Which version of Nihilism Reflects Hollywood Reality?
The jarring cultural shift that took place in the late sixties, brought on by the U.S. Invasion of Vietnam, is weirdly still with us, still reverberating through the media and still pounding the brains of American citizens like a migraine headache that never goes away. American political, cultural and sexual warfare are the step children of the events of the late 1960s. What happened then led to what is happening now.
By the late 1960s the youth of America, especially the draft-age males, were sick and tired of the elite politicians in Washington, D.C., many of whom had crawled through the blood of John F. Kennedy’s assassination to solidify their grip on power, their guilt hidden by bluster and an immediate push to war. When the thousands of body-bags began to pour back into the country, the youth recoiled and slowly boiled with rage into a rebellion not only against the political establishment, “The Man”, but against the very culture that they were born into.
While the U.S. Was bombing and napalming entire countries in Southeast Asia, it’s own cities were burning, lit by a rebellion of the poorest class, the African American population. Fear was in the air. Race War was being discussed. Charlie Manson was released from prison.
In Southern California, an annual event called the Renaisance Faire suddenly became very popular. Young people were rejecting the corporate culture. The peace and simplicity of ancient times was more appealing to them. Small crafts became back in vogue, hand making candes, working with leather, making things. Screw putting on a suit and going to work in a regimented office. Smoking and dealing in pot, composing and playing music, creating artwork suddenly became more popular and more definitive of what young folks wanted. They wanted love, not war. This cultural shift cut across all the straight laced boxes of hell that the elites wanted them to dwell in. People started to go back to the country, back to the land to farm, far away from the urban nightmares and smoldering inner cities. Young kids bought old school buses and set out on their own adventures, not just in the U.S. but in other countries as well. The so-called “hippy” movement appeared very quickly, and posed a serious challenge to the war mongers in Washington, like Lyndon Johnson and the political elites, stunned that their own children could disown THEM, walk out of the corporate jails, refuse to pick up a rifle, and join marches of tens of thousands against the war.
America teetered on the brink of chaos. Radical leftists revolutionaries began operating in the urban areas. The Black Panthers were buying guns. The hippies were blocking the ports, trying to stop the flow of war material. The infection spread to the troops. Merchant seamen rebelled and sailed a ship full of supplies to a neutral country, and then disappeared into the jungles of Southeast Asia. A huge, hostile underground press popped up. In Los Angeles, several alternative newspapers arose, the largest, The Los Angeles Free Press, gave jobs to the hippies who sold the newspaper on street corners. A savage sexual revolution began. Feminism and Lesbianism became popular, threatening the future of the atomic family. Hundreds of sex shops and massage parlors opened across the country, pouring advertising money into the coffers of the underground press. The cultural shift ripped through the religious landscape, spawning cults and growing numbers of adherents to Buddhism, from the very area that the U.S. was trying to subdue by incessant bombing.
The cultural and political elites were stunned. Everything was being destroyed. Their war had come back like a boomerang. Drugs were changing the consciousness of their own children. The Judeo-Christian religions were collapsing, as the young people turned to Buddhism, athiesim, nature worship, and no worship. The rise of the gay males led, even many years later, and even to this day, to scandals in the once invincible Catholic Church. Nihilism had come to America. And it has come to stay.
Hollywood, being a reflective mirror of the culture, has over the years focused on most of the aspects put out in the above diatribe. Movies and documentaries have covered most of it, but it is never enough, because many of the Hollywood producers only know the Nihilistic world. Science Fiction wars, alien invasions, the almost destruction of the earth by an asteroid, the crime and cop thrillers that often have escalated levels of violence, all neo-nihilistic themes. Chaos, destruction, the blurring of good and evil, the random violence. Mort Sahl, the 90 year old comedian, scriptwriter, and commentator says that Hollywood should be more concerned about making more love stories and romantic films. Maybe Hollywood should listen.
