Presented by the United States Army, this film examines the psychological nature of American civil disturbances in effort to prepare military policeman to rationally manage the danger of such occurrences.
The film sets up the Revolutionary War as origin for a spirit of dissent and civil demonstration in the U.S. that is still alive. The film explains that this spirit of dissent and need to protect the right to do so is essential but can become tricky to manage because of the ‘a narrow, narrow line civil between dissent and civil disturbance.’ The film poses the questions ‘When does dissension become disobedience? When does disobedience become disorder? When does a disorder become a civil disorder?,’ the answers to which provide necessary info for how to rationally manage such occurrences. The film connects a rise in civil tension and impatience to America’s youth, the disadvantaged African American community, other minority groups across the U.S., and women desiring equality. The film then explains in detail the stages ( ‘High Tension Situations,’ ‘Initial Violence,’ and ‘Spread of Violence’) by which disturbances develop and speaks to the variety of behaviors that can occur on large and small scale, among a group and with individuals, at each stage. We learn of the ‘anonymity,’ ‘suggestibility,’ ‘imitated behavior,’ and ’emotional contagion’ that influence an individual’s participation in disturbances generated by the crowd.
The film concludes by explaining the role of the military police in managing dissenting crowds, and emphasizes that they too are subject to and responsible for their emotional reactions. It goes on to note, that while the basic causes of disturbances cannot be controlled, the focus is preventing the acceleration of tension as groups gather in protest, which is made possible by understanding the psychological factors of civil disturbances.
This film was made for military police and soldiers on what causes civil disturbances and riots. A fairly enlightened film considering it was made by and for the Establishment. Lots of footage of demonstrations and rioting during America’s late 1960s.
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