Episode 3 of the 6-part canadian documentary series, “Rebels”, by writer/director Kevin Alexander. “Turn On The Revolution” focuses on the massive cultural shifts experienced during the 1960’s through the popularization of psychedelic drugs and an enhanced political awareness amongst the emergent youth culture.
In 1959 a twenty-six year old creative writing student named Ken Kesey became a guinea pig for LSD experiments conducted by the CIA and later used this experience to write “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.” Timothy Leary, a Harvard research psychologist turned rebel guru, told people to “Turn on, tune in, drop out!” while an anti-war activist named Abbie Hoffman led a peace demonstration at the 1968 Chicago democratic convention. This film delves into the world of hippies and yippies; young people who put themselves at risk in pursuit of “perception” and democratic freedom.
Rebels: A Journey Underground is an excellent Canadian documentary history of “the counterculture” produced for television in the late 1990s and narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. It’s the work of writer/director Kevin Alexander, who did a great job with it. More people should see it. I’m happy to see that the series has been posted in full on YouTube.
The six-part series covers a wide swath of historical countercultures moving from William Blake and 1830s Parisian bohemians to mostly 20th century movements like hippie, Jazz, Beatniks, punk, and what was at the time the series was produced, the brave new world of cyberspace.
In the final episode, “Welcome to Cyberia,” I tell the story on camera of the now notorious corporate fuck-up that resulted in Disinformation receiving well over a million dollars in funding from John Malone’s TCI. This sum included $300,000 worth of marketing money—spent by yours truly in late 1996—that saw it featured on the Netscape homepage for five MONTHS. (If you’re too young to know what Netscape refers to, it was a 90s predecessor of the browser that you are using right now, so that was a very big deal. It was kind of like being on the homepage of virtually everyone who wasn’t logging on using AOL or Compuserve).
When Malone (an extreme conservative dubbed “Darth Vader” by Al Gore) saw Disinformation for the first time, his reaction, I was told by two people actually in the room, was “We paid for this anarchist bullshit? Get rid of it!”
Talking heads include Robert Anton Wilson, William Gibson, Douglas Rushkoff, Genesis P-Orridge, John Lydon, Jello Biafra, Captain Sensible, Richard Hell, Malcolm McLaren, Don Letts, Glen Matlock, Jon Savage, Caroline Coon, Paul Simonon, John Doe, Poly Styrene, Rosemary Leary, Ken Kesey, Paul Krassner, Ray Manzarek, Michael McClure, Anne Waldman, RU Sirius, Mark Pesce, John Perry Barlow, Rudy Rucker and many others.