Keep America Great
How a riot in Manhattan reconfigured a New York exploitation classic – and American politics for half a century.
John G. Avildsen’s 1970 New York drama was originally titled The Gap, dramatizing the white-hot topic of the generation gap through the story of a white-collar businessman searching for his hippie daughter in New York’s seedy youth underbelly. But when it came out in that summer, its ad campaign focused on the supporting character of a loudmouth, bigoted hardhat, and it had also been retitled after that character: Joe.
In this episode, we’ll look at how the May 1970 “Hardhat Riot” in downtown New York City prompted not only that change, but a shift in electoral norms and party politics that continues to this day. And we’ll look at Milos Forman’s Taking Off, released the following year, which told a similar story of well-to-do parents searching for their hippie daughter in Gotham, but in a very different way (and with a very different outcome).
Our guests are author and historians Jefferson Cowie and Derek Nystrom, filmmaker Larry Karaszweski, and film writers Kristy Puchko and Zach Vasquez.