I’ve been watching a show about the Sixties on CNN called The Sixties. You have to admit the title really zeroes in on the central premise of the documentary series. I couldn’t have thought of a better name myself. Let me enlighten you how network executives come up with these profound, mind-expanding titles. They don’t believe their feeble brained viewership can transmit a thought-provoking show’s title to other potential feeble brained viewers without their brains spontaneously bursting into flames. There’s simply too much neurological activity teetering on the edge of disaster, and too much untapped brain matter to be responsible for.
Therefore, if you’re telling someone that the name of a show you like is called The Sixties, the other person doesn’t have to think about much else, exactly what the networks are hoping for. When airing “serious” historical content, network executives want you to think you are thinking when in fact all you’re doing is absorbing what they want you to think.
But if you tell a person the name of a show you like about the Sixties is called, oh, just off the top of my head, Somethings Happening Here, you force the other person to ask what the show is about, because in all likelihood they’ve never heard of Buffalo Springfield. Then you have to answer that it’s a documentary about the Sixties. That’s just two fucking unnecessary steps too many. You risk losing that prospective viewer forever in an avalanche of information. That’s a chance those genius network executives just can’t take.
This particular episode of The Sixties had to do with The Bay of Pigs. I can’t help but think that if you’re going to stage a nightmare scenario in which fat, pig-headed, sloppy, filthy greedy superpowers bring the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation, where better to stage it than in a part of the world called The Bay of Pigs?
It’s hard to believe how the U.S. expected 300 mostly Cuban expatriates to take down Cuba armed with little more than Swiss Army knives. Film footage showed CIA training camps with these “soldiers” performing calisthenics and learning fighting techniques. All very impressive, of course, until they got to Cuba. Not exactly reminiscent of Hitler marching through Poland.
Obviously, nobody knew what they were doing. I think that’s a fair assessment of any conflict between superpowers that nearly snuff the world, don’t you? During a two-year span the world went from relative peace to, “I hope there’s color TV in heaven.” Khrushchev kept threatening to destroy us while Kennedy kept lying about how evenly matched militarily the countries were, when in fact America had an 11 to 1 missile advantage. Khrushchev tested an atomic bomb just to scare us. We responded by teaching our kids to duck underneath school desks. Yep, a school desk. The last resort if all else fails. An indestructible plan. And don’t forget, kids, to interlock those fingers behind your necks for added protection. In the event a nuclear missile explodes at your school, and in the unlikely event your desk should become compromised, your fingers will magically turn to steel preventing your necks from being crushed.
It’s easy to look back and shake our heads at all this. But we really were frightened to death, and we really thought a few extra stored cans of pork and beans would help us ride it out when the shit hit the fan. Which I suppose, if you ate enough pork and beans, would literally be the case cramped up in your musty, hot, fall-out shelter. That is, if you had electricity. Or a fan.
You might as well conclude that all governments are inept. It’s becoming exceedingly more difficult to persuade even a child of seven otherwise. If you went to Vegas and put your entire fortune on one assertion being truer than the other- either governments are inept or governments are skillful- where are you laying your money?
In the end, as we all know, nothing happened, like in The Wizard of Oz. It was only a bad dream. Khrushchev got out of the tub and took his toy boats with him. There’s no place like home. “You must be joking me! You thought I was actually going to try something? You Americans have very funny sense of humor! Your country cannot take joke! I was just pretending, perhaps a little bit bored! Ha Ha!”
The U.S. promised not to invade Cuba and eased their military presence in Europe. The Soviet Union packed up their missiles and sent them back in the U.S.S.R. You don’t know how lucky you are. Boy. Was it really luck, or was it the grandest, most dangerous game of Chicken ever played? Treaties were signed, hands were shaken, photographs taken. I don’t think babies were kissed. Relieved faces across the globe happily went back to their normal, ill-informed lives, thanking their respective gods to be blessed with such strong leaders who had the wisdom to put humanity first, slightly ahead of vaporizing our only home.
In America, Kennedy, who had done little right during the crisis except allowing Khrushchev enough time to lose his nerve, flushed with the temporary fragrance of victory, suddenly had the time to take a deep breath and look around. He saw Vietnam. Which also happens to be the subject of another The Sixties episode. Turns out the drama played out in that theater was far more than a bad dream. Oh, and we’ll also learn about another Communist tumor that had to be removed from the face of the earth. As we’d find out decades later, that tumor was benign as well. Jeez, no wonder the early sixties spawned the hippy generation, yet another The Sixties episode (How do they come up with all these ideas for shows?). There we’ll be entertained with actual footage showing how we clubbed the heads of people who protested our clubbing of foreign heads around the world. All you need is love.