Amerika, Oh, Amerika

This is the video playlist for the complete Amerika miniseries. Click the link below and then Play All.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6B42A52B2363A16C

I suspect it won’t be on youtube very long. Block out a day (14 hours) and watch before it’s banned. Don’t expect it to run like Red Dawn with action scenes every 10 minutes. It’s heavier on politics and human social interaction. The sequence of events in the story is pretty good. My recollection from 24 years ago was a bit off on one piece. Not to spoil things, but the mass assassination on Capitol Hill and the destruction of the rotunda took place long after America had capitulated. There was no big battle before the initial takeover of the country. In fact, it’s unclear exactly how it was accomplished. Maybe it was a nuclear suitcase ransom via a few major cities or just a willingness of enough leaders at the time to join a larger global order. Either way, the series makes it clear it pretty much sucked to be a regular person who was against it –they were put into internal exile complete with security provided by a foreign garrison and internal checkpoints between the states.

Internal checkpoints are already becoming real on the road. You heard about those in Tennessee recently? How about the permanent one that’s 100 miles away from the border in Texas?

I’ll save my long story on how that was macribbed in Indiana more than a decade ago complete with a pretty girl standing by asking questions of travelers and entering data on a laptop. Very few people indicated a problem with it and no one took pictures.

I’ve included some articles below back before the series was originally released (links and bold by GardenSERF).

3 Ex-u.s. Officials Hit Abc For ‘Amerika’ Series

January 22, 1987

NEW YORK — ABC, whose “Amerika” miniseries has angered the left, the right, the Soviet Union and the United Nations even before it has aired, now has a letter of concern signed by three former U.S. secretaries of State.

In it, Edmund Muskie, Alexander M. Haig and Dean Rusk urged the network to provide programming about U.N. peacekeeping operations to offset the miniseries’ depictions of oppression by Soviet-controlled U.N. forces.

The 14 1/2-hour production, to air Feb. 15-22, dramatizes life in the United States 10 years after a bloodless takeover by the Soviet Union, with the occupation forces known as “U.N. Special Service Units.”

ABC had no immediate comment Wednesday on their appeal, made in a letter to Capital Cities/ABC board Chairman Thomas S. Murphy. An ABC spokesman said Murphy was out of town when the letter arrived Tuesday afternoon and had not seen it yet. Murphy is due back today, he said.

ABC officials previously have insisted that the $35-million miniseries in no way means to disparage the United Nations as it exists today.

Still, in their appeal to ABC, Haig, Muskie, Rusk and several other former top U.S. officials expressed concern “that the portrayal of U.N. peacekeeping forces as brutal oppressors . . . will undermine public support for one of the most valuable aspects of the U.N.’s work.”

They asserted that “ABC could limit this damage by providing programming in conjunction with the miniseries that presents a balanced picture of the U.N.’s real-life efforts to keep peace in a troubled world.”

The letter was organized and sent by the United Nations Assn. of the U.S.A., a private research and educational group. Others who signed the letter included Jeane Kirkpatrick and Andrew Young, two former chief U. S. delegates to the United Nations.

Former national security advisers Robert McFarlane–now a central figure in the Iran- contra arms investigation–and Brent Scowcroft also signed the appeal.

The petition was yet another round in efforts by the United Nations and its supporters to seek changes in “Amerika” and to provide what they call a true picture of U.N. peacekeeping forces in the world’s trouble spots.

In October, the United Nations, distressed by the the use of blue-and-white U.N. symbols and the depiction of oppressive, black-uniformed U.N. troops in “Amerika,” hired Theodore Sorensen, once a special counsel to President John F. Kennedy, to negotiate with the network for changes.

In a Nov. 25 letter to ABC’s Murphy, Sorenson emphasized that the United Nations wasn’t threatening a lawsuit “to censor, suppress or block” the show’s broadcast but was requesting that the network, among other things:

–Make a “good-faith effort” to “achieve the maximum possible de-emphasis of all unauthorized and undignified use of and reference to the symbols and uniforms of the United Nations and its peacekeeping forces. . . .”

Air before each episode a 90- to 120-second announcement by a spokesman for either the United Nations or the United Nations Assn. that makes clear that the U.N. forces depicted in the program “bear no resembles to the true U.N. peacekeeping force. . . .”

For three months after “Amerika” airs, provide the U.N. “free public service airtime . . . for the presentation of ‘U.N. Minutes’ or other brief ‘spots’ or documentaries designed to bolster audience understanding of the U.N. as it actually is.”

In a Dec. 11 reply to Sorenson, ABC’s chief attorney, Stephen A. Weiswasser, said that the matter could be discussed. But he rejected what he called the world agency’s contention that “Amerika” would portray the U.N. in a disparaging manner “that will damage its ability to perform its important functions in the world.”

He said the drama “renders it unmistakable that the activities and institutions of . . . the United States and of the United Nations, as they are depicted in the series, bear no substantive resemblance to those institutions as they exist and function today.”

