#AggressivelyCivil kicks off with film screening of ‘1984’

Photo: Andy Morales

Lucy Stone, News Editor

1984 propaganda from the film. Still from the film.

Aggressively Civil, a new activist organization in Savannah, held its first event last Wednesday at the Sentient Bean. Partnered with the Psychotronic Film Society and co-sponsored by Connect Savannah and The Book Lady Bookstore, Aggressively Civil held a film screening of the 1954 British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) TV version of George Orwell’s novel, “1984.”

Performed live for TV, the original airing of “1984” on Dec. 11, 1954, brought an uproar from British viewers, eventually prompting them to complain to Parliament.

“People were shocked. They went bonkers. A lot of people thought it was offensive,” Jim Reed, co-founder of Aggressively Civil, said.

The content at the time may have been difficult for many citizens to view. A totalitarian, dystopian future where everyone is watched by Big Brother and brainwashed by the government was and—and still can be—a scary concept.

The BBC performed the live play again, despite many objections, five days later on Dec. 16. This time, it was recorded and archived using a kinescope, which is a movie camera set in front of the screen monitor. Up until the 1960s, the process of using a kinescope was the only way to preserve TV programs.

Thus, the second live play of “1984” was one of the earliest archived British television films. As such a rare recording of “1984,” host Jim Reed is unsure if the 1954 version has even been shown in the U.S. in a public setting.

All money raised at the event was split evenly between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as part of Aggressively Civil’s overall goal.

Along with raising money for causes that believe in protecting civil rights, Aggressively Civil wants to promote “Resistance against the regressive and Anti-American policies of the current administration and its supporters,” according to the its Facebook page.

“Hopefully everyday people will start putting as much time and energy and effort into being nice and friendly and polite and inclusive as assholes do at being assholes,” Reed said at the screening Wednesday evening.

“I’m hoping people can just go back to being nice. And if you see somebody being an asshole to somebody, and it’s just ridiculous, then I hope you will be aggressively civil in telling them that that is uncalled for.”

Although said a bit off the cuff, Reed hopes members of our community will embrace #AggressivelyCivil, including the hashtag and continue to donate to their cause. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the ACLU and SPLC.

For more information on future events, check out Aggressively Civil’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. For more information on future film screenings, join the Psychotronic Film Society Facebook group.