Wild in the Streets—a Prophecy of Today?

Essay by Ronald W. Kirk

This was one of those eerie déjà vus. (What is the plural of déjà vu?) The Obama administration had arrived. The day after the election, I sadly but animatedly exclaimed to a beloved older relative that this was the end of historic America. A liberal, he didn’t believe it. It wasn’t long after this, I had a recurring thought—nightmare really—my déjà vu. And here it is:

Back in 1968, I saw a campy, but apparently popular movie called Wild in the Streets. I finally found Wild in the Streets, recently posted, on YouTube and I have watched it (now removed from YouTube). Shelly Winters, Ed Begley Sr., Richard Pryor, and Hal Holbrook starred. However, the lead was played by the then-young, well not that young, but now perhaps largely forgotten Christopher Jones. The IMDB.com biography for Christopher Jones, nee William Frank Jones, says he briefly enjoyed some cult-star fame after Wild in the Streets. In this movie, Christopher Jones plays Max Frost, a typical radical of the era. Apparently, the movie was quite successful financially. It included Cameos by well-known celebrities, such as Dick Clark, for example (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/wild_in_the_streets). MGM produced it.

But I digress. I ask the reader to consider the strange association between the election of President Obama and this old cult movie…

The movie opens with Max Frost’s overbearing mother (Shelly Winters) turning her brilliant son into a dysfunctional soul and a mad chemist. He makes LSD and a bomb that blows up his dad’s prized Chrysler. Max becomes a famous, rebellious rock and roller, with a drug-clouded, teeny-bopper entourage. Max agrees to promote an ambitious Senatorial candidate (Hal Holbrook), if he will support lowering the voting age to fifteen.

The movement grows until the youth of America take to the streets. Max’s group of hippies amend the Washington, D.C., water supply with sufficient LSD to turn on Congress and loosen their apparently already compromised principles to grant the vote to 14 year-olds. The young take over Washington. Max runs for president as a Republican. Even the old people join in the movement. Max wins the election by a landslide, taking every state but Hawaii. Age, experience and wisdom no longer matter. In fact, they are a hindrance. The youth and drug cult has prevailed. Hope and change.

The new president, of course, invokes the requisite class envy. Max doesn’t need Congress or the courts. With dictatorial power he proceeds to inoculate America against the mature by forcing those over 35 into camps where, uniformly attired in blue gowns, they continually must take LSD. Later, Max forced all residents of the only state not to follow the madness—Hawaii—to take the hallucinogenic poison STP.

President Max and his followers have created a completely hedonistic and anarchistic society. The movement goes international with sending American grain to every foreign country. Of course, one wonders who might be farming at this point, but why sweat the details.

The only thing Max Frost doesn’t do is call for mass executions. According to Malthus and his followers, the world was overpopulated—then. Surely, the environmentalists should have reduced the surplus population.

Ironically, the movie ends with the foreboding of a rebellion by the children. The Hal Holbrook character’s young daughter tells Max Frost that at twenty-four, he is old. Everyone over ten is now the enemy.

I cannot say whether Wild in the Streets was meant to be a cautionary tale, an oracle of things to come, or just a silly movie. It doesn’t matter really. The movie took the cultural rebellion of the 60s to its logical but absurd conclusion. Yes, Wild in the Streets was once satirical nonsense. Yet how very strange that just over forty years later, the hippies have now grown in body, if not maturity, and they and their philosophical legates indeed run the country.

Just as in the movie, we have abandoned the Constitution in favor of change. Check and balance in government is a thing of the past. The aged now seem to be in danger of nullification via healthcare screening panels. A childish entitlement mentality threatens to destroy our productivity with government-sanctioned taking. We no longer defend ourselves against enemies sworn to destroy us. Entitled borrowing, because we all must have what we want now, has put us almost hopelessly into debt. What is next? Wild in the streets?

Though we can’t really recommend it, Wild in the Streets is available as a DVD (e.g. Amazon) and on Netflix. If you watch it, whatever your age, you, too, may come away with an eerie sense of déjà vu.

This essay is Part 2 of a two-part series on the contrast between early California’s wild frontier and today’s societal insanity. See the first installment at “The Making of American California.”

Ron Kirk is manuscript review and theology editor for Nordskog Publishing. Ron has spent his career studying the Biblical foundations for applying the faith to every area of life, including the pioneering and crafting of a Biblical form of education with historic Christian roots toward making the Biblical Christian worldview a reality. Nordskog Publishing soon plans to publish Ron’s new book Thy Will Be Done on Earth: When Nations Call the Lord Blessed.

© 2013

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