The recent big Hollywood publicity blow up is about a new film by Quentin Tarantino, a look into the late 1960s. The word “Manson” has been whispered. Tarantino has re-decorated parts of Hollywood Boulevard to reflect his vision of what the street looked like in 1969, although it is not totally accurate, he has tweaked it to his own aesthetic. Remember, it is a film, a fiction, not a documentary. Speculation is that it has something to do with the Manson Family killing spree, one of the lead characters lives next door to Sharon Tate. That’s about all we know, the script is secret.
Just how nihilistic can we expect this film to be? Tarantino is not shy about using violence, embracing it beyond shock value. Will the film focus on the cultural melt-down of the time, or explore the shockwave that the poorest, small group of mainly white youngsters, basically eating out of dumpsters, had on society through their own shocking deeds? Will the story show the turning point in the cultural explosion and it’s spin to doom and destruction? Will Tarantino become the new King of Nihilism? It’s probably not something he aspires to, and besides, we already have a film poet who has professed the dark days of Nihilism in film, art and culture. His name says it all.
“I am going to reduce everything that stands to rubble / and then I am going to burn the rubble / and then I am going to scatter the ashes / and then maybe SOMEONE will be able to see SOMETHING as it really is” / — Mel Lyman (God)
One take on Aesthetic Nihilism is that there is a cultural and artistic element to our disintegration, however bizarre that may seem to be. The Aes-Nihil.com website is focused on the Manson Family, the Lyman Family, Robert deGrimston, The Processs Church of the Final Judgment, the Blackburn cult and other Southern California religious movements. “A delve into the mass schizophrenic breakdown at the end of the Second Millenium, A.D.”
John Aes-Nihil’s main focus is on the Manson Family, which he regards as a pivotal moment on the cultural timeline. It smashed the psyche of Hollywood culture like an astroid crashing into Hollywood and Vine. The reverberations from that event are still pulsing through Hollywood, a seemingly never ending story.
Aes-Nihil was on to the Manson story from the beginning. He has a gigantic list of videos on his website. He also made a docu-drama, Manson Family Movies. The concept for this was based on a rumor that the Family had obtained some 8mm cameras and were recording their adventures and crimes, making the first “snuff” movies. The film considers what this would be like if real. Aes-Nihil produced this through self-financing, and continuously updated it as he filmed it, which took him twelve years.
A most valuable part of the DVD is the replay of the movie, with the narrative by John Aes-Nihil, and his take on the events. Do we know all about the events surrounding the Manson Family epic now that 50 years has gone by?
John says “We dont need more Manson Fiction. With the exception of Robert Hendrickson’s Manson and to some extent Manson Family Movies virtually everything on Manson has been fiction whether called that or not.”
Factual information and indeed the story itself seems to be self-perpetuating, like a chapter play serial that is never ending for as long as the audience cares to receive more and more of it. A few recent revelations come to mind.
Terry Melcher, LAPD Protection, and Confidential Cash.
In September of 2015 Paul Hunt of Big Fun Video filmed an interview with Judy Lamppu, a lovely lady who was Doris Day’s secretary during the “Doris Day Show”, which ran from 1968 -1973. Judy’s first day on the job was on August 9th, 1969, arriving to find the place swarming with cops, who were there to protect Doris Day’s son Terry Melcher. Terry had been living at the Cielo Drive house, renting from owner Rudolf Altobelli, a talent manager who had purchased the house in the early 1960s and was renting it out to many famous industry stars over the years. Terry had moved out and in February 1969 Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate had moved in. This interesting fact raises even more questions. How did the detectives assume that Terry Melcher needed “protection”? He had moved out of the Cielo Drive house months before. If there was some indication of the Manson Family threatening Terry, why did the cops fail to arrest Charlie? The first obvious thought would be that the murders were either random or somehow connected to Roman Polanski. Connecting the crime to a former tenant on August 9th seems strange to say the least. Did the LAPD also “protect” the owner of the house Rudy Altobelli? What information did the LAPD have, and is it possible that lives could have been saved? Or were more sinister things transpiring?
