Commenters at HotAir are outraged by a NYT piece by a guy who doesn’t like It’s A Wonderful Life. (Actually, that’s too simplistic a description; you have to read the whole thing, and I suspect a lot of those furious commenters didn’t, which makes their alleged moral superiority highly suspect.)
The NYT guy writes (and I agree):
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people.
It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away…
I comment over at HotAir:
Sorry guys: I’m a conservative libertarian type, but like the author, an ex-punk, and I agree with lots of what he has to say. But I’m female so you’ll have to revise your “castration” metaphors…
I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (imagine a cross between Pittsburg and New Jersey). I hated it. It wasn’t a small town, but it felt like one. I felt trapped, thwarted, misunderstood (see “ex-punk”, above).
Whenever I watched It’s a Wonderful Life, I felt the same way George did about being stuck in a crappy place full of anti-intellectual slobs.
I moved to the big city first chance I got, but when I had to go back to care for my dying mother & grandmother, I felt some of George’s frustrations.
I always leaped to Sarah Palin’s defense when ignorant urbane sophisticates mocked her “small town values”. BUT: would I trade my anonymous, leave-me-alone big city for a place where — egads! — “everybody knows your name”, and business?
Of course, I always turn off Alistair Sim’s Scrooge after he wakes up in the morning. THAT’s too depressing for me 🙂
Later I added:
Good Lord, the hostility and defensiveness on this thread has become a LOT more interesting than the fairly ordinary bit of pop culture crit that sparked it — which, it is fairly obvious, not all the commenters have read all the way through…
Guys: I’m a socon. I read the Bible. I have an American flag stuck in a Thank You President Bush mug on my desk — and I’m a Canadian.
BUT not all of us wanna be stuck in a small town against our will for the rest of our lives.
I submit to you that that unwillingness is actually the impulse that made America great.
Did the pioneers and immigrants who built your nation say, “Oh I guess its my duty to stick around the Old Country with my family rather than go off and better myself and invent some cool thing that will change the world”?
Sheesh. Ask yourselves what has gotten you so worked up about this piece instead of questioning the author’s penis size.
There is a lot of male fury on this thread and you might want to ask yourselves what it is really all in aid of.
When my mother was dying, I came “home” one day (I eventually trained myself to stop calling it that; Hamilton had never felt like home anyway, and I’d moved away in a previous century…) and she told me she’d watched a movie called One True Thing (1998) and it reminded her of me and our current situation.
I saw it after she died and she was right: with freelance writer Renee Zellweger struggling to balance sick parent and budding career, trying to play a girly, nurturing role she’d never been raised to be ready for, attempting to interview someone for an article while her mother keeps interrupting — a “scene” we had been acting out regularly.
I loved my mother (my dying-at-the-same-time grandmother? Not so much. Sorry. Hey, you didn’t know her. Shut up. She gave Christmas presents she’d rescued from the apartment garbage room, ok? There’s “Scottish” and then there’s obnoxious) but I hated every minute I spent in Hamilton away from my “real” life. Why wouldn’t I?
People feel that have to pretend they are happy doing stuff like that, when they’re not. I owed it to my mother to be with her. Acting all thrilled and “Little Flower” about it 24 hours a day, however, was beyond my meager temperamental abilities.
I can only assume this is why the HotAir commenters are so defensive — honesty strikes a painful nerve in some people.
Oh, and A Christmas Story? One of the few things Arnie and I disagree on. I simply cannot bear it: all those bratty, bullying, yelling little boys running around getting in trouble instead of just behaving (just like that Hope and Glory movie about the English boy during the Blitz: son, there’s a war on — can’t you be quiet instead of playing in other people’s rubble? There is nothing fun about this situation. God.); that wimpy whiny mother, and that horrible horrible father with the goddamn lamp who I spend the running time daydreaming about murdering in his sleep. Would the lamp fit down his throat? Just the foot, maybe? Hard to say…
And yes: I do like Scrooge better before. When he flings open those bed curtains and lets in the sunlight, I grab the remote. Someone should make a sequel set a year later, when the novelty wears off and he goes back to being a bastard.
So this is not my favourite time of year, movie-wise. I love the Rankin-Bass stuff, because it is so cute and funny and has catchy music and is blessedly devoid of latter day liberal “save the planet” bullshit. And yeah: they don’t have real people in them, with their messy problems, endless demands and capacity to disappoint.
Tis’n’t the season to be a misanthrope, alas…