meanies” who attempt to control populations by removing all that brings happiness and autonomy to life. The analogy to what is happening in the US today is blatant, making the film relevant beyond what most would have been considered in and after 1969. There are those whose goal is to deprive others of happiness, but in our era, we are plagued with those who also seek to inflict as much pain as possible upon their targets. Merely showing present destructors the path of love is insufficient to stop the current march toward demolition of dignity. But love remains the answer for those at odds with the Meanies and is the critical ingredient to maintaining a sense of community with each other. Love keeps meaning in our lives as a counterbalance to political despair.
One of the film's many fun features was watching the contributions of Nowhere Man. Initially assessed to be a useless academic, Nowhere Man contributes to the defeat of the Meanies, changing his moniker to “Somewhere Man”.