CSNY Déjà Vu
No Gentle Going This Time Around
I am not against soldiers and their heroics to defend our rights. My grandfather fought in WW I, my father fought in WW II; my brother fought in
I’m not sure what to do with this mental conflict. I look at the atrocities in
In the interest of full disclosure, it’s worth pointing out that I have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, although I am in total support of my good friends and many other brave men and women who have laid their life down in defense of their country. I am deeply sympathetic with Neil Young’s message, and the message of other anti-war artists such as U2, UB40, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen.
Having said all that, I struggled with this movie because of the intolerance of freedom that I think it ultimately inspires—which is a bit funny, since the documentary by Iraqi war correspondent and former Vietnam vet Michael Ceres follows the band on their 2005 “Freedom of Speech” tour. The tour was primarily the brain child of band leader Neil Young, who wrote the new music (much of it quite inflammatory, like “Impeach the President”—a very cool song nonetheless) and conflated old anti-war tunes like “
If “good” art is, as David Crosby muses, something that “makes you feel something,” then I would say that CSN Déjà Vu is good art. But I think a documentary ought to be more than that; it ought to tell a story and give you room to think. I hope to see documentaries dig into the complications of their subject matter, and give an honest voice to its opposing opinion (as in Chris Bell’s recent Bigger, Stronger, Faster) so that one can walk away informed and connected.
So as much as I am sympathetic to CSNY’s cause, the movie would have been more powerful if it were truly about “Freedom of Speech”—instead of being propaganda, even if it is the propaganda that you like. The film is truly, as Graham Nash said, a “story from my point of view.”
Is this what freedom is? Does it free us to think, or—as this this type of documentary does—does it tell us what to think? This is what truth-finding is about: putting your truth out in the marketplace of ideas so that it can withstand opposition and criticism; and if it is true, it will stand the test. But this documentary wants to be heard, without being tested—though not after the exploitive force-feeding fashion of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. No CSNY Déjà Vu was more honest and pure.
The film follows the band to concerts and political rallies, and exhorts you to feel the loss of the Iraqi war—and our responsibility to do something about status quo-living here in the good ol’
If you are a CSNY fan and want to see some good new and old mixes—and can put away your political badge—then this film is for you. It is kind of interesting to see sixty-something rockers take to the stage again. Heck,
However, if you are a card-carrying Republican, born on the 4th of July, this film is not for you! It will only anger you, make you burn the 4 Way Street album you got in high school, and utter Tourette’s-like epithets at the screen!
Personally, I liked the film. Sure, it could have been done better; but I wonder what films like this and protest movements actually accomplish. Can they really “change the world, rearrange the world?” Some have produced expansive societal changes; but have they stopped hatred in the human heart? Have we yet been freed from enslavement to bitterness and anger? Have we obliterated war?
Maybe we need to assess the cost of freedom, and realize it doesn’t come through protest, but via a cross on hill far, far away…
Oh, wait. Now I’m preaching!
CSNY Déjà Vu is rated R for “some language and brief war images.” The film could be seen by most viewers, I think; but watch that vulgar reactionary language!!
Courtesy of a local publicist, Mike attended a press screening of CSNY Déjà Vu.