Discussions have been going on between ABC and Sorenson, said Dick Connelly, a network spokesman, “and hopefully there will be a resolution of some of the U.N. concerns.” He declined to elaborate on the talks.

Like I mentioned in How to Train the Neighbors to Hate (and Kill), you just don’t hear about programming anymore.

Programming has advanced so much since 1987. Poets can dream about the eyes being windows to the soul, but the eyes are certainly windows to the mind.

U.N. NEGOTIATING FOR CHANGES IN ABC’S ‘AMERIKA’

Published: January 19, 1987
….
The United Nations quietly called in Mr. Sorensen last fall after it failed to dissuade ABC from depicting United Nations peacekeeping troops as murderers, rapists and arsonists, these officials said. The 14 1/2-hour series, to be aired starting Feb. 15, describes life in the United States 10 years after Soviet-backed occupiers, posing as United Nations peacekeepers, engineer a bloodless takeover.

It is highly unusual, but not unprecedented, for the United Nations to hire private attorneys to deal with cases where the organization’s small in-house legal staff has little expertise. United Nations officials said Mr. Sorensen’s fee would be paid from a special fund of voluntary contributions and not from the regular budget of the financially troubled United Nations.

Negotiations focus on a list of seven ”requests” for changes and additions that he presented to ABC officials last October, Mr. Sorensen, a senior partner in the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, said in a telephone interview over the weekend. Mr. Sorensen’s wife, Gillian Sorensen, is New York City Commissioner for United Nations and Consular Affairs, serving as liaison between the city and the United Nations missions.
….
”Of course, we said we would prefer a peaceful resolution,” Mr. Sorensen said. ”I am cautiously optimistic that some progress will be made. But we haven’t ruled out legal action.”

He added, ”I have made it clear to ABC that I recognize their First Amendment rights and am not asking them to change their theme.”

Possibility of Suit Raised

The United Nations could file a lawsuit against ABC to prevent it from airing the program, he said. The unauthorized commercial use of the symbols of the United Nations is prohibited both by international law and a New York State statute.

In addition, strong opposition from the United Nations could weaken foreign sales of rights to the series, United Nations officials said.
….
The depiction of United Nations peacekeepers as criminals is particularly distressing for the United Nations, according to high-ranking officials, because the peacekeeping operations are regarded as one of the most successful innovations of the United Nations. More than 700 peacekeepers have died in the organization’s 41-year history, most recently an Irish soldier killed by Israeli tank fire in southern Lebanon on Jan. 10.

Protest Letters

The series has generated protests from former governmental officials and groups that span the political spectrum.

…others, have signed a letter of protest that is to be delivered to ABC Tuesday, according to one of the people who drafted the letter, Edward C. Luck. Mr. Luck is national president of the United Nations Association, a private research and educational group.

We are concerned that the portrayal of U.N. peacekeeping forces as brutal oppressors in the forthcoming ABC mini-series ‘Amerika’ will undermine public support for one of the most valuable aspects of the U.N.’s work,” says the letter, which calls on the network to produce a program to counterbalance the series.

More than two dozen chapters of the United Nations Association have begun letter-writing protest campaigns to ABC affiliates asking them not to broadcast the series and to Chrysler, one of the corporate sponsors, Mr. Luck said.

At least 40 peace groups have organized educational activities, including vigils against ABC, briefings to local and church audiences, information kits for sale to schools and airing of bootlegged copies of ABC promotional reels.

Abc Won’t Drop ‘Amerika’ Despite Chrysler Pullout

January 29, 1987

NEW YORK — ABC, although losing Chrysler Corp. as a major sponsor of its controversial “Amerika” miniseries, said Wednesday the show still will air as scheduled and that it was “appalled” at the condemnation it has gotten before its broadcast.

The 14 1/2-hour drama, scheduled to begin airing Feb. 15, depicts a grim, drab life in the United States 10 years after a bloodless takeover by the Soviet Union, which uses United Nations peace-keeping forces as its occupation troops.
….

ABC has received more than 4,000 letters critical of “Amerika” so far even though no outsiders or outside groups have yet seen more than 4 1/2 hours of it.

However, he emphasized that the statement was not suggesting that Chrysler–which had bought $5-million worth of advertising time on the show–had bowed out of it because of pre-broadcast pressure from critics of the drama.

In Detroit, Chrysler spokesman John Guiniven said the criticism and complaints about the show played no part in his company’s decision to withdraw its commercials. The ads represented about 18% of the show’s sponsorship.
….
After top Chrysler executives, including board Chairman Lee A. Iacocca, finished what the company called “an exhaustive review” of the show late last week, they decided to withdraw sponsorship.

The reason, Guiniven said, was that the downbeat subject matter of “Amerika” and its intense portrayals just wasn’t an appropriate forum for Chrysler’s patriotic, upbeat “The Pride Is Born–Born in America” commercial campaign.
….

Let’s not forget the federal government’s loan guarantee for Chrysler back in 1980. Oh, surely there was no pressure from the marbled halls of government to the glass walls of the corporation.

Thanks to those who helped with today’s post. You know who you are.

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