Judy Lamppu tells the story of one day being called in to the record company executives and given an envelope to take to Terry Melcher. Although she technically worked only for Doris Day, she delivered the envelope. They had told her not to look inside the envelope, probably one of the most naive things they could have said. There is not a woman on earth who would not look inside, their curiosity in these matters is off the charts. Telling some guy not to look inside, under some threat, would probably work every time, the guy would be afraid of being fired, killed, or worse, having his nuts cut off. Telling that to a curious woman…it’s almost a joke.
When Judy looked inside the envelope, she counted out $75,000 in cash. In 1969, that was a lot of money. Using the currency inflation calculator, in today’s world, it has the buying power of over $520,000. We can only speculate what was going on. What was Terry doing with that much cash flowing in? Judy refused to repeat the process, refused to ever again deliver envelopes for the music executives. How much cash Terry received will never be known. Most of the parties involved are dead. Terry died of cancer in 2004. Doris Day had no part in the envelopes. Judy Lamppu’s interview is on the internet.
Hollywood Babylon: The Nihilism Timeline
Interviews and books of recent times have revealed an interesting web of love, sex, fear, murder and bad behavior. Here’s a few bullet points on the Nihilism Timeline:
–Early 1960s. Laurence Merrick, an Israeli Zionist fundraiser, comes to Hollywood with his wife Joan Huntington. They open The Merrick Studio Academy of Dramatic Arts to teach acting. Sharon Tate is one of their students. Their Studio, at 870 N. Vine St. in Hollywood, is very successful and receives “government” funding. The Merricks bought a house in Beverly Hills.
–1968 Victoria Vetri (as Angelea Dorian) had a part in “Rosemary’s Baby”. Victoria was a Playmate Centerfold model in 1967 and Playmate of the year in 1968. She became good friends with Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate.
–Her ex-husband Bruce Rathgeb claimed that Victoria had “threesomes” with Sharon and Roman.
–In an interview in 2007, actor Christopher Jones talked about 1969 when he was working on a film in Italy. His manager, Rudy Altobelli brought Sharon Tate with him to Rome. Sharon was six weeks pregnant by her husband Roman Polanski.
–Rudy Altobelli owned the 10050 Cielo Drive house that Roman and Sharon rented from him.
–Sharon and Christopher Jones had a brief but torrid affair. Christopher was nervious about it because she was a married and pregnant woman. Sharon told him “not to worry about Roman.”
–During the course of their fling, Sharon told Christopher that “The Devil is Beautiful. Most people think he’s ugly, but he’s not.”
–Christopher Jones went next to Ireland to make “Ryan’s Daughter”. He met Olivia Hussey, who came to Ireland and stayed with him during the filming. She claimed he would at times slap and punch her.
–Two weeks before Sharon was murdered, Victoria Vetri was at her house on Cielo Drive, and according to her ex-husband Bruce Rathgeb, Charles Manson came by looking for Terry Melcher. Someone, maybe Victoria, made a comment that Manson looked “creepy”. Victoria was later afraid that the remark was overheard by Manson, triggering the murder spree.
–1969. Laurence Merrick filmed Black Angels, about a white motorcycle gang (Satan’s Serpents) fighting a black motorcycle gang (The Choppers). Filmed at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura, some of the Manson family came by to watch. This gave Merrick an introduction to film the Manson family with a 16mm camera at the Spahn Ranch, Devil’s Canyon, the Barker Ranch, and later the Hall of Justice during the trials.
–May 18, 1969. Terry Melcher visited the Spahn Ranch to hear Manson and his friends play music for the possibility of arranging something professional.
–August 8, 1969, Victoria Vetre was at the Cielo house and was planning to stay for dinner, but fell ill and went home.