fta

“The show the Pentagon couldn’t stop!” Sure …

I have previously discussed the dubious “anti-war” credentials of countercultural figures Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda, who played the part of rebellious hippies within the Hollywood elite. No film better encapsulates their fraud or the fabricated nature of the corporate counterculture than Francine Schoenholtz’s ridiculous 1972 documentary FTA, which stands for “Fuck the Army”. The film follows Fonda, Sutherland, and other performers as they tour Japan and the Philippines, performing unfunny comedy routines and hokey protest songs for American servicemen. Schoenholtz’s previous work included a 1966 series of one-hour plays for PBS called Jews and History – and FTA itself and the culture creation it represents comprise a singular Jewish contribution to American military and pop-cultural history.

The film is as much a promotion of subversion as it is a polemic against the war in Vietnam. The poster, boasting its image of a stoned Donald Sutherland, is an undisguised attempt to associate anti-war activism with drug culture, and much of FTA is devoted to glorifying communism, feminism, vulgarity, bad grooming, and loutish black militancy, with the U.S. characterized as a racist society perpetrating genocide against both the Vietnamese and American blacks. FTA’s pose of revolutionism notwithstanding, is the audience really expected to believe that this troupe of anti-American undesirables would have been allowed anywhere near U.S. military bases overseas unless the production had at least the tacit approval of powerful persons within the American government? Would U.S. Army and Navy personnel be permitted to participate in the production of a film if it authentically sought, as FTA pretends, to goad soldiers into turning their guns against their leaders? It was during the week of the film’s premiere in July of 1972 that Fonda, just to present the anti-war movement in the worst possible light, notoriously visited Hanoi and posed for a photo with a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.

Producing and completing post-production on FTA was Igo Kantor, who tells the story of his involvement in the project in an interview he granted for the DVD release of the stupid woman vigilante movie Alley Cat (1984). He remembers that “Technicolor came to me and they said they would like to do a show on Jane Fonda going with a group of people, the FTA group, musical group, all over the Pacific Rim, all of Vietnam, all those countries, and do a show about the counter [to] the Bob Hope Christmas shows,” which were being produced by NBC, then owned by the defense contractor RCA. “The Bob Hope Christmas shows were dignifying the war movement because he was performing for the troops all over, every Christmas he’d go to one of these towns where the war took place and he would have shows – and I was the editor on the Bob Hope Christmas shows for six years. […] But then Technicolor said Jane Fonda would like to do a show to counteract that. Instead of heroining the war, let’s be pro-peace,” Kantor recounts, smiling sardonically.

That RCA would produce television programming “dignifying the war movement” is hardly surprising; but that Technicolor, a subsidiary of the defense contractor Thomson-CSF, would approach Kantor to produce a radical “pro-peace” hippie extravaganza, even hiring the same editor, is more interesting. “So she [i.e., Jane Fonda] went [to Vietnam] and the amazing thing is, here I was working in this building on Highland Avenue [in Los Angeles] and Jane Fonda, I gave her an office upstairs, and she and Don Sutherland were together at that time […] and Bob Hope had an office downstairs, and Bob Hope knew about this and he says, ‘Igo, what’s going on here, what, you’re working on my show, which is pro-war, and you’re working another show that’s anti-war?’ I said, ‘Don’t worry, I will not mix the footages. They’ll not be the same show, don’t worry about it.’ And sometimes,” Kantor remembers, bemused, “they used to go up and down the stairs and throw darts at each other. Bob Hope and Jane Fonda were, my God, crazy.” So, by Kantor’s own admission, the entertainment industry’s representative pro-war and anti-war exemplars were literally working out of the same building and frolicking on the stairs and enjoying hijinks – but that was surely just a coincidence – right?

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

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