Wednesday at the Movies
October 2011

Occupational Therapy

Last month I had so much fun using quotes from movies to poke fun at the current situation in the hallowed halls, caucus rooms and coat closets of our elected government that I was thinking about doing it again:  but, there is way too much fun going on in the streets and parks of American cities to ignore—lots of demonstrations, large and small.

And these demonstrations have not been limited to the US of A: the disenfranchised youth of Europe decided to join in.  I couldn’t help but notice that in Greece two different factions were demonstrating in support of the same legislation being debated in their government and then, all of a sudden, these two factions decided it might be a good idea to physically attack each other: confusing.  Oh, those poor Greeks: the Athenian philosophers had barely managed to invent the concept of democracy and they were so pleased, then Alexander the Great took it away from them. Then there were the Romans, the Turks, the Austro-Hungarians, the Germans, the EEU, and Zorba; who can blame Greeks for getting confused.

I have noticed that the American press has made no mention that this year’s outrage and demonstrations started elsewhere before it began in our country.  I’m referring to what has been called the ‘Arab Spring,’ in our news media; I imagine the Muslim countries had another name for it.  I started in Tunisia, then it spread to Egypt and other countries: this month Libya got rid of Gadhafi.   In those countries the youthful crowds managed to get some guns and things really got exciting.   This will undoubtedly precipitate the production of hundreds of scripts for movies and television plays.

Everyone really, really wanted to get rid of Gadhafi, but I noticed that the western powers took a more civilized approach in this civil uprising, probably because it was led by NATO instead of the United States.  We bombed the crap out of Gadhafi’s forces, and their friends and relatives, and let the youth of Libya do all the door to door shooting, and mayhem…, and dying.  That is much more acceptable to our entertainment industry.  By the way, I insist on including the evening news in that industry; they have scripts and cameras don’t they?

In the United States we frown very heavily on teenagers having guns.  There is one notable exception to that: it is OK if they are inducted into our armed forces and sent to oil producing countries to teach those people how to become democracies. So our ‘Occupy Wherever’ has been unarmed (except for the police) and peaceful (except for the police). 

There has been considerable criticism of the ‘Occupy Everywhere’ movement, and that criticism is that they seem to be leaderless and are not specifying their demands.  It would seem that the ‘news as entertainment’ is just flat out missing the really good story imbedded in these protests.

Simply put, the outrage of ‘Occupiers’ can be summed up in a statement something like this; “Do something, damn it! We pay you a good salary and give you outstanding and irrevocable medical and retirement benefits, while we walk the streets and worry about this month’s rent and food.  We know we don’t have, and probably won’t have, medical or retirement funds as part of our future.  We see that all you can do from your lofty positions is fight vicious, ‘take no prisoners’ campaigns with each other, to seize control of the government, rape the middle and working class taxpayers, and feed the insatiable appetites of your corporate supporters.  Stop it, Stop it, STOP IT……and do something for us!”

Someone should also notice that these ‘Occupiers’ seem to have the silent but tacit support of the middle class, the working class and the unemployed class.  Is that thunder I hear out there, between the two coasts?

It seems to me most strange that men and women born and educated, well educated, in this country; those who populate the highest positions in commerce and government, can be so blind and naïve concerning the history and national character of Americans. Our country began with a revolution, a war to secure the philosophical belief that the power of a government was derived from the governed, not the other way around.  We fought a great civil war, in large part, to clarify the confusion about the words in our Declaration of Independence, “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…”

In the 19th century the “American Heritage” was vigorously and forcefully extended across the North American, much to the dismay of indigent peoples.  Though not always honorable, respectable or humane, the battles were fought and the territories were annexed.  In the 20th century the United States became a world power and fought internationally in support of the political principles inherent in our national character.  In this 21st century we are still extended worldwide, especially where oil is involved; and sometimes all too quickly, our government commits us to unsustainable foreign conflicts.  But, we are a warrior culture; it is part of the American character to be contentious.

‘Taking it to the streets’ to express our displeasure with our government is as natural to an American citizen as it is to love our mates, play with our children, and to disagree with each other.  We have done that throughout our history; sometimes peacefully, more often no so much, quite often, armed and dangerous.  But corporations do not fear for their hegemony as long as they can control the government; and their armies.  And, the election of congress and the president is completely dependent on funding from corporations.

All that serious thinking gives me a headache; so I thought I will have some fun.  I have been following the Republican debates and thought I would paraphrase the comments of the candidates, and create quotes of what they seem to be saying.  As inspiration I will draw on one of the most famous quotes of Will Rogers, “I’m not a member of an organized political party, I’m a Democrat.”  All I can say is, “Will, if you could see what’s happening lately, you might be struck speechless; nowadays no one is a member of an organized, function government.”

Cain: “If you are unemployed and unsuccessful, don’t blame Wall Street; don’t blame the economy, blame yourselves. It’s as simple as 9-9-9.  Do you want extra cheese on that?”

Perry: “There’s nothing wrong with this country that couldn’t be solved by a good, old fashioned prayer meeting.  Be sure to bring your credit or debit card.  Has anyone seen my rubber stamp for execution orders?”

Romney: “What are you talking about, corporations are people, too.  Now look at me and my family, aren’t we really just so photogenic, so beautifully American?  Excuse me for a moment; I’m looking for a tree with an important message in it.”

Bachmann: “Don’t confuse me with ideas, I’m trying to think.”

Paul: “I liked the 19th century, didn’t you?  Why did they have to change things so much?”

Gringrinch: “Yes, I am still relevant; so is what I say…today.  No, I did not steal Christmas, it was that other guy.”

I wonder if I dare close this little essay with a quote from a famous 18th century French social critic, Denis Diderot?  “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled by the entrails of the last priest.”

Jerry Walden

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